Brown Sugar and Apple Turkey Breast is a super flavorful rub for a turkey breast made with brown sugar, apples and spices then the turkey is oven roasted over a bed of vegetables.
Update: This recipe was originally posted in November 2015. The recipe and photos have been updated and republished in October 2023.
I don't know about you, but the side dishes are the main stars of Thanksgiving for me and the turkey is an afterthought. Honestly, I'd prefer to just have the turkey leftover on sandwiches the next day.
If you're like me, this turkey is absolutely delicious to serve on a sandwich, but it's also flavorful enough that it can easily bump the mashed potatoes, mac and cheese or stuffing out of your top foods on Thanksgiving.
What is Brown Sugar and Apple Turkey Breast
Brown Sugar and Apple Turkey Breast is an oven-roasted turkey breast sitting on a bed of vegetables. Brown sugar and other spices are made into a rub and slathered over the turkey breast before cooking. The spices form a crust over the turkey, making it juicy and full of flavor.
- bone-in turkey breast (3-4 lbs)
- shallot (or onion)
- fresh parsley
- chicken stock
- apple juice
- brown sugar
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- poultry seasoning
- crushed red pepper
- salt and pepper
- all purpose flour and butter (optional, for gravy)
First, preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
Then make a bed for the turkey breast to sit on. Roughly chop the carrots, celery, apple and shallot. Layer into the baking dish along with sprigs of fresh parsley.
Next, combine remaining ingredients to make a rub. Combine brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, poultry seasoning, sage, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Add in apple juice and stir to combine.
Coat the turkey breast in the wet rub. Cover the entire turkey breast in the wet rub mixture and place the turkey breast on top of the vegetables. Pour chicken stock in the baking dish.
Finally, cook the turkey breast. Cook the turkey for 20 minutes per pound (1 hour for a 3 pound turkey breast) or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the turkey breast is 160 degrees F.
Then, let the turkey breast rest. Transfer turkey breast to a cutting board and let rest. Then slice the turkey breast.
If desired, make a gravy. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Then whisk in the flour until fully combined. Drain the cooking liquids from the turkey into a measuring cup and add enough chicken stock (use up to ¼ cup of apple juice to really amp up that apple flavor) to reach 1.5 cups. Slowly pour the stock into the saucepan, while whisking. Once it's incorporated, pour in a little more, repeating until all stock is used. Stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. Pour over turkey breast.
Cooking a turkey breast upside down will ensure the breast meat stays juicy. For this recipe I cook it right side up, otherwise the delicious rub will fall off and there won't be as much seasoning on the meat.
To ensure you've reached the right temperature, insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast without touching the bone. If it reads between 157 and 160, the turkey has reached the desired temperature to stop cooking.
If your gravy won't thicken up, mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch into 2 tablespoons of water in a small dish. Lower the heat of the gravy and while whisking, pour that in, stirring until fully dissolved. The gravy should thicken up right away.
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Brown Sugar and Apple Turkey Breast
- 3 lb bone in turkey breast
- 2 large carrots peeled and cut into 3 inch pieces
- 2 stalks celery cut into 3 inch pieces
- 1 large apple quartered
- 1 large shallot peeled and quartered
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- ½ cup chicken stock
Rub for Turkey
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
- 1 tablespoon sage
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoon apple juice (apple cider, chicken stock or water also work)
- 6 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoon all purpose flour
- ¾ cup chicken stock
Bed of Vegetables
- Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
- Arrange ingredients in the dish. Pour in chicken stock.2 large carrots, 2 stalks celery, 1 large apple, 1 large shallot, ¼ cup fresh parsley, ½ cup chicken stock
- In a medium bowl, combine turkey rub ingredients.¼ cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning, 1 tablespoon sage, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, 2 tablespoon apple juice
- Spread rub all over the turkey breast, then place turkey breast on top the bed of vegetables in the baking dish.3 lb bone in turkey breast
- Bake for 1 hour (20 minutes per pound) until the temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove the turkey from the pan and let rest on a cutting board.
- If not making gravy, let turkey rest 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until fully combined.6 tablespoon unsalted butter, 3 tablespoon all purpose flour
- Strain cooking liquids and add in chicken stock to reach 1.5 cups total. Slowly pour some of the liquid into the saucepan while whisking. Once it's incorporated, repeat, pouring slowly until all liquid is included. Whisk until thickened.¾ cup chicken stock
- Pour gravy over the sliced turkey breast.