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A Different Turkey for Thanksgiving - Stuffed Turkey Breast

Here is an alternative for Thanksgiving for those of you who either don't want to cook a whole bird or don't have to. In our household, a whole bird is a must but if you want something different for Thanksgiving, here is a delicious alternative.  I also think that turkey white meat is pretty bland and dry and this recipe gives it a lot of flavor and combines the turkey and stuffing in one neat package. 

heavenly stuffing with cranberries, apples and pecans

This is a whole turkey breast, doboned and rolled with a stuffing of cranberries, pecans and breadcrumbs.  It is basted as it cooks with apple cider and chicken stock and is really delicious.  

Most whole turkey breasts are sold with the bones.  The ones that I have seen in the grocery stores that are boneless are very small and the meat is not very good. They aren't suitable for this recipe.  You will have to buy a whole turkey breast and debone it, something that is not hard to do.  I've made a video showing you how to debone the turkey breast and it's at the bottom of this post. 

Turkey Breast Stuffed with Apples, Cranberries and Pecans

for a printable recipe, click here

serves 6-8

Stuffing can be prepared a day ahead if you like.  You can also assemble the whole thing the day ahead and refrigerate it and just roast it the next day (make sure your stuffing is completely cooled.) You will need kitchen twine for this recipe. 


  • 7-pound bone-in turkey breast
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced  (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2-1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs (I used whole wheat bread)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken stock




Preheat oven to 375°F.  Bone the turkey breast (there is a video in this post, showing you how to do it yourself), being careful to keep the skin intact.  The skin will act like a wrapper for the whole thing. Lay plastic wrap on the breast and pound it till it's flat.  

a whole, bone-in turkey breast

Toast the pecans in the oven on a sheet pan for about  8-10 minutes until fragrant. Place in a plastic bag and pound until the whole pecans are broken up into pieces.  Lower oven temperature to 350°F.

Saute the onion, apple, celery in 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pan until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add the bread crumbs, pecans, parsley and thyme and mix thoroughly.  Season with salt and pepper.  Completely cool the stuffing.

Combine the chicken stock, apple cider and 2 tablespoons butter in a large pyrex measuring cup and warm in the microwave until butter has melted and mixture is hot.  Set aside.

Lay the turkey breast flat on the counter and season with salt and pepper. Spread the cooled stuffing mixture on top. Roll the turkey breast up tightly and tie with the kitchen twine.  Lay the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and roast in a 350°F oven for about one hour, basting every 15- 20 minutes with the cider mixture. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing. 

How to Debone a Whole Turkey Breast:


Happy Thanksgiving!

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Reader Comments (32)

looks delish! (and a little bit intimidating, frankly) do you think I'd have any luck by asking my butcher to debone the thing?

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterm@ random musings

Me gusta mucho todo lo que cocinas, esta pechuga sí he riquísima.

Te pediría un favor y es que pusieras un traductor en tu blog, mi ingles es muy malo y me cuesta mucho traducir.


María Pilar

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaría Pilar

Hay un problema en tu blog, mi mensaje ha sido totalmente cambiado, yo no he hablado de la ONU para nada.

Creo que sera mejor no hacer comentarios.

Maria Pilar

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaría Pilar

What a great alternative for Thanksgiving! Sometimes it's only my and my husband, or just 4 people, so it's nice to have a smaller scale production for the occasion.

loved the stuffing, and the way the dish looks so elegant at serving time


(Happy Thanksgiving for you!)

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSallyBR

This looks wonderful. I am not making Thanksgiving dinner this year, but me and my hubs were discussing that we would still like leftovers, this might be the perfect dish for us to cook up on Friday! Thanks for sharing this.

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

This was a great tutorial. I have always roasted a whole turkey but want to try just a boneless turkey breast for a change. The stuffing sounds delicious too.

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterciaochowlinda

Forgive me if I am mis-reading the recipe but I dont see what you are supposed to do with this mixture:

"Combine the chicken stock, apple cider and 2 tablespoons butter in a large pyrex measuring cup and warm in the microwave until butter has melted and mixture is hot. Set aside."

Is this mixed in with the stuffing or do u use it braise the turkey as it cooks?

Since I dont like making a big turkey and dealing with a ton of leftovers, this recipe seems ideal!


November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJacquie

This is such a great idea! I never thought to debone a breast-and yes-the boneless ones from the grocery are usually awful. I can't wait to try this for the holidays-Thank You !

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTrish

Sounds really unusual stuffing that I can't wait to try. I'll need to double the recipe as my hubby is a stuffing nut! Many thanks :)

@Jacquie-next to last sentence in last paragraph..".baste every 15-20 minutes with cider mixture".

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeona

Oh gosh! I knew I was being blind. lol

Thanks Leona!

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJacquie

Looks delicious...I love pecans in my stuffing, and the cranberries sound like a divine addition. Thank you for the great instructions on how to properly dress the turkey breast. Most helpful! I agree, the store bought versions are typically disappointing.

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLuv'n Spoonfuls

What a gorgeous recipe! Next week I am advising a cancer support group on how to have a lower calorie Christmas, and this is great recipe to share with them - full of flavour and healthy ingredients. Now I will just have to memorise your deboning video...

November 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkellie@foodotglow

I've always wanted to do this. My husband wouldn't let me do this for Thanksgiving - but this is such a grand holiday meal - I'd like to try it in December. The stuffing is pure goodness.

November 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia

That's quite an unsual stuffing, but looks savory and appetiting nonetheless! can i just dive right into that dish! hmmm looks really yummy!

November 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDenis Paxton

Hi! I have a cooking time question. There will only be three of us for dinner so I got a 3 1/2 lb. deboned turkey breast which I plan to stuff with my family recipe for Italian sausage stuffing. I noticed that your cooking time for your 7lb breast is 1 hour. Would that mean that the cooking time for my 3 1/2 lb. breast would be 1/2 hour?

Thanks for your help with this!
~ Cara

November 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCara

From The Italian Dish:

Cara: A 3-1/2 lb breast will be very small so I wouldn't be surprised if it was done in 30 minutes. You don't want to overcook it and have it dry out. Stick a metal skewer into the very middle of the turkey and pull it out - if the end feels hot to you, it's done. Enjoy!

November 24, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I made this today, it was divine!

November 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmm. Aginn

I made this twice as we had two Thanksgivings in one weekend. Everyone loved it. It has been great, almost better as leftovers. I loved the gravy that the basting sauce made, I just poured everything in the bottom of the pan and basted from there. The only thing I had trouble with was the skin, one hour is not enough to roast the skin to crispy so I carefully removed it as I plated. It was just too thick. Any suggestions for fixing this problem? I was afraid broiling would dry out the turkey.

Also I wanted to say thanks for the movie, I would not have even attempted this without it!

I don't think I will ever want to cook a whole bird after this.

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmm. Aginn

Can somebody tell me what "pecans" are? I am so new with cooking and I wanna try this recipe. Thanks.

December 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGerard Brightman

Want to make this for Xmas here, but I can't find turkey breasts with the skin on, just turkey escalopes. Could I try to seal it by shallow frying it first? What do you think?
@Gerard Pecans are a type of nut.

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScintilla

From The Italian Dish:

Scintilla: You know, I just prepared this dish the other night with a whole boneless pork loin. Same stuffing, same basting with the apple cider/chicken broth. It was delicious. Maybe that's the better option for you. A pork loin is easy to find and it's easy to butterfly and flatten. What do you think?

December 13, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I have made this a few times LOVE IT I am by no means a slave to the kitchen and this is easy thanks so much

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpaula

This looks amazing! I had to link to it on my post on Thanksgiving inspiration :) Have a great day!

October 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKelley

My experience is that your butcher will bone for you if you call ahead. This sounds wonderful and totally doable on your own.

November 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMartha

Hi I have made a brined turkey breast in the past....
can you brine the breast on the bone first then debone and stuff and cook ?

November 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShelly

I am unsure as to the apple cider and chicken stock, do you put any of that in with the stuffing mixture or just use it to baste? Thanks

November 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVee

From The Italian Dish:

Vee: The apple cider and chicken stock get combined to make a basting liquid. It does not go into the stuffing. Hope this helps.

November 21, 2014 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Have a turkey breast in freezer cannot wait to try this recipe looks delicious Thank you great blog

April 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLesley

I made this last year for Thanksgiving and it was such a hit, I am making it again this year. Since we live in Minnesota I substitute 1/2 the breadcrumbs for wild rice and it is amazing!

November 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTami

Made the mash pots and turkey breast for Thanksgiving, both were fabulous! Didn't have pecans (mine were stale) so used walnuts instead and lightly smoked the stuffed breast, other than that, folliwed recipe as exactly written. It was...fabulous! We used our electric Oster roaster/smoker oven and it was so moist, lightly smoked with apple chips and redults were stunningly, perfectly gloden brown. I wil nowl always do turkey breast for company this way. I'm already thinking of other interesting combinations to stuff it with for future dinners. De-boning the breast was a little tricky and the video helped....alot, but now that I've done it, easy-peasy! Thanks for teaching this old dog a new trick. #Loveyourrecipes

November 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

From The Italian Dish:

Susan: Thanks for sharing! And I'm glad the video was helpful to you in deboning the breast. This is really a versatile dish and a surprise to guests, who are getting something new! Thanks.

November 28, 2016 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I made this two years ago when my girls went to their in-laws. I had a small group of 4. I used pears instead of apples. It was wonderful...moist and tasty and so beautiful when presented. This year, I'm having the butcher debone for me. Love this recipe and can't wait to make again.

Do you think using dried cherries or figs would work instead of cranberries?

November 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDio

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