Last updated February 8, 2019 by Lisa Richards, CNC

Roast Turkey with Sage Pesto

Roast Turkey with Sage Pesto

Cooking for one or two during the holidays can be challenging. But what do you do when you want that great turkey taste without roasting a whole bird? Luckily there are now more and more options for smaller holiday meals.

Many grocery stores now offer a variety of individual cuts of turkey, such as legs, wings, thighs and breasts. The added benefit is that you no longer need to fight over your favorite part of the bird! In this recipe, a bone-in, skin-on, half turkey breast is filled with a flavorful sage pesto before going into the oven.

The pesto bastes the turkey as it roasts, flavoring the meat while keeping it moist and juicy. This pesto could be used on a full turkey or on ones of the smaller cuts like this. An advantage to cooking a smaller cut of turkey is that it is much, much easier to judge when the turkey is ready!

Served with our Coconut Bread Stuffing, and alongside some cauliflower mash, a simple holiday table is easier than you think!

4.16 from 19 votes
Roast Turkey with Sage Pesto
Roast Turkey with Sage Pesto
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 271 kcal
Author: Lisa Richards
Sage Pesto
  • 1 cup fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tsp. finely minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp. hazelnuts
  • 3 Tbsp. oil, olive or coconut, melted
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Roast Turkey
  • 1 bone in, skin on, half turkey breast (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 Tbsp. oil, olive or coconut, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
Sage Pesto
  1. Add sage leaves, minced garlic, lemon juice and zest and hazelnuts to the bowl of a food processor.  

  2. Process until mixture forms a paste, then add oil and process until mixture is smooth.

  3. Season pesto with salt and pepper to taste. Set mixture aside.

Roast Turkey
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (205 degrees C).
  2. Place the half turkey breast in a large oven proof baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet. With your fingers, carefully separate the skin from the turkey breast and spread sage pesto under the skin. Drizzle oil over the turkey breast, season with salt and pepper.

  3. Roast the half turkey breast until a thermometer inserted into the center of the breast reaches 140 degrees (60 degrees C). That should take about 30 minutes. 

  4. Remove from pan, cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Slice turkey breast as needed, and drizzle with pan drippings if desired.

Recipe Notes
  • Including some toasted hazelnuts will add a rich, earthy flavor.
  • Refrigerate any remaining pesto in an air tight container for up to a week or freeze for up to 2 months.
  • This recipe also works with other cuts of turkey such as thighs or drumsticks.

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  1. Megan says:

    I would love to make the pesto, but do you recommend another herb other than sage? Thanks.

    1. Lisa Richards, CNC says:

      Rosemary and thyme would work well too!

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