Jayden Lawson
Published by Jayden Lawson
Last Updated On: July 21, 2023

During my ten years of following a carnivore lifestyle, I discovered that turkey serves as a nutritious substitute for red meat, prompting me to learn how to determine its doneness when incorporating it into my diet.

I checked what the USDA recommended and added what my butcher had to say.

Here are tried methods to tell if turkey breast is perfectly cooked.

Quick Summary

  • The best way to tell if the turkey is done is by using a meat thermometer.
  • Calibrate your thermometer before inserting a probe into the turkey breast.
  • Turkey breast is safe to eat if it reaches a temperature of 165°F.

3 Ways to Use a Thermometer to Tell If a Turkey Breast Is Done

a thermometer telling if a turkey breast is done

Here's the correct way to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey breast before taking it off the oven.

1. Calibrate It

Your first step is to pour water into a pot and bring it to a boil.

It must be deep enough that the thermometer probe's tip is immersed completely without touching the glass's and pot's bottom.

Dip the thermometer probe into the pot once the water is boiling. Check on the reading.

It should show the temperature in either Fahrenheit (212) or Celsius (100) [1]. If not, the readout has to be adjusted since it is wrong.

To correct it, you'll have to adjust a small nut on the side of the thermometer where the face and probe meet using pliers or a wrench.

Be mindful not to move the nut too much.

Once it's adjusted, repeat the process.

Note: Clean your thermometer thoroughly before inserting it into your meat to avoid cross-contamination.

2. Insert Probe

a photo of a turkey breast and temperature probe

Place your temperature probe in the thickest part of the meat [2].

Be careful not to touch the bone with the probe tip if it's a bone-in breast.

Else, the measurement won't be correct.

Check the temperature at different parts of the whole turkey breast to be sure it's cooked evenly.

3. Wait

Keep a close eye on it as the temperature probe stabilizes. Give it 1-2 minutes to read because some meat probes take longer to read than others.

When the breast registers 165°F inside, remove the turkey from the roasting pan [3].

After that, leave it for 10-15 minutes to rest while being loosely wrapped with foil. The temperature will rise a few degrees as it's resting.

5 Ways to Tell If Turkey Breast Is Done Without a Thermometer

a photo of a cooked turkey breast

You can estimate your cooking time with a timer or slice and check if you don't have a meat thermometer.

1. Use a Timer

You can use a timer to determine when the turkey breast is done.

It's best to estimate how long turkey breasts will take to cook.

While it won't be completely accurate, this will give you a general sense of when the turkey might be done.

I suggest weighing your turkey breasts and calculating the cooking time before cooking it.

Calculate 15 minutes per pound while cooking turkey breasts in the oven.

Plan 20 minutes per pound of turkey breast for those who smoke theirs at 275°F.

2. Slice and Check

a photo of sliced turkey breast

Cut into the thickest section of your turkey breast after removing it from the roasting pan to use the "slice and check" technique.

The juices will run clear when you cut into a turkey breast cooked to the proper oven temperatures.

The turkey breast is not cooked through if the juices are pink or have a reddish tinge.

The presence of myoglobin in the muscle cell causes the pink color of the meat to appear.

Additionally, check to see that the juices are clear and not foggy or murky. The turkey may have been overcooked if its juices are murky.

Another thing to look at is the meat's texture. The turkey breast should have a firm yet tender and moist texture.

Overcooked meat may feel tough or rubbery. Return to the oven if it seems mushy or soft since it wasn't cooked.

This technique has the drawback of occasionally retaining the pink hue of the smoked turkey, which can lead to overcooking the bird.

I advise against cooking a turkey without a thermometer for this reason.

"Even after being cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165 °F, the turkey might still be pink. Smoked turkey always has pink in the meat."
- United States Department of Agriculture

3. Season Your Turkey Breast

Season Turkey Breast on a wooden board

Given that white meat turkey doesn't naturally have as much taste as dark meat turkey, I recommend flavoring your whole turkey breast.

Your turkey breast will taste better even if you season it only with salt and pepper.

Read More: Methods for Seasoning Meat

4. Wrap With Foil

The breast area of the bird is most prone to drying out, so even though I don't typically advise cooking a turkey breast in tinfoil, it can assist it in retaining moisture.

Remember that the tin foil approach won't give you crispy skin, but it's a perfect trick if you plan to slice up the breast to put on sandwiches.

5. Let It Rest

Both the turkey breast and the entire bird still need to rest.

Be careful to let it sit on the counter for 5–10 minutes or a ¼ of your cooking time before cutting into it.

Cutting into the meat makes the liquids infuse the meat rather than dripping all over the chopping board.

Related Articles:


How Long Does it Take to Cook Turkey Breast?

It takes 20-25 minutes per pound of turkey breast to cook it at 275 degrees. Roasting it in the oven will take about 15 minutes per pound of meat.

What's the Ideal Doneness of Turkey Breast?

According to the USDA, the ideal doneness of turkey breast is achieved at an internal temperature of 165°F, but since turkey breast might take longer to cook, it can go up to 180°F.

What Does a Fully Cooked Turkey Breast Look Like?

A fully cooked turkey breast has crispy skin, clear juices, and a soft and firm texture. You'll need to confirm it's evenly cooked by inserting a clean meat thermometer until it records a temperature of 165°F.

What’s the Best Way to Check if Turkey Breast is Done?

It's essential to check if turkey breast is done by using an instant-read digital thermometer properly calibrated to determine whether the turkey breast has reached this temperature.

You can also perform visual checks, like ensuring it has clear juices and a firm but soft texture.

If you're seeking a trusted meat delivery service that offers antibiotic- and hormone-free turkey, along with other premium meat options, make sure to read about ButcherBox by going to our homepage to learn more about their sustainable practices and offers.


  1. https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/How-do-I-calibrate-a-food-thermometer
  2. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/poultry/turkey-basics-safe-cooking#
  3. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2020/11/12/countdown-food-safe-thanksgiving-day-faqs
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