If a turkey breast is already cooked, what’s the best way to reheat it?
Since the meat is so lean, it dries out easily, so it’s important to choose the right method. Our ultimate guide on how to heat a precooked turkey breast will tell you what you need to know.
How To Heat a Precooked Turkey Breast
The best way to reheat a precooked turkey breast is to put it in a 325-degree oven for about 10 minutes for each pound of meat. You don’t have to cook it to 165, but we recommend heating it to 160 so it’s nice and hot. Adding liquid to the pan will help to keep the meat moist.
Why Use a Precooked Turkey Breast?
Buying a precooked turkey breast is a useful time-saver. For one thing, you won’t have to wait as long for the meat to reach the right internal temp. Since it’s not uncommon for turkey breasts to weigh 7 to 8 pounds, it can take a while for them to cook.
Turkey breasts are a popular alternative to whole turkeys because they’re easier to manage. They also come in handy when you’re serving a small crowd and don’t need as much meat to feed everyone.
If Your Pre-Cooked Turkey Breast is Frozen
To speed things along, you should defrost the frozen turkey breast before reheating it. As with raw turkey, this should take 1 day for every 4 to 5 pounds of meat. That means the meat should be ready to reheat in 1 to 2 days, depending on size.
Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator, tucked away on the lower shelf. If you’re low on time, you can defrost it in cold water instead. This should take 30 minutes for each pound of turkey.
If you use a microwave for defrosting, either use the defrost setting or reset the unit so it runs at 30 percent power. Check the user’s manual for tips on how long to defrost large cuts—it’s usually around 6 minutes per pound.
Alternatively, you can reheat the turkey breast from its frozen state. It will take about 50 percent longer to heat through, though, so this method might not save you that much time, especially if the turkey breast is on the larger side.
How To Heat a Precooked Turkey Breast: A Guide
Check the package that the meat came in. There may be a roasting bag included, which can cut way down on the amount of time you spend on prep.
Put the turkey in the bag, then seal it and set the package on the rack of a roasting pan. Add a splash of water or chicken stock to the pan. This will create a steam bath that will prevent the turkey from drying out as it heats up.
If there’s no roasting bag included, or if you just prefer not to use it, set the turkey breast directly on the roasting rack. Tent it loosely with foil, then add a bit of water or stock to the pan as directed above.
Set the oven temperature to 325 degrees. There’s no need to wait until the oven has preheated—go ahead and put the turkey breast in whenever you’re ready.
Reheat the turkey for about 10 minutes for every pound of meat. A 6-pound turkey breast should heat through in about an hour.
Test the internal temperature of the turkey breast with an instant-read meat thermometer. Since it’s already cooked, it’s not as crucial to reheat the meat to a safe temperature, but it’s best to wait until it hits the 160-degree mark before taking it out of the oven.
Let the turkey rest while you prepare the rest of the meal. If you followed our advice and added water or stock to the pan, you can make gravy from the drippings. The juices from the turkey breast will have combined with the liquid, thereby improving the taste.
After the meat has rested for 15 to 20 minutes, it should be ready to carve.
When you’re reheating a precooked turkey breast, you’ll need to prepare the stuffing on the side. In fact, since this practice is widely regarded as being healthier than stuffing a whole bird, you might want to do this in any case.
Butter a large casserole dish, then fill the dish with the prepared stuffing. Bake in the oven alongside the turkey breast. For a moister stuffing, cover the dish with foil. If you prefer a crispier texture, leave the dish uncovered.
The stuffing should be ready to eat in about 30 minutes. Try to put it in the oven about 10 to 15 minutes before you expect the turkey to be ready. That way, it will be fresh and hot by the time you finish carving the meat.
One more thing: If you’re using the smoker as a reheating method (see below), don’t put the stuffing in there. The smoke might complement the juicy turkey, but it will make the stuffing taste weird.
Tips on Seasoning
Since the turkey is already cooked, there’s probably already some seasoning on the meat. Nonetheless, we recommend adding a few flourishes to make it taste even better.
Before you put the roasting pan in the oven, rub the turkey breast all over with melted butter, olive oil, or a combination of the two. Then add a blend of minced fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, rosemary, and sage.
You can also add the herbs to the liquid in the bottom of the pan. The flavor won’t be as intense, but you also won’t have to worry that the herbs will burn as the turkey reheats.
Another option would be to baste the turkey every 30 minutes or so with a blend of melted butter, lemon juice, and whatever flavorings you prefer. You can also use a sauce or glaze for basting in the final stages. Don’t add it too early, or it might burn.
How To Reheat a Precooked Turkey Breast on the Grill or Smoker
By now, you might be wondering: If you can reheat the turkey in the oven, why not fire up the grill or smoker instead?
If you would prefer to use your outdoor cooking setup, feel free to do so. The main reason we suggest using the oven instead is that it’s more convenient. Also, since you should cover the turkey to keep it moist, it won’t take on as much smoke flavor.
You can offset this by using low heat for the first stage of the operation. Set the smoker to 180 degrees, or turn one set of your gas grill’s burners to low.
Place the precooked turkey breast directly on the cooking grate and allow it to reheat for about an hour. At this point, wrap the meat in foil and add a splash of stock or water to the package before sealing it tightly.
Turn up the heat until the environment inside the grill or smoker is around 300 degrees. Continue to reheat the turkey breast until it reaches an internal temperature of 160.
The key is to remove the meat from the heat before it has a chance to overcook. Since it’s precooked, it’s already safe to eat. If the turkey breast cooks past 165 degrees, it will have an unpleasant sawdust-like consistency.
One other issue we have with this technique is the lack of crispy skin. While the meat steams in the foil wrapper, the skin is bound to turn rubbery. If this is a problem, try placing the turkey under the broiler or using a caramelizing torch to crisp up the skin.
The Bottom Line
Reheating a precooked turkey breast is easier than roasting or smoking a whole bird. It also takes less time, which means you can concentrate harder on your side dishes while having dinner ready at a reasonable hour.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!
Hi there! I’m Darren Wayland, your BBQHost. My love of great barbecue inspired me to curate this site as a resource for all my like-minded fellow pitmasters out there. When I’m not researching and learning all I can about the latest tips and techniques, you can find me at the grill—that is, if you can spot me at all through the clouds of sweet-smelling smoke. And since you asked, yes, that probably is barbecue sauce on my face. Welcome to the party!