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A more convenient, quicker Thanksgiving main for a smaller crowd

America’s Test Kitchen, Tribune Content Agency on

If you’re having a smaller Thanksgiving gathering this year, consider forgoing the giant bird and opting for boneless turkey breasts. This cut is a quicker and more approachable option, offering all the hearty flavor of turkey without the challenges of cooking and carving a giant bird or bone-in breast. And with this two-for-one recipe, you’ll get perfectly cooked meat and another Thanksgiving staple: a cranberry sauce.

Like with any other cut of turkey, we knew we had to take measures to combat dryness. The first step was to submerge the breasts in a quick brine to protect the delicate white meat. After that, we tucked the tapered ends underneath and tied the breasts with twine. This made the unevenly shaped turkey breasts more uniform and easier to cook.

As for the cooking method, we used a technique that incorporated both high-temperature searing for crisp skin and roasting at a lower temperature to ensure moist meat. To do that, we turned to the ultimate do-it-all pan that can go from stovetop to oven: a cast-iron skillet. We preheated the skillet on the stovetop and browned the breasts on all sides before roasting. Not only did this give us golden skin on the turkey, it meant that the meat needed much less time to finish cooking in the oven.

For a simple chutney that added flavor to the mild meat, we used shallot, fresh ginger, mustard seeds, sugar, cranberries and orange zest, with a splash of vinegar to round out the flavors.

Together, these two simple dishes are the makings of a memorable, great-tasting Thanksgiving spread.

Cast Iron Boneless Turkey Breasts with Cranberry Chutney


Serves 6 to 8

Salt and pepper

2 (2-pound) boneless, skin-on turkey breasts halves, trimmed

1 tablespoon vegetable oil


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