For many years, a cook who wanted to roast a turkey had only one option: cooking a whole bird. If they only planned to feed a small gathering, though, a whole turkey was just too much. To address this conundrum, purveyors started selling turkey breasts. This solid piece of white meat usually weighs between 4 and 8 pounds—perfect for a small group. Cooking a turkey breast in a convection oven makes things even easier, since it’s faster than cooking in a conventional oven.
Convection ovens are not as common as conventional ovens, but they do have several advantages, especially when it comes to roasting meats. A convection oven has at least one fan built in to circulate heat around the food, which results in more even and faster cooking.
Roasting Times in a Convection Oven
Butterball, a North Carolina-based company that produces turkeys and turkey products, recommends roasting a whole turkey breast at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a convection oven, a 3- to 5 1/2-pound breast should take between 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes; a 5 1/2- to 9-pound breast requires 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours and 15 minutes.
By contrast, in a conventional oven, a 3- to 5 1/2-pound turkey breast requires between 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours and 15 minutes (at 325 degrees Fahrenheit), while a 5 1/2- to 9-pound breast needs 2 hours and 15 minutes to 2 hours and 45 minutes.
The timing guidelines provide a general rule of thumb, but to make sure a turkey breast has reached the proper degree of doneness, you need to check its internal temperature with a meat thermometer. A properly cooked breast needs to reach an internal temperature of at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to Roast Turkey in a Convection Oven
To roast a turkey breast in a convection oven, take it out of the wrappings, dry it well with paper towels, season it, and put it on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and then put the pan into the preheated oven. Set your kitchen timer for the shortest roasting time recommended for the weight of the breast.
When the timer goes off, check the temperature of the meat. If it hasn’t reached 170 degrees Fahrenheit yet, put it back in the oven for another 20 minutes or so, then check it again.
Once the thermometer reads 170 degrees, remove the pan from the oven. Let the turkey breast sit for about 15 minutes so the juices can return to the interior. After the meat has rested, you can carve it.