How to Cook Split Bone Turkey

by Caryn Anderson

A roasted turkey on a dinner table.

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Cooking split bone turkey, or split turkey breast, as it's more commonly known, lets you cook up a protein-rich main dish that's low in fat and cholesterol in a fraction of the time that it takes to cook a whole turkey. Since the breasts are split, it makes the meat more manageable; leaving the bone in helps retain more moisture and flavor. With either grilling them or roasting them, successfully cooking moist split turkey breasts depends on watching the clock and monitoring the meat’s internal temperature.

Grilling

Set your grill up for indirect grilling by turning only one burner on for a two-burner gas grill or turning the front and rear burners on for a grill with three or more burners. If you're using a charcoal grill, rake the coals on either side of the center, placing a drip pan in the center to catch any drips.

Preheat your grill on medium or medium-high to reach a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the grill is hot, brush the grates to remove any debris and lightly oil them or spray them with cooking spray.

Pat the turkey dry and season it with your favorite dry rub, herbs or seasonings.

Place the turkey on the hot grill with the skin side facing up. Grill the split turkey breasts for 75 to 90 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the meatiest part reads 165 F.

Remove the turkey from the grill and transfer it to a platter or cutting board.

Roasting

Preheat your oven to 425 F. While the oven is heating up, create a spice paste by mashing garlic with salt, pepper and any other seasonings that you prefer, such as fresh herbs or citrus zest.

Place the turkey on a baking sheet lined with foil or in a roasting pan that's been sprayed with cooking spray, with the rib side facing down. Roast the split breasts for about 50 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer reads at least 165 F.

Take the turkey breasts out of the oven and place them on a carving board or platter.

Tip

  • According to FoodSafety.gov, there isn't any rest time needed for split turkey breasts once they're finished cooking; however, letting the turkey rest for about 10 minutes before carving results in moister meat.

    Brining can also help ensure moist, flavorful turkey breasts. Submerge the split turkey breasts for two or three hours in a mixture made with water, garlic, bay leaf and equal parts dark brown sugar and kosher salt. When you’re ready to start grilling, remove the split turkey breasts from the brine, pat them dry and get rid of the brine to avoid cross contamination.

    You can cook the split turkey breast immediately after seasoning it or maximize the flavor of your seasonings by placing it in a resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator for four to 24 hours to let the seasonings permeate the meat.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Caryn Anderson combines extensive behind-the-scenes writing experience with her passion for all things food, fashion, garden and travel. Bitten by the travel bug at the age of 15 after a trip to Europe, Anderson fostered her love of style and fashion while living in New York City and earning her degree at New York University.