This Dutch oven boneless turkey breast recipe is easy as can be. Juicy, tender turkey breast gets gently cooked in onions and broth, which doubles as a silky gravy to drizzle over the finished dish. It can be made over your campfire, camp stove, grill, or on your stovetop at home.
The first time we camped at Thanksgiving, I went all out and cooked a turducken and multiple sides. While it was certainly memorable, attempting to make a fully turkey dinner in a campground, without all the conveniences of home definitely added an unnecessary amount of stress to the preparation. I learned my lesson quickly, and in future years kept the meal much simpler.
Which is exactly what this campfire turkey is. Simple and easy. Boneless skinless turkey breast gets gently braised on a bed of onions in a Dutch oven, and then the braising liquid and onions becomes a silky gravy to drizzle over the turkey slices. Everything is in one pot, and all you need to do is keep an eye on the heat. Now that's a stress-free turkey dinner!
Why This Recipe is Great for Camping
- The braised turkey breast and onion gravy is prepared entirely in one pot over the campfire, stove, or grill. The lidded cast iron Dutch oven locks in moisture, keeping your turkey juicy and tender.
- It's easy to slice and serve. No need to take along any carving tools or deal with a big turkey carcass.
- It's a filling and satisfying meal that's easy to prepare any time of the year, but also works perfectly for small gatherings at holiday dinners, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Onion--This adds just a little sweetness to your gravy, and helps to flavor the turkey as it cooks. I recommend using yellow or white onion for the best results. Red onions tend to be a little too sweet.
- Broth--You can use chicken or turkey broth.
- Fresh herbs--Any combination of rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, and sage will work. Many stores sell fresh poultry herb mix, which is ideal for this Dutch oven turkey breast recipe. Tie the herbs together with twine to make it easier to remove them at the end.
- Boneless turkey breast--This is going to be the easiest cut of turkey to cook. If your turkey breast has the skin on, you can leave it to add some fat and flavor during cooking, however, it won't become crispy, so you will likely want to remove it before serving.
- Flour--This is used to thicken the gravy. You can adjust the amount of flour depending on how thick you prefer your gravy. To make the dish gluten-free, substitute cornstarch.
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they begin to soften and take on some color.
- Brush the turkey breast with oil and season all over with salt and pepper.
- Place the turkey breast on top of the onions, add the herbs, and pour in the stock. When pouring the stock, take care to pour around the turkey and not on top so that you don't wash the seasoning away. Cover and cook until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
- Make the gravy. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board, and whisk the flour mixed with some broth into the pot. Boil, whisking frequently, until the gravy thickens.
Yes. While bone-in turkey breasts require a little more effort to carve, they are very flavorful. If you cook a bone-in turkey breast in the Dutch oven, you may need to increase your cooking time slightly.
I would recommend using one that is at least 6 quarts in capacity. The campfire Dutch oven that I use is 7 quarts, and it holds everything nicely. If you use a pot that is significantly smaller, the turkey breast may end up submerged in the liquid, which is not what you want.
The easiest way to tell is with an instant read thermometer. You are aiming for an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the breast. Don't cook to a higher temperature as it can result in dry, tough turkey.
Definitely. Follow the directions, using your Dutch oven on your stovetop. Adjust the heat as needed to keep the liquid at a simmer.
If you are cooking this on your grill, or want to cook it inside an oven, keep your grill or oven at 325°F (163°C).
Tips and Troubleshooting
- Always start with a fully thawed turkey breast so that it cooks evenly.
- When cooking turkey over a campfire, monitor the heat level carefully, adding hot coals as needed. You will need to keep the Dutch oven over hot coals, but if the liquid in the pot begins boiling vigorously, move the Dutch oven to cooler coals or the edge of the grill grate to just maintain a simmer in the pot. Vigorous boiling can make the turkey tough and should be avoided.
- Adjust the amount of flour in your gravy to determine the thickness. Less flour will give you a thinner, jus-like sauce, while more flour will give you a thick, pourable gravy.
- Store leftover turkey and gravy in separate sealed containers in your cooler or refrigerator for up to 3 days. Rewarm the turkey in a Dutch oven over low heat, with a little additional broth. The gravy can be warmed in a small pot over low heat until warmed through.
The Most Important Thing to Remember
The most helpful piece of advice I can give you when making this recipe is to watch your heat level carefully. You want the liquid inside the Dutch oven to be simmering so that it gently cooks the turkey breast. Allowing the liquid to boil rapidly can cause the turkey to become tough.
Lift the lid periodically to see what's happening inside, and adjust the heat, if necessary. This may mean moving it to a hotter or cooler spot on your fire, or adjusting your grill or stove setting.
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Dutch Oven Turkey Breast
- 6 to 7-quart Dutch oven
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- One (1 ¾-to-2-pound | 800-to-900-g) boneless, skinless turkey breast
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and sage, tied
- 2 to 3 cups chicken or turkey stock
- 2 to 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- If making this over a campfire, prepare a bed of hot coals. If making this on the grill or stovetop, set it for medium-low heat.
- Place a large Dutch oven over your hot coals or medium-low heat and warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onions and cook until softened and beginning to take on some color, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Brush the turkey breast with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and season well with salt and pepper.
- Nestle the turkey breast on top of the onions and add the herbs. Pour the broth into the Dutch oven, taking care not to pour the broth around the turkey and not directly on top. Add enough broth so that the liquid comes partially up the sides of the turkey breast but doesn't submerge it.
- Cover and cook until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), 45 to 60 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure the liquid is simmering. If necessary, adjust the heat or move the Dutch oven to a different part of the fire or grill to keep the liquid at a simmer.
- Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let it rest while you make the gravy. Discard the herb bundle.
- Mix the flour with a few tablespoons of the remaining broth (or warm water) to create a slurry, then whisk that into the simmering liquid. Cook until the gravy thickens to your desired consistency, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
- Slice the turkey and serve with the onion gravy.
- Monitor the heat--When cooking turkey over a campfire, monitor the heat level carefully, adding hot coals as needed. You will need to keep the Dutch oven over hot coals, but if the liquid in the pot begins boiling vigorously, move the Dutch oven to cooler coals or the edge of the grill grate to just maintain a simmer in the pot. Vigorous boiling can make the turkey tough and should be avoided.
- Oven method--To make this in the oven, follow the recipe through step 4, then cover and transfer to a 325°F oven.
- Gravy thickness--Adjust the amount of flour in your gravy to determine the thickness. Less flour will give you a thinner, jus-like sauce, while more flour will give you a thick, pourable gravy.
- Storage and reheating--Store leftover turkey and gravy in separate sealed containers in your cooler or refrigerator for up to 3 days. Rewarm the turkey in a Dutch oven over low heat, with a little additional broth. The gravy can be warmed in a small pot over low heat until warmed through.