Deli-Style Roast Turkey for Sandwiches


I'm excited to be sharing just how simple and easy it is to roast and slice your own turkey breast for sandwiches, which might not seem like something worth doing-until you actually do it. And no, enjoying fresh turkey sandwiches once a year after Thanksgiving is not enough.

Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Additional Time:
8 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
9 hrs 40 mins
8 servings

There are few things less inspired (and more popular), than your run-of-the-mill turkey sandwich. Millions are consumed every day, with the vast majority being made using highly processed, pre-sliced packaged turkey. Apparently, most people are fine with this arrangement. They barely give it a thought, until they get a freshly roasted turkey sandwich from one of our better delis. Then, for a few brief moments, they realize what it's actually supposed to taste and feel like.

Unfortunately, these "hand-crafted" turkey sandwiches at the fancy deli aren't cheap, and after this brief respite, it's usually back to loaf o' turkey. However, these aren't the only two choices. Roasting your own turkey breast at home is easy, relatively fast, very affordable, and the quality won't just rival your favorite deli, but will probably surpass it.

The secret here is lots of seasoning and not a lot of overcooking. I hope by now that you've invested in a probe thermometer, which is how you'll make sure your turkey breast doesn't go over 150 degrees F. If you can manage that, you're in for the best turkey sandwich you've ever had. Of course, this technique will work just as well if you want to enjoy it hot. Either way, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Deli-Style Roast Turkey for Sandwiches
Deli-Style Roast Turkey for Sandwiches. Chef John

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  • 1 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) skin-on, bone-in split turkey breast

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Spice Rub:

  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (230 degrees C).

  2. Pat turkey breast with a paper towel to remove any excess liquid and place into a baking dish just big enough to fit it. Use the tip of a sharp small knife to poke the skin of the turkey breast all over. Drizzle over olive oil and use tongs to rub; flip turkey breast over a few times, or until all surfaces are coated with the oil. You can also use a brush. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes.

  3. While turkey rests, mix salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and paprika together in a small bowl until thoroughly combined.

  4. Use tongs to grab the turkey breast with one hand while using your other hand to sprinkle the spice rub evenly over the entire surface, including the sides. Finish with the skin side facing up.

  5. Add about 1/2 inch of water to the bottom of the baking dish.

  6. Place prepared turkey breast into the center of the oven. Immediately lower the heat to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Roast until a probe thermometer stuck into center of the thickest part of the breast reads 150 degrees F (65 degrees C), about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

  7. Let cool before wrapping. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator, about 8 hours, or overnight. Once meat is cold, slice thinly and serve.

Chef's Notes:

If you want this spicy, you could add a little cayenne to the spice rub. Feel free to use fresh herbs instead of dried.

For easier slicing, the breast meat can be trimmed away from the rib cage first. Save bones and trimmings for turkey stock.

Juices from the baking dish can be reserved for a gravy, if you want to make hot turkey sandwiches.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

185 Calories
3g Fat
1g Carbs
37g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 185
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 102mg 34%
Sodium 665mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Protein 37g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 25mg 2%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 381mg 8%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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