How to Butterfly a Turkey Breast

turkey roulade
Leah Maroney
  • 01 of 08

    How to Butterfly a Turkey Breast

    turkey roulade
    Leah Maroney

    A turkey breast is a versatile cut of meat and learning how to butterfly turkey breasts expands the possibilities even more. The butterfly technique basically means cutting the thick piece partially in half so that it forms a large, thinner piece. It can then either be sauteed as is (it'll cook faster than leaving the breast intact) or covered with a flavorful filling and rolled up into a roulade.

    Use these instructions to learn how to successfully butterfly a turkey breast.

    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Trim Away Excess Skin and Fat

    turkey roulade
    Leah Maroney

    Begin with a boneless, skinless turkey breast. Many, like the one shown in this photo, already come rolled and tied or wrapped in string netting, so you'll need to remove the netting and the pop-up thermometer if there is one.

    Unroll the breast and lay it on a cutting board. Use a boning knife, a utility knife, or a paring knife to cut away any remaining skin by sliding the blade underneath the edge of the skin and pulling it away, while simultaneously slicing along the membrane that holds the skin to the meat.

    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08

    Cut the Meat

    turkey roulade
    Leah Maroney

    Turn the turkey breast over, so the skin side is facing down. Starting with the narrowest end of the meat and holding the blade of the knife parallel to your work surface (you might need to move the meat to the edge of your cutting board closest to you so that your knuckles don't come in contact with your work surface), make a horizontal cut about halfway through the thickness of the meat.

    Continue cutting with your blade parallel to the work surface, creating two equally thick layers of turkey. Do not cut all the way through the meat, stopping when there is still about 3/4-inch of meat remaining.

    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    Open Up the Turkey

    turkey roulade
    Leah Maroney

    You should now be able to open the turkey to lay flat, like an open book, to make a uniformly thick, large piece of meat.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Pound the Meat

    turkey roulade
    Leah Maroney

    At this point, you can use a meat mallet to pound out any thicker pieces so that it is all roughly the same thickness. 

    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08

    To Make a Roulade, Spread the Filling

    turkey roulade
    Leah Maroney

    If you are making the butterflied turkey breast into a roulade, spread an even layer of filling (in this case, traditional sage stuffing is being used) over the turkey. Don't spread to the edge; otherwise, some of the filling will leak out and look messy. If you are using a filling that has been cooked, such as sauteed shallots, be sure that the filling has cooled to room temperature before you start spreading it on the meat.

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  • 07 of 08

    Roll the Roulade

    turkey roulade
    Leah Maroney

    Starting at one end, begin rolling the turkey breast tightly and firmly (but not so tightly that the filling gets squeezed out). You can start your roll with one of the wide sides if you want a long, thinner roulade, or one of the narrow sides if you want a thicker, but shorter, roulade. Continue rolling until the entire thing is rolled up, then turn the roll so that the end of the roll is on the bottom.

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Tie the Roll

    turkey roulade
    Leah Maroney

    Cut five to six pieces of kitchen twine and line them in a row on your work surface, about 1 inch apart, parallel to the edge of the countertop. Place the rolled turkey on top of the twine, then bring the ends of each piece up around the turkey and tie it firmly so it will hold the roll together during cooking. Trim any long string ends.

    Or you can do a traditional butcher roast tie. Your turkey roulade is ready to cook!