How to Butterfly and Roll a Turkey Breast

Turn an ordinary dish into something special

Turkey roulade on a plate
The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  • 01 of 08

    Butterflying Makes Turkey Even More Versatile

    Turkey roulade on a plate
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    A turkey breast is a versatile cut of meat on its own, and learning how to butterfly and stuff a turkey breast expands the poultry's possibilities even more. The butterfly technique means cutting the thick piece of meat 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 topped with a flavorful filling and rolled up into a roulade.

    Butterflying turkey is simple to do, and once you master it, the technique can be applied to other meats such as chicken and beef.

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  • 02 of 08

    Trim Away Excess Skin and Fat

    Skin removed from a turkey breast
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    To butterfly, begin with a boneless, skinless turkey breast. Many already come rolled and tied or wrapped in string netting; the netting and string need to be removed, as well as the pop-up thermometer if there is one.

    Unroll the breast and lay it on a cutting board. Using a boning knife, a utility knife, or a paring knife, 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.

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  • 03 of 08

    Cut the Meat

    Cutting the turkey breast
    The Spruce / 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. Make sure not to cut all the way through the meat, stopping when there is still about 3/4-inch of meat remaining.

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  • 04 of 08

    Open Up the Turkey

    Turkey breast flattened
    The Spruce / 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.

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  • 05 of 08

    Pound the Meat

    Pounding the turkey breast into uniformed thickness
    The Spruce / 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. If you prefer, you can place a piece of plastic wrap over the turkey before pounding to keep the mallet clean.

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  • 06 of 08

    Spread the Filling

    Spreading the filling over the turkey breast
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    To make the butterflied turkey breast into a roulade, spread an even layer of filling (such as a traditional sage stuffing) 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 it has cooled to room temperature before spreading it on the meat.

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  • 07 of 08

    Roll the Roulade

    Rolling the turkey breast around the filling
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Starting at one end, begin rolling the turkey breast tightly and firmly (but not so tight 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 rotate until the seam is on the bottom.

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  • 08 of 08

    Tie the Roll

    Turkey breast rolled and secured with twine
    The Spruce / 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, seam-side down. 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 now ready to cook.