How to Butterfly a Turkey Breast

Butterfly turkey breast
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  • 01 of 08

    Learn how to Butterfly a Turkey Breast

    Butterfly turkey breast
    Recipe for Pesto Turkey Breast Roulade. Jessica Harlan

    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 for example, covered with a flavorful filling and rolled up into a roulade.

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

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  • 02 of 08

    Cut Away Excess Skin and Fat

    How to Butterfly a Turkey Breast
    Cut away excess skin and fat. ©2008 Jessica Harlan licensed to, Inc.

    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 knife underneath the edge of the skin and pulling the skin away while simultaneously slicing the knife along the...MORE membrane that holds the skin to the meat.

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  • 03 of 08

    Begin the Cut

    How to Butterfly a Turkey Breast
    Begin the cut. Jessica Harlan

    Turn the turkey breast over, so the skin side is 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.

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  • 04 of 08

    Continue Cutting the Meat

    How to Butterfly a Turkey Breast
    Continue cutting the meat. Jessica Harlan

    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, but stop when there is still about 3/4 of an inch of meat remaining.

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  • 05 of 08

    Open the Piece of Meat Flat

    How to Butterfly a Turkey Breast
    Open the piece of meat flat. Jessica Harlan

    You should now be able to open the piece of meat flat, like an open book, to make a uniformly thick, large piece of meat. At this point, you can use a meat mallet to pound out any thicker pieces so that it is all roughly the same thickness. 

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  • 06 of 08

    For a Roulade, Spread the Filling

    How to Butterfly a Turkey Breast
    Spread the filling. Jessica Harlan

    If you are making the butterflied turkey breast into a roulade, spread an even layer of filling (in this case, basil pesto is being used) over the turkey. Don't spread to the very 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

    How to Butterfly a Turkey Breast
    Roll the roulade. Jessica Harlan

    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.

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  • 08 of 08

    Tie the Roll

    How to Butterfly a Turkey Breast
    Tie up the roll. Jessica Harlan

    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.

    Your turkey roulade is ready to cook!