Comparison: Bone-In vs. Boneless Turkey Breast | Which is Healthier & More

Sometimes there is nothing that will hit the spot like a solid turkey dinner. While it can be fun to prepare a full roasted turkey, there are times when I do not have the time, nor inclination, to roast an entire bird.

That is when I choose to simply make a turkey breast. Turkey is a delicious source of protein, rich in protein and Vitamin B, and low in fat.

T breast is lower in calories and fat than darker meat, and is quicker to prepare than a full turkey.

Turkey breast can be served alongside a wide array of dishes, and is a welcome addition to the menu, any time of the year. When it comes to choosing a turkey breast, there are two options: bone-in, and boneless.

Bone-in and boneless turkey breasts are both delicious and healthy options, however boneless turkey breast has fewer calories and less fat per serving than bone-in turkey breast. However, bone-in turkey breast usually produces meat that has a richer flavor, and is more moist than boneless turkey. Bone-in turkey breast is usually cheaper than boneless turkey breast, and it is also possible to make flavorful turkey broth from the bone, which increases the value of a bone-in turkey breast, and makes it the more popular choice between the two.

Is There a Difference in Taste?

Although the meat is the same, there is a slight difference in the taste of a bone-in and a boneless turkey breast. The bone helps the meat retain moisture and adds a bit richer flavor.

Although both forms of meat are prepared with seasonings, the boneless turkey breast gains the majority of its unique flavor from the seasonings, as it does not have the bone to draw from. 

Is There a Difference in Texture?

Both the bone-in and the boneless turkey breast have similar textures. The meat is typically moist, chewy, and tender.

However, the boneless turkey breast tends to be a bit drier than bone-in, as the bone helps the meat retain moisture during the cooking process.

As both cuts of meat consist of just the white meat, they are both most and tend to fall apart easier than darker turkey meat.

Do They Look the Same?

Boneless turkey breast is smaller than a bone-in breast, as it consists solely of the meat, with the bones removed, and is typically only one breast.

Turkey Breast

A bone-in turkey breast has both of the breasts. Although once the meat is cooked, they both appear the same, with a golden outside and cooked herbs and spices.

A bone-in turkey breast also often has the skin, while boneless typically does not. This can give the bone-in turkey a darker color on the outside. Once they are both sliced, they look the same.

Which is Healthier?

Turkey is a healthy meat. It is high in protein, low in fat, and provides Vitamin B, Zinc, and other helpful nutrients.

The protein in turkey helps with muscle development, and the Vitamin B helps with energy levels, mood regulation, and blood health.

However, boneless turkey breast is even lower in fat and calories than bone-in turkey breast. This is because boneless turkey breast typically also has the skin removed.

Per 3 oz ServingBone-In Turkey BreastBoneless Turkey Breast
Total Fat3.7 g0.4 g
Cholesterol56.2 mg52.7 mg
Sodium240 mg41.4 mg
Carbohydrates0.7 g0
Protein21.7 g21.1 g
Vitamin D0 mg0 mg
Calcium11 mg16 mg
Iron1.02 mg1.13 mg
Potassium234 mg255 mg
Vitamin A2 mg0 mg
Vitamin C0 mg0 mg

Is There a Difference in Price?

Bone-in turkey breast is cheaper per pound than boneless turkey breast. However, boneless turkey breasts are often smaller, and so the total price will be less than a bone-in breast, although there will be less meat.

If the immediate price is a concern, a boneless breast may be the best option, but if overall value is most important, a bone-in breast is the way to go.

StyleLowest Average PriceHighest Average Price
Frozen, Bone-In$0.99/lb.$1.99/lb.
Frozen, Boneless$3.33/lb.$7.99/lb.

How to Cook a Bone-In Turkey Breast

A bone-in turkey breast should be cooked for about 20 minutes per pound, at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, until the meat reaches 165 degrees.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the turkey by rubbing salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and sage around the outside of the meat.
  3. Place the prepared turkey into a roasting pan, with the breast facing up.
  4. Place the pan into the center of the preheated oven, and let the turkey roast until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  5. Remove from the oven, and let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

How to Cook a Boneless Turkey Breast

A boneless turkey breast should be cooked for about 20 minutes per pound, at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, until the meat reaches 165 degrees.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Generously coat the turkey with salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and sage.
  3. Place the spiced turkey into a roasting pan, and place the pan into the preheated oven.
  4. Once the turkey’s internal temperature has reached 165 degrees, remove the turkey from the oven and let it sit for 20 minutes before slicing.

Cooking A Boneless or Bone-In Turkey Breast in a Slow Cooker

Both boneless and bone-in turkey breast can be cooked in a slow cooker.

This results in the most tender meat that will fall apart, and also produces very flavorful turkey, as it absorbs the flavor of the herbs and spices in the slow cooker.

The bone-in turkey will have a more robust flavor than the boneless turkey, as the flavor from the bones will seep into the meat.

  1. Generously coat the outside of the turkey with herbs and spices such as garlic, sage, parsley, thyme, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
  2. Place the turkey breast into the slow cooker.
  3. Add one cup of water or chicken broth.
  4. Cover and cook on low for six hours.

How to Make Broth from Turkey Breast Bone

A tasty and nutritious way to increase the value of the meat and get more from it. The broth can be used to make stew or soup, or can even be consumed as-is.

  1. Place the bones into a slow-cooker.
  2. Cover the bones with water.
  3. Add chopped onion, celery, carrot, and garlic to the slow cooker.
  4. Add sage, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper to the slow cooker.
  5. Let everything cook on low heat for 10 -12 hours.
  6. Strain the broth, and use as desired.
Broth made from Turkey Breast Bone

What to Serve with a Bone-In Turkey Breast

Bone-in turkey breast has a similar appearance and taste to a traditional whole-roasted turkey, and goes well with traditional side dishes such as mashed potatoes and green beans.

To make mashed potatoes, begin with five pounds of peeled, russet potatoes.

  1. Chop the potatoes into quarters.
  2. Place the potato pieces into a pot, and cover the potatoes with water.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Let the potatoes boil for 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces.
  5. When the potatoes are tender and fall apart when stabbed with a fork, drain the water.
  6. Add ¼ cup of butter and 1 cup of milk.
  7. Mash the potatoes together with either a masher, or a mixer on low speed.

To make green beans, begin with 1 ½ pounds of fresh green beans. Trim the ends off the beans with a knife.

  1. Place the green beans in a steaming basket.
  2. Then place the steaming basket into a pot, and add enough water to fill the pot up to the bottom of the basket.
  3. Place the lid on the pot, and steam the green beans over high heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Add butter and salt, to taste.

What to Serve with a Boneless Turkey Breast

Boneless turkey breast is a very lean meat with a gentle flavor. It goes well with stronger side dishes, such as glazed carrots or spicy corn-on-the-cob.

To make glazed carrots, use a 1-pound bag of baby carrots.

  1. Place the carrots, ½ cup water, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1 tablespoon brown sugar into a pan.
  2. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  3. Cover, reduce the heat, and let simmer for 6 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.

To make spicy corn-on-the-cob, start with two ears of corn, shucked.

  1. Place the corn into a pot, cover with water, and boil for 6 minutes, until the corn is heated through.
  2. While the corn is heating, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon butter, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon cumin, and one chopped, seeded jalapeno pepper into a saucepan.
  3. Heat the pepper mixture over medium heat until everything is combined and the peppers are tender.
  4. When the corn has heated through, remove from the water and place on a plate.
  5. Pour the pepper mixture over the top of the corn.

Final Considerations

Either form of turkey breast is an affordable, healthy way to feed a family. The side dishes are delicious and completes the meal.

I personally use the bone-in turkey breast, since I like to have a lot of meat, and make broth from the bones.

This helps me get even more for my money, and I can stretch the leftovers for one more day. Either way, though, the turkey tastes great and brings a smile to everyone’s face. 

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