What Are Turkey Breast Tenderloins?

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  • Written By: Eugene P.
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2019
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Turkey breast tenderloins are long strips of meat that are cut from either side of a turkey breast along the bone that runs down the center of the breast. Tenderloins are attached to the breast meat on the underside of the cut. There is very little fat in turkey breast tenderloins and, because of this, they are sometimes detached from the larger breast to prevent them from overcooking while the larger breast finishes. Roasting with herbs and spices is one of the more popular ways to prepare turkey breast tenderloins, with the finished meat being very tender if not overcooked. They generally are sliced and served along with a side dish or used in salads.

Unlike chicken breast tenderloins, turkey breast tenderloins are fairly large, sometimes as large as a chicken breast. Though not all butchers remove them from pre-cut breasts, they are sometimes sold as their own cut of poultry. A number of commercial brands offer the tenderloins already trimmed and sometimes spiced or marinated and ready to cook. It is easy to remove the tenderloin from a whole turkey breast, because it can be readily identified by the thin layer of fat that separates it from the rest of the meat. Depending on how it is removed, the tenderloin might be considerably thicker on one side than the other, which could require it to be pounded out to an even thickness or butterflied before being cooked in certain ways.


One of the easiest methods of preparing turkey breast tenderloins is to roast them in a hot oven. This way of cooking provides more control over a longer period of time than some other methods, reducing the chance that the tenderloins will overcook and become dry. The meat can be marinated first in a simple mixture of oil, vinegar and seasonings or can be wrapped in foil to help keep the moisture near the meat. The tenderloins need to be cooked only until the temperature inside the meat has reached 165° Fahrenheit (about 74° Celsius), which is the temperature required to kill any harmful bacteria in the meat.

There are many other ways to cook turkey breast tenderloins, including pan-frying, grilling and using a slow cooker. Dry rubs, marinades and flavor injections also can be used. The meat can be cut lengthwise down the side and stuffed with vegetables or other ingredients that can help to keep the inside moist. A novel way to prepare the tenderloins is to wrap them in bacon and smoke them for hours until the meat has cooked through, providing a unique flavor to the turkey.


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