Walnut Pesto Turkey Pinwheels

Two years ago, my wife and I started what we didn’t know would become a post-Thanksgiving tradition. We were at a grocery store near her parents’ house, and they had turkeys on sale for $0.49/lb (normally $2.59/lb). I begged, and she let me get it. We cut it into two breasts, two wings, two thighs, and two legs, and we also had the bones to make soup…cheap meals throughout the year. Fast forward one year, and I didn’t have to do as much convincing to buy my coveted discount turkey (I think she was pretty much resigned to the fact that it was happening…she’s wise about which battles she picks and knew this would have been a losing proposition). Anyway, two years makes a tradition!

Last night, I broke down the turkey, and froze most of it. However, when you break down a turkey (even if you just had a ton of it with Thanksgiving Dinner), you pretty much have to cook some fresh meat rather than freezing it all. This particular bird was of an ambitious (19 lb) size, so we wound up cutting the breast that we were going to cook in half and freezing the rest.

As for the pesto stuffing, at Thanksgiving, my sister gave us a bunch of basil that she was given at work…and pesto just seems like the right thing to do with a bunch of basil. So there you have it!

Time: 60 Minutes (+/- depending on size of turkey breast)


  • Boneless Turkey Breast
  • Pesto (or make your own)
    • Fresh basil
    • Parmesan cheese
    • Olive oil
    • Walnuts
  • Any additional seasoning. We used just black pepper for the skin.


  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees f.
  • Put your basil into your food processor with some walnuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Pulse to chop and combine. If it’s not the consistency you desire the first time, add whatever ingredients are underrepresented, and pulse again.
  • Now, let’s talk turkey:
    • There are two ways to flatten the turkey breast.
      • We cut through the meat nearly to the skin in the middle of the non-skin side. Then, we turned the knife so the blade was parallel with the counter and made some quick thin cuts, and sort of rolled the meat out that way.
      • Another good way to flatten is to place the meat into a large zip top bag and use a meat tenderizer/flattener. Depending on the size of the turkey breast, you may need a gigundo bag for this to work…or cut in half, and work in batches.
    • When your turkey breast is flattened, spread your pesto atop, and roll tightly.
    • Place the turkey rolls on an oven safe pan (or on a grate over a pan if you want the drippings to drip down away from your meat).
    • Stash in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Note, this can vary quite a bit based on the thickness of your meat and the size of your turkey breast
  • Towards the end of your cooking time, use your digital thermometer, and poke it into the thickest part of your stuffed turkey. When the thermometer reads 165 degrees F, you’re done.
  • When your meat is sufficiently cooked, remove it from the oven, and move it to a cutting board. Let sit for 5 minutes (do not skip this!), and then slice your pinwheels.
  • Plate, devour, and enjoy!

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