What Is Hotel-Cut Turkey Breast?

Thanksgiving is about more than food: It's about friends and family, and giving thanks for all the blessings in our lives. But food does occupy an out-sized role in celebrations of the holiday, most of which are centered around Thanksgiving dinner. So our appetites and interest in traditional foods — from turkey and mashed potatoes to cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie — tend to be sharpened in the lead-up to the big day. This is particularly true for home cooks, who may be seeking out new tips or improvements as they begin preparations for the iconic autumn feast.

Turkey is, of course, the unquestioned star of Thanksgiving dinner, and has been ever since Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863, per Britannica. Finding and buying the right turkey is thus of central importance for home cooks as the holiday approaches. There are actually several different cuts and styles worthy of consideration. 

Many opt for a whole bird turkey with the poundage appropriate for their guest count, but as Turkey Smoke notes, the bone-in turkey breast is actually an excellent alternative, as it takes less time to cook. If you choose the bone-in breast, however, be aware that there are actually two styles available, according to America's Test Kitchen: true-cut and hotel-cut (aka country style).

The advantages of hotel-cut turkey breast

Hotel-cut, bone-in turkey breast and true-cut are similar in many regards, notes America's Test Kitchen. Both boast the breast and ribs, but the hotel-cut also includes the giblets, neck, and wings, which are essential for preparing an accompanying sauce or gravy. It's important to note, however, that hotel-cut turkey breast is typically sold fresh and is rarely available frozen. The U.S. Department of Agriculture cautions that you should buy fresh turkey no more than two days before cooking and keep it refrigerated during the interim.

Good Housekeeping observes that hotel-cut turkey breasts are more commonly found in the Northeast region of the U.S. But if you can find hotel-cut or country style turkey breasts in your local supermarket, they have the appeal of being both cost effective — meaning usually cheaper on a per pound basis — and larger than true-cut turkey breasts. The typical hotel-cut turkey breasts, for example, are 7 to 9 pounds. And given that Good Housekeeping recommends having three-quarters of a pound per guest for this variety, that means the average hotel-cut turkey breast can feed up to 12 people.