Impossibly tender, moist, and juicy this Slow Cooker Turkey Breast will surpass your expectations! Perfect for a smaller holiday gathering, it frees up your oven and is a cinch to prepare and a cinch to clean up. Honestly, what could be better?
If you are cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving for more than 4 people, you will definitely want to make this game-changer spatchcock turkey. It’s foolproof, easy, and a complete home run. I will never cook a whole turkey any other way. However, if you have a small gathering this slow cooker turkey breast is hands down the way to go.
I used to be on the fence about cooking lean meats in a slow cooker. That is until I got hooked on cooking this bone-in, skin-on turkey breast (or chicken). It’s a true prep-it-and-forget-it recipe that doesn’t require any prior marinading, browning, or sautéing. Practically effortless, the pay-off is huge: a foolproof, perfectly moist, juicy, and tender turkey breast.
I develop most turkey recipes with Thanksgiving and Christmas in mind. But this slow cooker turkey is so easy and delicious you’ll want to make it all year round, even on weeknights.
Why You Will Love This Slow Cooker Turkey Breast Recipe
- When your oven space is in high demand, cooking a turkey breast in the slow cooker will save you.
- If you have a really large crowd and need to supplement a whole turkey, this slow cooker turkey breast is the way to go.
- Cooked low and slow, the turkey breast doesn’t dry out and it is more moist, and juicier than if you cooked it in the oven.
- It’s a great meal-planning recipe. Cook it on the weekend, shred it up and use it in soups, sandwiches, tacos, grain bowls, etc.
Ingredients & Notes
For this recipe, we are rubbing a butter/herb mixture under the turkey skin and an olive oil/spice rub on the skin. The butter mixture flavours the meat and keeps it nice and moist. Olive oil is easier to rub all over the skin than butter and the spices add colour and flavour. But feel free to use whatever rub you like, changing any of the spices up to suit your taste.
- Turkey breast – You will need a skin-on, bone-in turkey breast. I used a half turkey breast but you can use a whole breast if your slow cooker is large enough.
- Butter – To rub under the turkey skin for lots of flavour and to keep the meat really moist.
- Olive oil – To rub on the skin which adds a lot of flavour.
- Onions, carrots, and garlic – The turkey sits on a bed of these vegetables which helps keep the turkey lifted away from the pan juices. The vegetables also add lots of flavour to the drippings and juices for making gravy. I don’t always add carrots but I threw some in this time at the last minute.
- Fresh herbs – I like to use fresh chopped rosemary, sage, and thyme for both rubs. If you prefer to use all dry spices, that works just as well.
- Spices – Dry spices add a lot of flavour to the turkey skin and pan juices. Here we use garlic powder, onion powder, and sweet paprika. The paprika is pretty essential for adding colour to the turkey so try not to skip it.
- Salt and pepper – Season generously for the best flavour.
- Other optional aromatics – This is optional but I like to also add a bay leaf and some peppercorns to add more depth of flavour to the drippings.
How To Make Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
This recipe is so easy and yields such great results, you will think your slow cooker is a superhero. FYI, I have a 15 + year old slow cooker. I should probably retire it and get an upgrade but it chugs along just fine and this turkey breast turns out exquisite every time. Here’s the quick rundown of how to make it:
- Make butter mixture rub. Combine soft butter with chopped herbs, salt and pepper.
- Make olive oil/spice rub. Combine olive oil, spices, and herbs in small bowl.
- Pat turkey dry. Use paper towels to pat dry the turkey all over.
- Spread butter mixture under skin. Carefully separate the skin from the meat. Spread the butter mixture evenly all over the meat that is under the skin.
- Rub olive oil mixture all over the skin. Now rub the olive oil mixture all over the skin and underside of the turkey breast.
- Make the vegetable bed. Place the sliced vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker to create a bed for the turkey breast to sit on. Add the bay leaf and peppercorns , if using.
- Place turkey on top of vegetables. The vegetable bed prevents the turkey breast from poaching in the liquid.
- Cook. Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for about 4 to 6 hours or until internal thermometer reaches 165ºF.
- Broil. For crispy golden skin, transfer the turkey breast to a baking sheet with a rack. Broil for 2 to 4 minutes or until nice and golden and skin has turned crispy.
- Rest before slicing. Transfer the turkey breast to a large plate and let it sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Cut into ½-inch thick slices and serve with homemade gravy, if desired.
Can you cook slow cooker turkey on high?
The key to a really juicy and tender turkey breast is to cook it low and slow for 4 to 6 hours, depending on the size. Cooked on high, you take the risk of the turkey breast drying out.
Can you use a boneless turkey breast?
Bone-in, skin-on turkey breast is best for the juiciest, fork-tender meat. Unfortunately sometimes it’s hard to find a bone-in turkey breast, particularly when it isn’t around Thanksgiving time. If you can’t find one, a skin-on turkey breast will work, just be sure to reduce the cooking time by at least an hour. I wouldn’t recommend a skinless, boneless turkey breast for this recipe.
How do you know when the turkey is ready?
Use an instant read thermometer to check the temperature. This is the best way to make sure your turkey will not be undercooked, or overcooked. For a small turkey breast (2-3 pounds), check the temperature at 3 hours. For a larger turkey breast (4-6 pounds) start checking after 4 hours. When the temperature reaches 165ºF, the turkey is perfectly cooked.
How do you get crispy skin?
So easy! Once the turkey breast is done cooking, simply broil it for 2-4 minutes. The skin gets so crispy and golden brown no one will be able to tell it was cooked in a slow-cooker.
Can this slow cooker turkey breast be made ahead?
I wouldn’t recommend making it ahead. Though leftovers are great for days, if you want to serve a really juicy turkey, you should make it the day of.
Can you make a gravy with slow cooker turkey breast?
Yes! The drippings make a fabulous gravy and I include instructions in the recipe card.
What To Serve With Slow Cooker Turkey
If cooking this recipe for the holidays, pair it with any of these delicious sides:
- Creamy Cauliflower Purée
- Balsamic Roasted Shallots
- Red Wine Cranberry Sauce
- Haricots Verts (Green Beans with Almonds)
- Potatoes Au Gratin with Caramelized Onions
- Sweet Potato Gratin with Sage
If making the slow cooker turkey for a more simple weeknight dinner, serve it with any of these easy sides:
- Catalan-Style Spinach
- Smashed Potatoes with Herb Salt
- Sautéed Swiss chard with White Beans
- Broccoli Salad
- Wild Rice Citrus Salad with Persimmons
Leftover turkey keeps well in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days.
You can also freeze the leftover turkey: place cooled turkey in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then use as desired. My favourite way to use turkey that has been frozen is to chop it up and use in soups, a pot pie, or cheesy quesadillas.
Ways To Use Leftover Turkey
Turkey leftovers are the best thing about Thanksgiving, wouldn’t you agree? So good to make sandwiches, add to soups, salads, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few of our favourite ways to use it:
- Chicken (or turkey) Pot Pie
- Enchilada Verde
- Tortilla Soup
- Instant Pot Barley Minestrone Soup (add Turkey)
If you give this Slow Cooker Turkey Breast recipe a try, please feel free to leave a comment and/or a star rating below. We appreciate and welcome all your feedback. Thank you!
Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
For The Butter Rub
- 2 tablespoons very soft unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs; such as thyme, rosemary, and sage
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
For The Spice Rub
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika (use regular paprika)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs; such as thyme, rosemary, and sage
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
For The Slow Cooker:
- 1 (4-pound) bone-in, skin-on turkey breast split or whole (*see notes)
- 2 medium yellow onions sliced thickly
- 1 medium carrot peeled and sliced lengthwise into 3 or 4 pieces
- 4 cloves of garlic peeled and left whole
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf optional
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns optional
For The Gravy
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1-2 cups chicken stock or turkey stock
- ¼ cup dry white wine optional
- Place butter, chopped herbs, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and mix to combine.
- In a separate small bowl, combine olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chopped herbs, salt, and pepper.
- Pat the turkey dry all over with paper towels. Carefully separate the skin from the meat. Spread the butter mixture evenly all over the meat that is under the skin. Now rub the olive oil mixture all over the skin and underside of the turkey breast.
- Place the sliced onions and carrots on the bottom of the slow cooker to create a bed for the turkey breast to sit on. Scatter the garlic cloves and thyme so]prigs all around and add the bay leaf and peppercorns, if using. Place the turkey breast on top.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for about 4 to 6 hours or until internal temperature reaches 165ºF. When ready, remove turkey from slow cooker and transfer to a baking sheet with a rack.
Crisp The Skin
- Place an oven rack about 10 to 12-inches from the top. Preheat broiler to high.
- Broil turkey breast for 2 to 4 minutes or until nice and golden and skin has turned crispy. Keep an eye on it, it browns very quickly.
- Loosely cover with foil and let sit for 15 minutes, or so, before slicing. Cut into ½-inch thick slices and serve with homemade gravy, if desired.
- Strain the liquid and vegetables into a large measuring cup, pushing on everything with a large spoon to extract all the flavour. Top up with chicken broth to get 2 cups of liquid.
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly pour in the wine, if using, and the broth mixture, whisking as you pour to ensure you have a very smooth mixture. Simmer until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes longer, adding a little more broth to loosen, if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning with a little more salt and pepper, if needed.
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