Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast with gravy. An effortless and easy-to-fix turkey recipe that’s perfect for a small family dinner any time of year. A classic Thanksgiving and Christmas slow-roasted turkey recipe using dried herbs and seasoning.
Certainly, it may come as a surprise that you don’t need to purchase and roast a whole turkey to have a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner. In fact, a turkey breast can be the best option for smaller Thanksgiving dinner parties where it’s intended to serve 1-8 people.
Although a whole roasted turkey on Thanksgiving may be traditional, roasting a turkey breast has may advantages. For one, it can be difficult to get the dark meat (legs and thighs) cooked through before the white meat (breast) overcooks and becomes dry and roasting a turkey breast doesn’t present the same issue. Additionally, a turkey breast has the advantage of roasting in a slow cooker while freeing up precious oven space for other classic Thanksgiving side dish recipes.
How to Make Turkey Breast in a Slow Cooker Crock Pot
|1. First, a frozen breast will need the be defrosted.|
|2. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, Italian blend, and butter or oil.|
|3. Rub seasoning under skin and on top of skin.|
|4. Cook in slow cooker on low 6-8 hours.|
|5. Crisp skin in oven; high broil 7 minutes.|
|6. Make turkey gravy with turkey juices in crockpot.|
How to Choose a Turkey
What Kind of turkey do I need for Thanksgiving? Supermarkets sell a variety of turkey choices ranging from the iconic whole turkey, turkey breast, legs, and thighs. Most times, it comes down to personal preference and the number of holiday guests attending. However, most first time cooks aren’t aware that an entire bird doesn’t need to be purchased and roasted in order to have a conventional Thanksgiving meal.
Today, a modern Thanksgiving meal means that a turkey breast is a perfectly acceptable choice for someone who is entertaining a few guests and only wants a day or two of leftover portions.
Turkey Breast Seasoning Rub Recipe
In order to create a delicious savory turkey, you’ll need to season it. A variety of turkey seasonings, dry rubs, wet rubs, butter rubs, brines, injectables, and other turkey preparation recipes are out there. At times, preparing a turkey can become confusing and overwhelming, but all you need is a classic poultry seasoning, much like cooking chicken in the oven.
For instance, a classic turkey rub recipe I have been using for years is one I use for my Instant Pot Rotisserie-style Whole Chicken. Overall, keep it simple and use classic poultry seasonings and herbs.
Furthermore, this crock-pot turkey recipe is gluten-free, low-carb, and sugar-free. It’s the perfect meal for a small Thanksgiving meal, feeding 6-8 people or planning to have plenty of leftovers for a day or two for 2 people.
How to Serve Turkey: Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes Dinner Menu
How to choose a Turkey Breast
A turkey breast can come bone-in or boneless. Typically, the larger the pounds, the better the chance of it being a bone-in bird. As an example, my turkey breast weighs 6 1/2 pounds. As a result, it’s connected (bone) breasts (2) from a bird. Alternatively, a boneless turkey breast (1 breast) is typically 2-3 pounds.
Slow Cooker Turkey Breast Tips & Questions
Where can I find a turkey breast in the supermarket? Naturally, there are a few spots. First, look by the fresh poultry. Then, check near the hams or other large holiday roasts. Next, check the freezer section. My grocery store carries them in two sections. First, search by the whole birds such as large turkeys or whole chickens. Lastly, look in a different freezer section for just turkey breasts. They look similar to a whole turkey but are smaller and are sometimes stored in a different location to avoid confusion.
Are you supposed to thaw a turkey before cooking it? Ideally, the turkey should be thawed. Of course, some turkey breasts are fresh and won’t need thawing. However, most turkey breasts come frozen and will need to be thawed in the refrigerator or a cold water bath before cooking. Cooking a frozen turkey will result in uneven cooking because the thickest part won’t come to temperature in time.
How long is turkey good for? Cooked turkey is good for 3-4 days. After that, I’d suggest freezing any leftovers to use at a later date. Otherwise, use shredded turkey in recipes much like shredded chicken like this Turkey Panini and Turkey Brie Flatbread.
Can I make a turkey in advance? Yes, the turkey can be made a day or two in advance. To warm, simply place in the slow cooker on warm with 1/4 cup water or broth for 3-4 hours or until heated through. Properly stored cooked turkey does not need to be reheated and can be eaten cold if desired.
Will turkey in the slow cooker overnight work? Yes, I do this all the time. Ultimately, it’s a nice option to have cooked ready-to-eat turkey for meal planning or to eat an early brunch. For instance, I put mine in around 11 PM on low until 7-8 AM then keep it on warm until ready to serve.
Can I keep it on warm until ready to serve? Yes. Keep the turkey covered on “warm” until it’s ready to serve.
Turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving. In fact, once you discover how easy it is to cook turkey breast in the slow cooker, you’ll be able to add it to your meal rotation.
Slow Cooker Savory Herb Turkey Breast Recipe
- Slow Cooker
- 6 1/2 lb turkey breast bone-in or boneless (can be found in freezer section or fresh)
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp Greek, Italian, or Poultry seasoning
- 3 tsp dried parsley
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil or softened butter
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour or cornstarch
- 1 ⅓ cup turkey juice
- PREPARING FROZEN TURKEY BREAST: If the turkey breast is frozen, it will need time to defrost. If using fresh or thawed turkey, skip to next step.To defrost in the refrigerator: Allow (4.8 hours) x (per pound) or 24 hours for a 5lb turkey breast. A 6.5lb turkey breast will need 31 hours to defrost time in the refrigerator. Thaw directions; leave in the package and wrap in a bag to catch any excess moisture seepage.To thaw turkey in cold water: Allow (30 minutes) x (per pound) of turkey. A 6.5-pound turkey will need 3 hours 15 minutes. Thaw directions; fill a large bowl with cold water and replace the water every 30 minutes.Turkey should mostly be thawed, but it's okay to use if some ice crystals remain.
- Whisk together paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, Italian or Greek seasoning, and dried parsley in small bowl. TIP For extra flavor, add in ½ tsp dried rosemary, ¼ tsp sage, and ¼ tsp tarragon leaves. FRESH HERBS: Can be added as extra seasoning.
- Use spoon or spatula, stir and work in the olive oil or softened butter into seasoning until well blended.
- Reach into both turkey cavities and remove any plastic bags.
- Use a knife to cut under the skin. Rub the entire turkey down with seasoning rub, concentration mostly on the meat under the skin while using a small portion of the rub for the skin. NOTE: Turkey breast skin may be removed and discarded if not crisping in the oven later.
- Place turkey breast in slow cooker, breast side down. This helps the white meat to accumulate more juices.
- Set slow cooker on low, and cover with lid. NOTE: If using a larger turkey breast where the lid won't fit, tightly cover top with foil.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the turkey breast reaches 165°F.
- To crisp skin, turn oven on HIGH broil. Line a baking sheet with foil. Use two tongs to carefully transfer turkey to sheet and broil until top skin is crispy; about 4-10 minutes.
- Allow turkey to rest 10 minutes before carving.
- To make the turkey gravy, melt butter on the stovetop over medium heat. Stir in flour and continue to stir until light caramel in color. Carefully pour in turkey juices and stir until combined. Serve with sliced turkey.
- A double breasted (BONE-IN) turkey breast will need to cook longer than a BONELESS turkey breast. If boneless, check the temperature with thermometer after 3-4 hours.
- Thickest part of turkey should register 165°F for safe consumption.
- Keep the turkey covered on “warm” until it’s ready to serve.
- Leftovers refrigerated are good for 2-4 days.
- Can be cooked overnight, read post for details.
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