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Juicy Turkey Breast Recipe (slow cooker)

Are you tired of throwing away all the dark meat at your Thanksgiving? This slow cooker turkey breast is just what you are looking for! Juicy, succulent turkey breast with crispy skin!

This easy juicy slow cooker turkey breast recipe has herbed butter with hints of garlic and onion.  Finished in the oven to get the crispy golden skin this recipe is perfect for those who don’t need the entire bird for their Thanksgiving celebration or those who only want the breast meat.

thick slices of turkey with gravy on a plate

This recipe for slow-cooked turkey breast is very juicy and tender, but you also get the crispy golden skin as if you had roasted it in the oven. The turkey has a seasoned butter full of all of the flavors of traditional turkeys like onions, garlic and sage but made without using the oven.

In our house, over the years the amount of side dishes has pretty much taken over our Thanksgiving dinners and oven space is always at a premium so I’m always looking for ways to make Thanksgiving recipes not using the oven.

Turkey’s almost always get that prime oven space because of the sheer size of them…. But today’s turkey recipe can be made in the crockpot which helps free up the oven. I like this Slow Cooker to make it in.

It’s nice to have an option for thanksgiving turkey that doesn’t require the oven. (But if you do want a whole turkey check out this Juicy Oven Roasted Turkey! )

This effortless turkey is so good you’ll want to use it much more often. It’s perfect for year-round dinner, salads, meal prep or any time you want a substitute for rotisserie chicken!

This slow cooker turkey breast is basically hands-off so you can spend the extra time making all of the side dishes your family loves at thanksgiving.

I always get asked so many questions during the holidays because people get nervous about cooking a turkey for the family dinner.

I have you covered! By the time you get to the recipe at the bottom of this post, you’ll be able to cook this family favorite with confidence without all the stress and worry. 

I’ll answer all the questions  you may have like:

  • How to get a juicy turkey in the slow cooker?
  • How long to cook a turkey so it doesn’t dry out?
  • What temperature is the turkey done at?
  • How you can save a dry turkey?
close up of moist juicy turkey with gravy on top

What type of turkey breast to buy and how much

Bone-in skin-on breast will yield the most flavor. If you can’t find a double breast, two, a spit breast will work just fine.

You’ll want to purchase 1-1.5 pounds person– this accounts for some leftovers as well.

How to cook a turkey breast in the slow cooker

There are a couple of tricks when cooking the turkey in a crockpot.  Most cooking in the slow cooker is done down in the liquid but if you do that with the turkey you will end up with meat that falls off of the bone as you are lifting it out.  

  1. To achieve a gourmet photo-worthy turkey on your family table you’ll want to create a shelf to cook the turkey on so it doesn’t sink down into the liquid.
    Making a shelf to cook turkey on top of garlic, onions and orange
  2. Next, you’ll make a heavily seasoned butter with softened butter and all the herbs that make you think of thanksgiving.  Poultry seasoning, garlic, onion and salt season the turkey to perfection.
  3. Create a pocket underneath the skin to add both flavor to the turkey meat and to help guarantee a moist juicy tender turkey breast meat.
    Creating a pocket underneath the skin for seasoned herb butter
  4. You’ll want to make sure and stuff from both the top and the bottom of the breast while still keeping one part of the skin attached to the breast.  I suggest leaving a line of the skin about 3 inches down from the top where you don’t pull the skin away.  (you can see where I’m pointing in the photos here and also in the video at the bottom of the post!)
  5. After seasoning the turkey breast generously with more salt pepper and herbs on both the top and the bottom place the turkey in the crockpot on top of the shelf.
  6. Add a little wine or stock to the crockpot/slow cooker then cover.
  7. Cook on high for a couple of hours, then reduce the heat to low to finish.  For a 4-pound bone-in turkey breast I suggest cooking it on high for 2 hours, then reducing it to low for 4-5 hours.
  8. Once the turkey is done you’ll want to broil the turkey for just a few minutes to get a crisp golden brown skin.
Golden crisp skin on the crockpot turkey breast

 

What temperature is turkey done?

Turkey is safe to eat when it reaches 165°.  I use a simple handheld thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the turkey breast to measure it.  You’ll want to make certain to avoid touching the tip to any bone so you get an accurate reading.

You can’t have Thanksgiving turkey without a great gravy.  Gravy is also the way you can save a turkey if it seems dried out.  If you cook to the 165° and use the butter I promise you this turkey breast in the slow cooker will not be dry, but sometimes things happen and you cook it too long.

This gravy is made with the same spices and seasonings you slathered the turkey in so it’s a beautiful extension to the wonderful flavors in the turkey.  The gravy is a lighter gravy with just a small amount of flour in it to thicken it and made with the juices that are leftover in the crockpot so they are filled with super flavorful bits.

How to make delicious flavorful turkey gravy?

PRO TIP:  The number one tip in making delicious turkey gravy is to use all of the leftover juices and liquids left in the bottom of the slow cooker.

  • Strain out the solids leaving you with an intensely flavorful liquid.
  • Use the leftover seasoned butter and melt it down in a small saucepan
  • Add flour and let it cook for a few minutes until the butter and flour are fully integrated.
  • Make sure you have about 2 cups of liquid…. add extra turkey stock (store-bought) to the reserved turkey juices/liquids leftover to make a full 2 cups
  • Add the liquid to the flour/butter mixture stirring continuously until blended.
  • Bring to a boil and let thicken.
  • Serve over top of the carved turkey.
Pouring homemade gravy over sliced turkey

Tools used to make Slow Cooker Turkey easier:

Common Questions you might still have for crockpot turkey!

  • Do I need to brine a turkey for the slow cooker? You absolutely do NOT need to brine the turkey breast. Between the butter mixture and the slow cooking releasing juices, your turkey will be plenty moist and juicy without brining it!
  • Does it matter if I use a bone-in turkey breast or a boneless one? I prefer a bone-in breast because of the added flavor the bone gives to the juices that are at the bottom you will make gravy with. BUT… if you want to use a boneless breast it will work out fine. The cooking time will be a little bit less, but as long as you check about an hour earlier you should be fine.
  • Can I use a skinless turkey breast in the slow-cooker? I have never cared for the texture of the turkey breast without the skin on it. It is a little shriveled up for my taste. BUT— gravy saves everything, so if you love skinless turkey… by all means do so. You’ll need to use an injector to get the flavored butter mixture into the breast before cooking.

Side Dish Recipes that will go with your Thanksgiving dinner:

Appetizers that aren’t labor-intensive for Thanksgiving dinner:


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Yield: 4

Juicy Turkey Breast (slow cooker)

Close up of thanksgiving dinner plate with turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberries

This easy juicy slow cooker turkey breast recipe has herbed butter with hints of garlic and onion.  Finished in the oven to get the crispy golden skin this recipe is perfect for those who don’t need the entire bird for their Thanksgiving celebration or those who only want eat breast meat. 

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours 12 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 27 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 pound full turkey breast, skin and bone-in , see notes for boneless options
  • 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon
  • 2 onions
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 whole orange
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup turkey stock, (chicken broth ok)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl mix butter, poultry seasoning, garlic salt, pepper, onion powder and orange zest until well mixed.
  2. Rinse turkey, pat dry.  Using your fingers slide to create a small pocket just beneath the skin coming up from the base of the turkey breast on each side up to the bone that runs across about 3" below the top opening.  You will leave the skin attached all the way across to hold it in place.  (see photo where I point to where to leave it attached.
  3. In the pocket, stuff butter inside.  Then go from the top part of the breast and stuff butter down to where the line is that skin stays attached to hold it in place.  You will leave about 3 tablespoons of the seasoned butter for making the gravy after cooking.
  4. Season both sides of the butter stuffed turkey breast with salt pepper and tarragon.
  5. Cut the onions and garlic in half.  Place into the bottom of the crockpot along with the whole orange. 
  6. Place the turkey breast on top of the shelf created by the onions, garlic and orange.  Add 1/3 cup wine and 1/4 cup water to the bottom of the crockpot.
  7. Cook on high for 1 hour, then reduce the heat for  for 5 hours for a bone in 4 pound turkey breast until the temperature using a thermometer is  165°.
  8. Once the turkey is done remove it from the slow cooker and place in the oven on broil for 5-10 minutes to crisp and brown the skin.  *******Note****. watch the turkey very closely as on broil the skin can burn very quickly.  Once it is golden brown, remove from the oven and cover with foil to keep it warm until ready to serve.
  9. Make the gravy:  Stain out the solids (onion, garlic, orange) from the remaining liquid in the bottom of the crock pot to a measuring cup.  You want to get about 2 cups of liquid so add stock to achieve a total of 2 cups in your measuring cup.  
  10. Using the remaining seasoned butter heat a small pan to medium high and melt the butter. (stirring constantly to avoid it burning.). Then sprinkle the flour over the top in stages to incorporate well and avoid lumping.  
  11. Once flour is well blended slowly add the liquid to the pan while stirring quickly to avoid lumping.  Once the flour/butter is incorporated bring the gravy to a boil and stir until the gravy has thickened.  Place in serving vessel and serve over top of turkey.

Notes

You can absolutely use a de-boned turkey breast.  The cooking time will be less.  I suggest cooking on high for only one hours, then reduce the slow cooker to low  to avoid it drying out.  You will still Cook turkey to 165°.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

4 Servings

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 685Saturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 268mgSodium: 1659mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 86g
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Julie Menghini

Monday 4th of November 2019

I'm stocking up on Turkey breasts since they're on sale right now. I love your food shelf for flavor and that you don't just boil this meat in the crockpot by covering it with liquid.

Ashley

Friday 4th of October 2019

I am excited to try this recipe for my very first Thanksgiving in my new home! Should I double the ingredients if I’m having a larger turkey breast?

Michele

Sunday 6th of October 2019

Hi Ashley! I would maybe do 1.5 times the butter ingredients (and what goes into them) -- I don't think you could fit twice as many onions, garlic or oranges in the bottom-- they are really acting as a shelf so get maybe one extra onion and you should be good. I would double the ingredients for the gravy... one can never have too much gravy! ~m

Toni | Boulder Locavore

Thursday 15th of November 2018

This is such an amazing idea!

Lindsay Cotter

Thursday 15th of November 2018

Love that this is made in the slow cooker! Looks so tender and delicious!

Jennifer Stewart

Tuesday 13th of November 2018

I love the easy cleanup and that delicious gravy from the turkey juices in the slow cooker. Also, not hot kitchen from the oven being on all day!

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