This Slow Cooker Turkey Breast is a show stopper that’s bursting with buttery garlic-herb flavours, an outrageous super crispy skin and a Garlic Butter Gravy that’s absolutely to-die for!
Slow cooking is without question the safest and easiest way to cook turkey breast without brining or marinating. The flesh is juicy, it’s completely hands off, and it’s a forgiving recipe. And it’s ideal to prep ahead!
SLOW COOKER TURKEY BREAST FLAVOUR BOMB!
This is the slow cooker version of last years’ Roasted Garlic Herb Butter Turkey Breast. The slow cooker option was in such high demand, I ended up creating it and cramming the recipe in the notes, putting it in the running for the world’s longest recipe directions.
And as Christmas and Thanksgiving approaches for another year, I finally got my butt into gear and filmed the slow cooker version properly so I could share it with you.
So it’s here. Garlic Herb SLOW COOKER Turkey Breast. Just 12 months after it was originally requested!!😂
THIS IS WHAT YOU GET
✅ Easy, forgiving recipe made in the slow cooker, freeing up your oven for other things;
✅ Juicy flesh – no dry turkey breast around here! Proof -> see reader feedback on the classic Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast, there’s plenty! This Garlic Herb Turkey Breast uses the same cooking technique;
✅ Garlic-Herb-Butter flavour – all that flavour slathered under the skin so it drips down and bastes the turkey while it’s cooking…..
✅ Crispy skin – you are going to be BLOWN AWAY how crispy the skin is! It’s way crispier than traditional roasted turkey – and it stays crispy. It takes mere minutes under the grill/broiler just before serving!
✅ Garlic Butter Gravy – As if all that’s not enough, we’re topping all that off with the most incredible gravy… The favour in that gravy is outrageous. OUTRAGEOUS! It’s buttery, garlicky, a bit herby, but mostly it’s the turkey juices. You will be amazed how much juice comes out of the turkey!
THE GARLIC-HERB BUTTER
The garlic-butter slather is the key flavour base for this recipe. Lots of butter, lots of garlic, plus herbs of choice – fresh or dried.
Fresh herbs are extra great so try to get at least one if not two fresh herbs if you can. I’ve used thyme, sage, parsley and rosemary – the dried version of all of these are great too.
Get that butter all over the turkey, in all the crevices and folds, but most of all, get it under the skin. This is where you get the most mileage out of the butter because it’s trapped between the skin and the flesh so while some drips down the turkey while it cooks, some of it also stays under the skin.
Just imagine all the good things happening during all those hours while it slow cooks!!
You’re going to cop a great eyeful of my unmistakable hands in the recipe video doing all the slathering action. No cheeky comments! 😂
COOKING TURKEY BREAST IN CROCKPOT / SLOW COOKER
I like to place the turkey breast on top of a halved onion and head of garlic. This serves two purposes:
1. Elevates the turkey breast so it doesn’t braise in its own juices (cooks faster, can dry it out); and
2. Infuses the liquid from the turkey with extra flavour which is used to make the amazing garlic butter gravy.
Slow cook for 6 hours on LOW, but to be on the safe side, check the internal temperature at 5 hours. Variables such as how chilled the centre of your turkey is, the strength of your slow cooker, thickness of the breast can all affect how long it takes.
A MEAT THERMOMETER IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Even a cheap one from Ebay or Kmart. It’s a very worthwhile investment – and will take the guesswork out of cooking.
It’s especially important for things like turkey breast which are lean and prone to drying out when overcooked.
THE CRISPING – DON’T SKIP IT!
This is an essential step and it’s the crowning glory of this Slow Cooker Turkey Breast. Just pop the turkey under the grill/broiler for a mere 5 minutes, and watch with amazement how the pale, unappetising looking skin transforms into a deeply bronzed, ultra crispy skin…
DOESN’T THIS LOOK AMAZING??!! And don’t forget there’s GARLIC-HERB-BUTTER UNDER THE SKIN!!
*Sorry for shouting, just overly excited*
I know I said the crispy skin is the crowning glory, but I forgot – there’s another one:
THE TURKEY GARLIC BUTTER GRAVY
All those flavours from the Garlic-Herb-Butter we slathered on the turkey, mingling with the juices from the turkey with the added flavour from the onion and garlic on the base of the slow cooker….
It’s a gravy unlike any other!!
DON’T STRESS. THIS IS A FORGIVING RECIPE
Turkey breast has a reputation for being notoriously difficult to cook because it’s so lean, so it can go from perfectly juicy to dry in a flash in the oven. You don’t need to stress about precise timing in this recipe because slow cookers are far more forgiving than ovens because they cook at such a low temp – PLUS we’re adding (plenty!) of fat into this recipe with the butter.
One or two hours over, and the turkey breast will still be juicy.
But if you do accidentally overcook it slightly, don’t fret. Slice the turkey thinly and pass around plenty of that fabulous Garlic Butter Gravy, and I bet no one even notices!!! ~ Nagi x
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
It is quite ridiculous how small my hands look compared to that GIANT turkey breast! 😂
Recipe video above. Slather your turkey breast with garlic herb butter so it bastes with flavour and keeps the breast moist as it cooks in the slow cooker. Slow cooker is the easiest, safest way too cook turkey breast without brining or marinating! See here for the roasted version of this recipe. Also see the classic spice rubbed Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast.
- 2.5 - 3 kg / 5-6 lb single turkey breast , skin on, bone in (Note 1), NOT BRINED
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- 1 brown onion , halved
- 1 head of garlic , halved horizontally
- 3 sprigs rosemary, 8 sprigs thyme (optional)
- Oil , for drizzling (for skin)
- 150 g / 10 tbsp unsalted butter , softened
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 4 large garlic cloves , minced
- 1 tbsp EACH finely chopped fresh sage, rosemary leaves, thyme leaves and parsley , fresh
- 1/3 cup / 85g flour
- 1/2 tsp + dark soy sauce (or gravy colouring) (Note 3)
Garlic Herb Butter: Mix ingredients together.
Loosen skin (video helpful): Pat breast dry. Use small knife to cut slit on one side to separate skin from flesh. Slide upside tablespoon between flesh and skin, all over turkey.
Slather: Slather about 2/3 of the butter under the skin, then the remaining all over the surface including underside.
Season skin: Sprinkle surface with 1/2 tsp salt + pepper. (Can leave overnight - 2 days at this stage)
Put in Slow Cooker: Place garlic and onion in slow cooker. Place turkey on top, skin side up. Top with thyme and rosemary sprigs.
Slow Cook: Cook 6 hours on low, first checking at 5 hours, until internal temperature reads 165F/75C when inserted into the middle.
Rest: Transfer turkey to baking tray (reserve juices). Cover loosely with foil, rest for 20 minutes.
Crisp: Remove herb sprigs, drizzle turkey with oil (not butter, it burns / not as crispy). Place under a broiler/grill on high (~30cm/12" from heat source) for 5 to 10 minutes until skin is crispy and bronzed - keep an eye on it, it's quick.
Serve turkey with gravy on the side, or Cranberry Sauce.
Strain slow cooker juices into a bowl. Press juices out of onion and garlic.
When liquid settles, spoon off about 1/4 cup fat/butter from surface.
Place in saucepan set over medium heat. When it bubbles, add flour and mix for 1 minute.
Add all slow cooker juices into saucepan. Stir until lump free (use whisk if necessary). Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes until it thickens.
Add dark soy (if using), pepper and salt to taste. Pour into jug and serve with turkey.
1. TURKEY: Single breast, bone in, is the most popular turkey breast cut here in Australia. The cut pictured still has the leg in it. This recipe will work with any type of turkey breast - bone jutting out like pictured, cut off so you can't see it, with wing, without, or even a single breast with no bone.
This can also be with a whole / double bone in turkey breast (also called "buffe" or "crown", see here for pic). If your turkey is larger, use the scaler (hover mouse over Servings) to adjust the ingredients.
BRINED TURKEY: Frozen packaged turkey sold in the freezer section of supermarkets is often brined (if ingredients include salt, it's brined). This recipe will be too salty if you use brined turkey, so reduce the salt in the butter to 3/4 tsp.
THAW TURKEY: You must must MUST thaw turkey properly before cooking it. Thaw in the refrigerator in a large bowl/tray 24 hours for every 2 - 2.5kg / 4 - 5 kg. Or for a quick thaw, use cold tap water (not warm or hot) and allow 30 minutes for every 500g/1lb of turkey, changing the water every 30 minutes. Ensure the turkey is submerged. Do not microwave - results in dry turkey. And do not cook a partly frozen turkey!
2. HERBS: Use herbs of choice. If using dried herbs, reduce each to 1.5 tsp (so 6 tsp in total). Don't use just rosemary, it's too strong.
3. DARK SOY SAUCE is how I darken and season the gravy. It has more flavour than just plain salt. It does NOT make it taste Asiany! Can be skipped but gravy will be a pale colour. Alternative - buy a gravy darkener or a touch of Worcestershire.
4. COOK TIME & methods:
Cook Times in Slow Cooker - bone in, skin on turkey breast:
1 kg / 2 lb: 4 - 5 hours on low
2 - 3 kg / 4 - 6 lb: 5 - 6 hours on low
4 kg / 8 lb: 6 - 7 hours on low
5 kg / 10 lb: 7 -8 hours on low
* Check internal temp at the earliest time, until internal temperature reads 165F/75C when inserted into the middle.*
Cook time can be variable - affected by things like turkey thickness, strength of slow cooker, how chilled the centre is etc.
Slow cookers are very forgiving so don't stress too much about cooking time, an hour or 2 over and it will still be moist.
Other cook methods: Recipe not suitable for slow cooking on HIGH, or pressure cooker. Instant Pot - use slow cooker function on low and follow recipe, do not use pressure cooker function. See here for roasting.
5. GENERAL NOTES:
* Butter Sauce alternative to gravy: Pour strained slow cooker juices into a saucepan and reduce by about half. Also nice with a spritz of fresh lemon juice! Add more butter for richness.
* No water is required for this, you wil be amazed how much liquid is leeched by the turkey (see video).
Amount per person: Allow 300g / 10 oz UNCOOKED weight per person for bone in turkey.
Slice thinly from the fat end of the breast. If you know the turkey is 100% perfectly cooked to right internal temp, can also slice thickly.
Serve warm: Because breast is so lean, it needs to be warm when served for optimum juiciness. So it's best to slice as required. Otherwise, cut thickly (like pictured) then cover with cling wrap and warm gently just before serving. If the turkey is a bit overdone and not as juicy as desired, slice thinly and pass around plenty of gravy!
7. MAKE AHEAD / REHEATING:
Prep ahead: Can slather with butter then leave in fridge overnight to 2 days (in fact, this brines the turkey a bit which = extra juiciness!).
Cooked early: If the turkey is ready early, turn slow cooker off and leave it in there for a couple of hours (better than leaving on warm setting as if your slow cooker warm setting is too strong, can dry turkey out). Crisp skin just prior to serving.
Reheating: Turkey breast is best cooked fresh because it's a leaner meat. However, if it can't be avoided, slow cooked breast (pre crisping) can be reheated on low in the microwave, then crisp before serving.
8. Nutrition per serving, assuming 8 servings and that all the gravy is consumed.
LIFE OF DOZER
Oh those tantalising smells…..