Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
RECIPE VIDEO above. I've tried a handful of other methods over the years. This has produced the juiciest turkey breast by far, without brining the breast in advance. Plus slow cooking is very forgiving so you don't need to be spot on with the cooking time. SCALE RECIPE by moving slider on Servings to adjust for different turkey weights. Complete your feast - browse the new Thanksgiving Recipe Index!
Servings: 8 - 10 people
- 2 kg / 4 lb turkey breast, skin on, bone in or boneless (if using frozen, thaw it) (Note 1)
- 1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
- 1 onion (brown, yellow or white), unpeeled, cut in half
- 5 sprigs of thyme (or 2 tsp dried thyme leaves)
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp salt
- 5 grinds of black pepper
- 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp olive oil
- Chicken stock/broth (or water), for topping up liquid (see Gravy step 1)
- 4 tbsp / 50g butter
- 1/4 cup / 35g flour
- Salt and pepper
Place Rub ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine, it should be a wet paste.
Pat the turkey dry all over with paper towels. Slather with the Rub, using most for the side and top.
Place the garlic, onion and thyme face down in the slow cooker. Place the turkey breast on top so it is elevated.
Slow Cook on LOW for 6 hours (do not use high) or until internal temperature reads 165F/75C when thermometer is inserted into the middle. Check internal temperature at 5 hours if you can. (To roast, follow this recipe).
Remove turkey from the slow cooker (do not leave in slow cooker on Warm setting) and let it rest for 20 minutes before crisping the skin.
Crisp the Skin
Preheat gril/broiler to high.
Place an oven shelf 30cm / 1 foot from the heat source.
Remove turkey breast from the slow cooker into a heatproof serving dish.
Place on the oven shelf and broil for 3 to 5 minutes until the skin is crispy. Keep an eye on it - it browns very quickly!
Serve immediately with gravy on the side.
Strain the liquid into a measuring jug, squishing the garlic etc to extract all the flavour. If you are short of 2 cups, top up with chicken broth (I usually get 2 cups of liquid from a 4 lb / 2 kg turkey breast).
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and mix to combine. Pour about 1/2 cup of liquid into the flour mixture and mix until it forms a paste. Slowly add remaining liquid, stirring as your go. Use a whisk if required to make the gravy smooth. Simmer until thickened - take it off before it is as thick as you want because it will continue to thicken.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with turkey.
1. Turkey breast can come in all sorts of sizes and cuts. A single boneless breast can be as small as 1 kg / 2 lb. A double bone in breast (also known as turkey "buffe" or "crown") can be as large as 6 kg / 12 lb. In Australia, turkey breast can also come with the leg still attached, which is what I have used in the past so you may see some photos floating around on my site with a drumstick attached to the breast. :)
This can be made with any cut of turkey breast - but it needs to have skin if you want the nice colour you see in the photos.
BRINED TURKEY: If you buy a frozen turkey breast from the supermarket that comes in a box, check to see if the the breast is already brined (i.e. marinated in salty water to make it more moist once cooked). Check the label / ask the butcher - if the ingredients include salt, your turkey is brined. Here in Australia, generally anything that is sold in boxes / vac packed in the frozen section of supermarkets (e.g. Steggles), it is brined.
If it has been brined, no problems, just cut the salt in half. But if it's been preseason with another sort of rub, I'd suggest either scraping the rub off before adding my rub.
2. Making ahead: Because turkey is so lean, it is far better made as close as possible to serving time. But if you need to make ahead, slow cook the turkey but do not brown the skin. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight, then bring to room temperature. Cover with cling wrap and microwave for 3 minutes on LOW (if high, you run the risk of drying out the edges of the turkey), then grill/broil per instructions to brown and crisp the skin. The gravy can also be made ahead then reheated in a saucepan or in the microwave.
3. COOK TIMES: Ready when the internal temp is 165F/75C. 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. The worst that might happen is that the meat falls apart a bit when you lift it out of the slow cooker, but still juicy! DO NOT try to save time by using HIGH!
Bone in skin on turkey breast (I used this), start checking internal temp at the short cook time provided:
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 (see 8 June '17 report from reader Tony)
5 kg / 10 lb: 8 - 9 hours on low
4. No water is required for this, the turkey steams in its own juices. It won't dry out or burn but it is important to elevate the breast off the bottom with the onion and garlic!
5. My SLOW COOKER: Some people have questioned the slow cooker I am using, saying it looks like a press cooker. I am using a slow cooker called a "Breville Slow Fast Cooker" which is a slow cooker AND pressure cooker in one. This recipe is cooked using the slow cooker function. This recipe is not suited to a pressure cooker.
6. Nutrition per serving, including gravy.
Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
Amount Per Serving (163 g)
Calories from Fat 124
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 5.2g33%
Polyunsaturated Fat 8.6g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Serving: 163g | Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 2.6g | Protein: 44.7g | Fat: 13.8g | Saturated Fat: 5.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8.6g | Cholesterol: 125mg | Sodium: 521mg