Garlic Herb Slow Cooker 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.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time6 hrs
Total Time6 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 8 people
- 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)
Garlic Herb Butter (Note 2):
- 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
Garlic Butter Gravy:
- Chicken broth/stock, for topping up (if required)
- 1/3 cup / 50g 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 (mine is 5L / 5 qt). 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.
turkey with gravy on the side, or Cranberry Sauce
Strain slow cooker juices into a bowl. Press juices out of onion and garlic. If you've got less than 2.5-3 cups (675-750ml) of liquid, top up with store bought broth/stock.
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 leached 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.
Garlic Herb Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Vitamin A 490IU10%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Calories: 387kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 52g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 166mg | Sodium: 1095mg | Potassium: 596mg | Vitamin A: 490IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 1.5mg