Without question, the quickest, safest, and tastiest way to cook turkey breast without bringing it is with a slow cooker. It’s moist and delicious, and it just takes 3 minutes to prepare before cooking in your slow cooker (crockpot). Then create a fantastic gravy with the liquids!
How long should a turkey breast be cooked in a slow cooker?
A 2 kilogram / 4 lb turkey breast will take 5 to 6 hours on LOW in a slow cooker. After 5 hours, check the interior temperature. Cook timings for additional sizes may be found in the recipe notes.
How to prepare turkey breast in a slow cooker
- I promised you it would be simple, and it is! This is how it works:
- Rub a basic magical rub all over the turkey;
- Place the turkey in a slow cooker over a bed of onion and garlic (this flavors the fluids that flow out of the turkey and makes the base for the gravy, as well as keeping the bird raised out of the liquid during slow cooking);
- Cook for 5 to 6 hours on low heat;
- To crisp, the skin, broil, grill, or bake it for a few minutes.
- Make a fantastic gravy with the fluids from your slow cooker. It’s incredible since it’s prepared with the most excellent homemade stock — turkey fluids!
- Two kg/4 lb turkey breast, skin on, bone-in, or boneless (thaw if using frozen) (Note 1)
- One garlic head, split in half horizontally.
- One onion, peeled and split in half (brown, yellow, or white)
- thyme sprigs (about five sprigs) (or 2 tsp dried thyme leaves)
- A half teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon powdered onion
- One teaspoon paprika
- Two teaspoons salt
- a fifth of a teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- For topping up liquid, use chicken stock/broth (or water) (see gravy step 1)
- 50g butter, 4 tbsp
- 35g flour (1/4 cup)
- seasonings (salt and pepper)
- In a mixing dish, add the rub components and stir to incorporate; the mixture should be a moist paste.
- Using paper towels, pat the turkey dry all around. Slather on the rub, concentrating on the sides and top.
- Place the garlic, onion, and thyme face down in the slow cooker. Place the turkey breast on top, elevating it.
- Slow Cook on LOW for 6 hours (do not use high) or until an internal thermometer in the center reaches 165F/75C. If possible, check the interior temperature after 5 hours. (For roasting, use this recipe.)
- Remove the turkey from the slow cooker and put it aside for 20 minutes before crisping the skin (do not leave on a Warm setting).
Crumble The Skin
- Preheat the grill or the broiler to high.
- 30cm/1 foot away from the heat source, place an oven shelf.
- Place the turkey breast on a heatproof serving dish after removing it from the slow cooker.
- Place on a shelf in the oven and broil for 3–5 minutes, or until the skin is crispy. Keep an eye on it since it soon browns!
- Serve immediately with a serving of gravy.
- Strain the liquid into a measuring jug, squeezing the garlic and other ingredients to extract as much flavor as possible. Add more chicken broth if you don’t have enough juice (I generally get 2 cups from a 4 lb / 2 kg turkey breast).
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Toss in the flour and stir to incorporate. Pour 1/2 cup liquid into the flour mixture and stir until paste forms. Slowly pour in the remaining liquid, stirring constantly. If necessary, use a whisk to smooth up the gravy. Simmer until thickened; remove it from the heat before it reaches the desired thickness, as it will continue to reduce.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve alongside turkey.
- Turkey breasts are available in a variety of sizes and cuts. A boneless breast might weigh as little as 1 kg / 2 lb. A turkey “buffer” or “crown” (also known as a double bone-in breast) can weigh up to 6 kg / 12 lb.
- In Australia, turkey breasts may also be purchased with the leg connected, which I have done in the past. Therefore, you may notice some photographs with a drumstick attached to the breast on my site.
- This may be prepared with any turkey breast cut, but if you want the color you see in the photographs, it must have skin.
- Brined Turkey: Whether you buy a frozen turkey breast in a box from the store, check if it has already been brined (i.e., marinated in salty water to make it moister once cooked).
- If the ingredients include salt, your turkey has been brined. Check the label or ask the butcher. Everything sold in boxes/vac packed in the frozen department of supermarkets in Australia (e.g., Steggles) is brined.
- No problem if it’s been brined; reduce the salt by half. If you’ve been preseasoning with another type of rub, I’d recommend scraping it off before using my rub.
- Preparing ahead of time: Because turkey is so thin, it’s best to prepare it as close to serving time as possible. If you need to make the turkey ahead of time, gently simmer it without browning the skin. Refrigerate overnight, covered, before bringing to room temperature.
- Cover with cling wrap and microwave for 3 minutes on LOW (great danger of drying out the edges of the turkey), then brown and crisp the skin as directed on the package. The gravy maybe be prepared ahead of time and warmed in the microwave or a saucepan.
- Cook Time: The dish is ready when the internal temperature reaches 165F/75C. Slow cookers are pretty forgiving, so don’t worry about the cooking time; it will still be moist if you go an hour or two over. The worst that may happen is that the meat crumbles a little when you remove it from the slow cooker, but it will still be delicious! Using HIGH to save time is NOT a good idea!
- Start monitoring the internal temperature of the turkey breast with the bone in the skin (I used this) at the short cook time provided:
- 5 hours on low for 1 kilogram / 2 pound
- 6 hours on low for 2 – 3 kg / 4 – 6 pound
- 7 hours on low for 4 kg / 8 lb (see reader Tony’s report dated June 8, 2017)
- 9 hours on low for 5 kg / 10 pound
There is no need for water because the turkey steams in its juices. It won’t dry out or burn, but the onion and garlic should be elevated off the bottom of the pan!
My Slow Cooker: Some individuals have questioned whether or not the slow cooker I’m using looks like a press cooker. I’m using a “Breville Slow Fast Cooker,” which combines the functions of a slow cooker with a pressure cooker. The slow cooker is used to prepare this meal. This dish isn’t meant to be cooked in a pressure cooker.