There is so much to love about this slow cooker turkey breast recipe. Season up a plump turkey breast with my favourite flavourful poultry seasoning, then into the slow cooker to do it’s thing for 5-6 hours.
Succulent slow cooked turkey
Low on time? Having a smaller gathering this year? Or maybe you just want to free up some space in your oven? You still want a tasty holiday meal though and this succulent turkey breast recipe is the one you need.
The turkey turns out perfectly juicy and practically melts in your mouth. You don’t need to brine or marinade it either. It comes together quickly and cooks while you do other things or relax.
You can even make a perfectly delicious but easy turkey grave to go with it in around 5 minutes.
Never again will you need to suffer through dry turkey or endless leftovers taking up fridge space. Of course, if you’re like me and love the leftovers, just cook two.
What you’ll need
I told you this recipe is simple and it is – just a turkey breast, some basic vegetables and some spices are all you need for the best turkey breast recipe ever. I may be biased but it really is delicious.
- Turkey breast (3): If you can’t find these in your local grocery store, try the butcher or do what I do – buy a turkey buffe and cut the breasts off yourself. It’s very easy to do – tips below.
- Celery (1) & onion (2): Not only do these impart flavour to the turkey breast but also into the juices that you can use to make a gravy.
- Oil (4): I use rice bran oil but some lovely extra virgin olive oil or even simple canola will work.
- Spices (5): Onion powder, salt, paprika, dried oregano and dried thyme – this simple mixture makes for some serious flavour. Feel free to sub Italian herbs for both the oregano and thyme.
For the gravy, I use some chicken stock (or turkey stock if you have it or have made some), some juices from the slow cooker, cornflour (cornstarch), salt and pepper and it comes together in about 5 minutes.
Handy tools to have
- Slow cooker or crock pot: You can cook this in the oven if you don’t have one though.
- Meat thermometer: You can certainly eyeball it and cut into the turkey to check but a thermometer will make it easy to test the turkey is done without marking it.
- Baking tray: the turkey is transferred to a tray to crisp up the skin at the end.
- Immersion blender or regular blender: This is to blend the veggies into the gravy but you can just give them a good mash if you prefer.
- Heavy based saucepan: for make the simple gravy
How to cook turkey breast in a slow cooker
It may not be as regal as a whole bird, but it definitely has all the flavour you need and you just need to find about 20 minutes total.
- Start by mixing together the spice mix – a little oil and some herbs and spices.
- Rub it all over the turkey breast (images 1, 2 & 3) – most on the skin, but make sure to get it under the skin and all over the bottom part, including under the tenderloing.
- Cut up some celery and onion roughly and throw it into the slow cooker.
- Set the turkey breast on top of the vegetables, put the lid on and cook on low for 5-6 hours.
Crispy turkey skin
- Once the turkey is cooked, get your broiler / overhead grill heated up.
- Place the turkey on a foil lined baking tray (image 4, above) and slide it under the grill for 5 minutes or until the skin is golden and crispy.
How to make the turkey gravy
- If you have made or can get turkey stock, use that, otherwise use a good quality chicken stock / broth.
- Add some of the soft vegetables from the slow cooker, then blend with an immersion blender.
- Heat it up until it gets to boiling point then whisk together the cornflour (cornstarch) and juices from the slow cooker. Pour them into the saucepan and whisk until thickened.
- Add salt and pepper, then strain the gravy so that it’s nice and smooth.
If you want to skip the gravy and serve your turkey cold (as we often do in the Southern Hemispher) this turkey breast is lovely with this Roasted Beetroot Feta Salad.
Preparing a turkey buffe
Turkey breast isn’t always available in our local grocery store so I cut my own from a turkey buffe. Butchers will sometimes have turkey breast but this way is cheaper and not that difficult.
A turkey buffe is just the front part of the turkey, generally the breasts and drummettes from the wings, on the carcass. The thighs and drumsticks have been removed.
Using a buffe will get you two turkey breasts. Both will need to be cooked if you’ve already defrosted the bird to get them, but you can freeze the meat after it’s cooked.
- Once defrosted, take a sharp knife and run it along one side of the breast bone.
- Continue cutting downwards, running the knife along the frame of the bird the whole time.
- It’s easiest to cut the end closest to where the thighs would be first and work towards the neck end.
- As you cut it will easily release and you’ll be able to cut through the joint cartilage at the end.
In saying all that, you can cook the whole buffe in your slow cooker the same way as you cook the breast.
Make sure to double the spices and oil (so that it suits 2 breasts) and make sure it’s a size that will fit into your slow cooker.
Tips and tricks
- Line the baking tray with foil when crisping the skin. This is so that you can just throw away the foil and put the tray away without having to wash another dish.
- Let it rest: once the turkey skin is crisp. Take it out and set it aside for 5-10 minutes to rest. This allows the meat to relax and juices to redistribute.
- Keep an eye on it when grilling: You don’t want that gorgeous skin to burn so keep an eye. Five minutes is perfect under my grill / broiler but yours may take more or less time so keep checking until it’s perfectly golden.
- How to know when it’s done: The meat is cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 75C / 165F. If you use a meat thermometer it means you’ll get it the minute it’s cooked and not overcook the meat.
How about a whole crock pot turkey?
You can cook a whole turkey in the slow cooker, just make sure to get a smaller bird so that it will fit. Around 4-5 kg (10lb) or less should fit in most regular sized crockpots / slow cookers.
A turkey buffe (just the breast and part of the wing) should also fit and you can cook both same way described in the recipe card.
Whether you want to free up oven space or maybe you don’t even want to turn on the oven (like in the Southern Hemisphere where it’s hot at Christmas), this slow cooker turkey breast will become a holiday favourite.
Recipes perfect for leftovers
- Leftover Turkey Pasta Bake
- Leftover Ham, Sweet Potato, Ricotta Pasta Bake
- Easy Flatbread with Turkey and Basil Pesto
- Quick and Healthy Turkey San Choy Bow
- Chicken Lasagna with Spinach and Mushrooms
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Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
FOR THE TURKEY BREAST
- 1 turkey breast, boneless (about 1kg / 2lb) (notes)
- 1 tablespoon rice bran oil (notes)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
- 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
FOR THE GRAVY (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 cups turkey or chicken stock
- ⅓ cup vegetables from the slow cooker
- ⅓ cup juices from the slow cooker
- 1 ½ tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch) (notes)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
FOR THE TURKEY BREAST
- Combine the oil, salt, spices and herbs and mix to a paste.
- Spread over the turkey breast all over and even around the tender.
- Place the onion and celery in the base of a slow cooker, then place the turkey breast on top.
- Cook on low for 5-6 hours or until the temperature on a meat thermometer reaches 75C / 165F when inserted in the thickest part.
- When done, preheat the overhead grill (broiler) to high. Transfer the turkey breast, skin side up to a foil lined baking tray and grill / broil the skin about 5 minutes or until golden and crispy. Keep an eye on it, so it doesn't burn.
FOR THE GRAVY
- Place the stock and vegetables into a saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Use an immersion blender to blend the vegetables into the stock as much as possible.
- Bring to a boil.
- Combine the slow cooker juices and cornflour in a small jug and mix until smooth.
- While whisking vigourously, pour the cornflour mixture into the saucepan. Continue whisking slowly while it comes back to a boil and thickens.
- After 3-4 minutes it will be slightly reduced and thicker.
- Pour it through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids. Add the salt and pepper and stir well. Serve immediately.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equivalent to 4 teaspoons)
- Cooking time will vary slightly with size and thickness of breast used.
- If you can’t find turkey breast, buy a turkey buffe and cut them yourself or use one that is small enough to fit in your slow cooker.
- A meat thermometer is the best way to ensure the meat is cooked and not overdone.
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