How to cook a turkey breast in a slow cooker

Kellie Speed

Crockpot turkey breast is one of the easiest ways to produce a juicy and flavor-filled meal when you don't have time to cook an entire turkey.

Cooking turkey breast in a slow cooker

There is nothing quite like the savory taste of a home-cooked turkey dinner to warm your belly and soul. While we can’t all prepare a holiday-style meal every night, one of the easiest ways to enjoy that same flavor is by cooking a turkey breast in a slow cooker.

Whether you opt for a lighter version with vegetables or one complete with all the fixings, this easy-to-make slow cooker dinner is the perfect way to create a delicious dinner. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure a perfectly juicy turkey every time.

Making brine for a turkey breast

Brining a turkey breast is one of the best ways to be sure the meat comes out moist and juicy. A brine is a combination of salt, water and spices that prevents moisture loss by sealing in the meat’s natural juices. To make the brine, combine a 1/2 cup of salt with a quart of water and your favorite herbs (dried or fresh) like rosemary, bay leaves, thyme or oregano. You can substitute apple cider for the water for even more flavor.

How long should you brine a turkey breast?

The turkey breast should be submerged in the brine and put in a turkey brining bag. The bag should then be set in a bowl to capture any leakage and placed in your refrigerator for 4-6 hours. When the turkey breast is done brining, be sure to rinse off thoroughly all of the extra salt and pat dry before placing into the slow cooker. Discard the brine when finished.

Slow cooking skinless vs. skin-on turkey breast

Turkey breast can be prepared in a crock pot with either the skin on or skinless. Slow cooking with the skin on will give it more flavor, but it’s important to note the skin will not turn a golden brown in the slow cooker unlike when oven roasting. You can still get that beautiful golden-brown look with a quick broil at the end when the slow cooking is complete.

Bone-in vs. boneless turkey breast for slow cooking

Bone-in turkey breast offers more flavor than boneless turkey, but again, the choice is entirely yours as both can be prepared in the slow cooker.

How many people does a turkey breast serve?

A half turkey breast is typically about 3 pounds and will serve two to four people, while a whole turkey breast weighs about 6 pounds and serves up to eight.

Ingredients needed to cook a turkey breast in a slow cooker

  • 3-pound turkey breast
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary leaves (chopped)
  • 1 yellow onion sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of softened butter
  • 2 celery ribs cut into thirds
  • 2 carrots peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Instructions to cook a turkey breast in a slow cooker

Set your slow cooker to low. Place the sliced onions, cut carrots and celery in the base of the pot and pour the chicken broth over the vegetables. Once the turkey breast has been rinsed thoroughly under cold water and patted dry, set it on top of the vegetables. Mix the softened butter with salt, pepper, sage and rosemary and spread the mixture over the top of the breast. Cover and set your timer for 6 hours. You should check the turkey breast early to be sure it doesn’t overcook. The internal temperature of the turkey breast should reach 165 degrees when cooked. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it has been fully cooked.

How to brown the skin on turkey breast

Once the turkey breast has reached an internal temperature of 165 and is fully cooked, you can take it out of the slow cooker and turn your oven on broil. If you prefer a crispy skin, you can broil the turkey breast for 4 minutes.

How to make turkey gravy from the slow cooker juices

Remove the vegetables from the slow cooker when done cooking. Then place it in a bowl and cover to keep warm. To make the gravy, strain the juices from the slow cooker in a colander to be sure the gravy has a smooth consistency when finished. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add in two tablespoons of flour and whisk together to make a roux stirring for a minute. This will thicken the gravy as it begins to cook. Next, add a cup of chicken or turkey broth, along with a cup of the strained juices from the slow cooker and continue to stir for about 5 minutes, until the gravy has thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

How to slice a turkey breast

One of the most important things to know about slicing a turkey breast is when to do it. After removing the turkey from the slow cooker, be sure to let it rest for about 15 minutes before slicing to ensure all the juices don’t run out of the meat. Place the turkey on a cutting board and start at the breast bone slicing downward toward the ribs. You want to slice the turkey against the grain, which means cutting in the opposite direction of the meat’s natural muscle fibers. Carving in the proper direction is the key to producing a juicy and tender cut as incorrect slicing will result in chewy meat.

What to serve with a turkey breast

For a Thanksgiving-style dinner to enjoy any time of year, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and butternut squash are traditional side staples. For a little more indulgence, try some candied yams, buttery baby carrots, green bean casserole or creamed corn. If you are looking for a lighter option, try roasting Brussels sprouts, broccoli or cauliflower, or serve alongside a fresh salad.

Kellie Speed is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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