Simply put, slow cooking a small turkey breast in a crockpot does not get the recognition it deserves. Cooking it this way results in the moistest breast meat due to the crockpots unique ability to baste as it cooks.
If I had any idea how easy it was to cook a turkey breast in the crockpot I seriously would have done this years ago. Can you just take another look at that meat?
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I started experimenting with alternative ways to cook a turkey in October. I think it’s safe to say my family is pretty sick of turkey at this point. Nevertheless, with my first trial run it came out amazing. I knew it could only get better.
I can tell you in all honesty that this recipe is very hard to mess up. The slow cooker traps moisture vs. cooking the turkey in an oven which is dry heat. This dry heat requires intermittent basting so the turkey won’t dry out.
OVEN VS. CROCKPOT
Ovens use air to transfer heat ~ you heat an element at the bottom of the oven, and the hot air rises up into the oven, cooking your food. This makes this top of the oven much hotter than the bottom.
Slow cookers use moisture in a unique way because they remain sealed during the cooking process. As food cooks and lets off steam, the condensation collects inside the device and acts as a baster.
HOW DO YOU COOK A TURKEY IN A CROCK POT?
- Turkey, as you know, is a very bland meat. It gets it flavor from the spices that are rubbed on it. We used a basic poultry dry rub consisting of dried garlic, onion, paprika, salt, pepper, thyme and a hint of nutmeg.
- The turkey then sits on a bed of onions, garlic and rosemary. These aromatics are what give the gravy such great flavor.
- It is cooked ON LOW for about 4-5 hours. Each crockpot and the size of turkey will determine the cooking time. We remove the turkey at 160°F because it gets put under the broiler to crisp up the skin for about 10 more minutes of cooking time.
- After the turkey is cooked through, we took it out and placed it in an oven safe dish (or baking sheet) and turned the broiler on high. We placed it on the 3rd rack down and let it broil for about 8-10 minutes. Check it to make sure it doesn’t burn. This will give a delicious crispy skin that just crunches when you cut into it!
But the best part of all, let’s be honest here, is the gravy! The juice that comes from the crockpot smells incredible. We strain it over a glass measuring cup to measure out 2 cups of liquid. If it doesn’t reach 2 cups, no problem, just add broth until it does.
Create a roux with butter and flour, pour in the drippings, season if needed. I always add 1-2 Tablespoons of milk to make it creamier. This is optional.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE:
- The size of the turkey breast and the size of your crockpot matter – trust us on this one, we did not check first! Our turkey breast was 6.14 lbs and B-A-R-E-L-Y fit in the crockpot. It ended up breast side down and the onions in the cavity (not what we had originally planned). This obviously made inserting a thermometer a little tricky.
- Check if the turkey has been brined. This is very important because most frozen turkeys will be brined which means a lot of salt has been added. This needs to be taken into consideration as less salt will be needed in the dry rub.
- The turkey must be completely THAWED and we mean completely. Once a turkey is thawed it can be kept in the fridge for several days so if you plan on having this on say a Wednesday don’t go and buy a turkey on Monday. Give yourself some time to let it thaw.
Making turkey in a crockpot for the holidays is perfect for families who don’t need a huge turkey and all the hassle and work that goes with it. A 5 lb turkey feeds a family of 4 with leftovers or a family of 6. It frees up the oven so you can make these INCREDIBLE Roasted Garlic & Caramelized Onion Potatoes Gratin Dauphinoise or a healthier version of Sweet Potato Casserole.Print
Simply put, cooking a small turkey breast in a crockpot does not get the recognition it deserves. Cooking it this way results in the moistest breast meat due to the crockpots unique ability to baste as it cooks.
- 4 – 5 lb. Turkey Breast (bone in, skin on)
- 2 Whole Cloves of Garlic
- 1 Onion, halved
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 ½ teaspoons EACH Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Paprika
- ½ teaspoon EACH Sea salt*, Black pepper, Thyme
- ⅛ teaspoon Nutmeg
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 2 Cups Liquid from Slow Cooker
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- ¼ Cup Flour
- 2–4 Tablespoons Milk
- Completely dry the turkey breast inside and out with paper towels (see note below on extra crispy skin). Slater the rub all over the turkey (this may require the assistance of another person and some gloves).
- Place the onion halves and whole garlic in the slow cooker and place the turkey on top (be sure there is enough room in your slow cooker to get the lid on. If it doesn’t fit just place the vegetables on the side)
- Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. (Our 6 lb turkey took exactly 5 ½ hours)
- Remove the turkey and let it rest. If you want crispier skin, place the turkey in a roasting pan (or other oven safe dish) and broil until golden. Do NOT walk away, the skin is easy to burn. (Our turkey took 6 minutes on the 3rd shelf).
FOR THE GRAVY:
- Place a large strainer over a large 4 cup measuring glass or large bowl. Discard the bay leaf, onion and garlic. Carefully pick up the slow cooker and strain the juice into the bowl. You should get at least 2 cups of juice, if not add a little broth or water to reach that level.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook until the flour begins to smell a little nutty (2 minutes), whisking.
- Slowly pour the liquid into the flour mixture until it gets thick. Continue to add the liquid until all incorporated, whisking constantly. Take the gravy off the heat and add the milk – taste for seasoning and add salt and/or pepper if necessary. The gravy will thicken upon standing.
*NOTES: Be sure to check if the turkey comes BRINED, ours did, therefore the salt added to this recipe is very minimal. If your turkey has NOT been brined, a little more salt can be added.
For a CRISPY skin, place the turkey breast in the refrigerator breast side up UNCOVERED overnight to let the skin completely dry out.
PIN IT FOR LATER!