Each year I work hard to bring you simple Thanksgiving recipes. They are all really easy to make and full of delicious flavors. I do my best to give you recipes that are not only easy to make but knock your socks off. You shouldn’t have to go to forty different stores to pull together a Thanksgiving menu.
While I am normally very firmly in the camp that all turkeys need to be brined, this Crockpot Turkey Breast recipe might just be the exception to the rule. It cooks away on it’s own in the slow cooker with no basting or tending to, and it still turns out incredibly moist.
Additionally, I am going to show you how to take the turkey drippings and turn them into a savory delicious gravy in a matter of minutes.
How to Make a Turkey Breast in the Crockpot
This is a brief overview to show you how simple this recipe is. For the full recipe with all of the measurements and instructions, see the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Start with a thawed turkey breast. I will give more detailed information below, but this recipe does require a thawed turkey breast.
- Cut up vegetables. We will be adding onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to the bottom of the slow cooker. The vegetables add a subtle flavor for the gravy and I like that they keep the turkey up and out of the drippings.
- Make the turkey rub. Combine the seasonings together in a bowl. Rub the turkey with oil and then with the herb mixture.
- Cook the turkey. The turkey will take about 3 to 4 hours to reach 165 degrees in the slow cooker.
- Broil the turkey. To get the look you see here, place the turkey breast under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the skin. Watch it closely so it doesn’t burn.
Browning the Turkey Skin
As you can see in the picture above, turkey skin will not brown in the slow cooker. Just like in our Slow Cooker Whole Chicken recipe, we will need to brown it after it is done in the slow cooker.
When first developing and testing this recipe, I was worried that taking it out of the slow cooker at 165 degrees and putting it under a broiler would dry it out, but it didn’t at all. You will need to broil it for about five minutes. Be careful to watch it very closely so the skin doesn’t burn.
How Much Turkey Per Person
The rule of thumb in picking the size turkey you are serving is one pound per person. That being said, I would suggest that if you are having lots of appetizers and sides, you will need a little less than that.
Should you have leftover turkey, I have a great instructions for freezing it. And of course, I have lots of great ideas for leftover turkey recipes.
How to Freeze Leftover Turkey
Thawing a Turkey Breast
As mentioned above, you need to use a completely thawed turkey breast. Best practice for thawing a turkey is to thaw it in the refrigerator. Depending on the size of the breast, it will take 1 to 3 days.
When you are pressed for time, you can thaw the turkey breast by submerging it (in a sealed plastic bag) in cold water for 30 minute intervals. Change the water every thirty minutes until the turkey is thawed. This will take between 6 and 8 hours depending on the size of the turkey.
How Long to Cook a Turkey Breast in the Slow Cooker
This recipe is a for a three pound boneless skin on turkey breast. It takes between three and four hours on low for the turkey to reach 165 degrees Farenheit. I highly recommend investing in an instant read thermometer so there is no guessing as to when your turkey is done. The thermometer you see here is ideal for cooking meat in the oven or slow cooker. It can be left in throughout the cooking time and you can take it off the heat as soon as you hit the correct temperature.
Size Slow Cooker
This recipe was made in a 6 quart slow cooker. It was the perfect size for this recipe. A larger size would certainly work for this recipe, but I would caution against using a slow cooker that is much smaller than this. You can see that there are about two inches between the turkey and the edge of the slow cooker, which keeps it from burning.
Making Gravy from Crockpot Turkey Breast
The drippings from the the turkey make for a great gravy. You can see more details about this great recipe here: Turkey Gravy.
- Remove the turkey from the slow cooker.
- Using oven mits, pour the liquid from the slow cooker through a mesh strainer.
- Add chicken stock to the liquid until you have two cups.
- In a small skillet, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Whisk in 1/4 cup all purpose flour. Cook the two together until they turn a dark tan color.
- Slowly whisk in the drippings. Add a little bit at a time, only adding more once what you just added is fully incorporated. Continue until all the liquid is added.
- Bring the whole mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat a little and simmer for 4 to 6 minutes or until you can easily coat the back of a spoon that is dipped in the gravy.
What to Serve with Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
Once you have your turkey breast in the crock pot going, we have a ton of great Thanksgiving recipes but here are a few of my favorites to serve with this.
Leftover Turkey Recipes
While you probably bought a turkey breast so you wouldn’t have leftovers, if you do, you can always freeze them. This way if you can have a little break before having more in the leftover turkey recipes below.
- My family always enjoys this Turkey Noodle Soup after Thanksgiving.
- Nothing says comfort to me quite like this Turkey Tetrazzini.
- If you want something a little different, make my Turkey Tortilla Soup.
If you make this crockpot boneless turkey breast recipe or any of my other recipes, leave me a comment and let me know what you think!
Crockpot Turkey Breast
- 3 pound boneless turkey breast thawed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
For the Crockpot
- 2 carrots peeled and cut into two inch pieces
- 2 celery stalks trimmed and cut into two inch pieces
- 1 onion peeled and quartered
- 2 garlic cloves skins removed and smashed
- 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 2 cups turkey drippings and/or chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- salt and pepper to taste
Crockpot Turkey Breast
- In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the turkey rub. You will likely have just a little more than you need.1 tablespoon dried rosemary, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
- Rub the turkey breast with olive oil. Rub the seasonsonings over the turkey breast.2 tablespoons olive oil
- Add the cut vegetables and rosemary to the base of a 6 quart slow cooker. (Read more about my slow cooker recommendations here.) Place the prepared turkey breast on top. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours or until the turkey registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit with an instant read thermometer.2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves, 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
- Remove the turkey breast from the slow cooker. Place in a baking dish and put under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes or until the skin is crispy, keeping a close eye on it.
- Strain the liquid from the crockpot through a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. (This is not absolutely necessary, it just prevents dried herbs to get into the gravy making it more smooth.)
- If you have less than 2 cups of drippings, add chicken stock to top it off at two cups.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk in the flour. Continue cooking until it the color of the roux is a deeper tan.4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- Slowly whisk in the drippings, only adding more once what you just added has been fully absorbed. Continue adding until you've used all the drippings and the mixture is smooth.
- Bring the gravy to a boil and the reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until the gravy is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.