How to Cook a Turkey Breast in a Slow Cooker
Pictured recipe: Slow-Cooker Maple Mustard Turkey Breast
Why wait for roasted turkey breast once a year on Thanksgiving? With a slow cooker, you can have this holiday classic anytime you get the craving—and, even better, cooking a turkey breast in the slow cooker guarantees a juicy bird. It's also a great way to free up oven space for other Thanksgiving menu items. Follow our slow-cooker turkey breast recipe and the instructions below to make what might be your best bird ever.
Because a slow cooker (aka Crock-Pot) is designed to seal moisture in, it's the perfect environment for cooking a turkey breast. Turkey's lean meat can overcook in the dry air of an oven, but in the slow cooker, turkey can hold onto its natural juices and still have enough drippings to make gravy.
At the Grocery Store
Look for skin-on, bone-in turkey breasts, which are exactly as described: a larger version of bone-in chicken breasts, with the entire fillet still attached to the breastbone.
They are typically packaged and sold as a double breast, with both fillets, though you may also find half-breasts—single breasts where the breastbone has been split down the middle.
For cooking a whole turkey breast in the slow cooker, ask your butcher to remove the rib-cage section of the breastbone, so the turkey breast will sit flat.
Boneless turkey breast roasts are simply the meat from the turkey breast that's been removed from the bone. They are usually packaged in butcher's netting to create a roast shape and to retain that shape as the meat cooks.
You can cook both bone-in and boneless turkey breast in the slow cooker or Crock-Pot. However, bone-in is the preferred choice for most cooks, because the bone acts as an insulator for the meat. It distributes heat throughout the meat and helps keep it juicy. The following instructions are for a bone-in turkey breast.
How to Prep Turkey Breast for the Slow Cooker
- Remove the turkey breast from any wrapping or packaging and pat dry with paper towels.
- With kitchen scissors, snip away any excess flaps of skin from the neck and tailbone areas.
- If you'll be applying any seasoning, such as a dry rub, use your hands to loosen the skin from the breast meat. Gently slide your fingers between the skin and the meat to pull them apart.
- Apply any seasoning or rub both over and under the skin.
- Place aromatic vegetables such as onion, carrots and celery in the bottom of the slow cooker, along with a small amount of liquid to add moisture as the turkey cooks.
- Place the turkey on top of the vegetables and close the lid.
How to Cook Turkey Breast in the Slow Cooker
You can cook a turkey breast in the slow cooker on either High or Low, depending on how much time you have.
Cook a bone-in turkey breast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165°F, 3 to 3½ hours on High or 6 to 7 hours on Low.
When it's fully cooked, the turkey's skin will not be browned and crisp, since no direct heat has been applied to the surface.
To brown the skin, preheat the oven broiler. Transfer the cooked turkey breast to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
Broil the turkey until the skin is browned, about 10 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure the skin crisps but does not burn.
Reserve the drippings to make gravy, if desired. Now that you know how to make a juicy, foolproof turkey breast in the slow cooker, you should also check our slow-cooker turkey thighs recipe.