This Crockpot Boneless Turkey recipe comes out juicy and tender every time with less than 5 minutes of prep work! It is the ultimate foolproof recipe for making a delicious turkey breast right in the slow cooker.
Slow Cooker Turkey Breast is the best way to guarantee tender, succulent meat every single time. No turkey brine, no complicated prep, no constant basting - just delicious turkey every single time. Plus since it cooks in the crockpot, it's basically hands-off and your oven is free for all the other delicious holiday side dishes!
If you are looking for an easy way to cook turkey, this crock pot turkey recipe is it! Look no further. All you need is a simple butter and spice rub. The crockpot does all the hard work, infusing the turkey with flavor and moisture as it cooks low and slow.
Then crisp up the skin and make a quick gravy, for the ultimate holiday meal. We also love this Slow Cooker Turkey Tenderloin if you aren’t cooking for a crowd.
You'll Love this Crockpot Boneless Turkey Breast if...
- Host a smaller Thanksgiving or holiday meal, but still want turkey on your Thanksgiving menu
- Feel nervous cooking a whole turkey, this comes out juicy and tender every time
- Want minimal prep work - no brine, no drying in the fridge, just 5 minutes of prep
- Prefer the white meat from the turkey breast
- Attend a holiday meal out of the house but still want to cook a turkey at home (we all need turkey leftovers!)
- Want a simple, delicious turkey dinner without all the extra work, time, and money!
Ingredients and Easy Swaps
Here is everything you need for this recipe as well as some easy swaps and ideas.
- Boneless turkey breast: There are two main types of boneless turkey breast in the grocery store, one that is natural and one that has been brined or seasoned. Ideally for this recipe, buy a natural boneless, skin-on turkey breast. Brined or seasoned turkey breast works as well (like the one from Butterball), just use less salt. This recipe also works with a bone-in turkey breast and works with or without the skin.
- Butter: Softened butter is the best option for making a rich rub that sticks to the turkey and adds moisture as it cooks. Olive oil can also be used, but the flavor won’t be quite as rich.
- Carrots, celery, and onion: Normally when a turkey is roasted, the aromatics are added to the cavity of the turkey. Since we don’t have that in this recipe, we add them to the bottom of the slow cooker. These also serve to raise the turkey off the bottom of the slow cooker so it cooks more evenly. Amp up the flavor with a halved head of garlic, halved lemon, or fresh herbs as well.
- Turkey seasoning: This simple turkey rub uses garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, thyme kosher salt, and black pepper. Feel free to swap in fresh minced garlic for a stronger garlic flavor. Get creative with the spices here to switch up the flavors. We love turkey with Cajun seasoning or opt for a classic poultry seasoning with sage.
- Gravy ingredients: Turkey with gravy is a classic combination. If you plan on making gravy with the drippings, you will need flour or cornstarch to thicken the gravy.
How to Cook Boneless Turkey Breast in the Crockpot
One of the main benefits of cooking a turkey breast in the slow cooker is that it doesn’t need to be brined in advance and still comes out super juicy.
Here’s how to cook it so it comes out perfectly tender every time.
- Add aromatics to the crockpot: To ensure the turkey cooks evenly and isn’t sitting in all the juices, create a bed of aromatics on the bottom of the crockpot. This flavors the turkey and also flavors the drippings for the gravy. Use onions, carrots, celery, a head of garlic, and/or fresh herbs.
- Prep the turkey breast: Turkey breasts may sometimes come in netting or trussed in twine. Take off the netting and discard any extras if it comes with the neck, giblets, or a gravy packet. Or save them for gravy. Then dry the turkey breast well with paper towels to remove any extra moisture. It does not need to be rinsed.
- Coat the turkey with the rub: Combine the softened butter and spices to create a rub for the turkey. Then add the rub to the top and sides of the turkey, making sure to get plenty of it under the skin if you are cooking a skin-on turkey breast.
- Cook the turkey for 3-4 hours on low: Make sure to cook the turkey breast on low or you risk drying it out. It will only take 3-4 hours, so check it at 3 hours, especially if you like your turkey really moist or are cooking a smaller breast. While the USDA recommends cooking turkey breast to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, many people like to take it out between 155-160 degrees since it will continue to cook as it rests. This is up to personal preference.
- Let the turkey rest: Always let your meat rest before serving, especially leaner white meat like turkey breast. The juices will redistribute resulting in a juicier turkey. Ideally, the turkey will rest for 15-20 minutes and can be tented with foil. After resting, carve it into slices.
- Make the gravy: While the turkey rests, make the gravy. Start by straining the drippings. Then either make a roux with butter and flour or simply use a cornstarch slurry to thicken the drippings and turn them into the gravy. If there aren't enough droppings, add some chicken broth or turkey broth. Detailed instructions are found below.
Pro-tip for crispy skin: If you are cooking skin-on turkey breast, take the extra time to crisp up the skin! It’s one of the best parts. Simply place the turkey breast on a baking sheet lined with foil. Then place it under the broiler for 2-4 minutes until the skin is browned and crispy.
Best Turkey Side Dish Ideas
Whether you are making this for a holiday meal like Thanksgiving or Christmas or simply making a turkey dinner, these sides always work.
- Potatoes: Make classic mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, or cauliflower mashed potatoes. Sweet potatoes, sweet potato casserole, or butternut squash are also delicious.
- Vegetables: With the turkey in the oven, your oven is free to make Balsamic Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Green Beans, or Roasted Mushrooms. Or make some Sauteed Carrots, Peas, or Cauliflower. Or make. lightened up green bean casserole.
- Salads: Add some greens with this Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad or Easy Arugula Salad.
- Stuffing: Make stuffing on the side since it won't cook with the turkey, this healthy cornbread sausage stuffing is a great option.
- Extras: It’s not a turkey dinner without some cranberry sauce.
Tips for Juicy and Tender Crockpot Turkey Breast
- Single versus double breast: This recipe works for both a single and double turkey breast, sometimes called a turkey crown. Cooking a double turkey breast will take 5-6 hours and you will need to double the rub,
- Bone-in or boneless turkey breast: This works great with a bone-in turkey breast but it will need to cook for about 6 hours. Make sure to double the rub since bone-in turkey breasts are usually around 6 pounds.
- Size of the turkey breast and cooking time: Turkey breasts come in a variety of sizes. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, remembering that bone-in always takes longer.
- 2 lbs: 2.5-3 hours on low
- 3 lbs: 3-4 hours on low
- 4 lbs: 4-5 hours on low
- 5 lbs: 5-6 hours on low
- 6 lbs: 5-6 hours on low
- Larger: Turkey breasts can be up to 10 pounds but need to comfortably fit in the slow cooker. A very large turkey breast could take 7-8 hours to cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees with an instant-read thermometer.
- How much turkey per person: Generally speaking, plan on 8 ounces per person for boneless turkey. If you are buying a bone-in turkey, plan on 1 pound per person.
How to Make Gravy
Can you truly have a turkey dinner without gravy? Here are two methods for making gravy with slow cooker drippings. Both of these methods will make 1 cup of gravy, feel free to double for more gravy. If you don’t have enough drippings, use chicken or turkey broth
- Making gravy with flour: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Once melted, add 2 tablespoons of flour to make a roux. Whisk together and cook for 1-2 minutes until flour is fully incorporated and light brown in color. Add 1 cup of the strained cooking liquid from the slow cooker. Continue to whisk and cook until it thickens. This normally takes about 5 minutes. Taste and season as needed.
- Marking gravy with cornstarch: Strain the drippings and add to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Mix together one tablespoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of cold water. Add the cornstarch slurry to the dripping and cook over medium heat until thickened to your liking. Stir as it cooks.
Can I cook a frozen turkey breast in the slow cooker?
It's best to thaw your turkey breast before slow cooking. This ensures even cooking and reduces the risk of harmful bacteria. Plan ahead and thaw it in the refrigerator for a safe and delicious result.
Leftovers and Storage
Let any leftover turkey meat come to room temperature and then store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Leftovers make delicious turkey sandwiches or turkey soup.
You can also freeze leftover cooked turkey for up to 3 months.
Trouble Shooting: Common Problems and Solutions When Slow Cooking Turkey
Although this recipe has been extensively tested, there is always a chance with changes in equipment and ingredients that something goes wrong.
Let's troubleshoot those turkey trials in the slow cooker! Here are five common problems and their easy fixes:
- Problem: Dry Turkey Breast
Solution: Ensure you're not overcooking. Stick to the recommended cooking time and use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. If the turkey breast is still too dry, try adding more liquid to the slow cooker, like extra broth or a flavorful marinade.
- Problem: Uneven Cooking
Solution: Arrange the turkey breast evenly in the slow cooker to promote uniform cooking. Rotate the pieces during cooking or flip them halfway through to ensure even heat distribution.
- Problem: Bland Flavor
Solution: Boost the flavor by seasoning the turkey well before placing it in the slow cooker. Don't be shy with herbs, spices, and aromatics. You can also enhance the broth with garlic, onions, or your favorite seasonings for an extra punch of taste. If the turkey is already cooked, make sure it has enough salt and pepper. Then consider making gravy or a pan sauce to add flavor.
- Problem: Mushy Texture
Solution: To avoid a mushy mess, be cautious with the amount of liquid you add. If the turkey releases too much moisture, remove the lid for the last hour of cooking to allow some evaporation. Alternatively, you can thicken the liquid with a cornstarch slurry after cooking.
- Problem: Sticking to the Bottom
Solution: Prevent sticking by lightly greasing the bottom of the slow cooker with cooking spray or a thin layer of oil. You can also place a layer of vegetables or a bed of herbs at the bottom to create a barrier between the turkey and the pot, ensuring a hassle-free release.
Frequently Asked Questions
Everything you may still be wondering about how to cook a boneless turkey breast in the slow cooker. Still have questions? Ask in the comments.
Always defrost turkey breast before cooking it in the slow cooker. Cooking a frozen turkey could result in the turkey cooking evenly and can lead to bacteria growth since it will take too long to come to a safe temperature.
The best way to defrost a frozen turkey breast is to leave it in the fridge overnight to defrost.
This turkey is best served immediately after it is cooked. If you need to start cooking it earlier in the day, it can stay in the slow cooker for 2-3 hours on the "keep warm" setting. It is best to undercook it slightly if you know it will sit, to around 150-155 degrees as it will continue to cook on the "keep warm" setting. Then simply check the internal temperature before serving to make sure it has come to a safe temperature.
If you have to cook it in advance, let it come to room temperature and then store it in the fridge. Reheat very gently in the slow cooker with 1 cup of chicken broth until just warmed through. The gravy can be prepared in advance.
Cooking the turkey breast in the slow cooker is a great way to ensure it comes out nice and juicy. If you are nervous about a dry turkey breast, take it out of the slow cooker between 155-160 degrees since it will continue to cook as it rests.
Crockpot Boneless Turkey Breast
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- 3 lb boneless skin-on turkey breast (or bone-in, with skin or without skin)
- 1 yellow onion, quartered
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 carrots
- 2 tbsp butter, softened
- 1.5 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp black pepper (fresh is best)
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Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours on low (see notes) or until the turkey has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. For a really juicy turkey, take it out around 160 degrees since it will continue to cook as it rests. Bone-in turkey breasts will take closer to 6 hours. Let rest for 15 minutes before slicing or serving.
Optional gravy: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a pot. Once melted, add 2 tablespoons of flour to make a roux. Whisk together and cook for 1-2 minutes until flour is fully incorporated and light brown in color. Add 1 cup of the strained cooking liquid from the slow cooker. Continue to whisk and cook until it thickens. This normally takes about 5 minutes. Taste and season as needed.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
Size of the turkey breast and cooking time: Turkey breasts come in a variety of sizes. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, remembering that bone-in always takes longer.
- 2 lbs: 2.5-3 hours on low
- 3 lbs: 3-4 hours on low
- 4 lbs: 4-5 hours on low
- 5 lbs: 5-6 hours on low
- 6 lbs: 5-6 hours on low
- Larger: Turkey breasts can be up to 10 pounds but need to comfortably fit in the slow cooker. A very large turkey breast could take 7-8 hours to cook to 165 degrees with an instant read thermometer.
If you are cooking with a turkey breast that is brined or seasoned, make sure to use half the amount of salt. You can always add more later.
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