This Slow Cooker Turkey Tenderloin with a maple mustard sauce comes out perfectly tender and juicy every time. Great for a small holiday meal and easy enough for any weeknight.
If you are hosting a small Thanksgiving or just want to enjoy more turkey this holiday season, this crockpot turkey tenderloin recipe is for you!
Over the last few years, turkey breast tenderloins have become increasingly popular. This “other” white meat is a great alternative to chicken breast. It is also a great option for anyone who only wants to cook only white meat turkey or a smaller meal.
While turkey tenderloins can be cooked in many ways, I love cooking them in the slow cooker since they stay super tender and juicy.
Now let’s talk about the sauce in this recipe! While you may not immediately think of soy sauce or mustard for turkey, it is so good. It’s savory, slightly sweet, and will have you going back for you.
Why We Love this Recipe!
- Perfect for smaller holiday gatherings
- No complicated brine or cooking techniques - easy meal prep
- Hands-off cooking
- Comes out tender and juicy every time! No dry turkey breast
- Versatile! Easy to change up the flavors to enjoy all year long
What is a turkey tenderloin?
The turkey tenderloin is the part of the turkey breast located closest to the breast bone. It is a long strip of white meat turkey that is the juiciest and most tender part of the turkey breast. hence the name tenderloin. This part of the muscle doesn’t get worked out as much, so it stays tender.
Since this is the inner part of the turkey breast, it is lean, boneless, and skinless. If you have ever bought chicken tenderloins, this is the same thing just bigger since it is from a turkey.
In the grocery store, turkey breast tenderloins are normally found in a cyrovac bag and sometimes come in brine or marinade. Popular brands include Jennie O. and Butterball. Many times, packages come with two turkey tenderloins inside. They normally weigh between 8-16 ounces.
If you have even bought chicken tenderloins, this is the same thing just bigger since it is from a turkey.
Ingredients and Easy Swaps
Here is everything you need for this recipe.
- Turkey tenderloin: Most of the time turkey tenderloins come with two tenderloins in one package. You’ll want around 2-2.5 lbs of turkey for the slow cooker. You can cut this recipe in half and use one, but only with a smaller slow cooker or the sauce will burn. You can also make this recipe with a full turkey breast, just double the sauce if it weighs more.
- Soy sauce: Soy sauce isn’t just for Asian recipes, it is a great way to add a deep, umami flavor to dishes. The soy sauce in this recipe makes it savory and adds salt. Tamari and coconut aminos work as well.
- Dijon mustard: Mustard is a great ingredient to add complex flavors with one ingredient. Only use Dijon of whole grain mustard. Yellow mustard doesn’t work in this recipe.
- Maple syrup: maple syrup balances the savoriness in the soy sauce and mustard, Honey or brown sugar works as well.
- Apple cider vinegar: Vinegar adds brightness to the dish and a very subtle tang. Sap in balsamic vinegar if you prefer.
- Thyme: Thyme, rosemary, dried parsley, or sage can all be used to add an herbal flavor to the sauce.
Looking for more classic Thanksgiving flavors? Don’t miss the instructions for that below.
How to Make a Turkey Tenderloin in the Crockpot
One of the best things about this recipe is how easy it is! In just a few steps, you have a super tender, flavor-packed turkey. Here’s what to do:
- Prep the turkey tenderloin: Remove the turkey from all the packaging and rinse if there is a lot of liquid. Pat dry with paper towels. If there is any silver skin or fat, trim it if desired.
- Make the sauce: The liquid in the slow cooker will turn into the sauce for the turkey. Simply combine the soy sauce, chicken broth (or turkey broth), mustard, maple syrup, apple cider, garlic, thyme, and black pepper in the bottom of slow cooker. Add the turkey tenderloins and turn to coat on both sides. They won’t be covered by the liquid, that’s ok.
- Cook on low: This is the most important part! Cook the turkey tenderloins on low for 3-4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches around 160 degrees. It should be 165 degrees when it is eaten, but it will continue to cook as it rests. If you like your turkey super juicy, you may want to take it out a bit earlier. Do not cook the turkey on high or it can dry out and overcook.
- Let rest: Always let the turkey rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing it. The juices will redistribute and the end result will be more tender.
- Thicken sauce: While the turkey rests, thicken the sauce if needed. It may be thick enough already but you may need to add a touch of cornstarch to thicken it.
Side Dish Ideas
Whenever I am making turkey, I always crave classic holiday side dishes.
- Potatoes: Serve this with some classic mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes.
- Roasted vegetables: Make some crispy balsamic brussels sprouts, green beans, or butternut squash.
- Sauteed vegetables: Try these amazing Sauteed Peas, Carrots, or Broccoli.
- Salads: Keep things light and healthy with this Shaved Brussels Sprouts salad or tasty Spinach Salad.
Go classic! Crockpot Turkey Tenderloin and Gravy
While I absolutely love the maple mustard flavor of the sauce in this recipe, you may be craving classic Thanksgiving flavors. Here’s what to do!
- In the bottom of your slow cooker, add a quartered onion, 2 whole peeled carrots, and 1-2 celery stalks. Pour in 1 cup of chicken or turkey broth.
- In a small bowl, combine 2 tbsp of softened butter (or olive oil) with 1-2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning or your favorite spice blend. I like paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and black pepper. Cover the turkey tenderloins in this mixture.
- Nestle the tenderloins on top of the vegetables. Cook on low for 3-4 hours until they reach around 160 degrees. Remove the turkey and tent it with foil to rest.
- Make the turkey 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. This can also be done with cornstarch for a lighter option.
- Slice the turkey tenderloins and serve with gravy drizzled on top.
Can you cook a frozen turkey tenderloin in the slow cooker?
It is always best to defrost any meat before it is cooked in the slow cooker. The best way to defrost the tenderloin is to place it in the fridge. It will take 4-5 hours per pound.
If you need to speed up the process, you can place the sealed packaged turkey in room-temperature water in a bowl, switching the water every 15 minutes or so. This will take about an hour.
How do you know when a turkey tenderloin is done?
According to the USDA, turkey breast should be cooked to 165 degrees. However, since the turkey tenderloin will continue to cook as it rests, most people take it out between 150-160 degrees to ensure the tenderloin stays nice and juicy.
Make-Ahead Options and Storage
After multiple recipe tests, this turkey actually gets better with a night in the fridge.
If you want to make it ahead of time, the biggest concern is the turkey drying out. Therefore, I recommend taking the tenderloin out when it reaches 150 degrees. Do not slice it.
Let it come to room temperature and then store it in the fridge. The sauce can also be made in advance.
When ready to eat, warm it up in 350-degree oven in a covered baking dish with ½ cup of chicken broth until warmed through. You can also place it back in the slow cooker with the sauce (or chicken broth) for about 30 minutes.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Just like classic turkey, this turkey tenderloin makes delicious leftovers.
- Make a classic leftover turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce and stuffing.
- Add the sliced turkey to a big green salad
- Make a delicious fresh turkey wrap with all your favorite veggies
- Add the sliced turkey tenderloin to a grain bowl with leftover roasted veggies. Drizzle the extra sauce on top
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about cooking turkey tenderloins.
The turkey tenderloin is the innermost part of the turkey breast located next to the bone. It is the most tender part of the turkey breast.
Turkey tenderloins are a great lean protein source with 120 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, zero carbohydrates, and 28 grams of protein in a 4-ounce serving. It is very similar to chicken breast.
Slow Cooker Turkey Tenderloin
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Remove and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with cooking liquid drizzled over top or thicken the sauce. Optional sauce: Combine 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of cold water. Pour the cooking liquids from the slow cooker into a small pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch slurry and cook for 1 minute. Serve over turkey.
* 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.
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