This easy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast recipe is so juicy and flavorful, and since it’s boneless, you don’t need to worry about carving anything! You only need 10 minutes of prep– just make a rub, slather it on the turkey, and let your crockpot do the work for you. It’s perfect for a small Thanksgiving dinner and easy enough for a weeknight main course.
See that gorgeous color? It’s all in the rub – a mixture of all kinds of spices, including bright red paprika and golden yellow turmeric.
A quick few minutes under the broiler crisps up the skin for a beautiful golden brown color that’s perfect for your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving table!
To be honest, I don’t know if I’m ever going to cook a whole turkey again now that I’ve discovered this slow cooker version. I really hate the hassle of a whole turkey, and having to wrangle a giant piece of raw poultry. This slow cooker turkey breast recipe is almost too good to be true – it’s so ridiculously easy and flavorful!
And you can even whip up a quick gravy from the drippings.
What’s in the turkey breast rub?
The rub is a mixture of softened butter with kosher salt, black pepper, dried oregano and thyme, paprika, turmeric, and garlic powder. Just mix everything together in a small bowl and you’re good to go!
It’s important to use softened butter for this, not melted. Softened butter will help it form into a paste that you can easily spread over the turkey breast evenly.
I should also note: the turmeric is optional. It gives the turkey a golden yellow color that I think is gorgeous, especially because it’s hard to get nice color on a slow cooked breast (roasting in the oven makes golden, crispy skin all over). But if you don’t have it, or if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of the yellow spice (which does stain), just leave it out!
You can also use any other combination of spices you want. Really, as long as you have salt and pepper, you can make a turkey breast in your slow cooker.
How to cook a boneless turkey breast in your slow cooker
Just slather the rub on the turkey, place it on some onions in your slow cooker, and cook on low for 4 hours! THAT’S IT! Here are some tips and tricks for success.
- Grease the bottom of the crockpot. When you make the rub, grab a little of the softened butter and use it to coat the bottom of your slow cooker. This will help make sure nothing sticks to the bottom as it cooks. You can also use cooking spray or brush it with olive oil.
- Remove any “extras” from the turkey. Sometimes, turkey breasts will come with a gravy packet, and/or come trussed with twine. You can just discard all of that. Snip the twine off with scissors.
- Pat the turkey breast dry with paper towels. You don’t have to rinse it (and you actually shouldn’t ever rinse poultry), but patting it dry will help the rub to stick and penetrate the flavors more. I like to place the whole thing on a paper towel lined rimmed baking sheet and then pat the top dry with the edges.
- Rub the bottom, under the skin, and over the skin with the spice mixture. I saved most of it for on top, but you can actually pull the skin up (if your turkey breast comes with a skin) and spread the rub underneath, then place the skin back and rub the top. This will help add lots of flavor to the meat.
- You probably won’t need any more than 4 hours. In fact, you may only need 3 hours. White breast meat can get dry if it’s overcooked, so if you have a smaller turkey breast, or if you just want to check the temp after 3 hours, give it a shot! It should be 165 degrees F.
How to get crispy skin
The one disadvantage to cooking skin-on turkey (or chicken) in a slow cooker is that the skin doesn’t get crispy, or a golden color, like when it roasts in the oven.
To get crispy skin on this boneless turkey breast, just place the whole thing after it’s done cooking on a rimmed baking sheet, and set it under the broiler for 5-10 minutes. It makes such a difference in how beautiful it looks! I do this when I make slow cooker chicken thighs, too.
You can also skip this step if you want, especially if you start with a skinless turkey breast. Totally optional. But highly recommended.
Let the turkey breast REST before slicing it!
One mistake that people make when slicing into a turkey (or chicken, or steak, or really any meat) is they slice into it too quickly. This causes many of the juices in the meat to escape prematurely. If you let it rest, the juices have a chance to redistribute.
Letting the turkey breast rest for 20 minutes before slicing will result in super juicy, moist meat. If you’re worried about it cooling off, you can tent it with foil.
And that gives you plenty of time to whip up a gravy from the drippings!
How to make gravy from the drippings
I love turkey gravy so much that I wrote a whole post on how to make classic turkey gravy from the drippings. But you can also do a quick and easy version with the drippings from this slow cooker turkey breast!
- You’ll end up with about a cup of drippings. Strain them into a glass measuring cup or fat separator and discard the onion slices and other solids.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter OR 2 tablespoons of the fat from the drippings (you can just skim it off the top) in a medium pot or skillet.
- Add 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk together, cooking for about a minute (longer, for darker color).
- Then, slowly pour in the drippings while whisking, cooking until thickened and stirring/whisking frequently.
The gravy probably won’t need much seasoning since the drippings have all the flavor from the rub. Keep in mind, if you use turmeric in the rub, the gravy will also have a yellow hue.
Can you use a bone-in turkey breast?
Definitely! Follow the exact same instructions, just cook it for longer and make a little more rub. Whole turkey breasts with the bone in are usually 6-7 pounds, so it will need more time.
I recommend cooking a bone-in turkey breast in the slow cooker for on low for 6 hours. Be sure to check the temperature to make sure it’s 165 degrees F.
More of an instant pot lover? Try this Instant Pot Turkey Breast for a whole, bone-in version flavored with lemon and thyme. You may also like this Dutch Oven Whole Roast Chicken recipe.
Sides to go with turkey breast
- Spiced Orange Cranberry Sauce
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Almond Streusel Topping
- Greek Green Beans
- Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Be sure to check out all my other Thanksgiving Recipes, and these Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Recipes.
And if you have leftover turkey, try this leftover turkey salad with cranberries and walnuts or this leftover turkey soup with black beans and corn!
Juicy Slow Cooker Boneless Turkey Breast
- 3 lb. boneless turkey breast
- 4 tablespoons butter softened
- 1 large yellow onion cut into roughly 1/2 inch slices
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (see notes)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric optional
- fresh herbs for garnish optional
- In a small bowl, soften the butter in the microwave for a few seconds if it's not already soft (don't completely melt it). Spread a little bit of the butter in the bottom of your slow cooker, then place the sliced onions in the slow cooker.
- Remove the turkey breast from the packaging and discard any twine used for trussing, gravy inserts, etc. Pat the turkey breast dry with paper towels. I like to place paper towels on a rimmed baking sheet, place the turkey breast on top, and pat the top dry.
- To make the rub, add the kosher salt (2 teaspoons- see notes if using butterball or pre-brined turkey!), black pepper (1/2 teaspoon), garlic powder (1 teaspoon), dried oregano (1 teaspoon), dried thyme (1 teaspoon), paprika (1 teaspoon), and turmeric, if using (1/2 teaspoon) to the softened butter and stir together to form a paste.
- Spread a little of the rub on the bottom of the turkey, then place it in the slow cooker. If the turkey comes with skin, lift it up gently and spread some of the rub under the skin. Place the skin back on top and spread the majority of the rub all over the top of the turkey breast evenly.
- Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
- Optional: If you want crispy skin, place the turkey skin-side up on a rimmed baking sheet and broil for 5-10 minutes, or until the skin is crisped to your liking.
- Allow to rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
- If using a butterball turkey breast, or other pre-brined turkey breast, you may want to use only 1 teaspoon of kosher salt instead of 2, since it's already salted.
- If using a Turkey Breast Roast: You can leave it trussed if you like, as it may consist of pieces of turkey breast put together that will potentially fall apart if the truss is taken off. But taking the truss netting off is OK too, especially if the roast seems pretty "solid."
- To make gravy from the drippings: melt 2 tablespoons butter (or fat from the drippings) over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons flour. Whisk together to form a roux, cook for at least one minute. Pour in the drippings (about 1 cup) and continue to whisk and cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Supplement with chicken stock if you need more drippings for a double or triple batch. (Here's more on how to make gravy from turkey drippings).
- The turmeric in this recipe gives the turkey a golden color and helps add flavor. If you use the drippings to make gravy, the gravy will definitely be a yellow color- delicious but not a traditional gravy color. If you don't like the yellow color, simply omit it.
- Be sure to use a fully THAWED turkey breast. Often, turkey breasts come frozen. You will need to plan ahead to defrost it- keep it in the fridge for about 24 hours per 5 lbs. of meat to defrost before slow cooking. It's not safe to cook frozen meat in a slow cooker, as the inside will not fully cook quickly enough.
- When to take the turkey out of the freezer: I recommend moving the boneless turkey breast from the freezer to the refrigerator 3 days before. It may need only 2 days, but I always err on the side of more time, because if it defrosts completely in only 2 days, it will still stay good for the next 24 hours in the fridge until you’re ready to cook!
- If you want to cook two boneless turkey breasts at the same time, assuming they are about 3 lbs. each, I recommend cooking on low for 5-6 hours. You can check the internal temp at 5 hours if you want to make sure it's 165 degrees, but it won't hurt to go all the way until 6 hours. Don't forget to double the rub amount!
- To use this method with a bone-in turkey breast, assuming it is about 6 lbs, I recommend cooking it on low for about 6 hours, or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F. Don't forget to double the rub amount!
- Making a different sized turkey? Here are my recommended times for slow cooking both bone-in and boneless turkey breasts. Keep in mind, it's hard to mess this up in a slow cooker. Overcooking by an hour or two may lead to meat that might fall apart and be a little stringy, but will still be juicy. You can err on the side of slightly more time for bone-in, and slightly less time for boneless, depending on the weight of your turkey and the times indicated below. Make sure to check that the internal temp is 165 degrees F when done!
- 2 lb: 3 hours on low
- 3 lb: 4 hours on low
- 4-5 lb: 5-6 hours on low
- 7-8 lb: 6-7 hours on low
- 9-10 lb: 8-9 hours on low
- Prep ahead of time by arranging everything in the slow cooker crock and then placing the crock, covered, in your fridge overnight. Then, transfer the crock to the slow cooker when you're ready to cook it the next day.
Nutrition Information Disclaimer
The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools:
Leave a Reply