Go easy on yourself this Thanksgiving by making this Slow Cooker Turkey Breast recipe! Your slow cooker not only frees up oven space but it yields incredibly moist turkey AND the base for a quick flavorful gravy! Great for a small gathering this recipe will yield 6 to 8 servings.
Not in a million years did I ever think I would slow cook a turkey.
And look at me now.
A few years ago Malloree’s high school varsity dance team had a team bonding dinner the night before a competition. The theme was Friendsgiving and three of us mom-friends teamed up and put it on together. I brought mac and cheese, rolls and pumpkin pies. And my friend Sarah made a whole turkey breast (among other things) in her slow cooker.
You guys, it was love after first moist and delicious bite! Now I’m a huge fan of whole turkey breasts. Especially for small gatherings and potlucks. Needless to say, I asked how she made it and went home and put together my own slow cooker turkey recipe based on what she told me.
Freeing up oven space and making the turkey in the slow cooker is brilliant and a game changer. This way you will have plenty of room in your oven for all the casseroles.
To Make This Slow Cooker Turkey Breast You Will Need:
- whole turkey breast (bone in) – This is basically a turkey without the legs or wings.
- garlic (whole) – Stuffed into the cavity to flavor the meat.
- carrot – Added to the slow cooker to flavor the cooking liquids/drippings.
- onion – Added to the slow cooker to flavor the cooking liquids/drippings.
- celery – Added to the slow cooker to flavor the cooking liquids/drippings.
- bay leaf – Added to the slow cooker to flavor the cooking liquids/drippings.
- turkey stock – Homemade or store-bought. Adds moisture while slow cooking.
- white wine – Gives the cooking liquids acidity and flavor. Can sub with more stock if preferred.
- low-sodium tamari (or low-sodium soy sauce) – Lends a salty and savory (umami) flavor while also deepening the color of the gravy.
- crushed dried rosemary – Adds a pine-like or woodsy flavor.
- rubbed sage – Is lighter (fluffier), less concentrated and not as intense as ground sage.
- dried thyme – Lends a sharp and earthy flavor.
- wondra flour – This is an ultra-fine flour that whisks really well into sauces and gravy without clumping.
- black pepper – Adds some subtle bite and flavor.
Prep and Stuff the Turkey:
Thaw your whole (bone-in) turkey breast in a dish or pan 2 to 3 days in advance. The day of, remove it from the packaging and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the garlic heads in half and stuff them inside of the turkey cavity.
Place the turkey into your oval 6 to 8 quart slow cooker. Because the size of my turkey was on the larger side, I had to turn it on an angle to fit.
Tuck 1 chopped yellow onion, 1 chopped carrot and 4 chopped stalks of celery around the turkey and lastly, throw in a bay leaf.
In a mixing bowl combine 3/4 cup turkey stock, 1/2 cup low-sodium and 1/3 cup dry white wine.
Whisk to combine and pour over the turkey.
Lastly, combine 1 teaspoon each rubbed sage, crushed rosemary and dried thyme.
Sprinkle the dried herbs over top of the turkey and vegetables.
Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 6 or until the temperature (in the thickest part of the breast) reads 165° on a meat thermometer.
Your house by now should smell incredible!
Remove the turkey to a deep sided roasting pan, make sure it’s nearby the slow cooker so the transfer is easy. Move your oven rack to the lowest position and preheat your broiler. Broil the skin of the turkey until golden and crispy. Times vary, so watch closely to avoid burning and rotate to ensure even browning.
I also have to prop my turkey up so it will brown evenly and used a metal taco holder. 🤷🏻♀️ Whatever works as long as it’s oven/broiler safe.
Now for the easiest gravy you will ever make.
Use a slotted spoon remove the vegetables and bay leaf from the slow cooker and discard. Use oven mitts and pour the turkey drippings into a fat separator – I linked it in the recipe printable. Pull the plunger out and pour the juices out and through a strainer into a separate liquid measuring cup, reserving the fat.
Into a saucepan, add 1/4 cup of the fat and heat on medium heat until it starts to sizzle.
Shake in 4 to 6 tablespoons of Wondra and whisk to form a paste. Cook the roux for 2 to 3 minutes. Note: I am one of those who doesn’t measure and just eyeballs the flour.
What is Wondra?
Wondra is an ultra fine, quick mixing “instant flour” that is low-protein, pre-cooked and dried and dissolves instantly, and won’t clump. Making it PERFECT for gravies and sauces. However you can also used to bread meat, seafood or vegetables among many other uses.
While whisking, pour in 4 cups of the hot broth whisking well until smooth.
Simmer until the gravy thickens. If necessary or you lack patience (<–me), a cornstarch slurry (1 tablespoon flour mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water) can be added to the bubbling gravy.
The tamari gives the gravy the perfect saltiness and aids in the deep brown color. Bonus! There’s no need to season with salt, just some black pepper will do.
Carve the turkey breast away from the bones and slice.
Have leftover turkey? click here for great ways to repurpose leftovers!
Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
For THE SLOW COOKER TURKEY:
- 8 pound whole turkey breast, see notes
- 2 bulbs garlic, halved horizontally
- 4 short celery stalks, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 3/4 cup turkey stock
- 1/2 cup low-sodium tamari, or soy sauce
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- olive oil spray
FOR THE GRAVY:
- 1/4 cup drippings, from fat
- 4 cups turkey juices from cooking, fat separated
- Hamilton Beach 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
- Fat Separator
- Polder Digital In-Oven Meat Thermometer
FOR THE TURKEY:
- 2 to 3 days in advance, place your frozen turkey into a deep-sided dish or pan and place into your refrigerator to thaw.**
- Day of: remove the turkey from it's packaging and pat dry with paper towel.
- Stuff the halved heads of garlic into the chicken breast cavity and place into your 6 to 8 quart oval slow cooker. Depending on the size of your turkey, you may need to angle it to fit.
- Surround the turkey breast with the chopped vegetables and bay leaf.
- Next, in a bowl, combine the stock, tamari and white wine before pouring overtop of the turkey breast.
- In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, rubbed sage and thyme. Sprinkle over the turkey and vegetables.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours (or on high for 5 to 6 hours) or until a thermometer reads 165° when inserted into the thickest part of the turkey breast.
- Once cooked, carefully transfer the turkey to a oven safe roasting dish. Make sure the pan is next to the slow cooker so the transfer is easy.
- Spray the turkey skin with olive oil and slide the turkey breast under the broiler (on the lowest rack) until the skin is crispy and golden. Watch carefully to avoid burning.
- Allow the turkey to reast for 10 to 20 minutes before carving.
- Remove the breasts from the bones to a carving board. Slice and serve with gravy.
FOR THE GRAVY:
- With a slotted spoon remove the vegetables and bay leaf from the slow cooker and disard.
- Pour the turkey drippings into a fat separator. Pour the juices out through a strainer (to catch any impurities) and into a separate liquid measuring cup - reserving the fat. You will need 4 cups.
- Into a saucepan, add 1/4 cup of the fat and heat on medium heat. Sprinkle in 4 to 6 tablespoons of wondra flour (eyeball it) and whisk to form a paste. Cook the roux for a minute or so.
- While whisking, pour in the reserved (4 cups) turkey juices (not fat) into the sauce pan and bring to a low-boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the gravy has thickened. If need be, you can make a cornstarch slurry by combining 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon cold water and whisking it into a bubling gravy.
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