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This Slow Cooker Turkey Breast with Gravy is a wonderful option if you’re feeding a smaller group for the holidays. This smaller cut allows you to create this classic, comforting meal with a minimal amount of effort.
It has taken several rounds of recipe testing to get this Slow Cooker Turkey Breast with Gravy ready for the world. There are some important tweaks I had to make before it was perfect.
I’ve made it several times now and I’m pleased as punch with the result. The method is easy and I’m happy to say that the slow cooker yields a wonderfully moist and tender result.
I put just as much importance on the quality of the gravy because, well… gravy. Need I say more?
I’ll have my usual big group here this Thanksgiving and will definitely be roasting my Dry Brine Turkey with Garlic Butter Rub. That being said, I love the idea of cooking an extra turkey breast in the slow cooker to ensure there will be plenty of leftovers for sandwiches, soups, and quesadillas the days following Thanksgiving. Leftovers are vital!
The other consideration is just how inexpensive this cut is at this time of year. I picked up my bone-in turkey breast at Safeway for just $1.89 per pound. At that price, it’s worth picking up a couple and keeping them in the freezer for future meals.
How to Cook Turkey Breast in the Slow Cooker
Choose a bone-in turkey breast that is in the 6 to 7 pound range. If you go larger, it may not fit in your slow cooker. You can probably get away with a tad over 7 pounds. I’ve gone as big as 7.75 pounds and made it work but keep it as close to that range as possible.
I really put my collection of slow cookers through their paces with recipe testing for The Foolproof Family Slow Cooker and can heartily recommend both the Hamilton Beach 6-Quart Set and Forget Slow Cooker and the Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry model. Both of these slow cookers were used far more than could possibly have been intended over the course of last year and I’m happy to say they are both still cooking their hearts out.
Thaw Your Turkey Breast Safely
Place the frozen turkey breast on a rimmed baking sheet and set it in the refrigerator to thaw for two to three days in advance of the day you plan to cook it. The baking sheet will catch any drippings that might escape the packaging and protect the inside of your fridge. It takes approximately 24 hours for every 4 pounds of turkey to thaw but I always add on an extra day to be sure it won’t be icey going into the slow cooker or oven.
Skin On or Off?
I tested this recipe first without removing the thick turkey skin and it resulted in extremely gelatinous drippings that were just plain unusable. Removing the skin is not hard to do and ensures you will end up with fabulous drippings that will result in a perfectly luscious gravy. And, don’t worry, your slow cooker does a wonderful job of creating a moist environment and your turkey breast will not dry out.
How to Remove the Skin
To remove the skin, start by pulling at one of the edges with a paper towel. You will need clean kitchen shears or a sharp knife to help you cut the skin away. I always work on a foil-lined board so that I can toss the foil and skin and keep my work area neat and sanitary.
Place some thickly sliced onion and chunks of carrot (the aromatics) in a 6-quart slow cooker. Place the turkey on top of the aromatics and pour 1/2 cup of low-sodium chicken or turkey broth around the edges. If your turkey is a little too big, instead of resting it on top of the onion and carrot, just toss the aromatics around the edges or tuck them into the cavity of the turkey breast to make more room.
Combine a little melted butter with some olive oil, garlic powder, rubbed sage, crushed rosemary, dried thyme, paprika, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
Both the aromatics and the butter/herb mixture will add flavor to the drippings. We want flavorful drippings for that gravy!
Coat the turkey breast with the butter and herb mixture.
Cover and cook the turkey breast on LOW for 5 to 6 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F when checked with an instant read thermometer in thickest center portion of the breast. I’ve also included directions on the recipe card below for cooking the turkey breast on HIGH. If you are in a pinch for time it will work but for the most tender result, I recommend cooking it on LOW.
The gravy is a cinch to make. Take a look at the recipe card below for the details.
How to Carve a Turkey Breast
More good news – a turkey breast portion is very easy to carve.
- Use a sharp knife to cut down along the big breast bone running down the center of the turkey breast. Slice it all the way down the length of the turkey breast.
- Now cut along the front where you first started and down over the ribs. As you do this, the breast should begin to separate and it should be easy to pull it away from the carcass.
- Repeat this process on the other side and transfer the breast meat to a cutting board.
- Slice the breast portions against the grain into 1-inch slices.
There will be some good pieces of turkey left on the carcass that you can pull off and save for leftover turkey recipes. You can also use that meaty carcass to make some great homemade turkey stock.
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Slow Cooker Turkey Breast with Gravy
- 6 to 7 pound bone-in turkey breast, thawed (see recipe note)
- 1/2 yellow or white onion thickly sliced
- 1 carrot scrubbed clean and cut into small chunks
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth plus additional as needed
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups reserved turkey drippings
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or turkey broth
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce optional (only a tiny bit or it gets too brown)
For the Turkey:
- Coat slow cooker insert with non-stick cooking spray. Place onion rings and chopped carrot on bottom of slow cooker insert. Remove turkey from packaging and drain off juices. Remove the skin. Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to trim any remaining fat from around the end of the breast. Pat dry with paper towels and place on top of onions and carrots. If turkey is too large to cover with the lid, place the aromatics around the turkey or stuff them inside the cavity instead. Pour chicken broth around the turkey.
- Combine melted butter, olive oil, garlic powder, sage, rosemary, thyme, paprika, salt, and pepper. Spread the mixture all over the outside of the turkey breast. Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F when checked with an instant read thermometer in thickest center portion of breast.
- Transfer turkey to a cutting board to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
For the Gravy:
- Remove and toss the vegetables and strain the turkey drippings through a fine mesh colander into a measuring cup, reserving 1 1/2 cups.
- Melt butter in a deep skillet over LOW heat and add flour. Cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to make a roux. Slowly pour in reserved turkey drippings and broth and whisk over LOW heat until thickened. If you'd like to add a a little color, add just a touch of Kitchen Bouquet. Be very careful as a little does a lot and you don't want it too brown. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as desired.