Slow Cooker Turkey Breast - Handle the Heat

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

By Tessa Arias
  |  
November 7th, 2014
5 from 4 votes
5 from 4 votes

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast with easy gravy requires just 10 minutes prep time and doesn't take up valuable space in your oven on Thanksgiving! Plus it's extra tender and moist, it's a win-win!!

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook: 5 hours 30 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: All the flavors just meld together and are all intensified in the rich gravy. Turkey is not my favorite and even I LOVED this.
Texture: Tender, juicy, moist, and meaty. Yum.
Ease: The easiest way to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey.
Appearance: While this is definitely not as impressive as pulling an entire golden brown bird out of the oven, the carved meat and gravy just looks so tender and mouthwatering your guests will be happy either way!
Pros: Easy, much more hands-free, doesn’t take up valuable oven space on Thanksgiving, and is super duper juicy and tender. You really can’t beat that! It’s perfect for serving a smaller group so you’re not drowning in turkey for weeks.
Cons: Absolutely none!
Would I make this again? For sure.

This Thanksgiving turkey recipe has so many things going for it. Not only is it some of the most tender and moist turkey breast I’ve ever tasted (I’m usually a dark meat girl) but it’s so ridiculously easy to make.

Just plop everything into the slow cooker or and move on to the rest of your Thanksgiving recipes. No brining, no marinating, and no basting required for this crockpot turkey breast.

Crock Pot Thanksgiving Turkey Breast with easy gravy requires just 10 minutes prep time and doesn't take up valuable space in your oven on Thanksgiving! Plus it's extra tender and moist, it's a win-win!!

Best of all, no taking up precious space in your oven! That means you don’t have to plan and strategize your side dishes nearly as much which takes away a lot of the holiday cooking stress. AND the gravy is so simple with so much flavor, no need for that weird pre-packaged stuff.

This Slow Cooker Turkey Breast recipe is especially perfect if you’re cooking for a smaller group and don’t want to spend a pretty penny on a huge bird that will likely go to waste.

I LOVE using my Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker for recipes like this best turkey recipe because I can use the thermometer probe and program the slow cooker to automatically turn to the “warm” mode once it reaches the internal temperature I want. No babysitting, and no worrying about overcooking.

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast with easy gravy requires just 10 minutes prep time and doesn't take up valuable space in your oven on Thanksgiving! Plus it's extra tender and moist, it's a win-win!!

Every slow cooker heats differently, so keep this in mind as well as the actual size of your turkey as you program your cooking. I would err on the side of caution and less cooking time, because you can always remove the lid and stick an instant-read thermometer inside the meat to test for doneness. If the meat thermometer show it’s not done yet, simply keep cooking.

How to Make Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

Ingredients for Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe:

  • Onion
  • Bone-in turkey breast with skin
  • Low sodium chicken broth
  • Bay leaves
  • Seasonings: salt, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried sage, cornstarch, black pepper

How to Cook A Thanksgiving Turkey in the Slow Cooker:

  1. Place the onion, turkey breast, broth, and bay leaves in a slow cooker. Sprinkle with the seasonings.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. This may vary depending on the size of your turkey.
  3. Carefully place turkey breast on a carving board and loosely tent with foil.
  4. Prepare the gravy while the turkey rests.
  5. Remove the skin and discard before carving the turkey into slices.

Tips for a Juicy, Tender Turkey Breast:

  1. I always take poultry out of the slow cooker or oven once it reaches 160°F because the temperature will continue to rise as it’s resting, this helps ensure juicy and tender turkey breast.
  2. Another thing that helps ensure a juicy turkey breast is to actually cook the turkey breast side down and rest it breast side down so all the juices accumulate in the actual breast meat.

What to Serve with Thanksgiving Turkey:

How Can I Use Up Leftover Turkey Breast?

These recipes make great use of any crock pot turkey breast leftovers:

More Thanksgiving Recipes:

P.S. Check out ALL my Thanksgiving recipes here!

5 from 4 votes

How to make
Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 40 minutes
Slow Cooker Turkey Breast with easy gravy requires just 10 minutes prep time and doesn't take up valuable space in your oven on Thanksgiving! Plus it's extra tender and moist, it's a win-win!!

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 (5 to 7 pound) bone-in whole turkey breast with skin
  • 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the gravy
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Place the onion, turkey breast (breast side down), broth, and bay leaves in a 6-quart slow cooker. Sprinkle with the salt, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, and sage.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.
  3. Carefully transfer the turkey to a carving board and loosely tent with foil while preparing the gravy.
  4. Strain the liquid in the slow cooker into a saucepan. Let it settle for five minutes then skim the fat from the surface. Bring the gravy to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes, stirring often, until slightly thickened. In a small bowl combine the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water and stir into the gravy. Simmer for another 2 minutes, stirring, until thickened completely. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
  5. Remove the skin and discard before carving the turkey into slices. Serve alongside warm gravy.

Recipe Notes

The cook time will vary depending on the size of your turkey and your slow cooker.
Course : Main Course
Cuisine : American

This post was recently updated with new photos by Patty Kraikittikun-Phuong.

Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

Leave a Comment & Rating

Add a Review or Question

*Please select a rating to complete your comment.

Recipe Rating




  1. #
    Kathy Johnson — December 25, 2021 at 6:02 am

    I have always made a large whole turkey in the oven, but we usually only eat mostly the white meat, and a good bit of the dark meat ends up getting thrown out. About 4-5 years ago I came across this recipe and decided to try it. BEST DECISION EVER! Well, for cooking, anyway…lol. It says to cook it breast side down, and I knew I had a winner because one year I accidently cooked mine in the oven breast side down and it was so much more tender than usual. There always seems to be quite a bit of herbs left after I douse the turkey in it, and I don’t often make homemade dressing, so I make 2 boxes of dressing, but I add the left over herbs I’ve made up for the turkey and OH! MY! GOSH! You have GOT to try it. Whether you make homemade or box, you will have the best stuffing/dressing EVER if you use the herbs from this recipe in it. I also make my tsp or TBS rounded instead of flat, so there’s plenty. Merry Christmas, everyone. Happy Cooking, and thanks SO much for this recipe!! It sure has made my Thanksgiving and Christmas meals so much easier <3

    • #
      Emily — December 27, 2021 at 10:57 am

      Aw yay! So happy you love this recipe so much, thanks for taking the time to comment with your rave review!

      • #
        Kathy Johnson — December 28, 2021 at 10:25 am

        I have a PRO TIP I forgot to mention in my original comment. Before adding the turkey to the crock pot, take some heavy twine/thread/shoelaces and put 2 of them short ways across the crock pot across the sides and to the bottom. Then when your turkey is done, you can get it out much easier by pulling it up by your twine/thread/shoelaces, letting most of the juices drip back into the crock pot to use for the gravy, and you don’t have a big mess on your counter. Silly me forgot to ‘tent’ it while waiting for my rolls to cook so it could have been more tender for left-overs, but when I went to cut it, it was just falling off the bones so I did most of it with my hands. All leftovers were gone in less than 2 days, though 🙂

  2. #
    Deborah — November 19, 2021 at 6:38 pm

    I will try this recipe this Thanksgiving, I’m only cooking a 5.5 turkey breast in crockpot. I only eat turkey once a year, so i hope it comes out great! Thanks so much…keep you posted.

    • #
      Emily — November 22, 2021 at 2:41 pm

      Excited to hear how your Thanksgiving turkey is, I hope you enjoy! 🙂

  3. #
    Trudi — November 21, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    The recipe looks amazing! Any thoughts on using turkey thighs and/or drumsticks instead of turkey breast? Our family prefers dark meat over white.

  4. #
    Lois Alexander — November 13, 2020 at 7:46 am

    Could you brine the turkey breast before cooking?

  5. #
    Sandy — November 13, 2020 at 7:26 am

    I will be trying this recipe this Thanksgiving. My husband is dairy free and has a hard time finding a gravy he likes. And talk about ease, this sounds great. I will post comments and hopefully I’ll remember to take a picture before eating, thanks!

    • #
      Tessa — November 13, 2020 at 11:42 am

      I hope this turkey is a hit at your Thanksgiving! Enjoy! I would LOVE to see your Thanksgiving turkey photos.

  6. #
    Marti Brightwell — March 20, 2020 at 4:32 am

    Should turkey breast be thawed before going in crockpot? Thank you.

  7. #
    Sherry — December 6, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    Can I use a skinless, boneless turkey breast?

    • #
      Kathy Johnson — December 28, 2021 at 10:29 am

      I have made this recipe several times both with and without bone in breast, so yes, you can use a skinless, boneless turkey breast. I have discovered that I can cook 2 boneless ones at the same time in my crockpot, but can only cook 1 of the bone in. Today, my 2nd bone in that I bought for Christmas is in the crock pot. Happy Cooking.

  8. #
    Mimi — November 20, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    I’m so excited about this slow cooker option. I’m using a 7lb boneless breast. How long do you suggest as your recipe is a bone-in?

    Thanks.

  9. #
    Darien — November 19, 2018 at 6:10 am

    Question – I am going to make this this year but need to serve 12 – if I double the recipe will it still cook OK in my crockpot? Thanks!

  10. #
    Dan G — December 25, 2017 at 7:52 am

    Re Slow Cooker thermometers: do NOT use any thermometer that uses a plug in probe. The issue is that while you may not have submerged the probe or wire, the humidity inside the slow cooker is so high you might as well have covered it in water.

    Instead, you need to get a “floating slow cooker thermometer”. As the indicates, you can use it in liquid. The attatched probe is less than 2″ long and can easily stick into your meat or poultry. Cost should be $10 or less.

    This is the voice of experience trying to save you from wasting a digital probe.

  11. #
    Tammy — November 8, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    I have made several bone in turkey breasts in the crock pot. They come out super moist and it makes the most amazing broth. I stuff it with the usual lemon, celery, carrot, garlic and onion. I remove the skin and rub it with the usual spices. I then put some chicken broth, white wine, and a stick of butter in the pot. I cook it on high for the first couple hours then turn it down low. Its usually done in 3-5 hours, depending on size. When you take the breast out it falls off the bone. I strain the liquid and use to to make my gravy and stuffing. It has so much flavor, it would also be great as soup stock. Best part is you don’t have to babysit it and it frees up your oven.

  12. #
    Sandra — November 30, 2016 at 5:48 am

    Just a quick update-I only used the high, 6-hour setting and the turkey came out absolutely fantastic. It was juicy and very flavorful. Everybody loved it! I will definitely be making this again and again. Thank you for such a wonderful, no stress recipe!

    • #
      Tessa — December 1, 2016 at 11:33 am

      So glad to hear that, Sandra! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  13. #
    Helen — November 25, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    What kind of thermometer could be used so you don’t have to open the cooker to check if it is done? In opening the cooker at end of 6 hours (4 1/2 lb. breast) , checking with an instant read thermometer, not done, close up again, you undo the heat build-up in the cooker. Which then slowed down the meat getting done. This is my only problem.

  14. #
    Sandra — November 24, 2016 at 6:34 am

    I’m making this for Thanksgiving and got my Crock Pot out last night. I didn’t realize that mine has two “high” settings, 4&6 hours, and two low settings, 8&10 hours. This recipe says to cook it on “low” for 6, so I’m not sure which setting to use. Also, I could only find a 3 1/4 lb. breast, which setting would you suggest? I just started it, so I thought I would use the high 6-hr setting first and turn it down to the low 8-hr setting if the breast begins to cook too fast. Obviously, I’m not expecting an answer today (Happy Thanksgiving!), but I will probably be making this again on a regular basis if it turns out good. I’m always looking for great, low carb recipes. Thanks!

  15. #
    Lady T — October 4, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Tessa, I made this about six months ago – and STILL talking about it till this day. Amazing; it has incredible flavor. Will be making again SOON.

  16. #
    Debbie — May 16, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Hi Tessa, just found your recipe and can’t wait till Wednesday to make it for dinner. It sounds like it will have a wonderful flavor. The turkey and gravy look fantastic. Thanks and I’m going to look your blog over.

  17. #
    Noralee — December 25, 2015 at 4:00 am

    Bought a 5 lb turkey breast on a deep discount. When I searched Pinterest for “Turkey Breast Recipe” this one caught my eye – the meat looked so juicy and the gravy made me hungry! I came this close to adding the word “oven” to my search but thought, let’s check this one out. If the turkey ended up on the dry side, I would just make turkey salad. Let’s just say there is no turkey left for turkey salad! What a hit!! Juiciest, tastiest turkey!!! You must try this recipe out! Kudos on this one – Thanks! Noralee

    • #
      Tessa — December 28, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      Wonderful!! Glad you found the recipe 🙂

  18. #
    Andrea — December 24, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    This was my first time cooking a turkey of any kind and it came out so good! It was super easy and very moist.

  19. #
    Pixie — December 20, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Made this, big hit with the family. Easy to do and the best turkey I have ever made. Thank you so much for sharing.

  20. #
    ilene — December 14, 2015 at 7:54 am

    I’m making this for a work party, I did a test yesterday and it came out really juicy and tender! My concern is that for the party I am making it during the night and then keeping it on warm until the party starts (12pm), do you think it will dry out?

    • #
      Tessa — December 14, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      Hmmm it may start to dry out if it’s kept on warm setting for more than a few hours. You may want to add more broth to keep it juicy!

  21. #
    Laura Love — November 30, 2015 at 4:45 am

    I used this recipe for our Thanksgiving turkey this year as I wanted to make it in a slow cooker. I have to say that this was SO DELICIOUS! Moist & Juicy and everyone loved it! Even my son who never compliments how good anything is besides tacos…said it was amazing. Thank you for sharing it! This will become one of our go to turkey meals

  22. #
    shawna partridge — November 25, 2014 at 7:36 am

    The turkey breast I bought says to cook it frozen (freezer to oven). Should I thaw the turkey breast for the slow cooker or can I just plop it there frozen? I’m so excited to try the recipe…either way! Thanks!

    • #
      Tessa — November 25, 2014 at 9:43 am

      Hmm I would be cautious about using a frozen breast in the slow cooker – that could create a food safety issue since it would be sitting in the “food danger zone” temperature range for so long and you definitely don’t want to make your guests sick. Plus it would probably take twice as long to cook so I’d say thaw it first! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • #
      Judy L — November 21, 2020 at 5:45 pm

      You may have bought a specially packaged turkey breast that is already prepared to bake fairly quickly from its frozen state. I have bought these before as half turkeys and it was easy to bake as the package instructed. I noticed the turkey breast only one earlier this week—it is 44 ounces of boneless turkey breast and goes from frozen to the oven and is meant to be a quicker meal than roasting a larger turkey. I would check with the company that created this product—the one I saw in our local area was Jenni-O–to see if it would work in the crockpot.

  23. #
    Jill M — November 23, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Can I put it in the oven or even under the broiler to get it golden after it is done in the crockpot?

    • #
      Tessa — November 23, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      I would use the broiler!

  24. #
    Brooke M. — November 23, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    HA! Nevermind!! I misread the ingredients!! You did say Bone-in!! 🙂

  25. #
    Brooke M. — November 23, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Would the cooking time be different if I used a bone-in turkey breast? I just bought one today, didn’t realize it had a bone!

  26. #
    Liz — November 7, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    I love this recipe for its simplicity. Thank you.

  27. #
    Gaby — November 7, 2014 at 9:35 am

    This is great, it looks so moist and delicious!!!

  28. #
    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — November 7, 2014 at 8:01 am

    I LOVE that you did this in the slow cooker! Genius!

  29. #
    Angela — November 7, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Tessa what a wonderful idea. I’m not much of a turkey fan, but do prefer breast over a whole turkey. I’m a pretty novice cooker so can you explain what breast side down means if the whole thing is a breast? Sorry for the silly question. Love your blog and your videos.

    • #
      Tessa — November 7, 2014 at 7:37 am

      Hi Angela, thanks so much! Once you see the whole bone-in turkey breast you’ll see what I mean. There’s a breast side and then there’s more of a backbone cavity side.

  30. #
    Emily R — November 7, 2014 at 7:00 am

    This is perfect timing! We’re hosting a VERY small Thanksgiving dinner at our place this year, and I knew I wanted to make a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey…and now I know what recipe I’m using! 🙂

  31. #
    Megan — November 7, 2014 at 6:54 am

    This looks so easy and yummy! We are traveling out of town for Thanksgiving, so we won’t really get any leftovers. This would be perfect to make a little mini feast for my family of three when we get back! I can’t get too much Thanksgiving food! Haha!

  32. #
    Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness — November 7, 2014 at 5:21 am

    I literally JUST got a set it and forget it slow cooker, and have been figuring out what to make first. I obviously love turkey (because everyone does right?) so this is such a FAB idea!! Pinned!

Join the Handle the Heat Community

Cookie Customization Chart
Do you want a more delicious life?
Instead of digging through cookbooks and magazines and searching the internet for amazing recipes, subscribe to Handle the Heat to receive new recipe posts delivered straight to your email inbox. You’ll get all the latest recipes, videos, kitchen tips and tricks AND my *free* Cookie Customization Guide (because I am the Cookie Queen)!
As Seen On....
NPR People Time Glamour Readers Digest The Huffington Post BuzzFeed
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]