To make Thanksgiving more bearable, try roasting a turkey in the crockpot instead of cooking it in the oven. Here’s how to do it perfectly.
Are you cooking for 2 this Thanksgiving? Try my Turkey Tenderloin skillet dinner. Everything you love about Thanksgiving is cooked up in a single skillet. Yep...even the sides!
The Thanksgiving Crock Pot Alternative:
If you haven't ever pulled out your crockpot for Thanksgiving cooking...it's the time! Let the crockpot sit on your counter (heck, stick it in another room and save the counter space!), save you space in your oven, and work on that turkey while you hustle around the kitchen prepping other recipes. This slow cooker turkey breast recipe truly is a holiday sanity saver!
Thaw your turkey:
For a 5-6 pound turkey it will take about 2 days, in the fridge, for your turkey breast to thaw completely.
According to the USDA, using the refrigerator to thaw your turkey is the safest method. However, you CAN use the cold water method and, if your microwave is large enough, the microwave. Although, from experience, I wouldn't recommend either of those ways. Stick with the fridge!
Did you know that you can cook a frozen turkey! You can. Not with this slow cooker method. BUT...if you forget to thaw your turkey you can roast it in the oven in the same way you would if it was thawed. The exception...you'll need to add at least 50% again more time. And always make sure that 180 degree internal temp is hit!
Ingredients for Crock Pot Turkey Breast:
- Onion, cut in half.
- Garlic cloves.
- Salt & pepper.
- Chili Powder. I usually use a tablespoon but sometimes, when we want to kick up the flavor, double it.
- Onion powder.
- Garlic powder.
- Olive oil. Adding olive oil to the rub gives the turkey breast needed fat to lock into the skin and keep it juicy. You can certainly use butter if you prefer the flavor.
- 5-6 lb Bone-In Turkey Breast.
- OPTIONAL: carrots, potatoes, celery, fresh thyme or fresh sage, and sweet potatoes. Add additional vegetables with the onion & garlic.
You'll need a 5 or 6-quart slow cooker for a turkey breast about 5lbs. Smaller slow cookers work fine for smaller turkey breasts if you only need enough turkey for 2 people.
slow cook a turkey:
Honestly, y'all...you will be FLOORED at how juicy and tender your turkey breast will be after hanging out in the slow cooker all day. And the best part is that your oven is freed up for the most important dishes...the side dishes!
Slow cook your turkey for about 5 to 6 hours, depending on the size of your turkey breast. I would recommend checking it at about 5 hours for doneness by using a thermometer and looking for an internal temperature of at least 180degrees. You want to avoid overcooking your turkey and drying it out.
Warning: don't open the lid on your slow cooker prior to the 4-hour mark or you risk meat that isn't safely cooked!
creating crispy skin:
Making the turkey breast in the slow cooker doesn't give it that lovely crisp skin that we all love to eat. To achieve that crispy skin we will need to pop the turkey breast into the oven on broil for a few minutes.
Remove the turkey breast (carefully!) from the slow cooker and place it into a baking pan to rest for about 30 minutes.
Turn the oven to broil (this is usually my very last step of Thanksgiving dinner) and broil the turkey breast for about 5-10 minutes or until the skin is golden brown.
making a gravy:
After pulling the turkey breast out of the slow cooker to broil in the oven, you will want to save all the turkey drippings left in the Crock-Pot. That broth will make the most delicious gravy!
You'll find the recipe for turkey gravy in the recipe below but, like most gravy, you'll bring the broth to a boil and add a slurry of flour and water to thicken the broth. Add additional seasoning, as needed, and you are done!
Don't forget to save the leftover turkey for Turkey Crescent Roll bundles. Truly, I make Thanksgiving dinner for the leftovers. So good!
Crockpot Turkey Breast
- 5-6 lb bone-in turkey breast, thawed
- 1 lg onion, halved
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 Tab salt
- 1 Tab chili powder
- 1 Tab paprika
- ½ Tab black pepper
- ½ Tab onion powder
- ½ Tab garlic powder
- 1 ½ Tab olive oil
- 3 Tab butter
- 2 cups turkey drippings
- ¼ cup flour
- Mix the spices & olive oil together in a small bowl.
- Place the turkey breast side down into the slow cooker.
- Generously rub the spice mixture all over the turkey breast .
- Tuck the onion & garlic around the turkey.
Roast the meat:
- Slow cook on low for 6 hours. If you have a smaller turkey than 6lb, check the internal temperature at 4 hours. If your turkey is about 6lb check it at 5 hours. Your turkey should be absolutely cooked after 6 hours. You are looking for an internal temp of 180 degrees.
- Remove the roasted turkey from the slow cooker and set into an ovenproof baking dish. Let it rest for 20 minutes. Reserve the drippings.
- Turn the oven broiler on and broil the rested turkey for 5-10 minutes or until it reaches a golden brown color.
To make the gravy:
- In a large saucepan melt the butter on medium-high heat.
- Add the butter and whisk well to create a simple roux.
- Slowly, while whisking, pour in the turkey drippings.
- Simmer the liquid until it thickens and is CLOSE to the thickness you want. Pull it off the heat BEFORE it gets to the thickness you want. It will continue to thicken. Serve with your turkey.