How to make turkey breasts in a slow cooker
Are you tired of serving dry turkey breasts? Fortunately, it can be avoided and we are here to show you how.
Turkey breast meat is thick yet super lean (minimal fat). Due to the thickness, turkey breasts typically need about two hours to cook all the way through. If you cooked fatty meat for that long, the fat would melt during the cooking process, lubricate the muscle fibers, and keep the meat juicy. Since the typical turkey breast contains little fat, it can dry out during long cooks.
You can avoid serving dry turkey breasts by wet or dry brining before cooking, but that won’t be feasible if you don’t have the time or fridge space to brine a turkey breast. If brining is not an option, consider cooking your turkey breasts in a slow cooker.
|Oven Time (hours)
|1 – 2 ¼
|2 ¼ – 3
|3 – 3 ½
|Slow Cook (high)
|3 – 4
|4 – 5
|5 – 6
|Slow Cook (low)
|5 – 6
|6 – 7
|7 – 8
NOTE: We highly recommend using a meat thermometer to ensure doneness as every slow cooker cooks differently. Internal temperature needs to be 165°F in both the thickest part of the breast (without touching the bone) and in the thighs to ensure doneness and food safety.
Why Should You Make Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
A slow cooker uses low heat to slowly cook turkey, letting the meat marinate and simmer in its own juices. Also, since a slow cooker does not release steam, it locks moisture inside the pot and meat to help deliver juicy turkey breasts.
Slow cooking bone-in turkey breast can take five to six hours, but the results are unbelievable – moist and tender turkey meat packed with flavor. Even better, the hands-off cooking process is so convenient. Just place the turkey breast inside the slow cooker, close the lid, set the cooker, and relax until the timer goes off.
Benefits of Using a Slow Cooker
Cooking turkey breasts in an oven or grill may be popular, but it can be tedious and unforgiving. You have to keep checking the turkey’s internal temperature with a meat thermometer. If you accidentally cook it for a few extra minutes, the turkey could burn or get dry.
On the other hand, cooking a turkey breast in a slow cooker is very forgiving. Even if the turkey spends an extra hour in the crockpot, the low cooking temperature will help ensure that it doesn’t burn or get dry. Here are more benefits of opting for slow cooker turkey breast:
- Flavorful, tender, and juicy turkey breasts every time
- Minimal prep time – no need to brine
- Hassle-free cooking process – no need to check on it for hours
- Easy to clean up afterward
Lastly, using a slow cooker gives you highly concentrated turkey broth, which you can use to create an excellent gravy.
Tips for Preparation
Before delving into how to cook bone-in turkey breasts in a crockpot, let’s settle the argument of crockpots vs. slow cookers.
Slow Cooker or Crock Pot
Crockpot and slow cooker can mean the same thing. Crock-Pot® is the brand name of the first-ever slow cooker. Other brands now make slow cookers, and like Crock-Pot® slow cookers, these cookers have three primary components – a pot, a transparent lid, and a heating element.
Follow these tips to cook perfect turkey bone-in breasts in a Crock-Pot® or another slow cooker.
- Place a turkey breast skin side up inside the cooker. If the skin is facing upwards, it’s less likely to tear when removing the turkey breast from the slow cooker. Also, keeping the skin out of the broth will allow it to develop a delectable color.
- Before placing the turkey breast in the slow cooker, brush the skin with cooking oil before rubbing your seasonings. The oil will help the seasonings adhere to the body and enhance the flavor. It will also help the skin brown beautifully during the cook.
- Add half a cup of liquid (water, broth, or wine) to the base of the slow cooker. The turkey breast will absorb the flavor and moisture of the liquid while cooking. It will also help prevent the meat from sticking to the base of the pot. For more flavor, place halved garlic, onions, and your other favorite ingredients at the bottom of the pot.
Instant Pot® or Electric Pressure Cooker
Unlike a slow cooker, instant pots and electric pressure cookers, cook food quickly. Since these fast cookers lock in steam and cook food quickly, you can use them to make flavorful and moist turkey breasts. An Instant Pot® also has a slow cooker setting for cooking turkey breasts with low heat.
Learn more about how to cook turkey breast in an Instant Pot® or electric pressure cooker here.
Explore our Slow Cooker Turkey Recipes
If you prefer dark meat, you should try this slow cooker turkey drumsticks recipe. The prep time is just 15 minutes, and after six hours in the slow cooker, you will get juicy drumsticks with broth-soaked potatoes.
You should try this recipe if you want a Thanksgiving meal that requires minimal effort but delivers moist and delicious turkey meat. It takes 30 minutes to prep, and you will have enough turkey for 10 to 12 servings.
Try this exotic recipe if you want a break from regular turkey breasts. It delivers bold Moroccan flavors, and you can enjoy your turkey with garbanzo beans and couscous on the side.
Now that you know how to cook turkey breasts in a slow cooker, try out your new skills with the best quality turkey breasts.
Slow Cooker Turkey Frequently Asked Questions
You can cook a frozen turkey in a slow cooker, but we do not recommend it. If you do, the exterior of the turkey will cook long before the frozen interior. While waiting for the inside to cook, the outer parts of the turkey breast could become overcooked. Shorten your cooking time and get evenly cooked meat by thawing the turkey breast before cooking.
A slow cooker on low heat can cook a three to five-pound bone-in turkey breast in four to five hours. A five to seven-pound turkey breast may need five to six hours to cook, while a seven to nine-pound bird will need six to seven hours.
Take one hour off your cooking time if cooking your turkey on high heat in a slow cooker. Your turkey is ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
If you do not have a slow cooker, you can slow roast your turkey in the oven. After seasoning the turkey breast, put it in a preheated oven set to 350°F.
A three to five-pound bone-in turkey breast may need up to two hours and thirty minutes to cook all the way through. A five to seven-pound breast should be ready within three hours. If you have a seven to nine-pound breast, slow roast it for three hours or until you get an internal temperature of 165°F.
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