With this super easy recipe for Slow Cooker Turkey Breast, you won't have to wait to enjoy a delicious holiday-worthy meal! After just a little bit of prep work, this turkey practically cooks itself!
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There is nothing better than a perfectly roasted turkey. On the other hand, there isn't much worse than a not-so-perfectly roasted turkey.
We've all felt the letdown of dry and flavorless turkey and the fact that they can take so much time and work only adds insult to injury. In truth, up until fairly recently I always purchased a pre-cooked turkey from our local grocery store.
Sure it was overpriced and a little bland, but at least I knew what I was getting.
That all changed when I discovered Alton Brown's recipe for Roast Turkey. It was my first introduction to a brined turkey and my life (and thanksgiving dinner) was forever changed.
Why should you brine a turkey?
First off, if you aren't familiar with the term brining just means that you are soaking your food (in this case Turkey) in a saltwater solution for several hours.
While the turkey is soaking it absorbs some of the flavors from the brine and the salt dissolves some of the muscle proteins which prevents the turkey from getting tough or dry as it is cooked.
Brining is an extra step in what can already be a daunting process, but I PROMISE that I have made it as easy as possible and the extra work is well worth your time.
With all that said, if you are short on time or I haven't convinced you of the merits of the brine - you can totally skip this step and head right into the cooking.
How long does it take to brine a turkey?
The entire process of brining a turkey takes about 8-12 hours. I usually just Let the turkey brine overnight and then transfer it to the slow cooker in the morning.
The good news is that you can combine the brining process with the thawing process. once your turkey has thawed about halfway, you can go ahead and add it to the brine. The rest of the thawing will take place as it is brining which helps to cut down on the planning ahead.
How long does it take to thaw a turkey breast?
Turkey should ALWAYS be thawed in the refrigerator. This prevents bacteria growth and ensures that your guests will not be leaving the table with more than they bargained for (AKA salmonella).
The amount of time it will take to thaw your turkey breast will depend upon the size. A good rule of thumb is 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds.
How long will the thawed turkey last in the fridge?
According to the USDA, a thawed turkey can last in the fridge for up to 2 days but after that, it will need to be cooked or refrozen. Although refreezing can affect the quality and texture, so I would always go with cooking if at all possible.
Tips for making this Easy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast:
- As mentioned above the brining process can be skipped if you are short on time, although I HIGHLY recommend it and skipping it will affect the taste and texture of the end result.
- Also as I mentioned earlier in the post, the thawing and brining time can be overlapped a bit. Once the turkey is about halfway thawed, you can add it to the brine and allow it to sit overnight or until it is fully thawed.
- For example, this thanksgiving I will put my Turkey breast in the fridge to begin thawing on Tuesday night. Wednesday evening I will transfer the turkey into the brine, return it to the fridge and allow it to soak in the brine overnight. Then on Thursday (Thanksgiving) morning, I will remove it from the brine and cook it in the slow cooker.
- The seasonings are the ones that I love, but feel free to change things up and season your turkey to suit your taste. Just make sure that you use the salt in the brine - everything else can be adjusted.
- If you want to crisp the skin at the end of the cooking time, be sure to use my trick to make a foil "sling" in order to easily transfer the turkey from the slow cooker to a baking dish.
What size slow cooker is best for cooking a turkey breast?
It is SUPER important that you make sure that your turkey will actually fit into your slow cooker. The recipe calls for a 6-pound turkey breast and that is about the maximum size that I would be able to fit into my slow cooker.
I have a 6-quart oval crockpot that I really love and highly recommend, but any brand will do as long is accommodates your turkey breast.
What should you serve with this slow cooker turkey breast?
There is no better combination then turkey, gravy, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. I have some great low carb versions of all of these recipes, as well as a complete list of holiday recipes.
Easy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
- Slow Cooker
- Meat Thermometer
- Roasting Pan
- Large Stock Pot
- 6 lb Turkey Breast
- Avocado Oil Spray Optional
For the brine:
- ½ cup Salt
- 8 cups Water
- 8 cups Ice
- ½ Dry Rub
- 1 Onion peeled and quartered
- 2 Celery Ribs
- 1 Apple Quartered
- 4 sprigs Rosemary
- Allow the Turkey breast to thaw in the fridge for 12 hours, or until it is at least halfway thawed.
- In a medium bowl combine all of the ingredients of the dry rub, then set aside.
- In a large stockpot, or other pot that is large enough to hold the turkey breast with at least 1" of extra space on all sides, combine the water, salt, and half of the dry rub mixture. Keep the remaining dry rub in a sealed container and set aside. Heat the water over medium heat until the salt has dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the ice. to bring the water to at least room temperature. If the water is still warm, allow it to chill in the refrigerator.
- Remove the giblets from the turkey and discard or set aside if you would like to use them.
- Place the turkey breast into the pot with the brine. Make sure that the turkey is fully submerged in the brine adding additional water if needed.
- Place the pot with the turkey and brine back into the fridge and allow it to sit for 8-12 hours.
- When the turkey is done brining, remove it from the pot and rinse it inside and out with cold water.
- Tear 2, 2' pieces of aluminum foil and fold them into fourths lengthwise. Place the in the bottom of the slow cooker with one strip going across the length and one across the width. the ends of the foil should hang over the edge of the slow cooker. This will serve as a sling to make it super easy to remove the turkey from the slow cooker when cooking is complete.
- Place the turkey into the slow cooker, on top of the aluminum foil strips.
- Place the aromatics inside the turkey. If there isn't enough room you can also place them in the slow cooker next to the turkey.
- Using your hands generously coat the outside of the turkey with the remaining dry rub.
- Place the lid on your slow cooker and cook for 8 hours on low or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165 degrees F.
- If you would like to crisp the skin before serving, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Spray the outside of the turkey with avocado oil or another mild-flavored oil.
- Carefully lift the turkey from the crockpot using the aluminum foil strips (careful, they will be hot!) and place it on a baking dish.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, Discard the aromatics and lightly cover with foil and allow it to rest for at 15 minutes before slicing.
Be sure to read the entire post for tips, tricks, and help troubleshooting.
The nutrition information listed here is only an estimate and is simply provided as a courtesy. It nor any other information within this post should constitute medical or nutritional advice. Be sure to read all packaging and ingredient labels for potential allergens. Optional ingredients are not included unless otherwise specified.