Christmas Day is one day out of the year that we really like to relax with the kids and still have a traditional meal while keeping it easy. Ham with all the trimmings is a Christmas Day meal for my family, while Michael's family does turkey. This year our compromise was to do turkey on Christmas Day and ham on New Year's Day.
In keeping with the easy and relaxing theme, we decided to cook a whole turkey breast in the slow cooker, which gives a tender and juicy bird and keeps the oven available for baking rolls or pie or whatever else might be on the menu. My inspiration for this recipe comes from Elise's mom, who makes a great turkey. We've used her recipe the last two Thanksgivings with success, and I adapted it for a slow cooker turkey breast.
On Christmas morning I walked out to the garden and cut some sage, thyme, parsley, and oregano, all of which flavored the bird and the gravy. I rubbed the 6 pound turkey breast all over with olive oil, tucked some sage leaves under the skin, placed the bird breast side down in the 6-quart slow cooker, and stuffed the cavity with half a lemon and handfuls of the fresh herbs. Then I poured some wine into the pot and squeezed the other lemon half around the bird. My slow cooker has an automatic setting which starts at high and then switches to low once the slow cooker has come to temperature. This shaves some time off the cooking. I only took the lid off towards the end when I needed to check the temperature, but then put it right back on until I was sure the bird was 160° F/71° C. After checking the temperature I turned off the slow cooker and moved the bird to a serving platter, then covered it with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes or so, at which point it had reached a safe temperature of 170° F/77° C.
Grow Your Own is a blogging event that celebrates the dishes we create from foods we’ve grown, raised, foraged, or hunted ourselves. The sage, parsley, thyme, and oregano came fresh from our outdoor garden, yes even in December! I am the host for this round, so please send your entries to me. If you are new to the event, you can read more about the rules for participating at the Grow Your Own page.
Slow Cooker Turkey Breast and Gravy
- 6-quart slow cooker (automatic setting is helpful)
- instant read thermometer
- 2-quart sauce pan with lid
- carving board or large serving tray
- gravy fat separator
- 6 pound whole turkey breast (on the bone with skin)
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 lemon (scrubbed clean and halved)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 12 fresh sage leaves
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano
- ½ cup fresh flat parsley leaves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pepper (fresh ground)
- 1 cup reserved strained liquid from the turkey
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh oregano
- handful fresh flat parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 2 tablespoons Madeira wine
- Pat the turkey breast dry and place in the slow cooker. Separate the skin from the meat and rub some olive on the skin, then rub the rest of the surface with the remaining olive oil.
- Place 4 sage leaves under the skin on either side of the breast, then pull the skin back over it. Turn the bird meat side down in the slow cooker.
- Stuff the cavity with one half the lemon and the herbs. Squeeze the other lemon half over the bird and pour the white wine into the slow cooker. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the bird.
- Place the lid on top and set the slow cooker to automatic. Cook for 6 to 7 hours. (If your slow cooker does not have an automatic setting, select High for 2 hours, then turn back to Low for the remaining 4-5 hours.) Check the temperature at the 6 hour mark. When the temperature reaches 160° F/71° C, remove the herbs and lemon and transfer the bird to a carving board or large tray. Cover with foil and allow it to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. When the internal temperature is 170° F/77° C, the turkey is ready to slice and serve.
- Pour the leftover liquid through the strainer into the gravy separator and allow the oil to rise to the top. Once the oil has separated, pour the liquid into the sauce pan and warm over medium heat. Add the sage, thyme, and parsley and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the herbs.
- Bring to a boil. Mix the cornstarch and cold water until the lumps disappear. Whisk into the liquid as it boils and it should start to thicken. Reduce heat and stir in the Madeira. Cook for about 2 more minutes, then serve.
Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy says
What a terrific idea to cook the turkey breast in a slow cooker! The meat looks incredibly juicy and delicious. I must try this!
Our slow cooker is still sitting out in the garage. We haven't used it yet. What is the minimum temperature that it will cook at?
Thanks Susan, we were very pleased with how it turned out.
Nate, you can cook it on Low for 7 to 8 hours, but the precise temperature for Low varies depending on the type of unit you have. 160 F is a reasonable guess based on Wikipedia's article on slow cookers.
I just found your beautiful website and am hopping mad - that I had not found it sooner! Your recipes are making me hungry and the photos are simply gorgeous... Well done.
I wasn't planning on making a New Year's Day dinner, but this crockpot turkey breast recipe is making me seriously reconsider... thanks for the idea.
In culinary school, they taught us that 180 degrees is the safest temperature for cooking chicken and turkey. I don't mean to sound like I'm a know-it-all, but I would hate for you and your family to ever get sick.
Thanks Logan. I'm certainly not interested in getting anyone sick. 170 F is the temperature I've always followed and have found it in a number of roasted turkey breast recipes, even from the Food Network Kitchens. And of course anyone following the recipe can adjust for a higher temperature if they have concerns.
Julia R says
Happy New Year, Andrea!! I cannot BELIEVE you posted this recipe this week -- I was cooking a turkey breast in the oven last night, but my roommate got a Crock Pot for Christmas, and I thought, "There's gotta be a way to put these two things together." And there is!! Thank you so much for sharing, and I look forward to reading in '09!
Thanks Julia! Slow cookers are so handy in the kitchen, I can't believe it took me this long to try the turkey breast in it.