Slow Cooker Roast Turkey Breast

If you have the time, cooking a turkey breast in a slow cooker is amazingly easy. You could do this as a meal for a crowd, but why not slow cook a large turkey breast and then have turkey as an ingredient for any number of meals in the following days. There are lots of interesting and creative ways to use it and you'll find lots of recipes here.

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How to Slow Cook a Turkey Breast

The most important step in preparing a slow cooker roast turkey breast is to make sure your turkey breast fits into your slow cooker. An oval slow cooker tends to work better than a round slow cooker for large pieces of meat, which tend to be more oval in shape than round. Start by putting your raw turkey breast into the cooker and make sure the lid can fit on without touching the top of the turkey. If it is a little too big, don’t fret – just trim some of the rib bones on the underside of the turkey breast until it fits perfectly. 

This recipe uses onions, sage and lemons in the bottom of the cooker to add some flavor aroma to the turkey and also to the juices that will drip out of the meat. They create a nice bed for the turkey to rest on. You could use lots of different spices in the spice rub on the turkey skin, but try to include something that has a reddish or brown color to it. As you can imagine, slow cooking a turkey doesn’t necessarily assure browned skin, so giving it a hand with a brown spice rub really helps. 

Raw turkey breast with a spice rub in a slow cooker.

#1 Rule of Slow Cooking

Then, you just need to wait and follow the most important rule of slow cooking – do not (under any circumstances) lift the lid. Lifting the lid causes far too big a drop in temperature and will slow down the cooking process much more than you’d expect. I love the fact that my slow cooker has clamps on the side of the lid, not only to keep it on securely when traveling, but to remind me never to unclamp them and open it up until it is time. It also comes with a temperature probe, which conveniently lets me know how the turkey is coming along with having to open the lid to check.

Cooked roast turkey breast in a slow cooker.

How to Tell the Turkey is Cooked

Which brings me to the next important point – to be sure to check the internal temperature of the turkey before removing it from the cooker (yes, you are permitted to lift the lid off for this). Insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast meat. The thermometer should register 165ºF when the turkey is fully cooked. Remove it from the slow cooker and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing it. That’s just enough time to make a nice gravy from the drippings or to finish the side dishes.

Slices of roast turkey breast on a plate with mashed potatoes and broccoli.

Slow Cooker Turkey Leftovers

Don’t let a great roast turkey dinner only be for the holidays. It’s a super satisfying meal and if you have leftovers… try these leftover turkey recipes: Turkey Tex Mex Salad, California Turkey Club, Turkey Waldorf Salad Pita, Turkey Couscous Salad

Featured Recipe Techniques

More about the skills used in this recipe.

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Slow Cooker Cooking Charts

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Slow Cooker Roast Turkey Breast

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 6 h
  • Total Time: 6 h 20 m
  • Servings:


  • 1 onion sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh sage
  • 1 (5- to 7-pound) turkey breast bone in, skin on
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground sage
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter room temperature
  • olive oil


  1. Pre-heat the slow cooker for at least 20 minutes while you prepare the ingredients.
  2. Place the sliced onions on the bottom of the slow cooker and toss the smashed garlic cloves, lemon slices and fresh sage leaves on top.
  3. Combine the salt, thyme, rubbed sage, paprika and black pepper in a small bowl. Rub the room temperature butter all over the turkey breast, on top of as well as under the skin. Sprinkle and pat the spice mixture evenly onto the buttered turkey and transfer the turkey breast to the slow cooker on top of the onions and lemons. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and cover the cooker with a lid.
  4. Slow cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 5 to 6 hours.
  5. Check the internal temperature of the turkey breast with an instead read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat. The temperature should register 165°F when the turkey has cooked sufficiently. Remove the turkey breast from the slow cooker and tent it with foil. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
  6. Use the juices from the bottom of the cooker to make a gravy or simply pour the juice over the sliced turkey.
  7. For a crispier skin, place turkey breast under broiler for 5 minutes browned before letting the turkey rest.
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Comments (47)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    I have done this with a whole chicken around 6 pounds. Fork tender. Never thought about turkey. Definitely will try!

  2. 5 stars
    Brilliant! I don’t know why I never thought about trying this?! The turkey came out moist and delicious and all the juice right there for the gravy! If you want to crisp up the skin you can as suggested. I found the crock pot to be less mess, easier clean up and less hassle than using the oven.

    Added bonus it completely frees up my oven to make all the sides! I’m excited to try a whole chicken now. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Cheri. You can find instant-read thermometers in any kitchen store. You’ll also find many options on Amazon. As long as it has a nut on the bottom of the read out disk that can allow you to calibrate the thermometer, it’s perfect.

  3. I usually make 2 boneless turkey breasts for Thanksgiving. Any suggestions on making them in an oval 6 quart slow cooker?

    1. Hi Tami. If you can fit the turkey breasts into your cooker, following these same directions and you should be fine. Make sure you check the internal temperature of the turkey breast to ensure it is cooked through and leave yourself an extra 30 minutes, just in case your boneless turkey breasts are more dense than the bone-in turkey breast in this recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    I always use my crock pot for my turkey breast. I do use a crock pot plastic cooking bag. Cleanup is a breeze. One less thing to worry about.

  5. I am anxious to try the slowcooker recipe–probably for Christmas. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family–furry members too! I am really enjoying your E-mail recipes and commentary! And again–love your doggy pix!

  6. 5 stars
    I created my own version using you recipe as a base. I used a dry brine rub overnight, and added a package of Lipton onion soup mix in a cup of water. I slow cooked my bone in Turkey breast for about 4 1/2 hours. What a wonderful flavor and the moist tender breast was great! I will keep this in mind for other celebrations. Thank you for the idea.

  7. 5 stars
    I made this recipe in addition to my 22lb. whole turkey (to feed a crowd on Thanksgiving)..and can I just was even better & moister than the one I cooked in the oven! I will definitely make this again & again!! I cooked it the day before Thanksgiving, and then reheated it in the slow cooker on low setting..then on warm setting Thanksgiving Day. TY BJC!! A winner!

  8. Great recipe. It freed me up to do things during this busy holiday season. I had a phone call and left it in the broiler a few too many minutes so it was a touch dry, next time brief in the oven! Still tasted great. Looking forward to the leftovers too.

  9. Hi Meredith…I am a little nervous trying this in my slow cooker function of my Ninja Foodi. Can you explain the difference between slow cooker and crockpot? Want to try this recipe asap

    1. Hi Norma. Basically a crock pot and slow cooker are the same thing. Crock pot® is actually a brand name of slow cooker that have stoneware inserts, while many other slow cookers typically have metal inserts. I have never worked with the Ninja Foodi, but you can make this recipe in any slow cooker, including multi-cooker function units, as long as the turkey breast will fit in the insert.

  10. I tried the slow cook function not too long ago for my Instant Pot. It didn’t cook well at all! I don’t know if the metal pot makes the difference? So I ended up pressure cooking my roast instead and salvaged my meal thank goodness. So now if I slow cook, I use my regular Crock Pot and it works great! Maybe it’s the crock that makes the difference? Maybe cooks all around more evenly than a metal pot.

    1. Hi Mary Jane, I agree with you, I have also had better results with slow cooking in a crock pot or single function slow cooker. A ceramic or porcelain insert does hold the heat well for the long cooking times, but a stainless insert is nice for browning. I also think an oblong or oval unit works better than the circular unit slow cookers. I feel they distribute the heat better as well.

  11. My boss told me long ago when they are camping or vacationing in hotel they always pour creame of chicken soup over frozen turkey breast and cook all day on low or high I can’t remember and then enjoy turkey sandwiches that evening after being gone all day. So for 18 or 20 years my daughter and I have cooked frozen in slow cooker. I start mine at 10 pm and on hi it’s ready when I get up at 6 or 7. Always moist and turkey sandwiches are my favorite.

    1. Well, I would always defer to the manual for the brand of slow cooker than you have. I use my clamps for keeping the lid tightly sealed all the time. There is a vent hole in the glass lid which prevents a vapor lock on the lid.

    1. Hi Florence. Yes – it should be big enough, depending on the size of your turkey breast of course. You can always trim the turkey rib bones to get it to sit a little lower.

  12. 5 stars
    Merideth, I have been looking for a slow cooker recipe, I will be using your recipe. When the turkey is done I will be using the drippings to slow cook 3 kinds of dressing. The dressings are Cornbread, Herb and Cheese, and Garlic croutons. As soon as the turkey is done I will remove the turkey, then as soon as the onions and celery are tender I will add boiled eggs, raw eggs, 3 cans of cream of chicken, and Chicken broth divided into 3 bowls, add all dressings to the slow cooker and cook on high 4 hours. I have never cooked this in a slow cooker before. Wish me luck or any advice!

  13. I always wanted to do a turkey breast in my slow cooker but didn’t know how. Thank you Meredith for doing this for us. My question is this. Since I am cooking for only one person and use a small 5-6 pound breast, can I still use the slow cooker and how long would I cook this turkey. I have been using my air fryer but would love to try doing it with my slow cooker.

    1. Hi Arlene. Yes – you can cook it in your slow cooker. The slow cooker is at such a low temperature that there is a lot of room for error regarding timing. I would check the temperature of the turkey at 3 hours (on HIGH) or 5 hours (on LOW).

  14. I am going to slow cook my next turkey breast. Does it need to be thawed? The instructions say thaw before roasting or it’snot necessary. I’d like to use the slow cooker for about 6 hours on slow. What should I do? Any suggestions? Thanks.

    Susan from Poinciana Fl

    1. Yes you do need to completely thaw your turkey breast before slow cooking. You can defrost the turkey breast in the refrigerator for 1 ½ to 2 days.

  15. 5 stars
    I did it and the dressings were super moist, I posted that I would be using the crock pot for 3 different kinds of dressing instead of the big bad oven, I owe it to you for inspiring me to do something different! I did pressure cook the turkey and then air crisped it and it was wonderful! thank you for making my thanksgiving special this year!

  16. I don’t have olive oil and it’s taste does not agree with me at all.
    Can I just omit it or use butter?

    Its a problem with many recipes for me.

  17. 5 stars
    I actually can rate this particular recipe but everything I have tried of your is excellent. I have been cooking the rolled Turkey roasts this way for years. I love turkey and don’t want to wait for the holidays. The crockpot is excellent for these. Happy Holidays all.

  18. 5 stars
    This is super easy and so so good! Made my turkey for Thanksgiving this way for the past 2 years. I love that it is smaller and perfect for 2-4 people.

    1. A 7 to 8 pound turkey breast should take about 6 to 7 hours on low in a slow cooker. You can start by cooking it on high for 30 minutes and then switch to the low setting. Start checking the temperature after 6 hours.

  19. 5 stars
    First let me say that this is the first time ever cooking a turkey breast in a slow cooker! This recipe is definitely a five star for me. Naturally the slow cooker doesn’t give you the golden brown color you would get roasting in the oven, but I cooked this mainly to have sandwich meat for the week. I did not have fresh sage so I adjusted the recipe with poultry seasoning and it was fine. The lemons and onions gave the turkey broth a wonderful light flavor. Definitely the most moist turkey breast ever and the recipe is a keeper.

  20. 5 stars
    Made this a few times and it’s always good! Question…..if it’s finished cooking, can I leave it on keep warm until ready to eat?? Thanks!

    1. Hi Alyssa,
      Yes, you can keep it warm in your slow cooker for an hour or two. Just make sure it is above 140˚F.

  21. Can you please tell me what slow cooker you have? I need a new one and yours sounds exactly like what I’m looking for. Thanks.

    1. You can cook a small whole turkey as long as it fits in the slow cooker with the lid tightly shut for 8 to 9 hours on low. But it is not recommended to stuff the turkey for slow cooking.

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