Cooking a turkey breast in the slow cooker is a great option when you have a small crowd for Thanksgiving, but CrockPot Turkey Breast is easy to make for dinner any time of year. This recipe also has tips for lower-carb and gluten-free turkey gravy.
Cooking a turkey breast in the slow cooker is a great option if you're making Thanksgiving dinner for just a few people, and I've been cooking turkey this way for years now. But even though I'm updating this recipe for CrockPot Turkey Breast with with Lower-Carb and Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy while everyone's thinking about Carb-Conscious Thanksgiving Recipes, this is a recipe that's easy enough to enjoy turkey for dinner any time of year.
I first made turkey breast in the crockpot back in 2008, after Dianne did it Alanna did it, and Stephanie did it. I was impressed with the completely delicious moist and flavorful turkey this method produced, and it gave me a chance to experiment with making lower-carb and gluten-free turkey gravy using arrowroot starch, which was also a winner.
And I think using the slow cooker is such a brilliant idea for Thanksgiving. I've already gushed about how much I love Spicy CrockPot Sweet Potatoes, which is a recipe I've also loved for years. And I shared my Top Ten Ideas for Slow Cooker Turkey Breast on my slow cooker site, if you want more turkey variations, and at Slow Cooker from Scratch there's also a very informative post with 50+ Ideas for a Slow Cooker Thanksgiving. So if you're making a big dinner this year, check out those recipes and let the slow cooker free up some space in the oven.
(How to Cook a Turkey Breast in the Crockpot and Lower-Carb and Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy was updated with better photos November 2015. Happy turkey eating everyone!)
Trim skin on the turkey breast and rub the outside with thyme and sage. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and brown the turkey well. (Don't rush this step.) Put browned turkey into the slow cooker, then cook the chicken or turkey stock in the frying pan for a couple of minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the browned bits. Put that liquid over the turkey breast; then put onion, carrots, and celery around the turkey. Cook on high for 2.5-3 hours, or on low for 5-6 hours, or until the meat thermometer reaches the safe minimum temperature for turkey breast.
When turkey has reached the desired temperature take out the breast and put it on a cutting board while you make the gravy. (You can cover with foil to keep warm.) Strain the liquid from the crockpot into a pan, add a little Penzeys Turkey Soup Base if desired, and simmer to reduce until it has a good turkey flavor. Turn down the heat, mix the arrowroot powder (or thickener of your choice) with cold water to make a slurry, and whisk that into the hot liquid, turning off the heat as soon as it thickens if you're using arrowroot.
Crockpot Turkey Breast with Lower-Carb and Gluten-Free Gravy
(Makes about 4.5 pounds of cooked turkey and 2 cups gravy, about 6 servings. Recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from Dianne, Alanna, and Stephanie.)
I made this turkey breast in my 6 Quart Ninja Cooker, which gave plenty of room for vegetables to add flavor to the gravy, but you can get away with a smaller slow cooker if that's what you have. Just use less vegetables if needed.
1 (5 pound) turkey breast with skin and bones (thawed in refrigerator, if frozen)
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried sage (rubbed sage)
2-3 large carrots, cut into pieces
2-4 ribs celery, cut into pieces
1 onion, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
2 cups chicken or turkey stock or 2 cups water with 1 T Penzeys Turkey Soup Base
4-6 tsp. arrowroot starch for gravy (or use cornstarch, but arrowroot is slightly lower in carbs and thickens with less starch)
Trim extra skin and fat from turkey breast, leaving the parts of skin that are directly covering the meat. If you have a meat thermometer, pull out the pop-up timer if desired. Rub breast all over and inside with thyme and sage. Heat olive oil in heavy frying pan, then brown turkey breast on both sides and top, about 5 minutes each side.
Put browned turkey breast in crockpot. Add the turkey or chicken stock to the frying pan you browned the turkey in and cook for a couple of minutes, scraping the bottom to get all the browned bits. Pour the liquid over the turkey, then add carrots, onions, and celery to the slow cooker. Cook on high until temperature in the thickest part of the meat reaches 165F; this was 2 hours and 45 minutes for me. (You can also cook on low for a longer time, about 5-6 hours. The temperature still needs to be 165F.)
Remove turkey breast and let rest while you make gravy, covering with foil if desired to keep it warm. Use a fine-mesh skimmer to scoop out vegetables and skim the broth, or strain through a fine strainer into small saucepan. You should have 2-3 cups broth. Bring to a boil and reduce until there is a strong turkey flavor (or add some Penzeys Turkey Soup Base to get more turkey flavor). I kept tasting it as it cooked down for a few minutes, and stopped when it tasted good to me.
Reduce heat so the liquid is barely at a simmer. Mix arrowroot starch with 2-3 T cold water (depending on how much you're using), then stir gently into the simmering liquid and stop stirring once it's combined. Don't over whisk or continue to cook once it's thickened, or the gravy won't stay thick. Gravy can also be thickened with cornstarch mixed with water if you don't have arrowroot, but it will take about 1 T cornstarch per cup of liquid to get the same amount of thickness, and cornstarch is slightly higher in carbs and will take longer to thicken.
Slice the turkey and serve hot with the gravy.
South Beach Diet / Low-Carb Diet Suggestions:
Arrowroot starch (also called arrowroot flour) is a great thickener for the South Beach Diet or other low-carb eating plans because it's slightly lower in carbs and it only takes about half as much arrowroot as it does cornstarch to get the same amount of thickness. It's also gluten-free. I did learn that arrowroot is often mixed with other types of starch, so check the label if you're buying it. It will lose it's thickening properties if stored too long, so buy a small amount at a time. (Even if you thicken this gravy with cornstarch, that will be lower in carbs compared to gravy that's thickened with flour.)
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan.
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.
More Turkey Cooked in the Crockpot
Check out my picks for Top Ten Ideas for Slow Cooker Turkey Breast, plus Honorable Mentions at Slow Cooker from Scratch.
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