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Crock Pot Turkey Breast with Apples and Sage
We always have turkey for Thanksgiving. Sometimes we have one for Christmas or Easter, too. Our favorite way to cook turkey is in the outdoor deep fryer. Deep frying gives turkey a wonderful flavor, especially when I use a seasoning rub on the bird. It stays super juicy using this method, too. Unfortunately, we don’t always feel like frying a turkey. It has to be done outdoors in our big pot, and it can get expensive because of all the oil that’s required. Our second option has always been to cook the turkey on our meat smoker, which is also a delicious way to cook a gobbler. We only turned to baking a turkey in the oven as a last resort. We were already planning to smoke a turkey, and my son-in-law was frying one for us. I still had a breast, however, that I hadn’t decided what to do with. This year, I tried something I haven’t done in quite a while. I cooked one of our turkeys in my crock pot, and it turned out great!
Crock Pot Cooking
I’m sure you have a lot of crock pot recipes and slow cooker recipes. You most likely use them often, but you might not have thought about cooking a turkey in the crock pot or slow cooker. It actually works well – better than I expected. When you think about it, though, it makes sense. Foods in a crock pot cook low and slow, and the device uses moist heat. The turkey won’t dry out when cooking, and you can add lots of flavor to the poultry, too. Another advantage of using the crock pot is that it frees up your oven for other dishes.
Seasoning a Turkey
There are lots of herbs and spices you can use on your big bird. We like garlic, onion, sage, salt, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. Sometimes we also use rosemary. You might like to try other flavors, including hot sauce, oregano, basil, lemon pepper, Worcestershire sauce, etc. I like to combine dry seasonings to make a rub for turkey, and I use the turkey rub all over the bird – inside and out. I also push some of the rub under the skin wherever I can.
Another way to season your turkey is to place fruits and/or vegetables into the cavity of the bird. Our favorites for this purpose are apple and onion. I cut the apple and onion into wedges or chunks and push them inside the bird. You might want to experiment with other fruits and vegetables, including lemon, lime, carrots, cranberries, etc. You might also like placing fresh herbs in the cavity, like a sprig or two of rosemary, for example.
When you cook a turkey in the crock pot or slow cooker, you can also add flavors by adding liquids to the vessel. I used apple juice this time, but you could use other types of fruit juices or wine, if you wish. When you add a flavorful liquid, a lot of the flavor will be imparted into the poultry flesh. The gobbler will sort of simmer in the juice for hours, after all.
Yet another way to make your crock pot turkey or slow cooker turkey tastier is to add fruits and/or veggies to the cooking vessel. Just peel them, cut them into slices, wedges, or chunks, and place them around, under, and over the turkey. This time, I placed apple sliced under the turkey.
Whole Turkey or Turkey Breast?
Should you cook a whole turkey or just a turkey breast? Of course, that’s up to you. First, though, you need to make sure that a whole turkey will fit into your crock pot or slow cooker and that the lid will still close tightly. If your family likes dark meat, you’ll probably want to cook an entire small turkey so that you’ll have the juicy thigh meat and the drumsticks.
If your family prefers white meat, a turkey breast will be your best bet. I think they’re a lot easier to cook in the crock pot than are whole turkeys. And no matter how they’re cooked, turkey breasts are easier to handle and easier to carve. They also have very little waste, as they’re almost all meat.
Browning the Turkey
You’ll need to rub the bird with oil before it cooks – at least the breast portion. Doing so will help make the lean meat juicier and more flavorful. I rubbed the bird first with my dry turkey rub, and I wrapped it and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. Before I placed it in the crock pot, I rubbed it with oil.
You’ve probably already figured out that a turkey cooked in the crock pot isn’t going to be brown, and the skin won’t be crisp. If you want a gobbler with brown crispy skin, one that’s been cooked in a crock pot or slow cooker, you’ll have to take an extra step to achieve the desired effect. What I did was to take the turkey out of the crock pot once it was cooked, and then pat it somewhat dry with paper towels. I then drizzled melted butter all over the meat and roasted it in the oven.
Rate my crock pot turkey recipe. Thanks!
- 5-8 pound turkey breast
- garlic salt
- rubbed sage
- black pepper
- dried rosemary
- onion powder
- 3 apples, sliced evenly
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 cup cherry, cranberry, or cran-cherry juice
- 1 stick melted butter
- Rinse turkey and pat dry. Combine dry seasonings and rub turkey, inside and out. Wrap turkey and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
- Remove turkey from fridge and coat lightly with oil.
- Place sliced apples in bottom of crock pot. Place turkey on top of apples.
- Add apple juice and other juice to crock pot.
- Close lid and cook on low for about eight hours.
- Remove fully cooked turkey from cooker and pat dry. Drizzle/rub with melted butter.
- Roast turkey at 450-500 degrees until nicely browned.
- Rest, carve, and enjoy!