If you want a low maintenance way of cooking your turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, this is it. Slow Cooker Turkey Crown is the perfect recipe for flavourful, juicy and succulent meat without the need for basting. Oh, and you also get the best stock for gravy!
Easy Slow Cooker Turkey Crown Recipe
Turkey crowns are a popular choice for Christmas day as pre-prepared alternative to dealing with a whole turkey, giblets and all. A perfectly cooked turkey crown (hint: buy a meat thermometer!) will leave you with beautifully flavourful and carveable turkey breasts.
The crown is a whole with the bone left in, but the legs and wings removed. Still a beautiful and tasty Christmas dinner centrepiece, but with less waste. What’s more, because meat is left on the bone juices are released during cooking which are perfect for amazing homemade turkey gravy.
Turkey crowns cook fantastically well in the slow cooker, just season them as you would for the oven and leave them to cook.
Why cook turkey in the slow cooker?
Cooking a turkey crown in the slow cooker is a no-brainer. Here are some reasons why:
- Soft, succulent meat. Turkey is a naturally lean meat so care must be taken not to overcook. A slow cooker is a naturally moist cooking environment that prevents the dreaded dry turkey!
- Size. Turkey crowns are compact so are a great choice for the slow cooker. It’s possible to fit a 2.5- 3kg turkey crown into an oval 5.6L slow cooker.
- Oven space. It leaves precious oven space for other parts of the meal that need to be roasted.
- Gravy. I’ve cooked roasts in the oven numerous times and have found that if not enough moisture is released from the meat during cooking, any vegetables in the roasting tin can char making the stock taste bitter. As someone who loves to make gravy from scratch this isn’t ideal! In the slow cooker vegetables cook in the juices and sweeten creating delicious stock for gravy.
- It’s easy! After the turkey is prepared and set to cook – you are done. There is no need to open up the pot to baste. Most of us are busy entertaining or enjoying a glass of wine during Thanksgiving and Christmas, so what could be better?
A slow cooker is a great way to cook your Christmas or Thanksgiving turkey!
What You’ll Need
The key to a great recipe for an occasion is achieving the balance between ease of preparation and of course, the taste. That’s the beauty of this recipe; the ingredients to season the turkey are few, and are all store cupboard staples.
Turkey crown. This recipe will cover any size from a 1.5 to 3kg turkey crown. Just be aware that you need to adjust cooking times according to size, so check the recipe notes.
Carrots and onions. Carrots and onion are great for adding flavour to roasts and the juices released from them help to create delicious stock!
Garlic. Garlic provides a savoury undertone for almost any dish.
Butter. A little butter mixed with herbs and seasoning stuffed under the skin keep the turkey succulent and flavourful.
Sage. Sage is fantastic in poultry roasts as it has a subtle earthy tone which compliments the delicate flavour of the meat. This recipe uses dried sage but you can use fresh (although use slightly less as it has a stronger flavour).
Other herbs can also be added but be careful with quantity. Thyme and rosemary for example are strong and fragrant, so use in small amounts to avoid overpowering other flavours.
Stock cube. A chicken stock cube crumbled and mixed in with the butter to add flavour.
Salt and Pepper. To season the outside of the turkey.
How to make it
Here’s how to cook a turkey crown in your slow cooker.
- Temperature. Turkey must be at a stable temperature before cooking to ensure it’s safely and evenly cooked. Take it out of the fridge 30-45 minutes before starting cooking. In addition, frozen turkeys must be completely defrosted first in the fridge. As a guide, a 2kg bird will take around 40 hours to thaw.
- Moisture and flavour. A slow cooker is great for keeping meat succulent! To make it extra juicy add seasoned butter under the skin, which melts into the meat as it cooks and adds flavour throughout.
- Season. Seasoning the skin adds flavour and colour.
- Vegetables. Stuff the turkey with some of the onion and then use the remaining vegetables to create a trivet in the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Cook. Place the turkey in the pot and cook on high for 3.5 to 5 hours depending on it’s size.
- Brown the skin and rest. The skin won’t brown in the slow cooker. To achieve an appetising golden colour it can be briefly grilled, then wrapped in foil to rest.
How long does it take to cook a turkey crown in the slow cooker?
The cooking time for a turkey crown depends on both the size of the turkey and the size and type of the slow cooker – timings given are given as a guidance only.
The best method for checking whether a turkey is cooked is a meat thermometer.
|Turkey Size (kg)||Cooking time on high|
Here are some ideas of what to serve with your turkey crown.
- Roast potatoes
- Braised red cabbage
- Sage and Onion stuffing
- Roast parsnips
- Turkey gravy
And of course, don’t forget the cranberry sauce!
What can I do with leftover turkey?
Any leftovers must be cooled within 90 minutes and then wrapped in an airtight container. They will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.
If you have a good amount leftover you may wish to create another dish from them, some popular choices are:
- Slow Cooker Turkey Curry
- Turkey and Ham pie
If leftovers are reheated, then make sure that they are piping hot throughout before serving.
Due to the shape of the turkey oval slow cookers are best. A 5L slow cooker may accommodate a smaller bird of around 1.5kg whilst a 6.5L will be able to fit up to a 3kg turkey.
Here are some serving sizes and weights of turkey crowns as a guide.
4-6 people – 1.5-1.75kg turkey crown
6-8 people – 2-2.25kg turkey crown
8-10 people – 2.5-2.75kg turkey crown
10-12 people – 3kg turkey crown
The turkey must be fully defrosted before it’s cooked. This is for both food safety and the tastiest result! Meat must be an even temperature throughout before cooking to accurately gauge cooking times.
When roasting a turkey in the oven bacon is added for flavour and to trap moisture in the meat. You can add bacon when cooking turkey in the slow cooker for the flavour, but be aware it won’t crisp whilst cooking and any juices released from it will run into the stock (if it will be used for gravy).
Resting meat after cooking allows the juices to redistribute and makes the meat moist throughout.
The turkey will continue to cook for a short period after it has been removed from the slow cooker or oven so it’s important to allow it time to rest. Around 25-45 minutes whilst covered with foil will be ideal for a turkey crown.
Tips for Slow Cooker Turkey Crown
Before You Cook
- If your turkey is frozen make sure you defrost it in good time before cooking. Always defrost turkey in the fridge.
- Check your turkey crown will fit in your slow cooker!
- Don’t wash poultry before cooking to avoid spreading bacteria around your kitchen sink.
- On the day of cooking, remove your turkey from the fridge around 30-45 minutes before cooking to bring it up to room temperature.
During Preparation Of Your Turkey
- Add flavour and moisture directly to the breast meat by smothering seasoned butter under the turkey skin.
- Create a vegetable trivet in the slow cooker. This keeps the turkey away from direct heat, and any juices released from the vegetables will add to the flavour of the stock.
After Your Turkey Is Cooked
- Crisp up the skin under the grill or in the oven to get a beautiful golden gleam.
- Rest the turkey to allow the juices to evenly redistribute throughout the meat.
- Use a large sharp knife to get perfect slices of turkey when serving.
- Use the stock to make a delicious gravy.
Slow Cooker Turkey Crown
- 2 kg (4.4 lb) turkey crown bone in
- 2 onion white, medium
- 2 carrot peeled
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 60 g (2 oz) butter salted, room temperature
- 1 chicken stock cube
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Remove the turkey from the fridge 30-45 minutes before cooking to allow the meat to rise to room temperature (see recipe note 1). Take the butter out of the fridge at the same time to allow it to soften.2 kg turkey crown, 60 g butter
- Prepare the seasoned butter. Put the butter in a bowl with the sage (see recipe note 2), minced garlic and crumbled stock cube and mix everything together.
- Once the turkey is at room temperature remove any packaging and string. Carefully separate the skin from the breast using a teaspoon (you might need a sharp knife to get started).
- Lift the turkey skin and smear ⅔ of the seasoned butter directly over the meat covering as much of the breast as possible. Pat the skin back down.
- Cover the outside of the skin with the remaining butter, on both the top and bottom of the turkey. Sprinkle over the salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Prepare the vegetables by taking one of the onions, peeling it and cutting it in half. Put the two halves in the cavity of the turkey.
- Peel and chop the remaining onion into thick slices and then peel and chop the carrots into thick batons. Arrange them in the pot to create a trivet on which the turkey can rest.
- Place the turkey on the vegetables and set to cook on high for between 3.5 – 5 hours depending on it's size (see recipe note 3).
- Check the turkey is cooked by using a meat thermometer (see recipe note 4 for more information). If so, use two meat forks to remove the turkey from the slow cooker and place onto a grill tray or oven safe dish.
- Place the turkey under a medium hot grill for between 5 – 10 minutes to crisp up the skin. The higher parts of the turkey (closer to the grill) will cook faster, so check regularly to ensure it's not burning.Alternatively, heat the oven to 180°C/360°F and roast for approximately 15 minutes.
- Once the skin has browned, wrap loosely in foil and allow to rest for between 25-45 minutes depending on the size of the turkey. It will remain hot for this time, perfect for serving (see recipe note 5).
- When ready to serve, unwrap the turkey and carve into 0.5cm (0.2inch) thick slices. Use a large freshly sharpened knife to ensure clean slices with an edge of golden skin.
- Bringing the turkey to room temperature before cooking allows the tissue to soften so it’s less likely to seize with the heat of cooking, that can result in too much moisture being released. It also ensures a safer, more even cook and juicier meat.
- Fresh or dried herbs. In this recipe I used dried sage but fresh herbs also work perfectly. Simply finely chop and mix with the butter as per the instructions. Fresh sage will be stronger in flavour so use around ⅔ of the stated amount and a little can be sprinkled around the turkey.
- Turkey crown cooking times in slow cooker. Due to variances between types of slow cookers, times given are a guidance only. A 1.5 kg turkey crown will cook in 3.5 hours on high in our recommended 5.6L slow cooker. Allow 30 minutes extra cooking time per additional 500g of turkey.
- When your turkey is fully cooked the juices will run clear and the meat will be hot throughout. The best method is with a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast and held for 30 seconds. The temperature needs to be 75°C/165°F.
NB: Stated cooking times are given as a guide due to variances between brands and sizes of slow cooker. Always use a meat thermometer to be sure.