A crock pot is a great way to cook turkey breast without drying it out. But turkey breasts are often quite large and don't always fit. What can you do? Don't worry. We've done the research to help you fix this fowl flaw.
If your turkey breast is too large for your crock pot, there are a couple of solutions you can try:
- Tent the crock pot with foil
- Following this method, you will lose more liquid through evaporation, so monitor your crock pot and add more liquid as necessary.
- Trim or remove the bones
- You can cut out the bones with a sharp knife. In some cases, removing the neck bone or trimming the ribs will be enough. You can also completely debone the breast.
In this article, we'll take a closer look at both of these solutions and how to properly execute them for picture perfect poultry. We'll also see some great tips for cooking turkey in a slow cooker, including some great recipes and advice for crispy skin. We'll even cover how to cook turkey breast in a pressure cooker! Read on to learn more!
How to fit turkey breast in a crock pot
Turkey breast has a bad reputation for getting dry when roasting, but cooking in a crock pot is a great way to make sure your turkey stays juicy and succulent.
A common problem for many home cooks is that the turkey breast doesn't fit in their crock pot. Here are some easy solutions to this poultry problem:
Tent the crock pot in foil
If your able to get the turkey breast in the crock pot but not get the lid on, you can simply cover the crock pot with foil instead of the lid.
Simply take a piece of aluminum foil and place it over the crock pot, turkey and all. Crimp it along the sides to get a tighter fit.
One issue you may encounter with this method is moisture loss. Your crock pot lid creates a tighter seal than foil does, so more steam can escape your aluminum dome.
To solve this, simply monitor the crock pot from time to time to check the moisture level. Carefully lift up the foil with tongs so you don't burn yourself.
If the liquid level looks too low, simply add in some water. Room temperature or hot water is ideal so it doesn't drop the temperature too much.
You could also choose to add in stock or another liquid, but be careful. While the water evaporates from the liquid, salt and other seasonings don't. If you continue adding too much stock, you'll end up with an extra salty bird.
Bone the turkey breast
Bone-in turkey breast takes up a lot of space, so if it doesn't fit in your crock pot, you can simply remove some of the bones.
You'll typically find turkey breasts with the neck bone still connected at the back of the bird. Cut out the neck bone by running a strong, sharp knife around the bone. You can also use sturdy kitchen shears for this task.
If the breast still doesn't fit, you can trim off some of the ribs. Again, use a strong knife or sturdy shears for this task.
If your bird still won't fit in your crock pot, you can completely debone it. You'll next remove the keel bone, then cut off the breasts by running a knife along the ribs.
You can see a full turkey breast de-boning demonstration in the video below:
If you use this method, be sure to save those bones! They are great for making soups and stocks. They can even go in the crock pot along with the turkey now that they're broken up and more space friendly.
Why cook turkey breast in a crock pot?
Now that you've found a way to get your turkey to fit, let's look at some tips, tricks, and recipes for mouth-watering crock pot turkey breasts.
But before we look at the "how" of it all, let's first address "why?"
It's no secret that turkey breast often ends up dry and overdone when roasting a whole turkey. It's not the breast's fault! It's just that it cooks faster than the dark meat, so by the time the legs and thighs are done, it's usually overdone.
Cooking the breasts separately is one way to minimize dryness, since you don't have to wait for the dark meat to finish. Because the crock pot cooks the meat in a moist environment, it adds another safeguard against dryness.
Even better, you can add extra seasonings to the liquid that you cook your turkey in. Turkey breast on its own can be a bit mild or, well, bland. Cooking it in a crock pot allows you to add extra flavors to enhance this classic dish.
And you want to know the best part? Crock pot cooking is easy! It requires very little monitoring, so you'll be free to focus on your other dishes or just take a break while your turkey cooks.
How to cook turkey in a crock pot
With that all covered, let's look at the best practices in turkey crock pottery.
- Make sure you turkey is thoroughly thawed before putting it in the crock pot
- Preheat your crock pot while you prep your turkey and vegetables and add some oil or nonstick spray before filling it.
- Add aromatic vegetables, herbs, and even fruit to the crock pot. Onions, garlic, carrots, celery, lemon, sage, and thyme are popular choices, but be creative and try some of your favorites too!
- Place the turkey on top of the bed of vegetables and cover with the lid (or foil if the turkey is too tall)
- Wait! Try not to remove the lid until it's time to check the turkey (although you will have to check more often on the liquid if using foil).
- Use a meat thermometer to check your turkey. The FDA recommends 165º F for turkey.
- Let the turkey rest at least 15 minutes before carving. During this time, you can use the leftover juices to make gravy!
There are different ways to take on this project. This recipe from Recipe Tin Eats uses simple, aromatic veggies with thyme and a classic rub.
Of course, there are other options too. This recipe from Blue Jean Chef adds sage and lemon for a different profile. They also recommend rubbing down the turkey with room temperature butter before adding their herbacious rub.
And, of course, you can play around with your own ideas too! Convert your favorite roast recipe into a crock pot recipe to try something new but keep the familiar flavors. Alternatively, go for something more experimental. Maybe turkey cooked with lemongrass and szechwan peppercorns will become a new family tradition!
How long should you cook turkey breast in a slow cooker?
Crock pots are known as slow-cookers for a reason. If you want to make a great crock pot turkey breast, you'll need to get started in advance.
The time it takes to cook a turkey in a crock pot depends on the weight. Most bone-in turkey breasts weigh around 4 pounds. These will cook in around 6 hours in a crock pot set to Low.
Smaller or larger turkey breasts will finish in different times. A 2-pound breast may finish in 4 to 5 hours and a large, 10-pound breast may take up to 8 or 9 hours to finish.
Can you crisp up the skin on crock pot turkey breast?
While crock pot turkey breasts come with any number of advantages, they do suffer in one area in particular: the skin.
The crispy, golden-brown skin is one of the best parts of the turkey, and it would be a shame to miss out on it. Well, fear not! There is a way to crisp up the skin of your crock pot turkey.
- After finishing the turkey in the crock pot, let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes
- Preheat the broiler in your oven
- Place the turkey in a roasting tray or other oven-safe dish, skin side up
- Brown the skin under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Watch your turkey closely! Skin can go from golden-brown delicious to carbonized quickly under the broiler. You may also want to move the turkey every minute or so for more even browning.
Can you cook turkey breast in an instant pot?
You can get similar results to crock pot turkey breast in a fraction of the time by using an instant pot or other pressure cooker.
However, most pressure cookers are smaller than most crock pots, so you'll be even more likely to have issues with fitting. Furthermore, tenting with foil isn't an option for pressure cooking.
Because of this, you will usually need to at least partially debone your turkey breast or opt for a smaller option when at the shop.
Cook your turkey breast in the pressure cooker setting on high pressure at 8 minutes per pound. This means you'll be able to cook a 4-pound turkey breast in just 32 minutes!
Well, that's mostly true. Make sure you allot time for the pressure cooker to come up to pressure as well as to release pressure after finishing. You can also crisp up pressure cooked turkey breast using the same method described in the previous section!
Check out this video to see the process and get some more tips for how to pressure cook turkey breast:
To cook an impressive 7.5-pound turkey breast whole like she does, you'll need a big instant pot, like the 8-quart model below.
A slow cooker is a great way to may scrumptious turkey! Now you'll know what to do if your turkey breast is too big for your crock pot.
We've also seen some tips and recipes for making turkey in a slow cooker and even a pressure cooker too!
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