Slow Cooker Turkey Breast and Gravy
Enjoy the flavor and aroma of Thanksgiving any time of year with this hands-off recipe that delivers tender, juicy white meat and delicious gravy. You can even fully prep for cooking the day before, if desired. Optional dry brine offers a flavor boost and can be done up to three days in advance.


  • 1 whole bone-in, skin-on turkey breast (mine have been about 5½ pounds)
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • ⅓ cup (42g) all-purpose flour (may use gluten-free if needed)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided use
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. For optional dry brine: Up to 3 days in advance, pat the turkey dry with paper towels; rub the turkey all over with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper per pound of turkey. Transfer the turkey to a 2-gallon zip-top plastic bag. Seal the bag and refrigerate the turkey on a rimmed baking sheet (or wrapped in another bag to catch any leaks) for at least 1 day and up to 3 days, turning the bird over every day (or after 12 hours if brining for only 1 day).
  2. Up to one 1 day in advance, heat the olive oil in a large (10-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook until the veggies have softened and the onion is beginning to turn golden, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of broth, scraping up any brown bits and smoothing out any lumps. At this point, transfer the contents of the skillet to the slow cooker. (Helpful hint: If you have a slow cooker with a sauté option, this can all be done right in your cooker.) Stir in the remaining 2 cups broth, water, thyme, and bay leaves.
  3. At this point, if you didn’t dry brine the turkey, season it liberally with salt and pepper, making sure to season the cavity. Place the turkey in the slow cooker, skin side up. (Prep ahead tip: At this point, if your slow cooker has an insert, you may cover it and refrigerate overnight.) Cover and cook on low until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165℉, or about 5 hours. Check temperature around the 4-hour mark and allow extra time, if needed, based on size of turkey breast and individual slow cooker.
  4. When done, remove the turkey to a platter to rest for 15-20 minutes, tenting lightly with foil to keep warm.
  5. For gravy, option 1: For a traditional gravy, strain the broth mixture into a saucepan, discarding the solids, and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Option 2: For a wonderfully thick, creamy gravy, purée the remaining contents of the slow cooker with an immersion blender until smooth, adding seasoning to taste. (Helpful hints: you may remove the bay leaves and thyme stems, but I usually leave them and they purée right in. Also, if you don’t have a handheld blender, you may transfer the contents to an upright blender.)
  6. Carve turkey and serve with gravy.


Slow cookers won’t brown and crisp the turkey skin. If you’d like to accomplish that, you may broil the turkey briefly, watching carefully to avoid burning. I can put my slow cooker insert in the oven, which allows for a bit of browning right on the top…although I usually forego this step.

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