Slow-cooked Herbed Turkey

garlic herb butter

One of the best things about Thanksgiving Day is the smell of the turkey cooking in the oven. I love that it permeates every room of the house, beginning in the early hours of the day. I think many will agree with me that the preparation, constant basting and temperature checking can be a drag, though! That's probably why we don't make a Thanksgiving meal every month. (It's not because of the caloric intake, I'm sure!)  Besides, only two out of a dozen people in our family actually enjoy eating the dark meat, so a lot of it goes to waste or is hidden creatively in leftovers the rest of the week (like Turkey & Orzo Soup).

softened garlic & herb butter

softened garlic & herb butter

Every so often, my mother in law would make a turkey the crock pot! We would go over to her house for someone's birthday or other special occasion and that same smell would hit us the moment we walked in the house. It was intoxicating! I had no idea a crock pot could be used, and what was even more was often WAY better than those we made in the oven! Only the turkey breast is used, all white meat for everyone! There was so much flavor & not a hint of being dry or overcooked. I'm not sure what recipe she used, but I recall mention of mayonnaise being smeared on it {{shudder}}.

juicy, herbed, slow cooker turkey

juicy, herbed, slow cooker turkey

I decided to give it a try when bone-in turkey breast was on special last week. Adapting my recipe for oven roasted chicken, I grabbed whatever I had on hand and went to work.  The whole point of crock pot cooking is "fix it and forget it", so I didn't want my preparation to cancel out the ease of the method. Instead of mayo, I opted for butter. I only had fresh thyme so I added some dried herbs de Provence as well. Lemons, garlic and a sprinkle of poultry seasoning finished it off. I placed it directly into the slow cooker, inserted a remote probe thermometer (a GREAT piece of equipment to have), covered it and that was that! About 4 hours later, my family was greeted by that welcoming familiarity...the smell of a meal that was prepared by a loved one who wanted to give thanks; even if it was a Monday in February.  

rub the butter under the skin to keep all that yummy flavor in place

rub the butter under the skin to keep all that yummy flavor in place


  • 5-7 pound bone-in turkey breast
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus 2 Tablespoons
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence  
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning


Spray the insert of a cockpot lightly with vegetable or coconut oil.  Mix together the softened butter, salt, pepper, herbs de Provence, fresh thyme, and garlic.

Pat the exterior of the turkey breast dry with a paper towel. Gently insert your fingers under the skin without breaking it, creating a pocket. Spread half the butter under the skin and the remaining half over the top of the skin. Put the quartered lemon into the cavity of the turkey and place the bird inside the crock pot. Sprinkle the top of the turkey breast with the poultry seasoning.

Insert a probe thermometer into the meaty part of the breast, taking care not to push all the way through to the bone. (You want to get a temperature reading as close to the bone without actually touching it.) Cover the crock pot as best you can with the thermometer probe still inside and wire hanging out, while still attached to the monitor. Cook on high for approximately 4 hours or until the temperature reads 165°F.

Take the bird out and let it rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes, tented with foil. (Cutting into it too early will not allow the juices to redistribute evenly. You'll get a lot of juice on your cutting board and a very dry dinner!) Slice and serve! Save extra meat to use in soups, sandwiches and casseroles. You can use the bones to make broth too, if you like!

Serves approximately 6-8.


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