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5 from 1 vote

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast with Cider Gravy

This slow cooker turkey breast recipe is an EASY way to cook a delicious holiday turkey with minimal effort! It can be made gluten-free and includes an easy cider gravy recipe!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time7 hrs 30 mins
Total Time8 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple cider gravy, apple cider turkey, easy turkey breast recipe, gluten-free turkey breast, slow cooker turkey breast, thanksgiving turkey breast
Calories: 307kcal
Author: Whitney Reist | Sweet Cayenne


For the turkey:

  • One 6-8 pound 6-8 lb bone-in turkey breast, skin on (or whatever size you can fit in your slow cooker) 6-8 lb bone-in turkey breast, skin on (or whatever size you can fit in your slow cooker)
  • 2 whole apples, quartered (I used Fuji)
  • 2 whole shallots, peeled and halved
  • 2 bunches fresh thyme
  • 1 cup apple cider

For the rub:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoons maple pepper rub (or MAKE YOUR OWN with 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika) {Use 1 tablespoon of the MAKE YOUR OWN rub for this recipe, and then save the rest for later! It's delish on roast or grilled chicken!}
  • 2 teaspoons smoked sea salt (or coarse Kosher salt)

For the gravy:

  • 2 cups strained turkey juices from slow cooker
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste


3 days prior to cooking:

  • Place the turkey in a tray and set it in the refrigerator to thaw.

1 day prior to serving (cooking day)

  • Unpackage the turkey and pat dry with paper towels (discard gravy packet, if included).
  • In a small bowl, combine the butter, olive oil, mustard, maple rub, and salt with a spoon (is does not need to be perfectly smooth). Use your hands to distribute the rub over the top and sides of the turkey, and under the skin if desired. Place the turkey in the slow cooker.
  • Nestle the apples, shallots, and thyme around the base of the turkey. Pour the apple cider in the bottom of the cooker.
  • Cook the turkey on LOW (not high!) for 6-8 hours until a thermometer inserted into the center of one side of a breast reads 165℉. Check the temperature at the 6 hour mark and in 30 minute increments until doneness is reached.
  • Remove the turkey from the cooker and place it on a baking sheet. Let it rest for 10 minutes while you preheat the oven broiler to high. Make sure the top rack is placed in the lower half of the oven.
  • Strain the juices from the slow cooker into a container. Let cool for 30 minutes before placing in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
  • Place the turkey breast under the broiler and crisp the skin in 2-minute increments on all sides. I rotated my turkey 4-5 times and used 2-minute increments to crisp the skin evenly all around. Remove the turkey from oven and let it cool for 15 minutes before covering with foil and placing in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

The day of serving:

  • Remove the turkey from the fridge and place on a cutting board. Preheat oven to 350.
  • Remove the turkey drippings and measure out 2 cups. Freeze the remaining stock for later use, or double the gravy recipe.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring often, until it has a nutty fragrance and is the color of peanut butter (see photo). In a slow stream, add the chilled turkey juices while whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the gravy coats the back of a spoon. Keep warm over very low heat until ready to serve. Season to taste with extra salt and pepper.
  • While the gravy simmers, remove the skin from the turkey and cut it into 2’’ pieces. Set aside.
  • Use your fingers to feel for the turkey backbone in the center of the two breast halves. With a boning or carving knife, carefully remove each breast from either side of the backbone. Use kitchen shears or your fingers to trim off any meat remaining on the bones. Slice the turkey breasts into 1’’ thick slices.
  • When ready to warm the turkey, ladle about a cup of gravy into the bottom of an oven-safe serving platter (make sure the bottom is covered). Place the sliced turkey and any smaller pieces on top of the gravy. Cover the dish tightly with foil and place it in the oven for 30 minutes or until the turkey is heated through. While the turkey reheats, place the turkey skin in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, flipping halfway through, for 5-7 minutes until the skin is golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined dish and sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside until ready to serve. 
  • Remove from oven and place in a warming drawer or on a warm stovetop until ready to serve. Crumble the crispy skin pieces on top right before serving. Serve hot with gravy on the side.
  • Alternatively, you can reheat the turkey in a slow cooker. Cover the bottom of the cooker with gravy up to 1’’ up the sides of the cooker. Place the turkey on top and reheat on LOW for 30 minutes. Set heat to “keep warm” until you are ready to place the meat on a platter and serve.


  • Leftover turkey will keep for 3 days and freezes for up to 3 months. You can also freeze the turkey in the gravy!
  • Make it gluten-free: bring the 2 cups of turkey drippings to a simmer over medium-low heat. Whisk 2 tablespoons of corn starch into 1/2 cup of cold apple cider. Pour this mixture in a slow stream into the simmering turkey juices while whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low to keep warm until ready to serve. (If making extra gravy, you will need 1 tablespoon of cornstarch per cup of turkey juices. Mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch per half cup of apple cider before adding to hot juices).
Nutrition information (calculate on a 7-pound turkey serving 8 people with 3 tablespoons gravy per person)


Calories: 307kcal