Crispy Skin Slow Cooker Turkey is THE MOST succulent Turkey, WITHOUT brining OR marinading! Rubbed with a buttery, garlicky herb mixture…and slow cooked until tender and juicy, this Turkey will have EVERYONE talking!
Fill your ovens with other important things this Thanksgiving and let your slow cooker take on most of the work! This Turkey couldn’t be ANY EASIER, JUCIER, and I’m going to say it — MOIST.
SLOW COOKER TURKEY
Slow cooking turkey GUARANTEES juicy and succulent meat! Now, while I WISH that a slow cooker can magically create a crispy, golden browned skin like this one, your broiler will take care of that for the last 10-20 minutes this turkey needs to get all golden browned. All up? 4-5 hours cooking time with your oven freed up for a good chunk of that time!
Usually, a turkey needs a good 6 or more hours slow roasting in your oven, sometimes leaving it in there all night to have it ready for the next day. Am I right?
Most times you need to brine it for a good 24 hours before even roasting it. Plus, if you leave it too long in brine, it will get too salty, OR if you use a less salty brine, you run the risk of washing out the natural turkey flavours into the water.
Ah the DILEMMA. You need a bucket, a long list of brine ingredients, plus time.
HOW TO MAKE Slow Cooker Turkey
- You’re going to need a small 8-10 pound turkey, or 4-5 kilo. This is to ensure it fits into your slow cooker bowl. This one was 8 pounds.
- Please remember to divide your herb butter in half and refrigerate that half. You are going to use the reserved butter later before broiling to add even MORE flavour to your turkey, and get that skin golden browned.
- I love using thyme and rosemary to slow cook our turkey, but you can use sage leaves, oregano, parsley, whatever herbs YOU like!
HOW TO GET A CRISPY SKIN
- Pat your turkey dry with one or two sheets of paper towel, and remove any rogue feathers that have been left behind.
- Smother and slather it with the herb butter ALL OVER.
- Place it in your cooker bowl and season it generously with salt and pepper. I didn’t measure since salt and pepper is something I usually eyeball, but it should be about 1 tablespoon of sea salt and maybe 1/2 tablespoon of pepper.
- For the purpose of having this turkey done fast, I cook it on HIGH heat setting, but you CAN cook it on low if you wish.
THE BEST PART
- Turn on your oven in the last 15 minutes of slow cooking to get your broiler nice and hot.
- Place roasting pan right next to your slow cooker. You will need to use TWO long tongs or carving forks, insert them into both ends of the turkey and lift it out of your slow cooker and into the pan. It won’t fall apart since the bird is whole, but just in case, do this slowly.
- Then, remember that reserved butter? Yeah, THAT herb butter is going all over the breast and legs of your turkey, melting as soon as you spread it on with the back of your spoon or knife.
- Get your bird into the oven and crisp away! THAT’S IT! I had ours under our broiler for a good 10 minutes on medium-high heat (our oven has adjustable heat settings for broiling). If yours doesn’t just keep your eye on it.
- Your oven shelf should be on the lower half of your oven to make sure your turkey isn’t too close to the heating element.
I then changed the oven settings from broiler back to oven to get it MORE golden without burning it, for about 15 minutes.
ALL of the flavours from the slow cooker bowl make this gravy up, and let me tell you. You guys will be licking your plates clean!
Made exactly like white sauce, using the left over juices out of the slow cooker instead of milk, butter and flour, and a splash of Worcestershire sauce for added flavour. So easy!
Want to try different turkey recipes? Try this Crispy Beer Turkey OR this One Pan Juicy Herb Roasted Turkey & Potatoes With Gravy!
Crispy Garlic Roasted Potatoes
Cheesy Garlic Sweet Potatoes
Sheet Pan Garlic Parmesan Broccoli Green Beans
Crispy Skin Slow Cooker Turkey (& Homemade Gravy)
- 8-10 pound 4-5 kg whole turkey, skin on
- 2 heads garlic cut in half horizontally
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 1 slice lemon
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- Cracked Pepper
- 2 cups Turkey broth from the slow cooker
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper, only if needed
- Combine the Herb Butter ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Reserve half of the Herb Butter in the refrigerator for later.
- Arrange the garlic cut-side down in the bottom of the slow cooker bowl. Add the sprigs of thyme and rosemary, and slice of lemon.
- Using paper towels, pat the turkey dry as much as you can. Rub all over with the remaining herb butter, season generously with salt and pepper all over, then place the turkey on top of the garlic and herbs in the slow cooker bowl.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours, or LOW for 8 hours.
- (About half an hour before the end of cooking time, arrange oven shelf to the lower half of your oven. Preheat your oven broiler/or grill in Australia to crisp the skin.)
- Carefully transfer turkey to a roasting tray by inserting tongs on either side of the turkey into the carcass; lifting and placing straight into the roasting tray (have your tray sitting right next to the slow cooker for an easy transition). Remove 2 cups of the liquid from the slow cooker bowl, strain and reserve for your gravy. Pour any remaining juices over your turkey.
Crisp the Skin
- Using the reserved herb butter, use a spoon to spread it over the top of your turkey for extra flavour (the turkey will be hot and the butter will melt nicely over the skin). Broil for about 10 minutes, OR until the skin is crispy and golden browned all over. Leave it longer if needed, but if you see it start to burn, turn the broiler off and turn the oven on to 420°F | 220°C, and continue roasting until the turkey is golden browned (about 15 minutes).
- Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before carving and serving.
- Melt the butter in a small pot over low-medium heat. Whisk in the flour until combined. Allow to cook for about a minute, while whisking occasionally. Pour in 1/2 cup of the Turkey liquid and whisk until it forms a paste. Add remaining liquid in 1/2 cup increments, whisking in between, until the gravy is smooth. Allow to simmer over medium heat until thickened. Take off heat and mix in the Worcestershire sauce. The gravy will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Season with salt and pepper, only if needed.
I made this for Xmas 2018… it was my first turkey ever after separating from my son’s mother. Just moved into a quaint little house and I had my sister and nephew over that year. I was super nervous about how my supper would turn out. I didn’t even know you could cook a turkey this way! I mean wow… 0 effort if not for finding a bird small enough for my machine! So some hours later my house smelled like a proper Xmas dinner was at hand, and boy let me tell you, this recipe did not disappoint!! 2019… I was alone, no girlfriend or family to cook for. I had broken my arm and shoulder in September and felt like Xmas was the last thing in my heart. I also forgot to bookmark this recipe… Now I’m with an amazing girl, and I remembered this recipe that I couldn’t find… Thank Google you still had this online!!!! Now I can’t wait for the week of Dec 25… in 2020… not alone and we’re allowed to have this one individual per house in Québec (a person alone can have a person who lives alone over!!) Merci beaucoup and be safe!
Suzanne Wood says
Oh. My. Juicy. Goodness!
I received so many compliments on this dish! This will be my go-to in the future!!
Thank you 🙂
I had a 9 lb turkey breast to cook for Thanksgiving dinner and searched for a slow cooker recipe. I settled on this one, not sure what to expect, but this is a fantastic recipe! I followed it exactly. I was afraid it would be too garlicky, and I wasn’t sure whether I should place the turkey in breast side up or down. I placed it up and it turned out great. We also browned it in the oven, (as our broiler is a small compartment in the bottom of our oven), and it didn’t dry out. I didn’t need to add any extra flavor or seasoning to the gravy that I made from the juices, it made the most delicious gravy! I’m definitely saving the recipe and will make this a Thanksgiving tradition. The turkey turned out so juicy & full of flavor!
Any thoughts on the cooking time if I’m using a boneless turkey breast? Thank you.
I did a bone in 8# turkey breast on high for 8 hours. That was way too long. Next time I check it at 4 hours. Boneless would be 2 to 3 hours, perhaps?
Diane E. Sorensen says
Hi! Realize this may sound weird but can I skip the skin crisping step without issue if I’m just interested in soft, tender and juicy turkey and no skin? If so do I need to cook it any longer or would everything just be the same.
You’ve probably already figured it out, but you are correct – you can skip the broiling part if you wished, no extra time is required (as the bird should be fully cooked before broiling. The broil ending is mainly for crispy skin and for presentation – strongly recommended for presentation purposes if serving to impress.
Rob Russell says
I’m amazed how well this worked. I started with a cheapo supermarket turkey I happened to have in my freezer. It was 13.5 lbs and I have a 6 quart slow-cooker, so the bird didn’t fit at first. However, I removed the legs, wings, and thighs and arranged them around the breast. Everything fit well in the slow-cooker (I discarded a portion of the turkey’s lower back). Otherwise I followed the recipe, and the turkey came out moist and flavorful, and the skin is nice and crisp (I crisped the breast separately from the rest of the pieces on two separate cookie sheets lined with foil). Even the gravy is fantastic. Thanks for the recipe! This may be my new go-to turkey cooking method.
Hi Karina! I came across your recipe by chance and we decided to try it because your turkey looked delicious and amazing! Well, ours turned out amazing as well LOL and it was super easy too! I just used rosemary, salt and pepper for season. In addition to the vegetable “bed”, I put some more inside my bird. I have used my crock for many different stews but not a bird and I’m looking forward to trying a chicken sometime. Thank you for posting this recipe. I’m going to be browsing here for more delicious ideas,
I am going to try this tomorrow. My turkey is a bit larger than I wanted. I am considering cutting the leg quarters off and putting them in the cavity of the bird so it will fit in my slow cooker. I appreciate that this will now free up my oven for other casseroles and pies. Awesome idea!
Could I use a frozen turkey?
For this recipe I don’t recommend it. It is best if it is thawed completely! Hope you enjoy your turkey! XO
Has anyone prepared this all the night before, stuck it in fridge, and then started cooking in morning??
Is it possible to line a bacon paste under skin and still cook it in slow cooker?
That sounds like a great idea! Let me know how it turns out! XO
Jennifer Hough says
I’d love to try this recipe. Can the turkey be stuffed with bread-based stuffing?
Yes, it can but it will change the flavoring and taste from this recipe. Let me know what you think! XO
Marie Guziel says
Hi Karina, I love all your amazing recipes!!! So I hope you can help. My husband went out to buy the smallest turkey at Costco and it was 13.5 lbs. Unfortunately It’s too big for my crock pot! Any suggestions to still make it work using this recipe??
Thanks so much!
You can always try using a dutch oven pot if it can fit into that or using the oven on low for the 4 hours. Enjoy your Thanksgiving! XO
Brian Ashman says
Hello. Seems like a lot of garlic, two heads-halved. Is that correct? It’s not overpowering with garlic?
You are welcome to decrease the amount of garlic if you prefer.
Barry W says
This website is quickly becoming my ‘go-to’ place for new recipes. I cooked this turkey tonight. I have a large slow cooker and was able to fit an 11 lb. turkey into it. (Also let it cook an extra hour due to its size).
It came out fantastic! The subtle herbs were great (smelled the house up micely to boot), and it was the most succulent turkey I have cooked. Even more than the ones that have you put cola or liquid in the cavities.
The gravy topped it off as it was full of wonderful, natural taste. I also added mushrooms to it.
I made this tonight as a trial run to see if I should make it for Thanksgiving. It definitely has replaced what I have been cooking. And it’s so much easier to make! Merci beaucoup
Debby T says
Is it correct that you don’t add any water into the crockpot to cook the turkey? I know it will cook that way, just wondering if the turkey will ooze out enough liquid on it’s own to make the gravy. Can’t wait to try it, looks AHmazing!
Yes, you have the correct! It will be tender and juicy!
what size slowcooker did use
Tymeron Smith says
I usually use a 6 or 8 quart slow cooker. Hope that helps!
I used this recipe & my turkey came out awesome, I had a 12 lbs turkey and a 8 quart Crock-Pot it bearly fit but it worked out fine and cooked on low for about 10 hrs on low. I added my own seasonings extra like a seasoned pepper, cayenne, & paprika to make a little Cajun. The only thing that I was upset about was when I was slicing the turkey breast it just crumbled up. Your slices look perfect!
Hi! I’ve been having a hard time finding a turkey this small. The stores carry turkey breasts around this size, though. Would I be able to do this using turkey breast? If so, how would that work? I really want to try this recipe!
This turkey looks divine. I want to make but don’t have a slow cooker. Would you know how I can
substitute the oven for the slow cooker?
Hi Julie. For slow roasting in the oven, I’d suggest another recipe, such as this one https://cafedelites.com/one-pan-juicy-herb-roasted-turkey/ 🙂
Kelly McCrory says
Could you do this with a turkey breast? If so, would you need to make any changes?
Hi Kelly! You can certainly do the same with breast. The cooking time would be very similar. High setting for 3 hours OR low setting for 6-7 hours. Then transfer to oven for an additional 10 minutes to crisp the skin. It wouldn’t need any longer than that as breast is smaller than a whole turkey. I hope this helps!
This looks absolutely amazing….. but wherever do you find a turkey that small ?? Since we are a small family I’ve been looking for the last 2 weeks and can only find a 10 pounder. I would appreciate any advise, I have made whole chicken & ham in the slow cooker and we really like the results.
Thanks for sharing your lovely recipe
HI Abby! I agree they are hard to find but they are out there! Our 7 pounder fit quite nicely in our cooker, so it’s possible that a 10 pounder may fit? I can’t guarantee as it depends on the size of your cooker bowl.
Carmel McHale says
My oven has a broiler on bottom of oven and not very large…just big enough for steak or chops. A turkey wouldn’t fit with it height.
I’ve never seen an oven with a large broiler to fit a turkey.
What could I do in the oven portion to crisp it up without drying it out? This looks wonderful and really want to try it.
Hi Carmel! It’s possible for sure. Just make sure your oven is hot before putting your turkey in. You could try a temp a little higher fort the first 10 minutes (say around the 450°F mark) to blast it with heat in a shorter amount of time without drying it out for too long, and see how you go from there. If you try it, please let me know how you go!