Can I Cook a Turkey in a Slow Cooker?
One of the most common questions we get asked every festive season is, ‘Can I cook a turkey in a slow cooker?’
The last thing you want to be doing on Christmas day is spending hours in the kitchen cooking, not to mention the fact that there never seems to be enough space in the oven!
We’ve put together some top tips to help you get the perfect slow cooked turkey that will be the centrepiece of your Christmas table and means that you can actually enjoy your day instead of standing over the stove.
Looking for more Christmas recipes and inspiration? Check out our Christmas recipes collection here!
So, can I slow cook a turkey?
Yes, you absolutely can! In fact, we’ve got a recipe for a Slow Cooker Christmas Turkey Joint which is the perfect place to start if you’re not sure how to go about it.
It’s important to note that we’ve used a 1.38kg boneless turkey joint in our recipe, so although it’s a good starting point, you will need to remember to adjust the cooking time accordingly depending on the weight of your turkey joint.
You’ll know that your turkey is done when the juices run clear, and the thickest part of the meat reaches 70ºC and has stayed at that temperature for at least 2 minutes.
We’d recommend using a meat thermometer to check this as it’s the most accurate way to make sure that your joint is fully cooked.
Remember, you don’t want to lift the lid too much during cooking as every time you do you’ll add an additional 30 minutes to your cook time.
If you’re unsure about how long to cook your turkey joint for then we’d recommend going for a shorter cooking time and then cooking it for a bit longer if it’s not ready after this time has elapsed.
If you’re not sure how long your joint will need, then we have a really handy article about How to Convert Recipes to a Slow Cooker that’s full of really helpful advice, or you could also visit our Facebook Group for some extra help!
What turkey joint should I use?
There’s not really a right or wrong answer to this one, as long as you use a turkey joint that actually fits in your slow cooker!
Generally, unless you have a really big slow cooker like this one, you’re probably not going to be able to fit a whole turkey in, so you might find that a boneless, rolled turkey breast joint is your best option (this is what we’ve used in our Slow Cooker Christmas Turkey Joint recipe).
We prefer to use a boneless joint as this means that you can just take it out of the slow cooker and carve it straight away without worrying about any bones, but if you wanted to use something like a turkey crown with the bone in instead then you definitely could!
You shouldn’t use a turkey joint that’s stuffed with anything as this won’t really work, so a rolled, boneless joint or a bone in crown are the way to go. We have a super tasty Chestnut Stuffing that would work perfectly with turkey and takes no time at all in the oven.
It’s really, really important that you only use a fresh turkey. It’s not recommended to use a turkey that’s been previously frozen and then defrosted, and you should absolutely not try to cook it from frozen.
This is because your turkey will spend too much time in the ‘danger zone’ if you try to slow cook it from frozen – you can find more info around this in our Top Tips for Food Safety and Hygiene article.
What are the benefits of cooking a turkey in the slow cooker?
The first and most obvious benefits of slow cooking your turkey is that you can just leave it cooking while you get on with other prep, and that you’ll free up loads of space in your oven!
That means you’ll have plenty of room to cook some tasty side dishes including our Roast Potatoes, Balsamic Roasted Sprouts and our Maple Glazed Carrots!
You might also find that cooking your turkey in a slow cooker means that you end up with really moist meat.
This is particularly useful for turkey which is notorious for becoming dry if it’s overcooked – and no one wants dry, chalky turkey with their Christmas dinner.
The juices left in the slow cooker can also be used as the base for a really tasty gravy, especially if you include some veggies with your turkey – we’d recommend sitting your joint on top of some veg like carrots and shallots like we have in our Slow Cooker Christmas Turkey Joint recipe.
Once your turkey joint is cooked through, simply remove the meat and veg, strain the remaining juices into a pan, thicken and season as needed for a delicious gravy every time.
The one thing that a slow cooker isn’t so good at is browning meat.
Because of this we’d recommend browning your turkey joint off in a pan before placing it into your slow cooker and, if you’d like, glazing at the end of the cooking time to give it a bit of extra colour.
From starters and desserts, to main courses and snacks, if you’re looking for more Christmas inspiration, then we have loads of delicious recipes here.
We love seeing you all make our recipes so make sure that you share your pictures over on our Facebook Group!
Our Facebook Group is also a great place to ask any questions you might have about slow cooking your turkey and get some useful tips and advice – there’s a whole community waiting to help out.