Slow-Cooked Special Turkey Breast

Special Turkey Breast 095

Today is Wednesday, which means it’s the Main Dish day of our Thanksgiving Progressive Dinner Party! Eight of us gluten-free bloggers are having a fine time with this event and we hope you are, too. If you just found out about this event and haven’t been following along to date, you’ll want to catch up. Please visit The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen to check out Ali’s beverage  and then head over to Jean’s (Gluten-Free Organics and More) to see what she’s pouring for her guests. Once you take a sip or two, you’ll feel the need for an appetizer to munch on. Jean has some divine almonds and another little taste treat for you olive lovers in the crowd—all shown here. Now when you are ready to savor more wonderful flavors, stop by The Book of Yum and try Seamaiden’s pumpkin kabocha soup, or perhaps Karen’s (Cook 4 Seasonsbeautiful holiday appetizer that includes cucumbers, goat cheese, and arils (pomegranate seeds)—you’ll want to take a look (and a bite!).

All caught up? Then it’s time for the main course. You can find a fabulous entree at Ali’s site (hint: her recipe features one of my favorite foods). And, now you can just read on to find out what’s so special about this turkey breast of mine. Update: By the way, this post is also linked to What can I eat that’s gluten free?, Linda’s weekly roundup over at The Gluten-Free Homemaker and Crockpot Wednesday over at the Dining with Debbie blog.

This recipe is another one that I spied somewhere, tried it, loved it, and I’ve been making it ever since. I have no idea where the recipe came from originally. (If only I’d known I was going to blog, I would have saved all my recipe sources and also would have taken tons of food photos along the way.) I actually have two turkey breast recipes that I cook in the crockpot (slow cooker). One is the turkey breast that everyone expects—traditional, moist, and juicy with typical flavors and only two ingredients. (I will share that one with you for sure, but not today.)

The other—the one featured here today—still has simple flavors, but its flavors pack a punch. Son always refers to it as the “special” turkey breast. He’s been enjoying this recipe since he was much younger. So, although you will see that this turkey breast has strong flavors, it is still possible for kids to love it. (Of course, he was also the kid asking for Swiss cheese at the deli counter when he was three.) It is another one of those recipes like my fabulous pork butt (aka pulled pork) where you’ll want to stand by the crockpot and get a fork and just eat until you are satisfied, then you’ll leave, then you’ll return and eat some more, then you’ll leave, then you’ll return … you get the picture. Of course, you won’t do any of that if you are making this dish for guests. When anyone approaches the crockpot, you’ll brandish your large fork “spear” and say very firmly, “Step away from the crockpot.” I’m serious. You’ll need to do that to protect this turkey from being eaten and/or contaminated from family germs before your guests arrive. Of course, first time out, you might be safe. They won’t know that this is a special turkey breast. But, after the first time you cook it, all bets are off … brandish the kitchen utensil—trust me on this. Now when you look at the ingredients below, you’ll never believe that they will produce a turkey breast so irresistible that you will have to defend it, but it’s true.

Special Turkey Breast 118

Special Turkey Breast
(Click here for a print version of this recipe.)

One 4- to 6-lb turkey breast

¾ cup fresh parsley, chopped and divided—1/2 cup and ¼ cup; or 4 tbsp dried parsley, divided—3 tbsp and 1 tbsp (Note: My conversion to dry is not exactly equivalent to fresh, but it works best for measuring and doesn’t alter taste; in fact, if you are running short on parsley, just use whatever you have. I keep dried parsley on hand for this recipe at all times.)

½ cup vegetable oil, any kind (I use olive oil these days, but I’ve used all kinds successfully)

2 tbsp salt

2 tbsp ground black pepper

1 cup apple cider vinegar (Note: Apple cider vinegar is gluten free, but beware of an apple cider-flavored vinegar that is not gluten free. Personally, I’ve only read about this product on no-no lists; I’ve never actually seen it in stores. Always read labels, of course.)

Remove any packaging carefully. (I’ve been surprised by gravy packets before and I’ve been grateful that I didn’t accidentally puncture them with my kitchen shears.) Rinse turkey breast. Remove any contents from cavity of breast. (If gizzards and liver are included, you can cook those or freeze for another use later.)

Place breast in crockpot and pat dry.

In glass measuring cup (which holds 2 cups or larger), add oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and ½ cup of fresh parsley (or 3 tbsp dried parsley). Mix well and pour over turkey breast.

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Special Turkey Breast 070

Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup of fresh (or 1 tbsp dried) parsley over breast.

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Cook for 4 to 4 ½ hours on high or 8 to 8 ½ hours on low. If your turkey breast is larger than 6 lbs, you will need to cook longer. I cooked a 6 ½ pound turkey breast and it took about 9 hours. If I’m home, I often cook the breast for an hour on high and then switch to low for the remaining time. (An hour on high equates to about 2 on low.)

Special Turkey Breast 116

Special Turkey Breast 123

Shirley’s Additional Notes: I use a 6-qt oval crockpot. Bone-in turkey breasts work best, but I’ve used boneless before and enjoyed them. If the turkey breast poundage is significantly less, just adjust amounts accordingly. If the turkey breast is larger, these ingredient amounts will probably still be sufficient. I used a 6 ½ pound turkey breast this time around and used the amounts as shown. Sea salt is my preference, but I was out of it. Fresh ground pepper is also wonderful, but it takes a while to grind 2 tbsp, so I went with already ground pepper. The salt will naturally settle to the bottom in the measuring cup, so stir even as you are pouring the oil mixture over the turkey breast. However, if some salt does settle and remains in the cup after you’ve poured the oil mixture over the turkey, just pour the remaining salt evenly over the breast (you may need to use a spatula). After your breast is cooked, spoon a small amount of the “juices” over the breast meat that you’re serving. It will keep the meat moist and flavorful. Likewise, remove some of the juices to save with the leftover meat to keep it moist and flavorful. This is a very moist, juicy breast, but if you don’t save any of the juices with the meat, the meat can dry out.

I encourage you to give this recipe a try, even if you have a vinegar “phobia.” When you walk through the door at the end of the day, the somewhat pungent smell of this turkey breast will greet you. When you bite into this turkey breast, you’ll discover that it’s rich, briny, and peppery all at the same time … and more than slightly addictive. I’m eating some cold for breakfast right now. Just delicious.

It’s best to have a plan for your leftovers (if there are any), and this special turkey breast makes leftover ideas easy. I’ll make turkey quesadillas for one meal. This meat makes excellent quesadillas because of the outstanding flavor. I also love topping a salad with this turkey breast. I’ll have a nice salad today using a variation of my great salad recipe (in this case, spinach, romaine, cole slaw mix, walnuts, and dried cranberries) with just a tiny bit of salad dressing on top. Divine. It’s the best salad you could possibly have. Another day will be a turkey salad just chopping the breast meat and adding some mayo, sweet relish, finely chopped onion, and a tad of Dijon mustard. The turkey breast adds amazing flavor to this basic salad.

I will be making this turkey breast and the traditional one on Thanksgiving. Because we typically eat in the early afternoon, I usually just get up very early, throw the turkey breasts in the crockpot as directed and then go back to bed. It works for me. Even when I arise, I can attend to other matters because the turkey breasts will not need any additional attention. I don’t know about you, but I love that!

Don’t forget to visit Diane, Stephanie, Shauna, and Ali tomorrow for side dishes. Friday is the last day of our Thanksgiving Progressive Dinner Party. Desserts! Karen, Jean, and Ali will be performing the honors that day. Can’t wait for the rest of this great party! I only had to cook one thing, but I’m getting to enjoy so much more.


Not just gf, but gfe!

This recipe is linked to Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Roundup.

Full Disclosure/Disclaimer: This post may contain one or more affiliate links. If you purchase through them, your cost will always be the same, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! Read the full disclaimer here.


42 Responses to “Slow-Cooked Special Turkey Breast”

  1. Diane-The WHOLE Gang on November 18th, 2009 12:35 pm

    How did you know I guard my crockpot with my fork as I eat? I’ve done that with the pork butt. I’ve never cooked a large turkey breast in the crockpot but I’m going to! That looks amazing. I love the addition of the vinegar. Maybe I’ll make two smaller ones at the same time. One for me, one for everyone else! Love the progressive dinner party. I’m having lots of fun seeing what everyone is cooking up.

    • Shirley on November 19th, 2009 9:00 am

      Diane–Ha ha … I don’t know … you are pretty generous … I bet you are one of those moms who grabs a chunk of delicious meat from the underside and puts that in a bowl just to satisfy your “kids.” ;-) The wonder of turkey breast in the crockpot is reason enough to buy one of these nice big oval crockpots, believe me! Incidentally, one friend also uses this recipes for large roasting chickens and she said it works great. :-)

      The progressive dinner party is a blast … I’ll be looking forward to the sides today and then tomorrow—desserts!


  2. Johanna B on November 18th, 2009 3:40 pm

    I was looking for a GF easy recipe for turkey for this TG. I love the sound of this one on your blog. My daugher will love it. I’m newly diagnosed with Celiac (like two weeks on Friday).

    BTW I added you to my blogroll.

    • Shirley on November 19th, 2009 9:41 am

      Hey Johanna–Welcome to gfe! I’m so glad you like the sound of this turkey breast and that your daughter will like it—we really do, so I’ll be anxious to hear back. :-)

      Thanks so much for adding me to your blogroll! I look forward to getting to know you and your blog better. :-) I tried to comment there about Oikos, but my comment got lost. Just wanted you and others to know that Oikos IS gluten free. You can read more here, but they are certified by GIG’s Gluten Free Certification Organization which I love because they certify to 10 ppm or less. I have no issues with the GFCO-certified products. So enjoy your Oikos again!

      Hope the gfe concept will make your transition to eating gf a little bit easier! Thanks so much for stopping by … hope to see you often. :-)


  3. Jennifer R. on November 18th, 2009 4:17 pm

    Shirley, this sounds awesome! I LOVE cooking in my crockpot. But, it will have to wait… parsley was on my list of foods to avoid for 3-6 months :( (and I love parsley too!).

    • Shirley on November 19th, 2009 12:58 pm

      Hi Jennifer!–My first thought was substituting tarragon, which I still believe you could do, but in a much lesser amount. I love tarragon chicken, but it is a stronger flavor. However, I was interested in whether or not there was a fairly equal substitute for parsley, since it’s so mild. One suggestion I found online several times was celery leaves … just chop up all the leaves from a bunch of celery. Clearly you wouldn’t have as much as the original recipe calls for, but I think it would be plenty. Other thoughts are much smaller amount of basil or oregano. And, last, just leave out the parsley … I think this recipe would still be great without it. Go with what sounds best to you, dear, and give it a try. :-) Please report back if you do … good or bad. ;-)

      Thanks so much!


  4. Stephanie O'Dea on November 18th, 2009 10:18 pm

    LOL on guarding the crockpot!!

    I *love* it that your favorite turkey recipe involves a slow cooker. This sounds divine. I’ve got to make 4-5 turkey breasts Monday for 60 kindergarteners—this sounds super easy and I have everything on hand.

    xoxoo steph

    • Shirley on November 19th, 2009 1:13 pm

      Stephanie–Ha ha, I thought you’d like a slow cooker recipe! I did tell you that I own about eight of them myself, didn’t I? I like to entertain and a girl needs her crockpots for that. :-) But, I’m not the crockpot lady like you are!! LOL

      I’m tickled you’ll be making this recipe! I would be worried except it’s one of 4 or 5. You know how fickle kids can be sometimes about flavors. I really hope it works out and that you and the kids enjoy it! Yes, I try to be super easy as much as possible. ;-) I think I’ll post the other, even easier turkey breast recipe (also in the slow cooker) that I make tomorrow.


  5. Ali on November 18th, 2009 11:30 pm

    Shirley – I have to say that this recipe sounds amazing and I plan on trying it sometime this fall or winter! I would have never thought to add that much vinegar; I bet the meat is so tender! I am sure many of our readers will enjoy your recipe!
    -Ali :)

    • Shirley on November 19th, 2009 1:16 pm

      Hi, Ali!–Hope you try it out soon and report back. :-) The meat is tender and flavorful. I love it warm or cold. I’m having some cold on my salad again today. Still, I wouldn’t mind having some of your beautiful salmon. Son and I love salmon, but Mr. GFE just tolerates it. LOL

      Thanks for saying such kind things. I hope folks will give it a try and report back. I always love feedback!

      This progressive dinner party is such fun!


  6. glutenfreeforgood on November 19th, 2009 9:44 am

    You’ve sold me on this recipe, Shirley. Especially the thought of how GFE it is. I love that about your blog posts! I’m already thinking of red chile enchiladas with the leftover turkey. I seem to add apple cider vinegar to a lot of things, so this will be second nature for me. I’ve already printed out the recipe! I can see why your son is a fan.

    Love your little knit turkey, by the way!


    • Shirley on November 19th, 2009 1:22 pm

      Hi Melissa–Thank you! I think you’d really like it. Simple, but amazing flavors. :-) ACV is good stuff in my opinion. (I even use it for medicinal purposes with honey and hot water when I have a cold or scratchy throat.) This turkey would so awesome in red chile enchiladas … I’d like to come to that dinner, please.

      I’ve had that little turkey for a very, very long time. A fellow teacher made it for me and I haven’t taught in 24 years (yikes). I think it’s silly and cute at the same time. He always make his appearance though. Next post I’ll share the turkey that hangs around that I’m not as fond of …

      Hugsssss :-) ,

  7. Brian on November 19th, 2009 1:44 pm

    I’m still working on putting my crock pot to use for other things besides chili and pot roast. This looks really really good. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    • Shirley on November 21st, 2009 8:16 am

      Hi, Brian!–Good to see you. :-) Once you start using your crockpot for other main meals (even side dishes and desserts), you’ll wonder why you waited so long. ;-) I’ve got an even easier turkey breast recipe for the crockpot up now, so choose one and give it a try.

      Thanks for stopping by gfe!

  8. Linda on November 19th, 2009 2:23 pm

    My kids are the ones with a vinegar phobia. I’ve had trouble with my crock pot being too hot and drying things out. Things are usually done in 3 hrs. on high and 6 hours on low. I only have a 4 qt. one, so I’m not sure it would work for this. I like the idea of using a turkey breast though. Thanks for linking to “What can I eat that’s gluten free?”

    • Shirley on November 21st, 2009 8:18 am

      Linda–With all due respect, dear, you need a new crockpot. ;-) The new ones are amazing now. They even switch from cooking to warming at the appointed time—that comes in sooo handy. And, they don’t overheat like the old ones tended to do. Nice moist meals can be easily made. I’ve got another turkey breast recipe up so when you’re ready, you’ve got two of those to choose from. This latter one will probably please your family a lot more than the special turkey breast recipe. :-)


  9. William Beverly on November 25th, 2009 5:06 pm

    Thanks for writing about this. The holidays are particularly challenging for those of us who need to remain gluten-free. I found this same product a few weeks ago and then I developed a delicious recipe for stuffing… It is Gluten-Free Corn Chex Sage Stuffing for Roast Chicken or Turkey. The recipe is available at

    Have a nice Thanksgiving!
    William Beverly

    • Shirley on November 25th, 2009 7:07 pm

      Hey William–I am not getting your reference to a product re: this post, but I always thanks those who are trying to help others who are gluten free. I have to tell you that I’ve had a gluten reaction to the gluten-free Chex cereals every single time I’ve tried them, but there may be some readers who are interested. It’s true you can make great recipes from unexpected ingredients. ;-)

      Hope you have a nice Thanksgiving as well!


  10. Johanna B on November 30th, 2009 12:58 pm

    I made your special turkey breast for Thanksgiving. It got rave reviews. I don’t think I’ll ever fix turkey any other way. This is my first GF holiday season. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Shirley on December 1st, 2009 12:14 am

      Hi Johanna–That’s terrific! I’m so glad you took the time to report back on the special turkey breast recipe. It sounds like you had a very lovely first gf Thanksgiving from your post! Anyone would be honored to be sharing in your meal. :-) Oh, and the little turkey cartoon is funny. ;-) Much easier to do the crockpot method though, don’t you think?

      Thanks so much, Johanna!

  11. William Beverly on November 30th, 2009 1:33 pm

    Hi Shirley — Thanks much for your information about reactions to “Gluten-Free Corn Chex”. I will alert my readers that this has happened… I hope it is not true for everyone and I am sad that it caused your reactions.

    • Shirley on December 1st, 2009 12:44 am

      Hi again, William–It’s not just the Corn Chex, but any of the supposed gf Chex. I’m not alone. You can read more in comments here and I’ve seen similar comments elsewhere. I agree we’re in the minority, but we do exist. And, if it exists for some, shouldn’t it be a concern for all? Food for thought …


  12. Kalyn on September 29th, 2011 10:13 am

    Had to come and check this out and I think I will try making it with chicken breasts!!

    • Shirley on September 29th, 2011 3:07 pm

      Hi Kalyn–Others have used whole chickens before. I’m sure it will work with chicken breasts, but you may just need to adjust your cooking time of course. I’m anxious to hear what you think! One other blogger friend/reader made hers with balsamic vinegar. I’d like to try that, but I’m so smitten with the ACV version that I don’t know when I’ll get to the balsamic rendition. ;-)


  13. Eileen @ Phoenix Helix on November 20th, 2013 10:31 pm

    This recipe looks delicious AND it fits the paleo autoimmune protocol. So, thank you! I just started a weekly Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable through my blog, and I would love it if you linked up this recipe. I’m trying to expand resources for the AIP community. Here’s the link:

    • Shirley on November 20th, 2013 11:32 pm

      Hi Eileen–Welcome to gfe! :-) I will admit this recipe is delicious. ;-) I love simple recipes and am happy when they work for the Paleo AIP so many of my friends can enjoy them and I enjoy them, too, of course. Very cool on your new roundtable for AIP recipes. I’ll definitely link up … thanks!


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