Making a whole turkey in the slow cooker produces tender, succulent turkey meat with minimal prep work. Free up your oven this holiday season!
Picking A Turkey
When it comes to picking the size of the turkey for your holiday dinner, the general rule of thumb is that you will need approximately one pound of turkey per adult. Having said that, if you’re using a slow cooker, the rules kind of go out the window. Find a whole turkey that fits in your slow cooker. I used an extra-large 8-quart slow cooker and a 10 pound turkey that I had to shift around to get the lid to fit over properly. I could not have fit a larger turkey in the slow cooker. In general, a standard 6-quart slow cooker should fit a whole turkey up to 8 pounds. But keep in mind that all turkeys are shaped differently. What fits in an oval-shaped slow cooker might not fit in the same quart-size rectangular-shaped slow cooker or vice versa. If you find that your turkey doesn’t quite fit in your appliance, you can always cut it up into pieces. Or, rather than cook a whole turkey, you may need to get a turkey breast instead. Turkey breasts are readily available in smaller sizes.
Fresh vs. Frozen
You can use either fresh or frozen turkeys but you cannot cook the turkey from frozen. If you buy a frozen turkey, you will need to completely thaw it before cooking. I don’t know about you but all the turkeys I have ever cooked have had to be thawed in my refrigerator first. To thaw your turkey, place it in a large roasting pan in the refrigerator (in its original packaging) for 24 hours per every five pounds of turkey. My 10 pound turkey took 2 days in the frig to thaw.
To keep things simple, I modified the homemade rotisserie seasonings from my Slow Cooker Whole Rotisserie Chicken recipe and used it here. Of course you can always use your preferred seasoning for this whole turkey recipe. But if you’re looking for homemade rotisserie seasoning, below is my homemade blend. This is enough for a 8-10 pound turkey without having to make any adjustments to the measurements. Anything larger you might want to use more seasonings.
Homemade Rotisserie Seasoning
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tsp salt
2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp cayenne
Again, if you have a go-seasoning and/or butter blend that you like to use on your turkey, by all means use it.
No Liquid Needed
There is no need to add any sort of liquid to the turkey or the slow cooker. The juice that the turkey will omit will be plenty. See the above picture for reference. Some people like to stuff butter under the skin. I do not. Chalk it up to personal preference. You can add butter underneath the skin; it will melt properly as the turkey slow cooks.
Other Thanksgiving recipes you might enjoy:
After It’s Done Cooking
To broil or not broil? That is the question. If you want your turkey to have crispy skin, then you will need remove it from the slow cooker and place it in your oven under the broiler for a few minutes. This is an optional step. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. If you’re not worried about the skin, skip it. But if you are, carefully remove the turkey from the slow cooker when it’s done cooking. Use tongs, it will be very hot and very tender. So tender that you shouldn’t be surprised if the turkey falls apart on you as you lift it up. Place the turkey on a large baking sheet and BROIL it in your oven for 3-5 minutes or until the skin is crisp to your liking.
- 8–10 pound whole turkey
- 3 carrots, peeled & chopped
- 3 celery stalks, sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
Homemade Rotisserie Seasoning Mix
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoons pepper
- 1 teaspoons cayenne
- Remove innards from the turkey and pat the turkey dry.
- In a small bowl, mix together homemade rotisserie seasoning. Season turkey generously and evenly with homemade rotisserie seasoning on all sides.
- Add carrots, celery, and onions to the bottom of the slow cooker. Add turkey to the slow cooker on top of the vegetables.
- Cook HIGH 3-4 hours or LOW 6-8.
I used a large 8-quart slow cooker for this recipe.
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