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Slow cooker turkey breast stuffed with wild rice and cranberries

Slow cooker turkey breast with wild rice stuffing.

In real life, retail dictates the start of the seasons, which is why Halloween costumes arrive on the shelves in August, and Santa slides down store chimneys in October. In the mail order catalogs, Thanksgiving arrived two months ago, but I'm old-fashioned and wait until the calendar page flips to November. Now it's officially Thanksgiving season, so I offer the first of two recipes for stuffed turkey breast. I began experimenting with turkey breast in the slow cooker last year, when we hosted a very small holiday gathering of people who, it turned out, weren't huge dark meat fans. This gluten-free stuffing packs in all of the flavors of a New England harvest -- apples, thyme and cranberries -- and the slow cooker keeps the meat moist. If you're not buying directly from a farm, be sure to look for an organic turkey breast that hasn't been impregnated with brining solution or stabbed with a plastic pop-up timer. The butcher at my local supermarket's fantastic meat department happily butterflied the turkey breast for me.

Turkey breast with wild rice and cranberry filling.

Slow cooker turkey breast stuffed with wild rice and cranberries {gluten-free}

From the pantry, you'll need: thyme, onion, olive oil, egg, kosher salt, fresh black pepper.

Serves 8.


1/2 cup wild rice
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 Tbsp dried thyme leaf
1/4 cup diced apple (any tart variety)
4 tsp olive oil, divided
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup died celery
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
1 egg (any size)
3-4 lb boneless turkey breast, skin removed, butterflied
1 whole onion, peeled and quartered
12-oz can unsweetened frozen apple juice concentrate, or 12 oz apple cider


In a small sauce pan, bring the rice and 1-1/4 cups water to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to lowest simmer, cover, and cook for 35 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked. Remove from heat and transfer half of the rice to a mixing bowl (save the remaining rice for another use). Stir in the cranberries, thyme, and apple, and set aside.

In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil, and sauté the diced onion and celery for 2-3 minutes. Pour the vegetables into the rice. Mix well, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Lightly beat the egg, and add it to the rice. Stir to combine, then set the rice mixture aside to cool completely. (You could even make the rice stuffing a day ahead.)

When the rice mixture is cool, unfold the turkey breast on a board, with the inside facing up, being sure to open all of the flaps. Spread the rice mixture evenly over the turkey. Starting at one end, roll the turkey as best you can (it won't be perfect, but that's okay), and tie with kitchen twine to hold the meat together. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Add the remaining oil to the frying pan, and brown the turkey on all sides. Transfer to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker, along with the quartered onion and all of the apple juice concentrate or cider.

Cover and cook on HIGH for 1-3/4 to 2 hours, or until a thermometer measures 165°F when inserted into the center of the turkey.

Remove the turkey from the slow cooker, and cover with foil. You can strain the liquid and boil it down in a small sauce pan, to make a gravy.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be made ahead; let cool, and refrigerate.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More birds of all sizes:
Slow cooker turkey breast stuffed with ricotta, tomato and basil, from The Perfect Pantry
Grilled Asian turkey breast with soy, garlic, and chili paste, from The Perfect Pantry
Roast chicken with grapes, from Simply Recipes
Bacon-blanketed, herb roasted turkey, from The Runaway Spoon

Slow cooker turkey breast, stuffed with wild rice and dried cranberries, makes a beautiful presentation on the holiday table. #glutenfree

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


That's a pretty gorgeous bird to pluck out of a slow cooker. You have really advanced the art of slow cooking!

TW, thanks so much. I have a second slow cooker turkey breast recipe coming next weekend. I'm completely in love with cooking the breast in the slow cooker, which keeps it from drying out.

TW described it perfectly; this really is gorgeous. And what a great option if you're cooking Thanksgiving for only a few people!

Kalyn, this was just the right amount of turkey for our small group last year, and the leftovers were great in sandwiches.

Oh this is great, Lydia! I would much rather have this than roasted turkey on Thanksgiving! But what a great meal all autumn long!! I think I will try this but add chopped chestnuts which I love. Fabulous recipe!

I am very drawn to the stuffing -- maybe as a side, or to stuff 'something'?

I've never used my slow cooker for turkey...I can't wait to try your recipe.

Jamie, same here. Call me crazy, but I don't love piles of turkey parts left over, hanging about in the fridge or freezer for days or weeks until I make soup stock. This is just the right amount when you're in the mood for turkey.

Susan, I'm thinking acorn squash?

Karen, the turkey breast fits perfectly in the slow cooker, so I hope you try it.

for us thanksgiving is over, but there were christmas decorations in the stores before hallowe'en. for me i love turkey any time of year.

What a terrific idea--and what wonderful butchers to butterfly the breast for you.
It looks lovely.

Bellini, we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving at our house this year, so now I get to do it again for American Thanksgiving. (The joys of living in a "blended" family!)

Kirsten, I'm not great at butchering, so I'm happy to take a little help from a professional.

Big WHAAAH!!…THIS looks too perfect for our smaller gathering for Thanksgiving with white meat preferences all around…BUT..BUT..I do not yet…alas…own a slow cooker!…Could I possibly "do" this in a Le Creuset cast iron Dutch Oven…on a certain temp for a certain time in the oven…or on stove-top without drying out the turkey breast?..

This is such a beautiful bird!…Well…partial bird!…Thank you for delicious beauty!

Donna, you can make this on the stovetop in a Dutch oven, but you will likely need more braising liquid to keep the turkey from drying out.

The slow cooker does not keep the meat moist; not overcooking it keeps meat moist.

KimL, braising in the slow cooker is a gentle way of cooking that makes what can be a tough cut of meat to cook more tender.

A beautiful looking show stopper! IF only I could get my traditionalist husband to not come in the kitchen while I cooked his turkey breast in a slow-cooker. No matter how good it is he will be against any crazy, out-of-the box cooking methods. but maybe I can plot a time when he is not home....hmm.... ;D

Thank you - I know what braising is :-) Turkey breast is not a tough cut of meat. But overcooking any meat, including chuck roast or pork shoulder, will result in dry meat. Braising doesn't add moisture to the food. America's Test Kitchen proved that.

Carol, the secret is to send him out on a two-hour errand!

I featured this recipe on my Friday Five - Thanksgiving Turkey addition over at Feed Your Soul Too.

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