Slow Cooker Pulled Turkey: A Delicious and Effortless Way to Enjoy Leftover Turkey

Are you tired of the same old turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving or Christmas? Do you find yourself struggling to come up with creative ways to use up those leftover turkey leftovers? Look no further than the slow cooker pulled turkey! This simple and delicious recipe transforms your leftover turkey into a succulent and versatile dish that can be enjoyed in sandwiches, tacos, salads, and more.

Why Choose Slow Cooker Pulled Turkey?

There are several compelling reasons to give slow cooker pulled turkey a try:

  1. Convenience: With minimal preparation and hands-off cooking, this recipe allows you to enjoy a flavorful meal without spending hours in the kitchen.

  2. Versatility: Pulled turkey can be used in a variety of dishes, from sandwiches and wraps to tacos, salads, and even pizza toppings.

  3. Moisture Retention: The slow cooking process ensures that the turkey remains incredibly moist and tender, unlike traditional reheating methods that can dry out the meat.

  4. Flavor Infusion: The slow cooker allows the turkey to absorb the flavors of the sauce or seasonings, creating a delightful taste experience.

  5. Crowd-Pleaser: Slow cooker pulled turkey is a fantastic option for feeding a crowd, as it can be easily scaled up or down to accommodate any number of guests.

How to Make Slow Cooker Pulled Turkey

The beauty of slow cooker pulled turkey lies in its simplicity. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating this delicious dish:


  • 4-6 pounds of leftover turkey meat (shredded or chopped)
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


  1. Prepare the Slow Cooker: Spread the chopped red onion evenly over the bottom of your slow cooker.

  2. Season the Turkey: In a large bowl, combine the shredded or chopped turkey meat with the chili powder, ground cumin, salt, and pepper. Mix well to ensure even seasoning.

  3. Assemble the Ingredients: Layer the seasoned turkey over the onions in the slow cooker.

  4. Make the Sauce: In a separate bowl, whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar, yellow mustard, and apple cider vinegar until well combined.

  5. Add the Sauce: Pour the sauce mixture over the turkey, ensuring that it’s evenly distributed.

  6. Cook on Low: Cover the slow cooker with a lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. The turkey should be easy to shred with a fork when fully cooked.

  7. Shred and Combine: Once the turkey is cooked, use two forks to shred the meat directly in the slow cooker. Mix the shredded turkey with the sauce until well combined.

  8. Serve and Enjoy: Serve the pulled turkey on toasted buns or rolls with your favorite toppings, such as coleslaw, pickles, or barbecue sauce. Alternatively, you can use the pulled turkey as a filling for tacos, burritos, or as a topping for nachos or salads.

How to Shred Turkey Breast

If you have leftover turkey breast instead of a whole turkey, follow these simple steps to shred it:

  1. Cut the Meat: Use a sharp knife to slice the turkey breast into thin strips or chunks.

  2. Shred with Forks: Place the sliced turkey in a large bowl or on a cutting board. Using two forks, pull the meat apart into shredded pieces.

  3. Discard Bones and Skin: As you shred the turkey, discard any bones, cartilage, or skin that you encounter.

  4. Incorporate into the Recipe: Once the turkey is fully shredded, follow the recipe instructions to combine it with the other ingredients in the slow cooker.

Serving Suggestions and Variations

Slow cooker pulled turkey is incredibly versatile, allowing you to get creative with different serving options and variations:

  • Sandwiches: Pile the pulled turkey onto toasted buns or rolls and top with coleslaw, pickles, or your favorite barbecue sauce.
  • Tacos or Burritos: Stuff the pulled turkey into warm tortillas and top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, avocado, and sour cream.
  • Salads: Toss the pulled turkey with mixed greens, diced vegetables, and your favorite dressing for a protein-packed salad.
  • Pizza Topping: Use the pulled turkey as a topping for your next homemade pizza, along with your preferred veggies and cheese.
  • Nachos: Layer tortilla chips with the pulled turkey, shredded cheese, diced jalapeƱos, and any other desired toppings for a tasty nacho platter.
  • Variations: Experiment with different seasonings and sauces, such as barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, or even a creamy ranch dressing, to create new flavor profiles.

Tips and Tricks

To ensure the best results when making slow cooker pulled turkey, keep these tips and tricks in mind:

  • Use a High-Quality Slow Cooker: Invest in a reliable slow cooker with adjustable temperature settings and a tight-fitting lid to ensure even cooking and prevent moisture loss.

  • Don’t Overcrowd the Slow Cooker: Leave enough space in the slow cooker for the turkey to cook evenly and absorb the flavors from the sauce.

  • Adjust Cooking Time as Needed: Cooking times may vary depending on the size of your turkey pieces and the specific slow cooker you’re using. Check the turkey periodically and adjust the cooking time accordingly.

  • Add Liquid if Needed: If the turkey starts to look dry during cooking, you can add a splash of chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, or water to the slow cooker to maintain moisture.

  • Customize Flavors: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different spices, herbs, and sauces to create your own unique flavor combinations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use frozen turkey for this recipe?

Yes, you can use frozen turkey for this recipe. Simply place the frozen turkey in the slow cooker and add an extra hour or two to the cooking time to ensure it’s fully cooked and easy to shred.

How long does pulled turkey last in the refrigerator?

Properly stored in an airtight container, pulled turkey will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Can I freeze leftover pulled turkey?

Absolutely! Pulled turkey freezes exceptionally well. Allow it to cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

What sides pair well with slow cooker pulled turkey?

Some delicious side dish options to serve with slow cooker pulled turkey include coleslaw, baked beans, mac and cheese, cornbread, or roasted vegetables.


Slow cooker pulled turkey is a game-changer when it comes to repurposing leftover turkey in a delicious and effortless way. With minimal preparation and hands-off cooking, you can transform your leftover turkey into a mouthwatering dish that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Whether you’re serving it as sandwiches, tacos, or on top of salads, this versatile recipe is sure to become a new family favorite. So, bid farewell to boring turkey leftovers and embrace the convenience and flavor of slow cooker pulled turkey!

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