Easy Pulled Turkey BBQ Recipe: A Delicious Way to Use Up Leftover Turkey

Welcome to my “Pulled Turkey BBQ Recipe”! If you’re looking for a delicious and easy way to use up leftover turkey or cook a whole turkey, this recipe is for you. It’s perfect for slow cooker or Instant Pot, and the results are tender, juicy pulled turkey in a tangy BBQ sauce. Plus, it’s great for making sandwiches or served over a bed of rice or mashed sweet potatoes.

Why This Recipe Will Be a Success

Pulled Turekey BBQ recipe
Pulled Turkey BBQ recipe

Are you looking for a delicious twist on traditional BBQ pulled pork? Look no further! This recipe uses a slow cooker to create tender, flavorful pulled turkey that is easy to prepare and can feed a crowd.

  • It’s a great way to use up leftover turkey, which is unavoidable after a BBQ party, or cook a whole turkey in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.
  • The BBQ sauce is made with a combination of apple cider vinegar, chili powder, garlic powder, and a hint of brown sugar, giving it a tangy and slightly sweet flavor.
  • The turkey turns out tender and juicy, and is easy to shred or “pull” once it’s cooked.

Ingredients Needed for Pulled Turkey BBQ

Before we get started on the recipe, let’s go over the ingredients you’ll need.

  • Turkey: You can use leftover turkey, a whole turkey, turkey breasts, or turkey tenderloins for this recipe. If using a whole turkey, aim for a 4-5 pound bird. Dark meat, such as turkey legs or thighs, will be more flavorful and juicy, but you can use any type of turkey meat for this recipe.
  • BBQ sauce: You can use your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce, or make your own by mixing together 1 cup of ketchup, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, and 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar.
  • Other ingredients: You’ll also need unsalted butter, kosher salt, black peppercorns, celery seeds, green pepper, yellow onion, garlic cloves, and a cup of water.

Step-by-Step Guide

Now that we have all of our ingredients, let’s get started on the recipe.

  1. If using a whole turkey, remove the giblets and pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Rub the turkey all over with a mixture of melted butter, kosher salt, black peppercorns, and celery seeds.
  2. Dice the green pepper and yellow onion, and mince the garlic cloves. Place the vegetables in the bottom of a slow cooker or Instant Pot.
  3. If using a whole turkey, place it breast-side up on top of the vegetables. If using turkey breasts or tenderloins, place them in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.
  4. In a small saucepan, mix together the BBQ sauce and a cup of water. Pour the BBQ sauce over the turkey.
  5. If using a slow cooker, cook the turkey on low heat for 8-10 hours, or on high heat for 4-5 hours, until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165 degrees F when measured with a meat thermometer. If using an Instant Pot, seal the pot and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes, then allow the pressure to release naturally.
  6. Once the turkey is cooked, carefully transfer it to a cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes. Use two forks to shred the turkey meat, discarding the skin and bones if desired.
  7. Return the shredded turkey to the slow cooker or Instant Pot, and stir in any remaining BBQ sauce. If the sauce is too thick, you can add a little water or apple juice to thin it out.
  8. Serve the pulled turkey on hamburger buns, with coleslaw mix and a side of stuffing, or over a bed of rice or mashed sweet potatoes. Enjoy!

Substitutions & Variations

Looking to switch things up? Here are some variations and substitutions you can try with this recipe.

  • If you don’t have leftover turkey, you can use a whole chicken or chicken breasts in this recipe. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  • If you don’t have a slow cooker or Instant Pot, you can also cook the turkey in a dutch oven or on a gas grill. To cook in a dutch oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the prepared turkey in the dutch oven. Cover the pot and bake for 2-3 hours, or until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165 degrees F. To cook on a gas grill, preheat the grill to medium-high heat and place the prepared turkey on the grill. Close the lid and cook for 1-2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165 degrees F.
  • You can also use this recipe to make pulled turkey tacos or burritos. Just shred the cooked turkey and serve it in flour tortillas with your favorite taco toppings, such as cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, and sour cream.
  • For a sweeter BBQ sauce, you can add a little more brown sugar or a splash of apple juice. For a spicier sauce, you can add a pinch of cayenne pepper or some diced jalapeños.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about this recipe? Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions:

Can I use a frozen turkey for this recipe?

It’s not recommended to cook a frozen turkey in a slow cooker or Instant Pot, as the internal temperature of the turkey may not reach a safe level before the outside is overcooked. It’s best to thaw the turkey in the refrigerator before cooking it in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.

Can I make this recipe with turkey breasts or turkey tenderloins?

Yes, you can definitely use turkey breasts or turkey tenderloins in this recipe. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly. Turkey breasts will take about half the time to cook as a whole turkey, while turkey tenderloins will cook even faster.

Can I freeze the leftover pulled turkey for later use?

Yes, the leftover pulled turkey can be frozen for later use. Just transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat it, thaw the pulled turkey in the refrigerator overnight, then rewarm it in a saucepan over medium heat until it’s heated through.

Tips for Making the Best Pulled Turkey BBQ

Want to make sure your pulled turkey BBQ turns out perfectly? Check out these tips.

  • If you’re using a whole turkey, be sure to remove the giblets and pat the bird dry with paper towels before seasoning it. This will help the turkey to brown evenly and become more flavorful.
  • To ensure that the turkey is cooked to a safe temperature, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey in the thickest part of the breast or thigh. It should reach at least 165 degrees F before it’s safe to eat.
  • If the BBQ sauce becomes too thick while the turkey is cooking, you can add a little water or apple juice to thin it out. This will also help to keep the turkey moist.
  • To make the pulled turkey extra tender and flavorful, consider cooking it with the skin on, then removing the skin and shredding the meat after it’s cooked. The skin will help to keep the turkey moist and flavorful, and can be discarded before serving.

Suggestions for Storing and Freezing

Not sure what to do with any leftover pulled turkey? Here are some suggestions for storing and freezing.

  • The leftover pulled turkey can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Just transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat it.
  • The pulled turkey can also be frozen for later use. Just transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat it, thaw the pulled turkey in the refrigerator overnight, then rewarm it in a saucepan over medium heat until it’s heated through.
  • To freeze the cooked turkey in individual portions, you can place the pulled turkey in resealable plastic bags and store it in the freezer. This is a great option if you only need a small amount of pulled turkey for a recipe, or if you want to be able to thaw it quickly.

I hope this recipe is helpful and that you enjoy making pulled turkey BBQ! If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to ask. Happy cooking!

Pulled Turekey BBQ recipe

Pulled Turkey BBQ recipe

Shara
This recipe for pulled turkey BBQ is perfect for using up leftover turkey or cooking a whole turkey in the slow cooker or Instant Pot. The results are tender, juicy pulled turkey in a tangy BBQ sauce, great for sandwiches or served over a bed of rice or mashed sweet potatoes.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4

Equipment

  • 1 Slow cooker or Instant Pot You can use either a slow cooker or an Instant Pot to cook the turkey in this recipe. If using a slow cooker, you'll need a 6-quart or larger model. If using an Instant Pot, you'll need a 6-quart or 8-quart model, depending on the size of your turkey.
  • 1 Meat thermometer A meat thermometer is essential for ensuring that the turkey is cooked to a safe internal temperature. You'll need to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast or thigh to check the temperature.
  • 1 Cutting board
  • 1 Sharp knife
  • 1 Small saucepan You'll need a small saucepan to mix together the BBQ sauce and water.
  • 1 Slow cooker or Instant Pot insert If using a slow cooker, you'll need the insert that came with your slow cooker. If using an Instant Pot, you'll need the inner pot that came with your Instant Pot.
  • Measuring cups and spoons You'll need measuring cups and spoons to measure out the ingredients for the BBQ sauce and the seasonings for the turkey
  • 1 Spatula or wooden spoon You'll need a spatula or wooden spoon to stir the BBQ sauce and to serve the pulled turkey.

Ingredients
  

  • 4-5 lb whole turkey
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • 1 diced green pepper
  • 1 diced yellow onion
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup water

Instructions
 

  • Rub the turkey all over with the melted butter, kosher salt, black peppercorns, and celery seeds.
  • Place the diced green pepper, diced yellow onion, and minced garlic cloves in the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the prepared turkey on top.
  • In a small saucepan, mix together the BBQ sauce and water. Pour the BBQ sauce over the turkey.
  • Cook the turkey on low heat for 8-10 hours, or on high heat for 4-5 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F when measured with a meat thermometer.
  • Carefully transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes. Use two forks to shred the turkey meat, discarding the skin and bones if desired.
  • Return the shredded turkey to the slow cooker and stir in any remaining BBQ sauce.
  • Serve the pulled turkey on hamburger buns, with coleslaw mix and a side of stuffing, or over a bed of rice or mashed sweet potatoes. Enjoy!

Notes

  • You can use leftover turkey, a whole turkey, turkey breasts, or turkey tenderloins for this recipe. Dark meat, such as turkey legs or thighs, will be more flavorful and juicy, but you can use any type of turkey meat.
  • You can use your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce, or make your own by mixing together 1 cup of ketchup, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, and 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar.
  • If the BBQ sauce becomes too thick while the turkey is cooking, you can add a little water or apple juice to thin it out. This will also help to keep the turkey moist.
  • The leftover pulled turkey can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat it, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and rewarm it in a saucepan over medium heat.
Keyword Pulled Turkey BBQ
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