This slow cooker barbecue turkey recipe features the perfect balance of savory and sweet. Made with a flavorful combination of turkey breast, barbecue sauce, apples, and spices, this delicious pulled turkey can be stuffed into BBQ sandwiches or served on its own.
Turkey tends to get a bad rap for being dry and lackluster, but it’s all about how you cook it. Because it’s a leaner meat, turkey can quickly dry out when cooked in the oven. The key to juicy and tender turkey is cooking it slow and low in a slow cooker so it can retain its moisture.
This slow cooker barbecue turkey recipe is juicy, flavorful, and anything but lackluster. The flavors of sweet apples and savory barbecue sauce go together surprisingly well, making for an unexpectedly mouthwatering dish. If you’re looking for a delicious and healthy slow cooker meal that you can keep warm and serve at your next game day party or family gathering, this is the one.
All you need to bring this delicious pulled turkey recipe to life is turkey breast and a few flavorful additions like applesauce, apples, barbecue sauce, and chicken broth. You can scoop the shredded turkey into tortillas, pile it high in between two hamburger buns, or serve it on a plate alongside other game-day favorites. I’ve served this slow cooker meal for family and friends at tons of events and it’s always been a hit. Try it and see!
Slow Cooker Barbecue Turkey Ingredients
Below you can find the key ingredients you’ll need to make this slow cooker pulled turkey recipe. For exact measurements, check out the recipe card below.
- Turkey Breast: Make sure to use a boneless and skinless turkey breast. If you can’t find one at the grocery store, you could swap in chicken breast or chicken thighs.
- Unsweetened Applesauce: Adding applesauce to the barbecue sauce mixture helps to infuse tons of delicious apple flavors into the turkey. Check the label before buying to ensure that you get the unsweetened kind.
- Apples: You can use any kind of apples you prefer, but I like to use gala apples or Honeycrisp apples.
- Barbecue Sauce: Choose your favorite barbecue sauce! This helps to keep the turkey breast nice and moist throughout the cooking process while adding plenty of sweet, savory, and smoky flavors.
- Chicken Broth: This is important for thinning out the barbecue sauce mixture a bit while also adding flavor. Feel free to swap for vegetable broth or water if needed.
- Seasonings: You will need salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks to help you make the best slow cooker barbecue turkey:
- If you can’t find a turkey breast at the store, you could also make this dish with chicken breast, chicken thighs, or pork tenderloin.
- Want to make this dish a little spicier? Try adding a pinch of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes.
- You can make plain pulled turkey by adding more chicken broth and leaving out the barbecue sauce, apples, and applesauce. This works great if you’re meal prepping and want to be able to use the turkey in a variety of meals.
- Make sure to get a boneless and skinless turkey breast for this recipe, not a whole turkey. This makes the shredding process way easier.
Ways to Serve Barbecue Turkey
Not sure what to do with this pulled turkey recipe? Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy the dish:
- Make BBQ turkey sliders. For delicious turkey sliders, pile the pulled turkey in between slider buns and add a slice of gruyere or cheddar cheese to each slider. Brush the tops with melted butter and pop them into the oven until the cheese has melted. Yum!
- Turn into BBQ turkey nachos. If you’re hosting a game day party, top a baking sheet filled with tortilla chips with your pulled turkey and melt some cheese on top for a delicious and fun appetizer.
- Enjoy BBQ turkey sandwiches. Keep things simple by piling your turkey in between two toasted hamburger buns and enjoy a crave-worthy lunch or dinner.
- Add to a salad. You can serve this turkey over a bed of leafy greens with black beans and veggies for a delicious BBQ salad.
- Serve on a plate. Pair this slow cooker barbecue turkey with other classic barbecue favorites like corn on the cob, coleslaw, and grilled potatoes.
How to Store Leftovers
This BBQ pulled turkey recipe makes 8 servings. If you wind up with leftovers, allow them to cool to room temperature before storing them in an airtight container. Then, you can keep the turkey in the fridge for 4-5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To thaw, simply transfer the turkey to the fridge for 24-48 hours before using. You can reheat the dish in a pan on the stove or in a crockpot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about this slow cooker barbecue turkey recipe:
Yes! Whether someone uses the term “pulled” or “shredded” in reference to meat, they’re referring to the same concept. To achieve a basic shredded meat recipe, the key is to perfectly cook the meat so that it’s fork-tender. The goal is to get it just right so it can easily be pulled apart with two forks, which I’m guessing is where the term “pulled turkey” came from.
This dish can be made paleo, keto, and gluten-free. It all depends on the type of barbecue sauce you use, so make sure to read the label before buying to ensure that it falls in line with your dietary preferences.
Of course! I love the way the natural sweetness of the apples complements the subtle sweetness of the barbecue sauce, but you can easily leave them out to switch up the flavor profile. If you decide to opt out of using apples, make sure to leave out the applesauce as well.
Slow Cooker Apple Barbecue Pulled Turkey
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- 2 lbs boneless skinless turkey breast
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chile powder
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 apples, sliced
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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