Hot Turkey Sandwiches

These slow cooker Hot Turkey Sandwiches are a copycat of “Turkey-to-Go” sandwiches from the Minnesota State Fair. For the juiciest shredded turkey you’ve ever tasted, start with a can of beer and end with a stick of butter.

2 hot turkey sandwiches piled on a plate.

“Turkey-to Go” sandwiches are wildly popular up in Minnesota. They’re made of melt-in-your-mouth shredded turkey breast that is long simmered in beer and spices then piled into a soft bun, the perfect outdoor fair food.

They are also great for parties, tailgates, and busy weeknights! And if you don’t feel up to roasting a whole turkey this Thanksgiving, I’m pleased to introduce you to this Hot Turkey Sandwich.

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled hot turkey sandwich ingredients in bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Beer: Any light beer will do. You can also substitute a non-alcoholic beer.
  • Onion soup mix: Store-bought packets are fine or you can make homemade onion soup mix.
  • Chicken base: Similar to bullion cubes, chicken base is highly concentrated chicken stock. You can find it in powder or paste forms. I love “Better than Bouillon” brand, a paste which is widely available and tastes delicious.
  • Bone-in turkey breast: Look for bone-in, skin-on turkey breast. You may have to ask your butcher at the grocery store. If you can’t find it, you can substitute boneless skinless turkey breast.
  • Cornstarch: An optional thickening agent that turns the buttery turkey sauce into more of a gravy.
  • Bun size: For family suppers, serve larger, burger-sized buns, but search out smaller rolls for parties with a large buffet spread.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. In the bottom of a slow cooker, combine the beer, onion soup mix, white pepper, dried parsley, and chicken base. Add the turkey breast right on top of everything. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours, or HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
    A turkey breast in a black slow cooker.
  2. When the time is up, carefully take out the turkey and move it to a rimmed baking sheet so you can shred it up. Separate the meat from the bones, discard the bones and skin, and shred up the meat using two forks. Once all the turkey is shredded, return it to the slow cooker and stir in the butter. As the butter melts, mix it into the cooking juices.
    Hot turkey sandwich meat shredded in a slow cooker.
  3. If you want a thicker broth, remove some of the cooking juices in a measuring cup and whisk in some cornstarch; then return it to the crockpot to thicken.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Yield: Plan for 1 pound bone-in turkey breast per person (uncooked weight). So, a 10-pound breast will feed about 10 people. If you are cooking boneless turkey breast, plan on 3/4 pound per person (a 6-pound boneless turkey breast would feed about 8 people).
  • Make ahead: You can make this several days before you need it and gently reheat the shredded meat in the slow cooker. Just be sure to hold onto the juices.
  • Freezing: Shredded turkey freezes beautifully. Divide into freezer-safe containers, label, date, and seal. Thaw the turkey overnight in the fridge before reheating.
  • Condiments: Feel free to top your sandwich with crisp dill pickles, barbecue sauce, tomato slices, mustard, onion, or mayonnaise. In Minnesota, they often top their sandwiches with cranberry sauce and thick slices of brie cheese.
  • Make it for Thanksgiving: Turkey sandwiches for a holiday dinner? Almost sounds too easy, right? Believe you me, I have done it, and I will do it again.
  • Lawry’s seasoning: Some Minnesotans add a sprinkle or three of Lawry’s seasoning to the turkey to jazz things up.

2 hot turkey sandwiches piled on a plate.

More delicious slow cooker recipes:

 

2 hot turkey sandwiches piled on a plate.

Hot Turkey Sandwiches

These slow cooker Hot Turkey Sandwiches start with a can of beer and end with a stick of butter. So great for your next party! Or serve the shredded turkey for a fuss-free, delicious holiday meal any time of year.
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 650kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) can light beer (see note 1)
  • 1 recipe homemade onion soup mix or 1 packet store-bought (see note 2)
  • 2 tablespoons chicken base (see note 3)
  • 3 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 10 pounds bone-in skin-on turkey breast (see note 4)
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick butter cubed
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch optional (see note 5)
  • Rolls split, for serving (see note 6)

Instructions

  • In the bottom of a slow cooker, add beer, onion soup mix, chicken base, and dried parsley. Add turkey breast. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Remove turkey breast from slow cooker and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Take off skin and separate meat from bones, discarding bones and skin. Shred turkey.
  • While the meat is still out of the slow cooker, stir in butter until melted. For a thicker broth, remove 1/2 cup broth and whisk with cornstarch. Add back to slow cooker.
  • Add shredded turkey back to slow cooker and heat until broth is thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve with rolls.

Notes

  1. Beer: Any light beer will do. You can also substitute a non-alcoholic beer.
  2. Onion soup mix: Store-bought packets are fine or you can make homemade onion soup mix.
  3. Chicken base: Similar to bullion cubes, chicken base is highly concentrated chicken stock. You can find it in powder or paste forms. I love "Better than Bouillon" brand, a paste which is widely available and tastes delicious. 
  4. Bone-in turkey breast: Look for bone-in, skin-on turkey breast. You may have to ask your butcher at the grocery store. If you can't find it, you can substitute boneless skinless turkey breast.
  5. Cornstarch: An optional thickening agent that turns the buttery turkey juice into more of a gravy. 
  6. Bun size: For family suppers, serve larger, burger-sized buns, but search out smaller rolls for parties with a large buffet spread.
  7. Yield: Plan for 1 pound bone-in turkey breast per person (uncooked weight). So, a 10-pound breast will feed about 10 people. If you are cooking boneless turkey breast, plan on 3/4 pound per person (a 6-pound boneless turkey breast would feed about 8 people).
  8. Make ahead: You can make this several days before you need it and gently reheat the shredded meat in the slow cooker. Just be sure to hold onto the juices.
  9. Freezing: Shredded turkey freezes beautifully. Divide into freezer-safe containers, label, date, and seal. Thaw the turkey overnight in the fridge before reheating.
  10. Condiments: Feel free to top your sandwich with crisp dill pickles, barbecue sauce, tomato slices, mustard, onion, or mayonnaise. In Minnesota, they often top their sandwiches with cranberry sauce and thick slices of brie cheese.
  11. Make it for Thanksgiving: Turkey sandwiches for a holiday dinner? Almost sounds too easy, right? Believe you me, I have done it, and I will do it again.
  12. Lawry's seasoning: Some Minnesotans add a sprinkle or three of Lawry's seasoning to the turkey to jazz things up.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 650kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 90g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 267mg | Sodium: 1148mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 284IU | Calcium: 5mg
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  1. Jessica

    Hi, excited to Try this out. What is chicken base?

    1. Hi Jessica! So sorry for not explaining that in the post (I updated it so the post now has an explanation of chicken base). Similar to bullion cubes, chicken base is highly concentrated chicken stock. You can find it in powder or paste forms. I love “Better than Bouillon” brand which is a paste in a jar and you can find it at grocery stores, Target, and Walmart. It’s in the aisle with the chicken broth, usually on a high shelf. It last a long time in the refrigerator and tastes really good. I use their beef one too. Thank you! -Meggan

  2. YtheWait

    Wow, those look absolutely delicious ! Thanks so much!

    1. Meggan

      Absolutely! You’re welcome! – Meggan

  3. Kate shutske

    I am not a huge turkey fan so I am doing this exact recipe in my slow cooker layering 2 bone in chicken breasts, 2 boneless breasts and topping with 2 bone in skin on breasts. I hope it turns out!!! I am cooking in high for 3-4 hours🤞🤞🤞

  4. Liz Barton

    Made this for dinner tonight. My son stopped by and asked for leftovers.5 stars

  5. Lauren

    Any idea how to adjust this to be made in a pressure cooker?

  6. Becky

    I need to feed 25 people. I have 2-3.5 pound turkey breasts without any breastbone. Would you recommed I double the recipe? I also thinking about buying a 3rd 3.5 pound turkey breast to make sure I have enough meat.

    This recipe sounds delicious!

    1. meggan

      Hi Becky, I would definitely buy that third breast. You’d be just over 10 pounds of turkey breast meat then which I think feeds about 20 people… but mine includes bones and skin, yours doesn’t, so you are probably right on the money with that. As for doubling the recipe, I think it’s a good idea if your slow cooker is big enough to accommodate that much. It might not be. So just keep that in mind! Start with a single recipe I’d say (with the 3-3.5-pound boneless turkey breasts) and you can always double the seasoning/beer/butter if you have enough room in the slow cooker. Thanks! I hope this helps. -Meggan

  7. Shari

    Has anyone tried this with a whole turkey ? My crockpot is to small so, I would have to use a oven or electric roaster.

  8. Nancy

    Could this be made in an instant pot?

    1. meggan

      Hi Nancy, I’m sure it could, it would be really great. I haven’t tried it though so I can’t provide exact step-by-step info. But, I can put it on my list to test in 2020 in my instant pot! Thanks. -Meggan

  9. Gwen

    I made this overnight. I put foil over the crockpot and then put the lid on as my lid doesn’t seem to fit tight and I was worried it would dry out. It was still dry! Maybe my crockpot cooks too hot. I added some chicken broth after shredding it which helped but I would love to make it so that the meat retains its moisture. That made me wonder….have you tried this in an instant pot? Any idea how to convert it? You wouldn’t be able to do this entire recipe in one batch, probably 2. I want to have this for our large family Christmas gathering so I plan to make it ahead and freeze it.

    1. meggan

      Hi Gwen, I haven’t made this in an instant pot myself, so I don’t know. But if you send me your address ([email protected]) I’ll send you a new crockpot so you can try it again without foil or things drying out. (It should definitely NOT be dry, it should be swimming in broth, and you shouldn’t have to add more broth for that to happen). Anyway, I’m totally serious about sending you a crockpot if you’d like a new one (I’ll just send one from Amazon). Just email me your address. Thanks! -Meggan

  10. Joan L

    Hi Meggan,
    I am using “Better Than Bouillon” chicken base. Your recipe calls for 2 Tablespoons of chicken base. According to the jar it says that only 1 Teaspoon of Better Than Boullion = one cube or one 8 oz can broth.
    Do I use 2 Tablespoons or would I just use like 2 Teaspoons?

    1. meggan

      Hi Joan, I also always use Better than Bouillon chicken base. So I would still use the 2 tablespoons. It’s used here to enhance flavor, not to replace broth in any way. But if you think 2 tablespoons sounds like too much for your taste, you can always use less! Does that make sense? Thanks. -Meggan

  11. Monica

    Hi Meggan,

    Have you ever tried making this sauce with already cooked turkey? I have some leftover turkey in the fridge that I want to make hot sandwiches with – this sauce sounds great. I’m considering trying it with those ingredients on the stove top and adding shredding cooked turkey. Let me know what you think!

    1. meggan

      Hi Monica, I haven’t tried that but I feel like it would be great. The same even, just less work since the turkey is already made! Sounds like the best way to use up leftover turkey that I’ve ever heard. :) Good luck!

  12. Michelle E

    Do you thaw the breast before putting it in the slow cooker? Hoping to make it overnight for a party tomorrow, and I just started thawing.

    1. meggan

      Hi Michelle, I would typically thaw the turkey but you basically just need to cook it until it shreds. So if you’re doing it on high, maybe an extra hour or two at the most. Sorry for not getting back to you sooner! Thanks for your question.

  13. Wendy Bauer

    Do you use the gravy packet that comes with the turkey as well or just discard it?

    1. Wendy Bauer

      I made this for a party and everyone loved it. I am not a fan of turkey sandwiches but it is an easy meal to premake and serve at a party. Even I loved these. Thanks5 stars

    2. meggan

      Hi Wendy, I just discard it. Or sometimes there isn’t one because it’s just turkey breast (not full-on turkey). Depends on the brand. If you need anything else, just let me know! If you get a chance to try the hot turkey sandwiches, I hope you love them. Thanks!

  14. Laura A

    If I make this a week in advance and freeze it, will it dry out when I reheat it? Thank you…it sounds wonderful!

    1. meggan

      Hi Laura, I think you would be fine reheating it because it is in so much liquid. My grandma does this with her turkey every year for Christmas Eve (makes everything a month in advance, in fact, she will ONLY put it on the Christmas Even menu if it CAN be made a month in advance and frozen!) and it’s always so delicious. If you have any other questions please let me know! Thanks.

  15. Juli P

    Made this for a work potluck! It is delicious!
    I was going for something that isn’t loaded with sodium, so made used a trader joes onion dip mix and had a can of Angry Orchard hard cider… the cider flavor is amazing!
    it smells delicious here in the office today! Thanks for sharing.
    Your website is becoming my go to for recipes. Being a Minnesota girl, I appreciate the midwestern-ness to everything.5 stars

    1. meggan

      YES! The cider flavor sounds perfect… thank you for doing my job for me and testing out different ways to make the recipe, Juli! I will have to try that :D I love Minnesota… maybe I will live there someday. A girl can dream. Thank you so much!

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