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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.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients:
  2. Ingredient notes:
  3. Step-by-step instructions:
  4. Recipe tips and variations:
  5. Hot Turkey Sandwiches Recipe

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. Add more to taste in Step 3, if desired.
  • 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 ¾ 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 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.
4.94 from 64 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 8 hrs 15 mins
Total Time 8 hrs 20 mins
Servings 10 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 650

Ingredients 

  • 1 (12 ounce) can light beer (see note 1)
  • 1 recipe homemade onion soup mix or 1 packet store-bought (see note 2)
  • 1 teaspoon chicken base plus more, to taste (see note 3)
  • 3 teaspoons dried parsley
  • salt and ground white pepper
  • 10 pounds bone-in skin-on turkey breast (see note 4)
  • 1/2 cup butter cubed (1 stick)
  • 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, dried parsley, and 1 teaspoon white pepper. 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 ½ 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. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Serve with rolls.

Recipe Video

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. Add more to taste in Step 3, if desired.
  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 ¾ 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: 1cupCalories: 650kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 90gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 267mgSodium: 1148mgSugar: 1gVitamin A: 284IUCalcium: 5mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CulinaryHill or tag #CulinaryHill!

[wrpm-recipe-video]

Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. These were so good! I made Italian beef and these . My beef is so good but the turkey got the most votes. Absolutely loved these! Making again this weekend !(by request)

  2. Can I use a whole turkey for this recipe? Would the recipe stay the same per pound? I have one in my freezer that I would like to use

    1. Hi Deb, I haven’t tried this so I’m not sure! Sorry about that, I will try to test this in the future. – Meggan

  3. We’ve made this probably 4 or 5 times now, and love it! My guy turkey hunts so we use wild turkey breast (no bone or skin) and the flavor is still great. One wild turkey breast is probably like 2 or 3 pounds? I use the full beer and rest of the ingredients (though I do cut down on the butter a bit) and it’s the perfect amount of gravy. So using 10 pounds (even with bones and skin), I’d probably want to double the rest of the ingredients to get enough gravy.

    Definitely needs the cornstarch to thicken, and does not need any additional salt above the onion soup mix and boullion.5 stars

  4. Omg so salty, between the onion soup mix, butter, and chicken base it does not need any more salt. Otherwise it was pretty good.3 stars

  5. Question… this will be the second time making. One can of beer barely covers the bottom of the crock pot. Is that really all the more liquid you start off with?

    1. Hi LJ, yes one can is correct. It’s possible your crockpot is larger than ours. If you feel like you need more feel free to add it! – Meggan

  6. I’m thinking about doing this for thanksgiving, could you double up the recipe and do it in a nesco instead of a crockpot? I’ve got to feed 18 people.5 stars

    1. Sounds good! Oh and one last thing…my uncooked frozen turkey breast from aldis says “injected with 19% solution of turkey broth, salt, and spices”. Do you remember when you made this recipe is your breasts were injected as well? I think most are but im just checking as I don’t want to oversalt . Thanks!5 stars

  7. Easy and oh so good! Made this for my book club meeting and everyone loved it! Used less turkey than recommended because of the size of my crockpot and adjusted the recipe a bit to accommodate. Gravy comes out a bit thin so I did use cornstarch to thicken it. Had some leftovers and it tastes even better the second day!5 stars

  8. Thank you so much for the recipe. I was looking for a turkey sandwich that did not use lunch meat. I used low sodium chicken broth instead of beer and a boneless turkey breast. Using the chicken base, mine came out extremely salty. So salty I could not eat the gravy. The turkey came out great though, ( 3hours on high). Just a heads up to moderate the chicken base, (first time using it), add a teaspoon then add more once the gravy is hot.3 stars

    1. Hi Vivian, that’s a great idea about the chicken base. Plus all bases could be different so maybe yours was way saltier than the one I used, or who knows. Good call. I’m glad you could at least enjoy the turkey. Thank you so much for the feedback! -Meggan

  9. these are the easiest and tastiest turkey sandwiches ever. I served them for a graduation party and everyone raved about the flavor and moistness of the meat. I have been asked by at least 6 people for the recipe.5 stars

  10. On the picture of ingredients, it shows “white pepper,” but then it’s never mentioned again in the recipe or instructions. Is white pepper an important part of this recipe? When or how would it be used?

    1. Typos are so embarrassing. I’m sorry about that. My original recipe for this (from a friend’s mom in Minnesota) has 1-2 teaspoons white pepper going in with the other seasoningss and the beer in the very beginning. I meant to re-write it to say just put in 1 teaspoon in the beginning, and then season to taste with more white pepper (and salt) at the end if you think it needs it. I clearly forgot to do that. I only got as far as taking it out of the recipe and not putting it back in. I’ll fix it right now! Thanks for pointing that out. -Meggan

    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

  11. 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🤞🤞🤞

  12. 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. 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

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

    1. 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

  14. 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. Hi Gwen, I haven’t made this in an instant pot myself, so I don’t know. But if you send me your address (meggan@culinaryhill.com) 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

  15. 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. 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

  16. 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. 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!

  17. 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. 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.

    2. Hi!
      Can you please clarify how to reheat. Would I make the recipe exactly as is, store turkey IN juices and reheat all together? Or do I keep juices and turkey separate until the day of. Then reheat together?
      Thanks!

    1. 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!

    2. 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

  18. 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. 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.

  19. 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. 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!