Enjoy flavorful and succulent turkey tacos or burrito bowls with this Slow Cooker Turkey Carnitas Recipe. Prep the recipe in the morning before your day and enjoy the convenience of dinner ready when you get home. Serve the carnitas on a bowl or in tacos.
This Slow Cooker Turkey Carnitas Recipe is the perfect dinner idea for a busy and warm summer day.
It doesn't heat up the kitchen (something I've been saving only for baking lately), is lighter but filling, and only takes 10 minutes of prep in the morning and a few more in the evening, leaving all the hard work to the slow cooker during the day.
It has two options depending on your hunger style: serve it on top of salad if you're looking for some extra vegetables and scoop it into a tortilla for the classic carnitas presentation. Either way, you're certain to win.
Why turkey legs?
This slow cooker recipe is a great use for turkey legs. We take advantage of the natural tenderness and higher fat level of the meat, which helps the end product still be tender and juicy, despite hours of slow cooking.
Turkey legs are also deceptively healthy, too. They boast healthy B vitamins, are high in protein, and also provide a collection of vitamins and minerals that our active bodies need.
Not that I really need the nutritional info to make me want to make this Turkey Carnitas again, but a little extra encouragement is almost never a bad thing.
A Few Reasons You Should Try This Slow Cooker Turkey Leg Recipe:
- Cooks while you're away
- Won't heat up your kitchen on a warm summer day
- Reheats beautifully
- Is delicious both in tacos and burrito bowls
- Is a healthier alternative to pork carnitas
- Easily doubles for a crowd
It's almost a cooking and entertaining miracle: after only 10 minutes of mixing and trimming in the morning, come home to a delicious dinner worthy of a weeknight or weekend dinner party with friends, thanks to some slow cooker magic.
How to Make Slow Cooker Turkey Carnitas Recipe:
Mix together all the marinade ingredients in a medium size measuring cup or bowl. Whisk with a fork until the honey is dissolved into the juice and oil.
In a small bowl, mix together the spices for turkey rub until well combined.
Make a slit crosswise along the skin on the meatiest part of the turkey thigh, slicing in thick enough to cut the skin, but not so thick to slice the meat. Then, pull the skin off the leg. It's ok if there is still some thicker, more fibrous skin left around the bottom drumstick part of the leg. You can leave that on there.
Then, gently pat the turkey legs with the spice rub on all parts of the meat and place in the slow cooker.
Lay the turkey legs in the slow cooker and drizzle the marinade over them.
Turn the legs in the sauce until they're covered in it. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low or 8-10 hours, or until super fragrant and the meat falls off the bone easily.
Then, shred the turkey with 2 forks and serve in tacos or on your burrito bowl!
How do you shred turkey meat?
Shred your turkey meat after it's done cooking. Place your meat on a cutting board and, with one fork in each hand, put the tines of the fork in the meat and pull away from one another.
Continue shredding until the large chunks of meat are broken down.
How long does leftover turkey last?
Leftover turkey should last covered in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
Can you freeze leftover turkey?
Yes, you definitely can freeze leftover turkey. Just place it in freezer safe containers or ziploc bags and freeze for up to 2 months.
How do you get carnitas extra crispy?
If you want your carnitas meat extra crispy, saute it in some hot oil after shredding the turkey.
Heat up 1-2 tablespoons oil in a saute pan over medium heat and add the turkey once it's hot. Then, add the meat and saute for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until it's golden and crispy.
What do you put on carnitas?
Carnitas toppings are my favorite-- they're so simple but bring out all the flavors of the meat without overwhelming it.
Classic toppings are minced white onion, cilantro, jalapeno (if you're looking for something spicy!) and lime juice.
Is carnitas meat healthy?
The healthy factor of carnitas depends on what type of meat you make carnitas with. Pork carnitas will have higher fat and saturated fat profile than turkey carnitas will. Turkey carnitas meat also has the extra health benefits that turkey meat traditionally has.
What Tools You Will Need to Make This Crock Pot Turkey Recipe:
Note: I do not make any affiliate revenue off these links.
- Slow cooker or Crock Pot
- Medium size measuring cup or mixing bowl
- Microplane or citrus zester
- Citrus or lime juicer
- Sharp paring knife
- Cutting board
Other Healthy Main Dish Recipes You Might Like:
- Quick Mushroom Farro Risotto with Turkey
- Jamaican Jerk Turkey Burgers
- Turkey Sloppy Joes
- Creamy Chimichurri Steak Pasta
- Honey BBQ Crock Pot Chicken Sandwiches
- Spicy Bourbon Glazed Salmon
- Orange Salmon Protein Bowls
- One-Pot Orecchiette with Sausage
- Citrus Dijon Pork Tenderloin
- Instant Pot Pineapple Chicken
- Italian Beef Ragu
Looking for a great pork carnitas recipe?
Then check out David Leite's Authentic Carnitas Recipe. He offers adaptations for both the Instant Pot and slow cooker. Delicious!
If you make and like this recipe, please review and rate it 5-stars at the top of the recipe card. This helps other people to find the recipes and helps me out, too!
Thank you so much for your feedback and support of Mae's Menu!
Enjoy flavorful and succulent turkey tacos or burrito bowls with this Slow Cooker Turkey Carnitas Recipe. Prep the recipe in the morning before your day and enjoy the convenience of dinner ready when you get home.
Serve the carnitas on a bowl or in tacos. Directions are below for doing either.
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 1/2 lime, juiced; or about 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- cracked pepper
- Turkey Rub:
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- For Tacos:
- Taco shells (preferably, soft corn)
- 1/2 medium white onion, diced finely
- 1/3 cup cilantro, diced
- 1 lime, sliced into quarters
- For Burrito Bowls:
- 2 heads romaine lettuce, washed, dried and cut into 1/2" ribbons
- 1/2 cucumber, diced
- 3 roma tomatoes, diced
- 2 avocados, pitted and diced
- 3 carrots, cut into matchsticks, coins, or ribbons
- 3/4 cup cotija cheese (or feta cheese)
- Burrito Bowl Dressing:
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- pinch salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a medium glass measuring cup or medium-size mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, combine the spice rub ingredients until they are evenly mixed together.
- Cut the turkey skin off the turkey: cut through the skin with a sharp paring knife (making sure to not cut into the meat) from top to bottom of the meatiest part of the turkey leg. Then, pull the skin off the meat. Don't worry about the more fibrous looking fat around the base of the drum stick. That can stay on. Throw the skin away.
- Gently rub the spice mixture on to the meaty part of the turkey leg, covering all of the meat with the mix.
- Lay the turkey in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour marinade over the turkey, cover, and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until the meat is tender, falling off the bone, and shreds easily with a fork.
- Move the turkey from the cooker to a cutting board and shred it with two forks. Return to the cooker and turn the heat to warm until serving.
- To make a salad: whisk up all the salad dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl. until the oil is pretty well emulsified into the juice and honey. Layer the salad ingredients in individual bowls, top with carnitas, and drizzle the dressing over each salad and serve.
- To make tacos, warm the taco shells, scoop turkey into the shells and top with onion, cilantro, and serve with lime wedges on the side.
1. The carnitas will keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days in a covered, air-tight container. Either reheat on low heat in the microwave or reheat (covered) in the oven on low.
2. How to double this for a crowd: double all the ingredients, follow the same steps and then cook on low for 9-11 hours (instead of 8-10), or until the turkey shreds easily and is falling off the bone.
3. How to warm corn tortilla shells: preheat an oven to 200 degrees. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Add enough tortillas to cover the bottom of the pan, but not overlap. Heat for 1.5-2 minutes, or until the tortillas start to puff up and/or get golden brown warming marks on them. Flip and repeat on the other side and then store in the preheated oven until the rest of the shells are heated.
Serving Size1/2 cu
Amount Per Serving Calories 267Total Fat 12gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 47mgSodium 645mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 4gSugar 14gProtein 24g
This nutrition breakdown is just an estimate of the nutritional value of this recipe and cannot be taken as facts. The owners of Mae's Menu are not nutritionists or dieticians and therefore cannot be held accountable for this nutrition estimate. Please contact your nutritionist or medical professional for a nutritional breakdown of this food. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.