With a few good crock-pot recipes and tricks, ground turkey is a delicious and lean alternative to ground beef. Here’s how to make it right — from meatballs to chili, to shepherd’s pie.
How to cook turkey in a crock-pot (quick tips)
1. Browning gives the best taste
As a general rule, thawing and then browning (but not overcooking) the ground turkey is the move. Do this before placing it in the crock-pot. Just like a steak, browning the turkey allows the amino acids and sugars to react and unlock delicious flavor compounds. This is known as the Maillard reaction.
2. Use caution with frozen turkey
You can throw frozen turkey right in the crockpot, just minimize the time it spends in the danger zone (40º to 140º) by preheating the crockpot and not putting a massive chunk in. Anything under 2 lbs should be fine. It’s also a good idea to cook the meat until done or almost done and drain some of the juices before adding in your vegetables.
17 delicious and easy turkey crock-pot recipes
Okay now on to some great turkey crock-pot recipes. We chose a variety of dishes, so you should be able to find something you like!
Easy does it. This chili recipe is the perfect weeknight meal. Canned tomatoes. Pre-made Broth. Super easy to make and walk away. Start here if you’re not looking for anything fancy and just want to eat!
For a healthier option, use this recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod. This one is also simple to throw together. If tomatoes are in season, use fresh ones. If not, opt for canned.
For delicious meatballs to throw on a sub or pasta, use this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. You’ll have most of the stuff in the cupboard already, except maybe the panko. It’s super easy and you can mix the spices however you want.
Savoring Italy has put together a delicious and straightforward turkey pasta topping recipe. You make a mirepoix, sautee the ground beef with a bit of wine and tomato, and then pour into the slow cooker.
Sometimes you need a little nostalgia, or maybe you have kids that demand it. This copycat hamburger helper from Tastes of Lizzy is the best way to get cozy. Campbell’s cheese soup, meat, broth, pasta, a little cream… you can’t go wrong.
This fun recipe from The Lazy Slow Cooker takes all of your classic taco seasoning spices, cooks them down in ground turkey, and then adds spiral noodles for an easy and delicious dish. Get Mexican sour cream and top with cilantro for more Mexican flair.
You won’t get the crispy brown edges on your potatoes, but who cares? Shepherd’s pie is delicious anytime you make it. Kay’s Clean Eats version is simple and delicious. Use fresh herbs for more flavor, and if you aren’t trying to be healthy don’t be afraid to add a bit of cream to the sauce.
The Lazy Slow Cooker strikes again with this simple taco recipe. For absolute laziness (which we all need from time to time), use canned or bottled salsa. To elevate it a bit, make your own or buy fresh salsa. Don’t forget to use good tortillas.
A casserole in a crockpot is the epitome of easy cooking, and we are here for it. Well Plated uses quinoa alongside enchilada sauce to make something healthy and delicious. To make it even healthier, sub Greek yogurt for sour cream and skip the cheese.
Skipping bread? Use this recipe from Shugary Sweets. The sesame and chili oils make a big difference, but if you don’t have those it’s fine. And fresh ginger is a must! Dry does not cut it in this recipe.
This recipe from Kayln’s Kitchen is similar to the chili ones above with a bit more broth. You can sub in red enchilada sauce and use whatever kind of broth you have on hand.
For easy crockpot burgers, use this slow cooker recipe from aptly named Crock-Pot. They will be soft and melt into the bread, so try subbing in a hoagie roll or getting buns with a thick crust. You can always toss them on a high-heat skillet at the end for a quick sear as well.
If you aren’t feeling burgers, just make a meatloaf! The Taste and Tell Blog shows you the easiest way to get a tender and flavorful turkey meatloaf. Mix and match whatever spices you like, and serve with mashed potatoes!
Lasagna always feels difficult, but not when you do it this way. Sear up your beef, layer your ingredients in the pot, and ta-da. Easy lasagna. Thanks to Eating on a Dime for the inspiration.
For a pesto spin on your lasagna, use this recipe from Taste of Home. It’s a great and delicious way to change this classic recipe up. Sub in whatever shredded cheese you have on hand!
For something out of the American and Italian angles, use this Korean BBQ recipe from Bear and Bug Eats. The difference is in the spices, so don’t skimp on those.
This recipe from Betty Crocker is the ultimate easy stir fry. Seasoning mix, frozen vegetables, and ground turkey. No shame in simple! If you did want to change this up a little bit, just use fresh vegetables and make your own honey teriyaki sauce.
Where to buy good ground turkey
From good sources! Eating healthy starts with buying healthy, and 100% pasture-raised turkey is better for your taste buds and your health.
Industrial poultry suffers from some of the worst practices in the meat industry: disease is rampant, turkeys are fed corn and bad grain from birth, and they often never see a bit of sunlight. All of that disease, bad diet, and antibiotic prevention transfers to the taste, nutrition, and quality of the turkey we buy. In other words, we are what we eat, eats.
In contrast, our pastured turkeys are raised on family farms based right here in the United States, where they roam in open pastures pecking insects, worms, grasses, seeds, and whatever else nature intended. Nothing about their lives is rushed or forced, so our turkeys all mature at their natural pace — just as it should be.
We never use antibiotics or added growth hormones and only use natural, non-GMO supplemental grains. We never compromise on that, and we are proud of our sustainable partnerships with USA poultry farmers. As soon as you take your first bite, you will understand exactly why we go through all the trouble it takes to raise poultry as naturally as possible.
Check out our pasture-raised ground turkey selection.
This high-protein meat is perfect for anyone looking to eat a little leaner, and using a crock-pot makes eating it as easy as it gets.
There are so many amazing ways to use ground turkey in your crock-pot, from chili to burgers, to casseroles. Just pick a recipe, throw the ingredients in, and come back to a delicious dinner.
Nathan Phelps owns and writes for Crafted Copy, a boutique copywriting shop that finds the perfect words for interesting products. He is also an ethical foodie, outdoors-aficionado, and hails from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.