In the cooler months of fall and winter, nothing sounds better than hearty meals made with fresh or leftover turkey. And after the holiday season, you probably have an abundance of the cooked variety.
Always thaw the turkey and other poultry before you begin cooking. If meat or poultry isn't completely defrosted, it will take longer to get to a safe temperature. Bacteria can grow in temperatures between 40 F and 140 F—the "danger zone." A safe way to defrost poultry is in the refrigerator, so try to plan ahead.
Large cuts of meat or poultry should either be cut in half or into quarters, and it is recommended that large cuts be cooked high for an hour or two before switching to low. If you brown the meat before adding it to the slow cooker, it is not necessary to begin cooking on high. A roast larger than 2 1/2-to-3 pounds should be cut in half.
Here's a list of a variety of ways to cook a turkey in a slow cooker. They cook for a long time but require just a few minutes to prepare.
01 of 09
Chunky Turkey Chili (or Beef)
Chili, that cold-weather standby, is usually made with beef, but ground turkey but is used for this version. It's tasty topped with shredded cheese and ripe olives. This recipe can be used for either meat, whichever one you desire. This recipe goes together in about 20 minutes and cooks for about six hours.
02 of 09
Turkey Thighs With White Wine and Garlic
White wine, garlic, and parsley dress up boneless turkey thighs for a sophisticated dinner right out of the crockpot. Serve with wild rice, seasoned fresh green beans, and hot French bread. And don't forget to bring that white wine to the table.
03 of 09
Island Barbecued Turkey Legs
For an offbeat take on turkey, try these barbecued turkey legs. A sweet-and-sour barbecue sauce with pineapple gives them the flavor of tropical islands. Serve with pasta or rice and a fresh green vegetable.
04 of 09
Turkey Barley Soup
This hearty soup is a great way to use leftover turkey. Barley, onion, celery, carrots, and seasonings make this a satisfying but somewhat light meal after all the feasting at Thanksgiving.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Turkey Taco Soup
You can use either ground beef or ground turkey in this tasty soup recipe. Beans, corn, tomatoes, chilies, and taco seasoning add up to a taste treat. Top with tortilla chips and shredded cheese and serve with warmed tortillas.
06 of 09
Turkey Breast and Dressing
For a super easy take on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, try this recipe for turkey and dressing made in a crockpot. You can get it ready for cooking in 10 minutes and then get the rest of the meal prepared while it cooks for seven hours. Serve with traditional Thanksgiving sides.
07 of 09
Start with a fully thawed and unstuffed turkey breast for this easy recipe. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare and eight hours to cook in a slow cooker. Serve with potatoes, dressing, and a hot vegetable for a satisfying family meal in the fall or winter.
08 of 09
Chicken or turkey pot pie is quintessential comfort food, and making it in a slow cooker couldn't be easier. Onions, potatoes, and frozen mixed vegetables make for a tasty version, which can be made with either cooked turkey or chicken. When the pie filling is done, you finish the crust in the oven.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
This party dish is easy to make when you enlist the slow cooker. Cooked turkey, spaghetti, mushrooms, pimiento, cheddar cheese, onion, cream of chicken soup, and seasonings combine to make a delicious main dish. Serve with white wine and warm artisanal bread for an easy but elegant dinner.