Slow cooker, Weeknight dinner
comments 20

Slow Cooker Turkey Thighs with Beer and Onions

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas this year? I did! There was an All Clad deluxe slow cooker with nonstick aluminum insert under my tree.
*Hey, we can’t all want an official Red Ryder carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle for Christmas. And I’m much less likely to shoot my eye out.  But more likely to burn myself, so I guess that’s a wash.

Turkey thighs are perfect for the slow cooker. They have enough fat and connective tissue to make them hard to overcook. Even better, turkey thighs have a big, meaty flavor to match the sweet beer and onion sauce.
*Hard to overcook is the key to slow cooking, because it means simmering for hours on end. I cringe when I see a slow cooker recipe with lean protien, like pork loin or chicken breasts. All I can think of is dry, dry meat.

I pull the skin off the thighs before cooking, a trick I learned from Cooks Illustrated. Turkey skin doesn’t add anything to the recipe. Or at least, not anything good. After the long, slow cooking the skin comes out flabby and chewy. All it does is add extra fat to the sauce, which I don’t want anyhow.

The final trick is to keep the liquid to a miniumum. There isn’t much evaporation in slow cooking, so watery sauces are a real danger. I add a quarter cup of flour to thicken the sauce as it cooks, and only one bottle of beer for liquid. The turkey and onions give up more than enough liquid while they slow cook, and the result is a thick, creamy sauce of beer and onions.

If you are a dark meat fan (like me!), this recipe should be in your arsenal.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Turkey Thighs with Beer and Onions


  • 6 quart or larger slow cooker (Crock Pot brand is fine, but I like my fancy one from All-Clad)


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Slow Cooker Turkey Thighs with Beer and Onions

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x


Slow Cooker Turkey Things with Beer and Onions – I love dark meat turkey, simmered all day in the slow cooker.



  • 4 pounds turkey thighs (about 4), skin removed
  • 2 teaspoons
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 12 oz beer (Amber lager, brown ale, or porter work best)
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Prep the turkey: Peel the skin from the turkey thighs, and put them in the slow cooker. Sprinkle them evenly with the salt and pepper, then rub with the Dijon mustard to coat.
  2. Ready to smear the mustard on the turkey
  3. Brown the onions: In a fry pan, heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and 1 tsp kosher salt and cook until the onions are softened and starting to brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the tomato paste. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan until the onions and paste are well browned, about five more minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and thyme, and stir until the flour is moist. Pour in the beer, add the bay leaves, and increase the heat to high. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits into the beer, and cook until the beer is simmering, about 3 more minutes. Pour the beer and onions over the turkey thighs in the slow cooker.
  4. Slow cook the turkey: Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours or high heat for 4 hours.
  5. Serve: Move the turkey thighs to a serving platter, and cover with 2 cups of the beer and onions from the pot. Serve, passing the rest of the beer and onions on the side.
  • Category: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American


Ready to smear the mustard on the turkey



  • You will want something to soak up this wonderful sauce; serve with a side of egg noodles or mashed potatoes. Dinner rolls are a good addition as well. I like to serve this with green vegetables; I chose peas and a green salad.
  • Beer: What beer is best? Something with a lot of flavor, but not very bitter. I usually use Eliot Ness Amber Lager or Edmund Fitzgerald Porter from Great Lakes Brewing Company. (They’re my local brewery.  I like to support the home team, so I usually have them on hand.) I also recommend Ommegang Abbey Ale from Cooperstown, NY; this Belgian style ale has the perfect flavor combination for the recipe. As a bonus, the extra large Ommegang bottle leaves plenty of beer for the cook.

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Slow Cooker Pork Pot Roast
Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Pot Roast

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Filed under: Slow cooker, Weeknight dinner


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Tina says

    I also served over egg noodles, but might try it in lasagna form next.

  2. Tina says

    This was so good! I was able to fit 6 thighs in my crock and the only added liquid was from a 14oz can of brined artichoke hearts. Btw, if you never let the crock sit in water then it should not crack for no reason, this goes for any ceramic dish where the glaze is missing from part of the base. Thank you for posting this reminds me of turkey pot pie, but so much easier to make!

  3. Norma says

    I’ve made your recipe a half dozen times and it’s always a hit with us turkey dark meat lovers. When I only have a very bitter hoppy ale on hand, I add 2T of honey and yum! Thanks for the great recipe.

  4. You hit the mark with this one Dad.

    I love turkey (‘specially dark meat) any time of year, same for mustard and onions – but most of all I love Marzenbier or “amber lager” as you call it.

    This recipe allows all these glorious flavours I love so much to slowly cook into an amalgam of pure ambrosia – and served with German egg noodles topped with the onion/beer sauce – it just doesn’t get better than this – served this to some buddies who came over for a weekend football game and it was a big hit.

  5. The MASTER CROCKPOT KING!!!!! says

    Ok – I never comment online. I mean NEVER. This is my first [and I’m not a young guy]. This recipe is fantastic, but can be outrageously fantastic with a handful of easy additions [that are worth it!!!!]. In the skillet, add about three tablespoons of minced garlic, a few cut up carrots [ 3 or 4], some celery [3 or 4], an additional tablespoon of tomato paste, some cut up mushrooms [1/2 cup], a pinch of 1/4 oregano, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/8 teaspoon of fennel seed, 1/4 tsp of onion powder, 1/4 to 1/2 cup of red wine [in addition to the beer]. Make sure to cook it down for a good 3 minutes on high – stir a bunch. It should be pretty thick. For the mustard, use the spicy deli kind. Don’t forget to add all other ingredients mentioned in original recipe. Once you pour this over the turkey, add a few cups of stock [turkey or chicken] if you want amazingly fantastic gravy. Don’t add the salt from above if you add the stock. The depth of flavor will knock the socks off anyone eating it. Also, cook it an extra hour if you really like fall off the bone turkey…. Enjoy!!!!!! GREAT RECIPE!!!!!!!!!!! THHHAAAANNNKKKKK YYYOOOUUUU!!!!! You may want to eat over egg noodles – this is so good – the more gravy the better!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. charlene says

    I only have rickers red beer and i hope that works. I am going to try this today.

  7. Follow the recipe until step 3. Then, pressure cook the turkey thighs for 12 minutes on high (15 minutes in an electric PC), let the pressure come down naturally for 15 minutes, and quick release any remaining pressure.

  8. JackieLL says

    Imade this today. I only had stella artois and thus it was used. This dish is crazy, I mean crazy good!
    Thanks for posting the recipe. Jackie

  9. I stumbled across this looking for things to do with turkey thighs and my Crock Pot. Very tasty! It also works well when halving the recipe, though I used a bit less salt.

  10. Jeremy says

    All-Clad slow cooker that much better than other slow cookers? What makes it better?

  11. @Jeremy:

    The new one I got has a stovetop-safe crock, so you can brown in the crock then move it straight to the oven.

    The old one, that I’ve been using for years…well, it just works. Every other slow cooker I’ve owned has broken; usually, the ceramic crock cracks on me. The All-Clad just keeps working. And, I like the electronics (countdown timer on cooking) and size. Sure, a slow cooker is a slow cooker…but I really like the All-Clad.

  12. Rob Freundlich says

    Hey, Mike, congrats on your new slow cooker! I’ve had one of these (same brand/model) for a few years, and it’s wonderful!

    One tip – the insert can handle being used on the stovetop, so if you saute the onions and do all the rest of the prep right in it instead of in a separate pan, you’ve got all that wonderful fond and drippings right there, AND you don’t have a second pan to clean.

  13. @Rob Freundlich:

    Thanks, Rob! I’m in the middle of a slow cooker bolognese sauce right now, and I used the insert to saute and brown the ingredients. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my new slow cooker when I was making this recipe…

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