Turkey Sliders with Cranberry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce


These Turkey Sliders are SO INCREDIBLE, I was eating the smothered turkey out of the pan! They are smothered in an intoxicating Chipotle Cranberry Barbecue Sauce then piled high with with crunchy Apple Poppy Seed Slaw and melty cheddar cheese.  These turkey sliders are a wonderfully delicious way to devour your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers or SO good you will want to make them forever and ever with chicken!  

up close of Thanksgiving Turkey Sliders with pulled turkey

Turkey Sliders

I am writing this Turkey Sliders post the Monday before Thanksgiving because I’m already looking forward to turkey leftovers so we can all make these Turkey Sliders!! Their deliciousness will help soften the blow of saying goodbye to turkey day, food, friends and family while helping you feed your family and use up all that turkey!

These pulled Turkey Sliders eliminate stressful entertaining or hosting a large group because they literally take 20 minutes to make AND they can be made ahead of time.  That way you can spend more time with family and less time worrying and preparing food.

These Turkey Sliders are light, fresh and comforting all at the same time.  You can serve them as a main dish or appetizer, with turkey or chicken, with light or dark meat, with or without coleslaw, but one thing is for certain – they need to be smothered with the intoxicating Chipotle BBQ Cranberry Sauce!

I adapted my favorite ever (and readers favorite!) barbecue sauce from my Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs to make the heavenly Chipotle BBQ Cranberry Sauce that is sweet and smoky, layered with spices and absolutely lick the pan addicting.  Once this sauce smothers your turkey or chicken you won’t be able to stop eating – for the second day in a row.  The only thing you will be wishing for is more leftover turkey!

Baked turkey sliders on a cutting board


  • Hawaiian rolls
  • sharp cheddar cheese OR Havarti, Gruyere, Swiss or provolone
  • whole cranberry sauce (canned or homemade)
  • ketchup
  • molasses
  • cider vinegar
  • spices!


You can use your favorite buns for these pulled Turkey Sliders such as Hawaiian rolls, small dinner rolls, or sweet rolls.  I personally love Hawaiian rolls because they are tender, slightly sweet, soft and fluffy.

You can also use larger buns such as burger buns, Kaiser rolls, sesame seed buns, and even sturdy bread if you would like to make larger sandwiches.

up close of saucy barbecue turkey for turkey sliders


How to Make Turkey Sliders

These Turkey Sliders are super simple to make!  Here’s how:

  • Whisk together your Chipotle BBQ Cranberry Sauce ingredients of canned whole cranberry sauce, ketchup, molasses, cider vinegar and a rainbow of spices.
  • Simmer sauce for a couple minutes to warm through and for the flavors to build and meld.
  • Add leftover turkey (or shredded chicken for non-Thanksgiving leftover versions) and heat through.
  • Toast the buns by laying them on a baking sheet and topping with sliced cheddar and broiling until melted, approximately, 1-2 minutes.
  • Pile your saucy turkey on your cheese covered slider buns and top with Apple Poppy Seed Slaw for a total of 20 minute prep – at the most.

a row of pulled turkey sliders on a cutting board

What Toppings for Turkey Sliders?

My favorite topping for these Turkey Sliders is Apple Poppy Seed Slaw.  The crunchy, sweet and tangy Apple Poppy Seed Slaw is delectable all on its own and the ideally delicious compliment to these saucy sliders!  I was eating the leftover Slaw as a salad the next day because its just so undeniably delicious.

The light slaw is a tossing of angel hair coleslaw (love the texture), a little mayo, sugar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and poppy seeds.  Its crunchy, tangy, refreshing and the perfect enlivening companion to the Chipotle BBQ Cranberry Turkey.

You can also pile on any toppings your heart desires such as bacon, pineapple, mushrooms, sprouts, cucumbers, caramelized onions, onion rings, etc.


Turkey Sliders are best served warm, especially because the cheesy sliders will not stay warm and the cheese will harden.  If you’re worried about timing, I suggest assembling the cheese on the buns (but not melting) and making your Chipotle Cranberry Barbecue Turkey and keeping warm.  Once you’re ready to serve the turkey sliders, you can melt the cheese on the buns last minute.

How to Store Turkey Sliders?

Leftover Turkey Sliders should preferable be stored withe the buns, turkey and coleslaw separately otherwise the coleslaw can get soggy and the sliders are difficult to reheat to their former glory.

If you think you might have leftovers, then you can make a “turkey slider bar” so so everyone can make their own sandwiches and so you can keep the components separate.  Store sliders for up to 5 days.

top view showing how to make Thanksgiving turkey sliders by mixing coleslaw

What Sides to Serve with Turkey Sliders?

These Turkey Sliders don’t have to complicated, you can make a meal with just a green salad or Wedge Salad  and fruit, or you can blow your guests away with any of these sides:

Tips for Turkey Sliders

  • You can substitute turkey with rotisserie chicken or leftover shredded chicken.  You can also substitute turkey with shredded beef.
  • The apple slaw is optional but HIGHLY recommended.  Alternatively, you can substitute with shredded red or green cabbage, broccoli slaw, lettuce  or something else crunchy.
  • I love sharp cheddar with barbecue sauce but you may also use Havarti, Gruyere, Swiss or provolone.
  • Don’t broil the cheese with the sliders for too long or else the cheese isn’t as gooey.
  • For extra cheesy turkey sliders, use thicker slices of cheese.

Chipotle BBQ Cranberry Turkey Sliders with Apple Poppy Seed Slaw.  Possibly even more delicious than Thanksgiving itself….

showing how to make Thanksgiving turkey sliders by tossing coleslaw ingredients in a bowl

Can I freeze Turkey Sliders?

Yes!  You can freezer Turkey Sliders but I would not freeze them assembled.  Instead, freeze the turkey and the buns separately.  To freeze the buns, seal them in sealed freezer bags.  To freeze the turkey:

  1. Prepare Chipotle Cranberry Barbecue Turkey according to directions.
  2. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Transfer turkey to a freezer size plastic bag OR portion into smaller size sandwich bags.
  4. Press bag flat, squeeze out excess air to prevent freezer burn.
  5. Seal, label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  6. When ready to use, defrost turkey in the refrigerator overnight.
  7. Remove turkey and reheat in a skillet over medium heat until warmed through.


up close of Thanksgiving pulled turkey sliders with glaze

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Chipotle BBQ Cranberry Turkey Sliders (or chicken!) are a wonderfully delicious way to devour your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers or SO good you will want to make them forever and ever with chicken! And don’t skip the crunchy, sweet and tangy out of this world Apple Poppy Seed Slaw!

Turkey Sliders (or chicken!) with Chipotle Cranberry Barbecue Sauce

These Turkey Sliders are SO INCREDIBLE, I was eating the smothered turkey out of the pan! They are smothered in an intoxicating Chipotle Cranberry Barbecue Sauce then piled high with with crunchy Apple Poppy Seed and melty cheddar cheese.  These turkey sliders are a wonderfully delicious way to devour your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers or SO good you will want to make them forever and ever with chicken!  
Servings: 12 sliders
Total Time: 18 minutes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes

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  • 3 cups shredded turkey or chicken
  • 12 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 pkg Hawaiian rolls

Chipotle Cranberry Barbecue Sauce

  • 1/2 cup canned whole cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp EACH smokd paprika, garlic pwdr, salt
  • 1/4 tsp EACH chili pwdr, pepper, onion pwdr
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

Apple Poppy Seed Slaw

  • 16 oz. pkg. angel hair coleslaw
  • 1 granny smith apple, cored, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup real mayonnaise (I use fat free)
  • 1-2 tablespoons cider vinegar (2 for more tangy)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)


  • Apple Slaw: Add all Apple Slaw ingredients to a large bowl and mix until well combined. Taste and add additional sugar, vinegar, salt to taste. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator while you prep other ingredients or make a day ahead. The lemon juice and vinegar will keep the apples from turning brown.
  • Chipotle BBQ Cranberry Sauce: Whisk all the Sauce ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer for 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened. Mix turkey or chicken with Chipotle Cranberry Sauce and heat through.
  • Buns: When ready to serve, lay bottom of buns in a single layer on a baking sheet. Top with sliced cheddar and broil until melted, approximately, 1-2 minutes.
  • Assemble: Top cheesy buns with approximately ¼ cup Cranberry turkey/chicken followed by Apple Poppy Seed Slaw.

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Reader Interactions

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  1. Sandra says

    Hi Jen, my entire family loves your BBQ Rib so I am sure this sauce is just as incredible! I know what I am making after Thanksgiving! Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Sandra, I am so glad the Ribs are such a hit with your family! This BBQ sauce has a similar flavor profile so I hope your family loves them just as much! Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Kelly says

    These would also be a great New Years appetizer! Can’t wait to make them!

    • Jen says

      Absolutely! I hope you love them! Thanks Kelly!

  3. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says

    Happy Thanksgiving!! I am so looking forward to the big day but now I have your recipe for the following one. Great recipe! I can’t wait to taste the sauce.

    • Jen says

      Happy Thanksgiving Marisa! This sauce really is great, I think your family will love it! I hope you have a wonderful time with all your family with lots of delicious food!!

  4. Renea Weaver says

    Hi Jen! I simply LOVE all your recipes! I look forward to each morning looking to see if there has been a new recipe posted to my e-mail. My husband comes home from work sniffing the air to see what deliciousness is cooking in the kitchen! Thank you! Question though: where can I find angel hair Cole slaw? I have never heard of this. Can I make my own? Do you have a suggestion for a recipe? Thank you and please keep up the delicious work!

    • Jen says

      What a nice comment, thanks for making my heart smile this morning Renea!!! I seem to be able to find angel hair coleslaw next to the traditional coleslaws but if your grocery store doesn’t carry it, you can use regular or you can very thinly slice cabbage along with some carrots. Hope this helps! Happy Thanksgiving and thanks again!

  5. Linda C. says

    What kind and how much apple is in the slaw? Looks like granny smith from the photo but I don’t see it listed in the ingredients.

    • Jen says

      Thanks Linda, I just updated the recipe! It should be 1 Granny Smith apple. Sorry about that!

      • Linda says

        It looks like delicious! Thanks so much for this post.

        • Jen says

          You are so welcome, hope you love them!

  6. Mimi Cook says

    These sound really good!! What a great way to use turkey and cranberry with a completely different twist on flavors! Yum!

    • Jen says

      Thank you Mimi! I hope you can try it and love it! The flavors really are amazing together!

  7. Ty says

    Apple Poppy Seed Slaw does not have any apples listed?..?..?….?

    • Jen says

      Thanks for catching that Ty – long day! I just updated it with 1 Granny Smith Apple. Thanks!

  8. JUDY says

    Are the apples already included in the purchased slaw. I’ve not seen angel hair coleslaw.

    • Jen says

      Thanks for catching that Judy! I just added 1 Granny Smith Apple to the recipe. Angel Hair Coleslaw is located next to the traditional coleslaw and most grocery stores carry it, but if not, you can definitely use regular. Enjoy!

  9. NatD says

    always the BEST! do you think this is possible to do in the crock pot with chicken (like your phenomenal bbq chicken sandwiches?!) thank you for keeping us fed and food EXCITING!

    • Jen says

      Hi Nat! Yes, I think you could cook the chicken in the crockpot with the sauce but the sauce will become very thin – which is totally fine, you will just wan to remove the sauce when you shred the chicken and thicken it with a cornstarch slurry in a saucepan. Enjoy!

  10. Heather Redmond says

    Made these over the weekend and they were delicious! LOVED the cole slaw! It was very light and crisp and held up well for leftovers too! I would make it again just as a side dish! I think that the cheese on the buns is unnecessary and the slider is much healthier without it. Other than that, it was a tasty, easy recipe that I will definitely make again!

    • Jen says

      Hi Heather, I am so glad you loved these sliders so much! and I agree, the coleslaw is a must! Thank you!