Turkey Carnitas Nachos

Leftover Turkey Carnitas Recipe

I feel terrible. This recipe has taken me FOREVER to share on the blog. I came up with the idea for turkey carnitas nachos at least four Thanksgiving leftover seasons ago, if not more. I always remember it after everyone is beyond Thanksgiving though, so the timing just never worked in my favor.

After making turkey carnitas tacos a few weeks ago, however, I just knew it had to be done – and you all said as much when I asked you on my Instagram stories! And judging by how many of you have made my One Pot Mexican Casserole, I think you’ll love this recipe just as much!!

Leftover Turkey Carnitas Recipe

Carnitas Nachos

So, turkey carnitas nachos. My husband yearns for greasier, more scrumptious recipes at home. I crave pretty much the opposite. Usually we veer more toward my tastes (I am the one doing the cooking after all), but I do occasionally like to indulge him.

So, with Thanksgiving Turkey leftovers in my fridge, I concocted the crazy idea of pan frying the shredded meat for some homemade carnitas (a dish I would never otherwise make or order). Pan fried in a bit of olive oil, mixed with the right seasonings, and we had deliciousness on our hands.

I should make this recipe throughout the year with shredded chicken, I just never think about it. I love making turkey carnitas with the leftovers, however, because the oil helps with any dryness and it’s a great way to use up what’s left of the white and dark meat.

Leftover Turkey Carnitas Recipe

Leftover Turkey Recipe

This recipe for carnitas is far from traditional. Low and slow (often in a slow cooker) is the authentic, scrumptious way to cook traditional pork carnitas. This is the quick and easy weeknight meal version that everyone loves.

I mentioned above (and below in the recipe) that it’s best with a mixture of white and dark meat. I’m a white meat person, but the bit of fat in the dark meat really makes it all work together.

Leftover Turkey Carnitas Recipe

I should also note that since everybody cooks the turkeys and chickens with a varied amount of salt and other seasonings, you may want to play the salt by ear in the recipe. I’ve made it before with turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving and afterwards it needed salt.

The last time I made it, the smaller bird that I bought at the market apparently had a lot of salt, because they were on the saltier side (nothing sour cream and avocado didn’t fix)! And we made nachos this time – with salty chips, so that’s another level of salt.

If you’re serving carnitas tacos, I think the recipe is great as-is. Turkey carnitas nachos, however, might very well benefit from less salt for starters.

Leftover Turkey Carnitas Recipe

Check out this turkey white bean chili!

Want more Mexican-inspired recipes? This Mexican Chocolate Cake is simple and yet so deliciously amazing – same goes for my Iced Mexican Mocha. Mexican fruit cups are always a fun mix of flavors!

Homemade fajita seasoning is a must-have no brainer in our world, something we use regularly in these wild rice stuffed peppers, my one pot Mexican casserole (a good, hearty dinner), and my 7 layer sweet potato dip (vegan)! These Mexican appetizers are a fun tortilla roll up that’s actually very simple and easy to make!

And sip on some of these mango margaritas for me? Thanks! I really appreciate it!

Turkey Carnitas Nachos
Print Recipe
5 from 9 votes


One year, my husband and I brought a crazy amount to turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving home with us. Looking for a fun way to mix up the familiar flavor, I decided to “fry” them in oil and my favorite fajita seasonings. What transpired were these turkey carnitas! You can use chicken instead of turkey and enjoy them in whatever Mexican dish you enjoy most!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, dinner, leftovers, mexican, thanksgiving, turkey
Servings: 4
Calories: 494kcal
Author: Luci Petlack


turkey carnitas

  • 2 cups shredded leftover turkey or chicken preferably a mix of white and dark meat
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground garlic not garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder


  • chips
  • 1 cup shredded cheese cheddar, pepper jack, or mix
  • 1 recipe fajita veggies
  • sour cream
  • avocado
  • cilantro
  • green onions
  • hot sauce


Turkey Carnitas

  • In a medium skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Make sure oil is hot before adding turkey. Test by adding one piece of meat. Oil is ready when meat sizzles with little bubbles around the outside. Add turkey. Top with seasonings. Stir to coat.
  • When much of the oil seems to be absorbed, add remaining 2 tablespoons.
  • Cook turkey until turkey is crisping and most of the oil is absorbed (15-20 minutes).

Carnitas Nachos

  • Spread chips on four plates. Divide shredded cheese between plates. Microwave each plate for 30 seconds to melt cheese. Top with fajita veggies, carnitas, and desired toppings!


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Calories: 494kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 537mg | Potassium: 504mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 637IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 285mg | Iron: 3mg

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  1. 5 stars
    This is such a delicious leftover turkey recipe. In fact, it’s so good that I look forward to the leftovers!! Definitely making this again this year!

  2. 5 stars
    This looks so delicious and yummy! My family is definitely going to love this recipe! I can’t wait to make this!

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