This sweet and sour is a great way to use up leftover turkey!
Chopped leftover cooked turkey, fried in a light, crispy coating and tossed together with a classic sweet and sour sauce. All served up with crunchy peppers and onions!

Sweet and sour turkey in a white bowl on a wooden table
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One of my favourite cooking challenges is deciding what to do with the leftover turkey after Christmas day.

I always buy a big turkey that will provide enough meat for turkey butties as well as AT LEAST one other full meal.
We have a few on the blog now, including Turkey tikka masala (always goes down an absolute storm!), Crispy turkey nachos, Turkey, mushroom and pancetta risotto and Turkey pasta bake (which also uses up leftover ham and cheeseboard cheese).
So along with this Sweet and Sour Turkey, we’re covering lots of different cuisines!

📋 What do we need?

Ingredients for Sweet and sour turkey on a wooden table
  • Leftover cooked turkey – you can use light meat, dark meat, chunks or shreds – whatever you have leftover (it also works great with leftover cooked chicken)
  • Ketchup – and plenty of it – for tanginess and colour. I don’t eat a lot of ketchup, but it’s a must for this dish.
  • Malt vinegar – it’s the best type of vinegar I’ve found for getting the ‘right’ touch of sourness.
  • Brown sugar – for rounded sweetness, and to counteract any bitterness in the vinegar.
  • Pineapple chunks in pineapple juice – yep, rather than chopping up a fresh pineapple, I find pineapple chunks actually work better, and the juice is an all-important element to the sweet–tangy flavour of the sauce.

🔪 How to make this sweet and sour turkey

**Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post**.

Toss the turkey with cornflour, salt and pepper, then fry in a large frying pan or wok until crispy. Remove from the pan.

4 image collage showing how to coat and fry the turkey for Sweet and sour turkey

Fry up chopped peppers, onions, ginger and garlic. They just need a few minutes, so they’re not raw, but they still have some crunch.

Next in goes the sauce – which is a mixture of ketchup, vinegar, dark brown sugar and tinned pineapple chunks in juice.

This is all bubbled up until slightly thickened, then the turkey gets added back in again.

6 image collage showing how to make the sauce and finish off the dish for Sweet and sour turkey

👩‍🍳PRO TIP The thickness of the tomato ketchup, along with the sugar melting into the sauce should ensure the sauce is the perfect consistency. However if you’d like it a bit thicker you can stir in a little cornstarch slurry (1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) mixed with 2 tbsp cold water).

Serve this lovely Boxing day turkey recipe over boiled rice or fried rice, topped with a few sesame seeds.

Sweet and sour turkey on top of boiled rice in a white bowl. Further bowl in the background.

🍽️ What to serve it with

Close up of Sweet and sour turkey in a white bowl.

📺 Watch how to make it

YouTube video

🍲 More Asian Inspired Recipes

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5 from 1 vote

Sweet and Sour Turkey

Leftover turkey in a light, crispy coating, tossed together with a classic sweet and sour sauce, plus crunchy peppers and onions.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Chinese


Crispy Turkey:

  • 400 g (14 oz) leftover cooked turkey shredded or chopped into cubes/pieces
  • 2 tbsp cornflour cornstarch
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil

Sweet and Sour Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 1 red pepper chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 green pepper chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and chopped/crushed
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 150 ml (⅔ cup) tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp malt vinegar
  • 6 tbsp dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 425 g (15 oz) canned pineapple chunks in juice

To Serve:

  • boiled or fried rice
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
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  • Place the turkey in a bowl with the cornflour, salt, and pepper and toss together to coat.
    400 g (14 oz) leftover cooked turkey, 2 tbsp cornflour, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper
  • Heat the oil over a high heat in a wok or large frying pan.
    3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Add the turkey, and cook for 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally until the turkey is golden and crispy.
  • Remove the turkey from the wok using a slotted spoon and place in a bowl lined with kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil.
  • Now to make the sauce. Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to the wok (or frying pan).
    1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Heat it up on a medium-to-high heat and add in the onions. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the onions start to go translucent.
    1 large onion
  • Add the peppers and cook for a further minute.
    1 red pepper, 1 green pepper
  • Add in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
    2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp minced ginger
  • Add the tomato ketchup, vinegar, dark brown sugar, and the tinned pineapple (including the juice) and stir. Bring to the boil, and then turn down the heat and let it bubble, stirring every so often, until slightly thickened (about 2-3 minutes).
    150 ml (⅔ cup) tomato ketchup, 2 tbsp malt vinegar, 6 tbsp dark brown muscovado sugar, 425 g (15 oz) canned pineapple chunks in juice
  • Add the crispy turkey back to the wok with the sauce and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring a couple of times to coat the turkey in the sauce.
  • Serve with boiled or fried rice and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
    boiled or fried rice, 1 tsp sesame seeds


YouTube video


Can I make it ahead or freeze it?
This dish is best made and eaten right away – to ensure the turkey stays crispy.
Also, we’re using turkey that’s already been cooked once, then cooked a second time to make this sweet and sour. We don’t really want to reheat the meat a third time.
Don’t want to fry off the turkey in the coating?
If you’re not bothered about having a crispy coating, you can make the sauce with the peppers and onions, then simply throw in the cooked, shredded turkey and heat through until the turkey is piping hot.
That means it ends up being more of a saucy sweet and sour stir fry – but still delicious.
Nutritional information is per serving, not including the rice.


Calories: 440kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 721mg | Potassium: 588mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 44g | Vitamin A: 1327IU | Vitamin C: 76mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.

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Hi, I'm Nicky and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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  1. claude says:

    way to much sugar!!

  2. Shaun Silson says:

    I’ve just made this with some leftover turkey. I’m not a big turkey fan but this was without doubt the best sweet and sour dish I’ve ever had, Lovely balance of flavours and textures. It went down very well with the rest of my family. Thanks Nikki another winner. I’ll be trying some more of your asian dishes in the new year.

  3. Kath says:

    5 stars
    Wow, so delicious. Substituted the malt vinegar for red wine vinegar to cater for a coeliac. Wanted to have more leftovers so we could have it again😋