Turkey Tacos

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Swap the beef for ground turkey to make these flavorful, and better-for-you Turkey Tacos. The ground turkey has a killer seasoning mix and can be whipped up in 15 minutes or less in one skillet. Add some delicious taco toppings and dinner is served!

We’re obsessed with tacos; try some of our other “famous” taco variations: these chicken tacos, shrimp tacos, or healthy tacos.

Overhead image of Turkey Tacos on a plate with toppings an.d fresh lime wedges on the side

Turkey Tacos are flavorful and healthy

One of the best things about tacos is how much variety you can find. There’s variety in the tortillas, the meat (or meatless fillings), the toppings, and the sauces. It’s not hard to find a taco to love.

Tacos can be a completely indulgent meal and not all that healthy (which I think is fine in moderation). But sometimes you’re craving amazing, flavorful tacos without all the grease, calories, and fat. That’s where these Turkey Tacos come in.

These will satisfy any taco craving, are packed with flavor, and are much better for you than most tacos.

Is ground turkey better than ground beef?

This is a huge debate, but overall it really depends on the lean-to-fat meat ratio that you use. Lean ground turkey meat will typically always be leaner than dark turkey meat and ground beef. I recommend a 93-to-7 ratio of ground turkey for these tacos. Here’s a thorough ground turkey verses ground beef comparison of calories, protein content, and macro-nutrients.

Some people are concerned that using a lean ground turkey will make for dry and flavorless meat. Below I share how we keep this turkey taco meat ultra moist and add flavor!

How to make ground turkey moist

  • Keep the ground turkey cold.  Store the turkey in the fridge right up until it needs to be added to the skillet. Don’t set it out or let it come to room temperature.
  • Add olive oil, garlic, and onions. These ingredients not only contribute a lot of flavor, they also add moisture into the meat.
  • Add tomato sauce. A little of this sauce at the end of cooking makes the meat incredibly moist and adds a nice, rich flavor.
  • Avoid over-cooking. Because of the low fat content, ground turkey isn’t too forgiving when it’s over cooked; it will become dry, crumbly, and lose flavor. Use a food thermometer and cook it until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

Process shots-- images of the seasoning mix being made and then added to the sautéed onions and garlic. Then images of the meat being added and cooked and put on the tacos.How to make Turkey Tacos

The descriptions below correlate to the photo collage above.

  1. Measure out the seasonings. This is the best taco seasoning mix ever! It’s adapted from my taco lettuce wraps. We add a little beef bouillon to enhance the meaty flavor (a great Weight Watcher’s tip!)
  2. Combine the seasonings.
  3. Cook onions and garlic. Heat olive oil and then cook the onions for a few minutes until translucent. Add in the garlic and stir until fragrant.
  4. Toast the spices. Adding the spices here intensifies their flavors by bringing out the aromatic oils. It also adds complexity to the taste of the spices. And bonus: the kitchen will smell amazing.
  5. Add in the ground turkey. Cook, breaking apart with a wooden spoon until almost cooked through, but still slightly pink.
  6. Stir in the tomato sauce. 
  7. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes.  Simmer until the ground turkey is fully cooked through (165 degrees F). Taste and adjust seasonings.
  8. Build your taco. Add the turkey taco meat to a tortilla (or lettuce wrap!) along with your favorite taco toppings.

Make extra Turkey Taco meat and freeze a batch

My family loves this turkey taco meat so much that I’ve made an extra batch the last few times and frozen it for an even-quicker meal another day. So here’s how you do it:

  • Cook the turkey according to the recipe and let it cool to room temperature.
  • Transfer the meat to a freezer safe plastic bag. Let out all the air, seal, and flatten the bag. 
  • Freeze for 2-3 months and then thaw overnight in the fridge.
  • Remove meat from the freezer bag and reheat in a skillet over medium heat. Add a little additional tomato sauce as needed.

Use Turkey Taco meat in other recipes

  • Build a turkey taco salad. Use the meat in this recipe, chopped romaine lettuce, grated cheese, tomatoes, and the dressing in this BBQ Chicken Salad.
  • Make lettuce wraps: Fold Turkey Taco meat and any of your favorite taco toppings in some butter lettuce leaves.
  • Add the seasoned turkey meat to nachos. Add to some chips with cheese, bake, and then load up with taco toppings or try these loaded taco fries; they’re one of my favorite recipes!
  • Use it in a burrito bowl. Make some cilantro-lime rice, top it with this meat, add in some black beans, and finish it with a few more taco toppings.

Up-close image of the best Turkey Taco recipe, on a plate with all the toppings on and ready to be eaten.

Turkey Taco toppings

We have some favorite toppings for these tacos:

  • Grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Chopped cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Squeeze of fresh lime
  • Large scoop of sour cream (we use fat free to keep these on the light side)
  • Sliced avocado or scoop of guacamole
  • Shredded romaine lettuce

More ground turkey recipes

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Turkey Tacos

5 from 3 votes
Swap the beef for ground turkey to make these flavorful, and better-for-you Turkey Tacos! The ground turkey has a killer seasoning mix and can be whipped up in 15 minutes or less in one skillet. Add your favorite taco toppings and dinner is served!
Print Recipe

Turkey Tacos

5 from 3 votes
Swap the beef for ground turkey to make these flavorful, and better-for-you Turkey Tacos! The ground turkey has a killer seasoning mix and can be whipped up in 15 minutes or less in one skillet. Add your favorite taco toppings and dinner is served!
Course Dinner, lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword turkey tacos
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 317kcal
Cost $7.37

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (~1/2 of 1 onion)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (~2 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin, paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon beef bouillon powder
  • 1 pound lean (90/10) ground turkey
  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce
  • tortillas (flour or corn)
  • 1 cup freshly grated colby jack or extra sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Toppings: shredded lettuce, sour cream (fat free or lite is great), fresh guacamole or ripe avocados, chopped cherry tomatoes, salsa or pico de gallo, fresh cilantro, fresh lime

Instructions

  • TURKEY TACO MEAT: Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and once the oil is hot, add in the diced onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for 20-30 seconds. Add in all of the seasonings: 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 tablespoon beef bouillon powder. Stir around the spices until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Nothing should be burning; reduce the heat if needed.
  • TACO MEAT CONT.: Add in the ground turkey. Crumble the meat into small pieces and cook until no longer pink (but not cooked through all the way), about 5-8 minutes. Add in the tomato sauce and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits (this is where the flavor is!) Let simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until fully cooked through, and then remove from heat.
  • ASSEMBLY: Char/warm tortillas (Note 1). Add even amounts of the turkey taco meat and then sprinkle cheese right on top. The taco meat should be hot enough that the cheese will melt. Immediately add toppings of choice. Our favorites are a big scoop of sour cream, ripe sliced avocado (or guacamole), a few chopped cherry tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Enjoy hot!

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: I like to char the tortillas on my stove top; I spray the tortillas (both sides) with olive oil cooking spray and then place directly over the gas flames for a few seconds. Use tongs to flip until tortillas are lightly charred.
Note 2: These calories do not include any of the toppings as those will vary.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 4servings | Calories: 317kcal | Carbohydrates: 24.9g | Protein: 25.6g | Fat: 13.6g | Cholesterol: 78.2mg | Sodium: 90.7mg | Fiber: 3.7g | Sugar: 2g

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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love using turkey for tacos. It makes them a little healthier and I even kind of like it better than beef most of the time. Yummy!

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve never made tacos with turkey meat before so I thought, what the heck?! The seasoning was perfect and they were so delicious!

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