The Best Turkey Tacos

Ground turkey shows up where you least expect it, in the best Turkey Taco you’ve ever had. This recipe has a few tricks up its sleeve to make sure every bite is juicy and perfectly seasoned. Coming to tortillas near you in about 15 minutes.

The best turkey tacos on a white platter.

Authentic? Absolutely not! Ground meat tacos in Mexico are pretty scarce as it is, and ground turkey? Forget about it. It’s not a thing there. But just because something is inauthentic doesn’t mean it is BAD. These are great!

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled turkey taco ingredients in bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Ground turkey: Look for 93% lean ground turkey. If you get the 99% fat free ground turkey breast, your meat is going to be dry.
  • Tomato sauce: 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste plus 1/2 cup water may be substituted for the tomato sauce.
  • Brown sugar: Just 1 teaspoon, and feel free to leave it out if that sounds weird to you.
  • Apple cider vinegar: You can also use white vinegar or red wine vinegar. They both taste good!
  • Taco seasoning: Ingredients for homemade are right in the recipe card in the amount you need. Or, substitute one packet of store-bought.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. First, soften the chopped onion in a skillet with a little oil, over medium high heat. When the onions are translucent and soft, add the minced garlic, taco seasoning, and dried oregano. Stir for about 30 seconds.
    Chopped vegetables in a black skillet.
  2. Next, add the turkey. Cook until mostly done, breaking up any big clumps with a wooden spoon.
    Turkey taco meat in a black skillet.
  3. Then add the brown sugar, vinegar, and tomato sauce and mix completely.
    Turkey taco meat in a black skillet.
  4. Let the turkey simmer for about 4 minutes, until it thickens up. Then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
    Turkey taco meat in a black skillet.

Recipe notes:

  • Taco toppings: Lettuce, tomato, avocado (or avocado sauce), guacamole, shredded cheese, sour cream, black olives, minced white onion, cilantro.
  • Salsa: Pico de gallo, hot salsa, tomato salsa, tomatillo salsa, or corn salsa
  • Fried taco shells: Fry corn tortillas until crispy on the stove or in the oven.
  • Lettuce wraps: This taco meat is delicious on butter lettuce or romaine leaves.
  • Taco salad: Add the cooked meat to a bowl with chopped lettuce, beans, tomatoes, scallions, and a creamy cilantro lime dressing.
  • Add quinoa. Add cooked quinoa to the mixture to make it more filling or stretch it farther.
  • Slow cooker:  Sauté the onions in a skillet on the stove. Add the taco seasoning, garlic, and dried oregano. Add the ground turkey and cook until almost done. Transfer the turkey to the slow cooker and add the sauce, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and tomato sauce. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours or on LOW for 6-7 hours.
  • Freezer: Cool the cooked meat, then transfer it to a freezer-safe bag and press flat to gently squeeze out the air from the bag as it seals. Label and date. To thaw, defrost the meat in the fridge overnight. Then reheat in the skillet with a little extra salsa or tomato sauce, if needed.

The best turkey tacos on a white platter.

Favorite sides for Turkey Tacos:

The best turkey tacos on a white platter.

The Best Turkey Tacos

Ground turkey shows up where you least expect it, in the best Turkey Taco you've ever had. This recipe has a few tricks up its sleeve to make sure every bite is juicy and perfectly seasoned. Coming to tortillas near you in about 15 minutes. 
4.97 from 29 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 168kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

For the taco seasoning (see notes):

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional)

For the tacos:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce (see notes)
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Corn tortillas or flour tortillas

Instructions

To make the taco seasoning:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together chlii powder, cumin, paprika, coriander, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste (I like 1/2 teaspoon), Whisk in cornstarch if desired. (Or, substitute one packet store-bought taco seasoning).

To make the tacos:

  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in taco seasoning, garlic, and oregano until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add ground turkey and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost cooked through but still slightly pink, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in tomato sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Divide filling evenly among tortillas and serve with healthy garnishes such as shredded lettuce, diced tomato and avocado, scallions, and cilantro leaves.

Video

Notes

  1. Ground turkey: Look for 93% lean ground turkey. If you get the 99% fat free ground turkey breast, your meat is going to be dry.
  2. Tomato sauce: 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste plus 1/2 cup water may be substituted for the tomato sauce.
  3. Brown sugar: Just 1 teaspoon, and feel free to leave it out if that sounds weird to you.
  4. Apple cider vinegar: You can also use white vinegar or red wine vinegar. They both taste good!
  5. Taco seasoning: Ingredients for homemade are right in the recipe card in the amount you need. Or, substitute one packet of store-bought.
  6. Taco toppings: Lettuce, tomato, avocado (or avocado sauce), guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, black olives, minced white onion, cilantro.
  7. Fried taco shells: Fry corn tortillas until crispy on the stove or in the oven.
  8. Lettuce wraps: This taco meat is delicious on butter lettuce or romaine leaves.
  9. Taco salad: Add the cooked meat to a bowl with chopped lettuce, beans, tomatoes, scallions, and a creamy cilantro lime dressing.
  10. Add quinoa. Add cooked quinoa to the mixture to make it more filling or stretch it farther.
  11. Slow cooker:  Sauté the onions in a skillet on the stove. Add the taco seasoning, garlic, and dried oregano. Add the ground turkey and cook until almost done. Transfer the turkey to the slow cooker and add the sauce, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and tomato sauce. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours or on LOW for 6-7 hours.
  12. Freezer: Cool the cooked meat, then transfer it to a freezer-safe bag and press flat to gently squeeze out the air from the bag as it seals. Label and date. To thaw, defrost the meat in the fridge overnight. Then reheat in the skillet with a little extra salsa or tomato sauce, if needed.

Nutrition

Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 96mg | Potassium: 436mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 858IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg
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  1. Allysen Wonderland

    Excellent recipe! Brings turkey tacos to a whole new level ~ thank you!5 stars

  2. Bethany

    This was so very good! I’ve been making turkey tacos forever but this kicked them up a notch. Both my husband and I loved it. What I cannot BELIEVE is how much my incredibly picky 8 year old ATE IT UP. Thanks for the great recipe!5 stars

  3. Monis

    It was the best turkey tacos I have made! I didn’t have tomato sauce so I used a cup of ketchup. And also didn’t have apple cider vinegar but just used regular vinegar and it still tasted delicious!5 stars

  4. Tonya L

    These were so good! Literally the key ingredients missing from every other recipe – brown sugar and apple cider vinegar.

    Thank you – just my life easier with two picky eaters!5 stars

  5. Julie

    Just made these for a quick lunch as had some chilli & lime tacos to use … yummy the rich flavour of the finished turkey mince was right up my street already my raving about them
    To family & friends! Go on try it 😄5 stars

  6. Jody Simms

    These were AMAZE!5 stars

  7. Clare M venet

    A big hit in this home and everyone enjoys the taste.5 stars

    1. Meggan

      What fantastic news! Thanks Clare! -Meggan

  8. Lucy

    These were delish! Thank you!5 stars

  9. Bailey

    I absolutely love this recipe, the only thing I omit because I don’t like the taste of is the coriander & apple cider vinegar. Also, I do use the corn starch that is listed as optional. Also, I use canned sauce, not jar sauce for this recipe. I don’t eat red meat anymore, so this is a great alternative if you don’t either. Also, since tacos are one my favorite meals this is a keeper in my recipe book.5 stars

  10. Ellen

    The seasonings are great. Turkey tacos have never tasted so good! This will go on our favorites list! (There was no need for cornstarch either.)5 stars

  11. Monya Hoerner

    This THE most delicious turkey taco recipe I have come across….I did only use 1 can of tomato sauce with two lbs. of ground turkey it was the consistency I like, I did double everything else.5 stars

  12. Patty

    My family absolutely loves this recipe. This is our GO-TO for Taco Nights. My kids devour them!!! Thank you so much for this delicious recipe.

  13. Megan Lindsay

    I’m not sure if it’s a cultural thing, but my family really did not care for the flavors of this meat. When I read the recipe I thought the addition of cider vinegar and brown sugar was strange, but decided to try it anyway. However it simply didn’t taste authentic. It was more like a cheap Americanized version of Mexican flavors–like adding ketchup to tacos. Having lived in Arizona our whole lives we’ve grown up with some of the best Mexican food in the country, and tacos are a way of life. Don’t think this one makes the cut, unfortunately.

    1. meggan

      Hi Megan, I have traveled to Mexico monthly for years, so I certainly have a grasp on Mexican food. The minute you saw “turkey tacos” you should have been tipped off that this wasn’t authentic. This is absolutely a riff on Americanized tacos, like the ground beef version but made with ground turkey. I don’t really feel like I have to apologize because if you “know Mexican food” you should have known this wasn’t it. I know Mexican food but I still like these. Anyway, I hope you follow your gut in the future and don’t make recipes that appear on the face of them to not meet your standards, as this one didn’t. This was never going to be authentic, and it isn’t trying to be. There is no “authentic ground turkey taco.”

  14. Amy Leigh Kennedy

    Turned out great, will definitely make them again!! Thanks5 stars

  15. Joy

    One of the best recipes I ever made. Fabulous. Can I use this recipe with shrimp? Will it go?

    1. meggan

      Hi Joy, I’m SO GLAD you loved the turkey tacos! I made them today too. I just love them. I have never tried them with shrimp. I’m happy to test it out and report back; it’s just going to take me a few days. But I’ll find out! I feel like it would be good. How could it be bad? I know it’s going to be amazing. I’m really excited to try! Thanks for the idea! -Meggan

  16. Alane

    MUST MAKE! I am not a beginner, however, this recipe is great for everyone from the novice cook to the advanced. I followed this exactly as written, used the tomato sauce and did not need corn starch. The flavor so DELICIOUS and moist! I couldn’t stop eating!5 stars

  17. Ashti Roodal

    This recipe was sooo good! Definitely will keep and try again!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Thank you so much Ashti! I really do make these every week. Or almost every week. I just love them! Thanks again! I hope you have a great day. -Meggan

  18. Karen

    Delicious! Meat was so moist and flavorful. I reduced the tomato sauce by half Because don’t like it too wet, but otherwise followed recipe exactly. Served with healthy refried black beans and it was a huge hit with the family. Won’t make turkey tacos any other way. Thanks so much for a great recipe.5 stars

  19. Jim

    II am not a good cook. It took me a great deal of time to make this, as with everything else that comes out of my kitchen. Most of the time was searching for spices. However, the end result was worth the effort. Terrific. Thank you.5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Wow, thank you so much Jim! This just makes my day. I’m glad you liked them. -Meggan

  20. Elizabeth Sazdanoff

    Oh…my…wow. Love it! I had to double the recipe so we could include my boyfriend’s roommate, and I’m glad I did, because with the inevitable leftovers…I’m thinking nachos tomorrow! I can’t get enough, I loved this dish! I did use the corn starch and the tomato paste+water options, and boy is it rich and juicy! And, very easy to meal prep with. I got the spices mixed up and veggies chopped ahead of time, so all I had to do was toss it on the stove when people were ready to eat!5 stars

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