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 ½ 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 134 votes
Prep Time 3 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Calories 168

Ingredients 

For the taco seasoning (see notes):

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground 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
  • 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 ½ 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.

Recipe 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. Brown sugar: Just 1 teaspoon, and feel free to leave it out if that sounds weird to you.
  3. Apple cider vinegar: You can also use white vinegar or red wine vinegar. They both taste good!
  4. Taco seasoning: Ingredients for homemade are right in the recipe card in the amount you need. Or, substitute one packet of store-bought.
  5. Taco toppings: Lettuce, tomato, avocado (or avocado sauce), guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, black olives, minced white onion, cilantro.
  6. Fried taco shells: Fry corn tortillas until crispy on the stove or in the oven.
  7. Lettuce wraps: This taco meat is delicious on butter lettuce or romaine leaves.
  8. Taco salad: Add the cooked meat to a bowl with chopped lettuce, beans, tomatoes, scallions, and a creamy cilantro lime dressing.
  9. Add quinoa. Add cooked quinoa to the mixture to make it more filling or stretch it farther.
  10. 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.
  11. 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: 168kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 28gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 96mgPotassium: 436mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 858IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 35mgIron: 2mg
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Comments

  1. To describe these turkey tacos as delicious is an understatement!! Quick and easy to prepare, we never tire of having these yummy tacos. Even leftover, we look forward to indulging again and again. We accompany these turkey tacos with homemade pico de gallo and guacamole. Nutritious and practically guilt free! Since trying this recipe, I now use ground turkey instead of beef for so many other delicious meals with great delight. Such as lasagna and chili. And like Meggan mentions here, this meal is a frequent go-to nearly weekly all are sure to enjoy. Thank you, Meggan!5 stars

  2. I made this on a whim! I had all the ingredients. Only the meat was organic ground Turkey. It was super quick, easy and delicious! Big hit with the hubby and son. Thank you 😊5 stars

  3. This recipe is a knockout! I prefer turkey because it’s lower in calories and fat and have always struggled to make it taste “taco-ish”. This recipe took my taco-bout-sad to Taco-bout-fantastic! I followed the recipe but did exclude cayenne because I have little kids. There wasn’t any left….it was the most loved meal I’ve made in a while. Use the actual recipe, you will not regret it!5 stars

  4. Bravo! I have to cut out red meat of my diet and one of my favorite food- ground beef tacos. I love this recipe, followed it exactly, and better than any other taco I’ve had! Thank you for sharing. Taco Tuesday’s are back😀

  5. Thank you for this recipe!! I’m so glad I came across it! Simply delicious! No need to make any adjustments! I usually make my tacos with ground turkey but today I’ll be using ground beef instead. I’m sure they’ll be just as delicious! Thanks again!!5 stars

  6. You’re not kidding – these ARE the best turkey tacos! I made them for Cinco de Mayo last night and they were amazing! The spices and ratio of sauce to meat was perfect! Usually ground turkey tacos does not pack the same flavor punch as beef tacos – these definitely did! I followed the recipe exactly and was told by my family that they were the best ever! These will definitely be in heavy dinner rotation for us! Thanks for sharing this!5 stars

  7. Made this and it was delicious. I used the Tomatoe sauce and simmered for about 1.5 hours so the taco meat was not wet. I used to just sauté onions and use a packet of seasoning but this recipe has upped my turkey taco night! Awesome!!5 stars

  8. The only change I made was I only used half of brown sugar. This recipe was amazing. My fam loved it. It is definitely a keeper. I especially liked the onions in the meat. Yummmmy!5 stars

    1. Hi Berenizze, the nutrition facts are for one serving, with is one-fourth of the recipe. Enjoy! – meggan

  9. This was fabulous. I did not use the brown sugar or the tomato sauce as I have a severe tomato allergy. I used water instead and believe me you do not miss the tomato sauce in this recipe at all. My husband says so. This went well with my keto tortillas. Yum, yum. This is a keeper.

  10. These were delicious! My mom can’t stand ground turkey usually but liked these tacos. Thanks for the great recipe!5 stars

  11. I am new to cleansing and eating ground turkey. I am so glad I stumbled upon this recipe! Even my meat and potatoes only boyfriend loved this! I did everything exactly the same as recipe and it was great. Thanks so much for sharing!5 stars

  12. This delicious recipe idea was very satisfying. We made this and it was quite yummy. My original thought was it may not be good but to my surprise and delight it was fantastic. We added a side of guacamole and it was all great together. Thank You!

  13. Amazing – this is 100% approved by my very picky self as well as my husband! Thank you!! The complexity of flavors is wonderful and we found ourselves loving the little tang from the vinegar and the slight sweetness of the sugar. A healthy twist on Taco Tuesday.5 stars

  14. Can I substitute another spice for the coriander or will it be ok if I omit it? It’s the only spice I don’t have on hand. So excited to try this!5 stars

    1. Hi Colleen, you can either omit it or add just a little more cumin to the dish. The cumin has a stronger flavor than the coriander, so I would suggest a pinch or two. – Meggan

  15. Excellent seasoning blend! I was out of my packaged taco mix and used your recipe combo instead. I will never go back to the packaged mix again!!! Everything worked out so well, all the ingredients were perfection. Now it is our family favorite.5 stars

  16. This was amazing! I measured seasonings instead of using a packet, so I could soften the spice for my kids. It was so good. We all LOOOOVED it. I highly recommend.5 stars

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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.

  25. 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. 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.”

    1. 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

  26. 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

    1. 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

  27. 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

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

  29. 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

  30. I made this recipe because I needed something quick to do with ground turkey I thought tacos would be easy enough. My son is fairly picky, and I was scared he wouldn’t like the ground turkey so I turned to Google just see how I could treat it differently than ground beef. My son loved them! He actually liked them better than what I usually make.. Thanks!5 stars

  31. These are the best turkey tacos I’ve ever made! Definitely a keeper. Thank you also for the “jump to recipe” feature. I was pressed for time and using my phone in the kitchen, so this was the most convenient feature.5 stars

  32. Love this recipe! I made a few adjustments because my husband is a crazy picky eater. I used your tomato paste suggestion but reduced it to about 3 tablespoons. I was out of Apple Cider Vinegar so used white wine vinegar. My husband though it was a pan of sloppy joes & I thought oh oh. But…. the taste was amazing. The meat was crazy tender. It was a hit and I’ll definitely make this again.5 stars

  33. This has become our favorite taco recipe ever! I have already made them three times! :) The homemade taco seasoning seems to be the key!5 stars

  34. I tried this recipe but swapped out the tomato sauce for about half a can of diced tomatoes, and added cumin, cayenne pepper, chilli pepper, and chipotle seasoning. It was delicious and I will definitely make it again!4 stars

  35. I made these tonight since ground turkey was on a great sale last week and they’re very good. Sauce is a new interesting take on taco filling though. I made Spanish rice and had black beans on the side. 5 stars

  36. These were delicious. I forgot the onion but they still turned out great. My husband was super sceptical when he heard “turkey tacos” but after eating them he’s won over. These are great paired with corn and green chilies as a side cooked in the cast iron skillet, instead of the regular Mexican rice side.5 stars

  37. great recipe! only thing i would’ve left out is the tomato sauce cause it taste like sloppy joes with it. Next time I’ll just do the taco seasoning and maybe add a little cumin and chili powder to taste. Also if you’re on paleo diet try hearts of romaine or butter lettuce instead of tortillas, very delicious!!5 stars

    1. Hey Thomas, sorry you didn’t love the tomato sauce. For whatever reason it works for me, but yeah, SO easy to leave it out! I’ve eaten this turkey meat on butter lettuce a zillion times, it’s so good! So good. Good call. Thank you so much for leaving a comment! Take care.

  38. I do like turkey tacos and yours look and sound amazing.  I also don’t choose turkey as my first choice for meatloaf!  Too dry in my opinion.  I like your husbands junk food tip, something my husband would totally do :)5 stars

  39. Hhhmmmm…. Turkey tacos? I never thought I’d utter those two words in the same sentence! But I must admit, I think you convinced me to give them a try. The do look delicious! 

    1. I hope you do, because I too shun ground turkey foods! LOL! Except for these. This is my one exception, and they are really good. You may have to get over the mental block of “I’m eating ground turkey” but if you can just take one bite, I think you’ll be convinced. :D