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 32 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. Tina Bourgeois

    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

  2. Shelly

    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

  3. Tami Harrah

    so good. Thanks you. Moist and flavorful5 stars

  4. Karen

    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

    1. Meggan

      That’s amazing! Thanks for letting me know Karen!

  5. Elizabeth

    Very easy and tasty. The family loved it!5 stars

  6. Cara

    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

    1. Meggan

      Wow! Thank you so much Cara! This makes my day! :D -Meggan

  7. jessica johnston

    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

  8. Crystal

    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

  9. Christina

    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

  10. These do sound absolutely delicious! Perfect for mid-week meals.

  11. thomas

    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. meggan

      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.

  12. 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

  13. 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. meggan

      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

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