Turkey tacos: Skip the taco packet for your next Taco Tuesday and make this healthy ground turkey taco recipe. This super easy and filling dinner will be on the table in under 25 minutes!

Tacos were pretty much an every-week staple at my elementary school growing up.  And I remember this being a crazy popular lunch day but I don’t remember ever eating them at school.

In hindsight, my brother and I were lucky kids; our mom was a work-at-home mom (almost unheard of in the 80s) and she had the ability to be there every morning to make our lunches. Once a week, she gave us money to buy lunch at school and I picked carefully: either deli day (Thursdays) or pizza day (Fridays, naturally).

I don’t think my mom was ever exposed to tacos and refried beans until we were at a Girl Scout jamboree camping trip circa 1988 so until then, we never ate them at home either. I couldn’t tell you if that was weird for the time but I CAN tell you tacos soon became a revolutionary meal in our house!

In our house now, you’ll see tacos show up on our menu at least twice a month and while Kyle and I love to make them traditionally with my homemade taco seasoning, we’re not against trying other varieties either.

Or even eating tacos in other forms like lasagna and pasta salad.

These turkey tacos are a little different from the norm.

Cilantro Lime Rice

There’s a little brown sugar and cider vinegar added, both of which add a tiny hint of sweetness to the turkey and boost the flavor of the tacos exponentially, especially with the contrast of a little heat from the chili powder.  We freaking love these turkey tacos!

I’ve been heating up the leftovers for lunches this week along with the leftover refried beans and cilantro lime rice I made to go with the tacos and either for lunch or dinner, these tacos are already a mainstay on our menu! We’ve made them more times than I can count over the years!

Healthy Turkey Tacos

Healthy Turkey Tacos

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Total Time: 21 minutes

Ground turkey tacos are a fantastic way to change up your Taco Tuesdays! Made without a taco seasoning mix (loaded with sodium and preservatives!), you'll love how easily this turkey taco recipe comes together on a busy weeknight.


For the tacos:

  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 ¼ lbs (20 oz) ground turkey (not 99% fat-free)
  • ½ cup canned tomato sauce
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

  • 8 corn tortilla shells
  • Shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced avocado
  • Chopped red onion
  • Sour cream
  • Lime wedges


  1. In a 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, garlic, oregano, and tomato paste and stir for 30 to 60 seconds, until the tomato paste is evenly distributed.
  2. Add the turkey and cook for 3-5 minutes, breaking up the turkey with a wooden spoon into smaller pieces as it cooks; the turkey should be cooked through but still slightly pink.
  3. Stir in the tomato sauce, chicken broth, vinegar, and brown sugar and bring the mixture to a simmer; simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving hot in taco shells. Stuff your tacos as desired.


adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook by the editor’s of Cook’s Illustrated

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Leave a Comment

  • April 20, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    I love subbing turkey for beef. these look great, Tara!

  • April 20, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Yum! These look great, and I really am excited to sub out ground beef for turkey. 🙂

  • April 20, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Totally love turkey for tacos! This recipe is more like a sloppy joe recipe I have except for the spices… i bet its as saucy as it is spicy, very tasty!

  • April 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Mmmm you are making me crave Mexican food. But then again, when am I NOT craving Mexican food? Great idea with the turkey. I will have to try it!!

  • April 21, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Love the healthy and the turkey in these tacos!

  • April 22, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    I love using turkey instead of ground beef in things. It changes the classic up slightly and adds different flavours. I have been dying to make turkey tacos for ages, but I think you’ve just given me the inspiration to try it out this week! I’ve been making my chilli with ground turkey for ages now and like it even better than the original with ground beef.

  • May 3, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    These look so tasty! the turkey must add a very different flavor

  • February 24, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    Made this and it was fantastic! Thanks!!

  • joie
    September 3, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    how did you make the shells?