Turkey Tacos (15 Minutes, Secret Ingredient!)

Turkey Tacos that are quick, easy, healthy, juicy and packed with flavor – you won’t even miss the beef with my secret ingredient!

These Ground Turkey Tacos can be on your table in 15 minutes!  They are the perfect dinner for a busy weeknight meal yet just as crave worthy as more labor intensive dinners.  You can make Turkey Tacos with this ground turkey taco meat or turkey taco salad, lettuce wraps, burritos, etc.  This turkey meat also freezes beautifully for prep ahead dinners – just when you didn’t think Turkey Tacos could get any easier!

up close of picking up a healthy turkey taco with ground turkey, taco seasoning, lettuce, sour cream, tomatoes and avocados

With school back in session, I know quick and easy, yet still delicious dinners are in demand so I am trying to share more of what I eat on a regular basis. On days I am not filming recipe videos or photographing recipes, I am taking a break from cooking and making EASY, healthy recipes.

I make tons of smoothies, roasted veggies, stir-fries, soups, sheet pan meals and ground turkey tacos, turkey chili or turkey taco meat in some form or another because I CRAVE it!  Because this turkey taco meat isn’t bland and boring, it is juicy and infused with a secret ingredient that will change your life!

These Turkey Tacos are the answer to all those busy nights, lazy nights, don’t want to cook nights, “what should I make for dinner?” nights, need something NOW nights, need something everyone will LOVE nights but still want to eat HEALTHY nights!

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a row of easy turkey tacos on a white cutting board with lettuce, tomatoes, avocados

How do you make ground turkey tacos taste like beef?

When making ground turkey tacos, you want the turkey to still be juicy and flavorful instead of dry and bland.

Many cooks shy away from using ground turkey in anything but sauces, soups, and casseroles where its flavor isn’t as prevalent or relevant.  In tacos, however, the ground turkey is front and center and more often than not, it is disappointing.

When I was making ground turkey tacos one night, Patrick suggested I add beef bouillon to the turkey.  It was an “ah-ha,” “why didn’t I think of that?!!!” moment that total delivered!

From that day forward, I have used 2 teaspoons beef bouillon for every one pound of ground turkey to infuse it with flavorful beefy goodness whether in tacos, soups, sauces etc. I can’t wait for you to try it – you will be amazed at the results!

You will want to omit the salt in your ground turkey tacos and other recipes you are adding beef bouillon to because the bouillon probably has all the salt you need (a twofer) so please DON’T add salt until you’ve tasted your ground turkey.

easy turkey taco laying with ground turkey, taco seasoning, lettuce, sour cream, tomatoes and avocados

How do you make ground turkey moist?

Due to its low fat content, ground turkey tacos have a bad reputation for being dry.  To remedy this problem, stir in ¼ cup of your favorite salsa or more to taste.  You can even stir in enchilada sauce if you are in a bind.  This not only adds moisture back into your turkey taco meat, but adds another layer of flavor as well – winning!

If you are making burritos or burrito bowls as opposed to tacos, you can even stir in sour cream or Greek yogurt and refried beans in addition to the salsa.  I use this technique in my Beef, Bean and Cheese Burritos and it is phenomenal.

How do you cook turkey meat for tacos?

Making ground Turkey Tacos takes minutes – literally!

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add ground turkey and all of the seasonings (starting with ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper) and cook until almost cooked through, but still slightly pink then add water and salsa and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until cooked through. Taste and add additional cayenne or hot sauce to taste.
  3. Divide filling between tortillas and serve with your favorite toppings such as tomatoes, avocados, lettuce, etc.  That’s it!
showing how to make ground turkey tacos by making ground turkey in a skillet with taco seasonings

How to Customize Ground Turkey Taco Meat

  • Add Beans. Add your favorite beans – some refried beans, black, pinto, etc.
  • Add Veggies. The possibilities are as endless as there are veggies!  You can add bell peppers, corn, zucchini, sweet potatoes, etc.
  • Add Enchilada Sauce. Add some enchilada sauce for creamy turkey and simmer until reduced to desired consistency.
  • More or Less Heat.  would start with ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper if you don’t like much heat and start with ½ teaspoon if you like heat.  Taste and add more as desired, remembering a little goes a long way!
  • Hot Sauce to taste. If it feels like it’s missing something, it is probably a depth of heat.  You can add additional cayenne pepper as mentioned above or hot sauce to taste.
  • Make it creamy. You can make your turkey taco meat creamy by adding refried beans, Greek yogurt or sour cream.
  • Make it cheesy. After your turkey meat is cooked, stir in desired amount of cheese to melt.
  • Add rice or quinoa. Stir in cooked rice or cooked quinoa for added texture.  If you do this, you may need to up the salsa.  Alternatively, you can serve on top of Cilantro Lime Rice or Mexican Rice.
  • Toppings! Serve with all your favorite toppings from avocados/guacamole to chopped tomatoes, salsa, salsa verde, pico de gallo, chopped lettuce cilantro, hot sauce, etc.
top view of easy turkey taco laying with ground turkey, taco seasoning, lettuce, sour cream, tomatoes and avocados

How to Freeze Turkey Taco Meat

This ground turkey taco meat freezes beautifully!  To freeze:

  1. Cook turkey taco meat according to recipe.
  2. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Add ground turkey to a freezer size plastic bag.
  4. Press bag flat, squeeze out excess air and seal.
  5. When ready to use, defrost meat in the refrigerator overnight.
  6. Remove from freezer bag and reheat ground turkey in a skillet on the stovetop or in a microwave-safe container in the microwave. You may want to add additional salsa for juicier turkey.
picking uo a healthy turkey taco with one hand

What should I make with Turkey Taco Meat?

In additional to ground turkey tacos, you can make all your favorite Mexican dishes!

  • Turkey tacos
  • Turkey taco salad
  • Turkey lettuce wraps
  • Turkey burritos
  • Turkey burrito bowls
  • Turkey quesadillas
  • Turkey nachos
  • Turkey chilaquiles

Is ground turkey better for you than ground beef?

This is a huge debate but in the end, it really depends on the lean meat to fatty meat ratio you choose.  Ground turkey is available in several lean to fat ratios that determine its nutritional content, some of which contain more dark meat and therefore are not as lean as the leanest ground beef.

If you choose the leanest ground beef which is about 93 percent lean, and choose the leanest ground turkey which is also 93 percent lean, you might be surprised to learn they come up pretty even in protein, and fat.  When it comes to saturated fat, however, turkey wins.

So if you are purchasing ground turkey to cut calories, be sure to check the Nutritional Label or you could be defeating the purpose.

up close top view of a row of easy turkey taco with ground turkey, taco seasoning, lettuce, sour cream, tomatoes and avocados

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

up close of ground turkey taco with ground turkey, taco seasoning, lettuce, sour cream, tomatoes and avocados
picking uo a healthy turkey taco with one hand

Turkey Tacos

Turkey Tacos that are quick, easy, healthy, juicy and packed with flavor – you won’t even miss the beef with my secret ingredient! They are the perfect dinner for a busy weeknight meal yet just as crave worthy as more labor intensive dinners.  You can make Turkey Tacos with this ground turkey or turkey taco salad, lettuce wraps, burritos, etc.  This turkey taco meat also freezes beautifully for prep ahead dinners – just when you didn’t think Turkey Tacos could get easier!
Servings: 4 -6
Total Time: 15 mins
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins

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Ingredients

Turkey Taco Meat

For Serving

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high.
  • Add ground turkey and all of the seasonings and cook until almost cooked through, but still slightly pink then add salsa and water simmer an additional 5 minutes or until cooked through and reduced. Taste and add salt or additional cayenne or hot sauce to taste.
  • Divide filling between tortillas and serve with your favorite toppings such as tomatoes, avocadoes, lettuce, etc

Notes

How to Customize Turkey Taco Meat

  • Add Beans. Add your favorite beans – some refried beans, black, pinto, etc.
  • Add Veggies. The possibilities are as endless as there are veggies!  You can add bell peppers, corn, zucchini, sweet potatoes, etc.
  • Add Enchilada Sauce. Add some enchilada sauce for creamy turkey and simmer until reduced to desired consistency.
  • More or Less Heat.  would start with ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper if you don’t like much heat and start with ½ teaspoon if you like heat.  Taste and add more as desired, remembering a little goes a long way!
  • Hot Sauce to taste. If it feels like it’s missing something, it is probably a depth of heat.  You can add additional cayenne pepper as mentioned above or hot sauce to taste.
  • Make it creamy. You can make your turkey taco meat creamy by adding refried beans, Greek yogurt or sour cream.
  • Make it cheesy. After your turkey meat is cooked, stir in desired amount of cheese to melt.
  • Add rice or quinoa. Stir in cooked rice or cooked quinoa for added texture.  If you do this, you may need to up the salsa.  Alternatively, you can serve on top of Cilantro Lime Rice or Mexican Rice.
  • Toppings! Serve with all your favorite toppings from avocados/guacamole to chopped tomatoes, salsa, salsa verde, pico de gallo, chopped lettuce cilantro, hot sauce, etc.

What should I make with Turkey Taco Meat?

In additional to ground turkey tacos, you can make all your favorite Mexican dishes!
  • Turkey tacos
  • Turkey taco salad
  • Turkey lettuce wraps
  • Turkey burritos
  • Turkey burrito bowls
  • Turkey quesadillas
  • Turkey nachos
  • Turkey chilaquiles

How to Freeze Turkey Taco Meat

This ground turkey taco meat freezes beautifully!  To freeze:
  1. Cook turkey taco meat according to recipe.
  2. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Add ground turkey to a freezer size plastic bag.
  4. Press bag flat, squeeze out excess air and seal.
  5. When ready to use, defrost meat in the refrigerator overnight.
  6. Remove from freezer bag and reheat ground turkey in a skillet on the stovetop or in a microwave-safe container in the microwave. You may want to add additional salsa for juicier turkey.

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44 Comments

  1. Shauna says

    I’m having the same “why didn’t I think of that” moment! Beef bouillon is brilliant! I know my family is going to love these!

    • Jen says

      Right?! It really is culinary changing! I’m so excited for you to try these tacos and that new trick! Thanks Shauna!

  2. Leslie says

    Your 30 Minute Meals section is a life saver- so please keep them coming! We are making me these tonight and I know they will be fabulous.

    • Jen says

      I definitely will! My goal is to grow that section this year, so in between all the holiday recipes, that’s what I’m going to try and post 🙂 I’m so happy you are enjoying my recipes, I hope you love these tacos tonight!

  3. Kari McOmber says

    Your tortillas look awesome in the turkey tacos, (kind of brown on the edges) how did you make those?

    • Jen says

      Thanks Kari, they are SO easy! I just put the tortillas directly on the burners of my gas stove on the lowest setting then use tongs to flip them. It slightly chars the tortillas on the outside, adding a nice flavor, and heats them through. I use all of my burners so I can whip through a stack of tortillas in a couple minutes.

  4. Sarah says

    Such a great idea! I’ve always added a few dashes of Worcestershire to get a more savory flavor. Can’t wait to try the bouillon next time ❤️

    • Jen says

      All the credit to my hubby! I hope you love it as much as us!

  5. Lynn | The Road to Honey says

    Woah Patrick! Such a genius idea to vamp up the flavor of turkey. Rest assured I will be taking that bouillon trick for a test drive next time I cook with ground turkey. These tacos look incredibly irresistible btw.

    • Jen says

      Agreed! I’m thrilled he thought of it so we can all benefit 🙂 I’m excited for you to try it!

  6. Naomi says

    Jen, your hubby is a genius! I can’t wait to try the turkey with beef bullion for my tacos. Thank you for all of your great recipes!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome and I’ll tell Patrick thanks for you 🙂 I’m so excited for you to try them!

  7. Cheryl says

    Great idea!
    Another way to make it moist is using 93/7 turkey and Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning (1/2 packet per 1 lb turkey). Saute a diced onion with the turkey, then add the seasoning and a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes. Cook until it is reduced to the amount of moisture you want. I tried it the first time this week and it was juicy and flavorful.

    I love your toppings and other ways to use the leftovers – burritos, taco salad etc.

    • Jen says

      Sounds delicious, thanks Cheryl!

  8. AnneMarie says

    What a great idea with the beef bouillon! I’m going to try this and make turkey burgers.

    • Jen says

      Awesome! Those would be delicious!

  9. Megan G says

    Mind is currently being blown right now by how amazing this taco meat tastes! Wow. I did not think that beef bouillon could have such a huge effect! Thank you. Can’t wait to put this into our regular rotation.

    • Jen says

      YAY! Thank you so much Megan, I’m thrilled you love it so much!

  10. Koree says

    Jen! OMG! Taco night at my house has just been elevated to a whole new level!! I made your salsa last weekend (also amazing) and polished it off tonight with these tacos!! I added some pickled onions and the whole combination was mind blowing. THANKS, yet again! This will be a regular in our rotation! 🙂

    • Jen says

      YAY! That is awesome Koree! I especially love that you made my salsa and used that too! And I love the addition of pickled onions- YUM!

  11. Stephanie says

    Hello,

    Just wondering if this is spicy at all? Hoping to make this for my toddler!

    Thanks!
    Steph

    • Jen says

      Hi Stephanie, I would omit the cayenne and then it will just be flavorful and not spicy at all. Enjoy!

    • Jen says

      Awesome, thanks so much Melinda!

  12. Maria says

    Hey Jen! I could not find beef bouillon powder at the grocery store and was hoping I could substitute beef broth somehow? (very new to cooking- not sure if this is a stupid question). In the future, are beef bouillon cubes the same thing as the powder essentially?

    Thanks in advanced from a college girl just trying to make a healthy meal for herself 🙂

    • Jen says

      Hi Maria, no stupid questions! Beef broth isn’t nearly as potent as beef bouillon so it wouldn’t have the same effect but you could replace the water with beef broth. Beef bouillon cubes are exactly the same thing but in nice cubes – you will need 2 cubes instead of 2 teaspoons powder. Good luck!

  13. Bob says

    This was by far the longest anyone has ever made me scroll to get to the actual recipe. Things are getting out of hand.

    • Jen says

      Hi Bob, you don’t have to scroll at all. There is a “Jump to recipe” button right at the top below the recipe title.

  14. Rose Martine says

    I so enjoy your site and your recipes. Would you please consider adding a print option so we can enjoy your recipes a little more easily. Thank you.

    • Jen says

      Hi Rose, I’m so happy you’re enjoying my site. There is a “print” icon on the top right of every recipe card – just to the right of the title. I hope this helps!

  15. Paige says

    I just have the beef bouillon cubes-will these work instead of the powder & if so how?

    • Jen says

      Absolutely! 1 cube equals 1 teaspoon. Just crush it up before adding to the turkey.

  16. Shannon says

    The secret ingredient is genius! Normally I find ground turkey so bland, but this brought it to a new level! Great recipe – will definitely make again!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for your awesome comment Shannon! I’m so happy it’s a new repeat favorite!

  17. CounselorChick says

    YUMMY! Didn’t have beef bouillon & for those interested in a Health boost, I subbed out 2 TBS of Nutritional Yeast. Amazing. Thanks so much for this recipe.

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome! I’m so happy it was a hit!

  18. Kas says

    Made these for a party….
    I don’t normally cook with ground turkey but these turned out Really Good….loved the idea of adding beef bullion , I used a concentrated dry beef broth powder as I rarely cook with salt, they were a bit salty for us but by time the toppings were added they were a big hit!! The fussy eaters in our group even liked them!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for the awesome review Kas! I’m so pleased these turkey tacos were a hit, thank you!

  19. Janet Loop says

    This recipe is on repeat in our house. I was ready to give up on ground turkey and then I saw your secret of beef bouillon. I gave it a try and now I am in love with this recipe. I make these every 2 weeks now. The seasonings just come together and create great flavor. I grew up on San Diego – Poway actually – and love spice and Mexican. I tried making it without the cayenne pepper because my husband (a true New Englander) does not like the little bit of heat they have (even only using 1/4 tsp). But they were flat – even my husband agreed that I had to go back next time and add the cayenne pepper.

    Please keep these tasty recipes coming.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for your awesome comment Janet, I’m so pleased these turkey tacos are on repeat and that you love the beef bouillon trick! I grew up in Poway too – small world! I moved there when I was 2 and went to Painted Rock, Twin Peak and Poway High – love that place!

  20. Teri says

    This is a.great idea! Could I use Better than Bouillon instead of the powder stuff? How exactly would that work – since it’s typically dissolved in hot water. Thank you.

    • Jen says

      Absolutely! Just whisk the better than bouillon into the 2 tablespoons of water in the recipe, and if that’s enough, you can add the salsa too. Good luck!

  21. Lia Schreuder says

    These Turkey Tacos were a hit! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Jen says

      So happy to hear that, thanks Lia!

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