Turkey Tacos

I first started cooking for myself when I was in college and lived in an on-campus townhouse with 3 other roommates.  Taco night was always a big hit. We would pick up one of those taco kits – you know the ones, with taco shells, salsa, and a taco seasoning packet. All we had to do was add ground beef or ground turkey and assemble a few toppings (lettuce, tomato, cheese).  Then, when I got married (right after graduating from college), my hubby and I still enjoyed taco night.  I don’t remember if I still bought the whole kit, but I know I still relied heavily on the seasoning packets.

Now, over 5 years later, I have since graduated from the seasoning packets. The more I cooked (and the more I began to care about the food that my husband and I were eating), the less interested I was in grabbing a packet of pre-mixed seasonings (with all kinds of other junk in there, too) to add to my dinner.

We still enjoy taco night (although, I don’t think we eat tacos nearly as much as we used to)… Sometimes it’s fun to assemble little bowls with all of our favorite toppings and sit down to a make-your-own-taco dinner. On the surface it may look very much the same, but the taco filling has changed drastically over the years. I tend to throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand and wing it on the spices.  As it turns out, tacos from scratch really are quite easy to make. If you feel like measuring spices is a chore, don’t worry about it. Since I want you to understand the joy that is tacos-from-scratch night, I’ve included easy ways to measure the spices in the palm of your hand.

Take my word for it… Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult.  Once you learn to relax and wing it in the kitchen, you’ll never want to go back!

Turkey Tacos

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey (93/7)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 small bell pepper, diced
  • 2 jalapeños, minced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
    (about 1 palm full)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
    (about 1 palm full)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    (about 2/3 palm full or about 1/3 palm full twice – whichever is easiest)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    (about 1/3 palm full)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Pinch Kosher salt
  • Tortillas or taco shells
  • Favorite toppings (lettuce, tomato, sour cream, etc.)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the turkey and brown in the oil.  Once the turkey has browned, add the onion, garlic, zucchini, bell pepper, and jalapeño.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the onions are translucent.  Add in the tomatoes, spices, and water. Stir to incorporate the spices and water with the meat and vegetable mixture in the skillet. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low.  Simmer for about 10 minutes. Season to taste with the Kosher salt (about a pinch or two).

Transfer the taco filling to a bowl and serve with tortillas or taco shells and your favorite toppings.  Enjoy!

14 Responses to Turkey Tacos

  1. That looks so good. I find myself making some version of tacos once every two weeks. I can’t wait to try this version.

  2. The tacos look good Jen but what resonated with me was the story about seasoning packets. Oh my…almost forgot those. I left home at 18 and although I had cooked a lot in a family with six kids…on my own I didn’t want anything to do with that ‘chore.’ My idea of a stocked pantry was having one for chili, one for spaghetti and one for tacos with a can or two of tomato sauce! I guess you could say we’ve come a long way baby!

  3. Mmmm…I need me a good taco fix. You know i just started in last few months started cooking with ground turkey. I’m so used to ground beef and chicken. I really like how the texture comes out. Why didn’t I cook with it before?

  4. You know, I never thought about throwing veggies in with meat for tacos, but it sounds like a great “clean out the fridge” kind of meal! I’m still trying to get my husband on board for the whole vegetables thing, but if I can ever convince him to eat anything other than meat and starch without complaint, I’m totally giving this a try!

  5. Oh yes, taco night is still in full effect at our house on a regular basis. I mix it up now, sometimes roasted chicken or slow-cooked pork tenderloin, but ground turkey is on a continual rotation. Thanks for the great alternate version!

  6. our kids love our tortilla evenings – and with this dish they only got better. Love the fact that its a lean meat + that you add veggies. This recipe is going to become a regular! Thank you!! I did reduce the amount of spice considerably and added a little honey.

  7. I’m looking forward to cooking these tacos for lunch tomorrow! I already chopped up all the vegetables so it should be really fast. It was my first time buying jalopeno peppers at the grocery store. One question, are you supposed to add the seeds with the minced jalopenos or get rid of them? I wasn’t sure.

    • Heather – Hope you enjoy the tacos! It’s up to you whether or not you leave the seeds in the jalapeños… Removing the seeds takes out some of the extra heat, so if you like things spicy, feel free to leave them in! If not, just take them out before you start chopping.