Turkey Tacos

These homemade turkey tacos are perfectly seasoned with a slight sweetness from brown sugar. Serve with your favorite taco toppings or in a taco salad!

turkey tacos

I found this recipe for ground beef tacos in my America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook and decided to try substituting ground turkey for the beef. The only kind of ground turkey tacos I’ve made in the past have been with a store bought taco seasoning packet. In fact, I don’t know that it ever occurred to me to make the filling from scratch!

I am so glad we tried these because they are soooo good! The spices are perfect, and the mixture is so flavorful, with a slight sweetness from the brown sugar. Bob and I have made these probably 6 times in the last few months. They are one of the few dinners that I actually made while I was pregnant to keep in the freezer and have after the baby arrived – we were sure glad to have this dinner twice in those first weeks home with Ava, when simply taking a shower is an accomplishment for the day!  

I typically use lean ground turkey exclusively (not the extra-lean) because I find it has more flavor and isn’t as dry. I had Bob grocery shop for the ingredients for this recipe once, and he got the extra-lean by accident. We used it anyway, and these were still phenomenal! It ended up being serendipitous because now we know that we can use the healthier turkey and not compromise on the flavor!

I double the amount of sauce from the original recipe because we like a little more sauce. My change is reflected in the recipe below.

We have used this taco filling for taco salads and burrito bowls, and it would be great with Cilantro Lime Crema on top!

Gluten Free Turkey Tacos

The filling for the turkey tacos is naturally gluten free. Most brands of corn taco shells are gluten free, but please check your packaging to make sure.

Turkey Tacos Pin

Looking for More Mexican Food?

Check out my favorite Mexican and Tex/Mex recipes:
Costco Copycat Chicken Street Tacos
Cilantro Lime Crema Costco Copycat
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Grilled Chicken Fajitas
Pico de Gallo Chicken Quesadillas
Chicken Mexican Pizzas
Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chili Sauce
Skillet Chicken Fajitas
Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas
Jalapeno Popper Dip
Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls
Layered Taco Dip
Mexican Rice

turkey tacos

Turkey Tacos

These homemade turkey tacos are perfectly seasoned with a slight sweetness. Serve with your favorite taco toppings!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4


For the filling:

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil or corn oil
  • 1 small onion (chopped small, about 2/3 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic (minced or pressed through garlic press, about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 pound ground turkey (lean or extra-lean)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons vinegar (preferably cider vinegar)
  • Ground black pepper

Optional extras:

  • Hard or soft taco shells
  • Shredded cheese
  • Shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce
  • Small tomatoes (chopped small)
  • Sour cream
  • Minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • Hot sauce or bottled taco sauce


  • Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes.
  • Add garlic, spices, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground turkey and cook, breaking meat up with a spoon and scraping pan bottom to prevent scorching, until turkey is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and breaking meat up so that no chunks remain, until liquid has reduced and thickened (mixture should not be completely dry), about 10 minutes.
  • Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, passing toppings separately.


Source: Adapted from the America’s Test Kitchen Complete TV Show Cookbook
You’re Gonna Bake It After All
Keyword main dish, mexican, turkey

2 thoughts on “Turkey Tacos”

  • Shawn and I have made our own taco seasoning in the past when we had left over fixins but no packets. He even put curry in it by accident….the apartment smelled funky but the tacos tasted great! Its a great way to use up old spices…I will definitely have to try this recipe!

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