Turkey taco skillet is my answer to eating chips and dip for dinner, but maybe a little bit healthier. Perfect for Netflix marathons or just a casual meal, this one pot meal is easy to make and super fun to eat.
This post was originally published on August 18, 2018. It has been updated with new photos and content. Enjoy!
So chips and dip have always been near and dear to my heart, but honestly I’ve never understood just how much I depend on them until faced with a pandemic that forces me to stay inside and consume mass quantities of television for hours on end. But chips and dip do not a dinner make…or do they???
If you feel similarly about the very real and (in my opinion) very smart idea of turning all of our most beloved snack foods into something more suitable for day to day consumption, then you’ll totally be on board with this recipe.
Turkey Taco Skillet
It sounds like a taco, it sounds like a one pan meal, it sounds vaguely healthy, and kind of Mexican…and it is all of those things, but if you look past all that you’ll see what I see. A big old pan of cheesy, spicy, taco dip, just waiting to get scooped up by the nearest tortilla chip in sight. I mean seriously, what could we all use more than fun and easy comfort food right now?
And while this turkey taco skillet definitely hits the indulgence buttons where we all love them (chips and cheese) it’s also packed with fresh veggies and lean protein, which I’m going to call a win, considering I’ve eaten nothing but bread, butter, and Oreos for the past three days.
So enjoy it with your family while watching something about Tigers on Netflix, or while Zooming with your socially distanced but still super fabulous group of besties. But whatever you do, definitely do it with chips!
What Type of Ground Turkey Should I Buy?
Well in these weird times I’d say go for whatever you can find, honestly. But if I had my druthers (like in the before times) I tend to go for dark meat ground turkey. Most of time it won’t be labeled like that though, so you’ll want to look for something that’s 90% lean or less. This just means that it has a slightly higher fat content than all white meat turkey, and that added fat will help keep your still very lean turkey meat from drying out. OR…
Make Your Own Ground Turkey
I know this seems like a heavy lift, and if you don’t have a food processor, well then yes, it is. But if you do happen to have a decent food processor at your disposal, this is the time (when you’re stuck at home and simply cannot watch Frozen 2 one more G-D time) to use it! Grinding your own meat this way is easy, economical, and gives you the opportunity to know EXACTLY what you’re eating. Here’s how:
- Take your meat of choice (in this case turkey) and cut it into 2 inch chunks.
- Lay the chunks out on a parchment lined baking sheet and pop the whole thing in the freezer for about 20 minutes. You’re looking for the meat to be firm, but not frozen solid.
- Once the meat has chilled pop it into your food processor in batches (I wouldn’t try to grind more than one cup at a time). Use 1-2 second pulses to process your turkey into a pleasantly coarse grind. Transfer the now ground turkey to a bowl and repeat with the remaining turkey meat.
I’m all about subbing things in (unless you’re baking, in which case it can get a little dicey) and out of recipes. I don’t assume that all of your stock your fridge the same way I do, or that you even like all the same stuff (for instance I think cilantro is pretty much the devil of all foods, GROSS). We are all entitled to our opinions, or even just our circumstances. So here are some easy substitutions for making this turkey taco skillet that will still honor the spirit of the dish, while also keeping you from going insane.
- Ground turkey – Feel free to sub in ground beef, ground chicken, or the meat substitute of your choice (I’d skip very fatty cuts like pork or lamb). If you’re using beef, go for the leanest you can find. Conversely, if you’re subbing in chicken go for dark meat, rather than all white meat. Or grind your own!
- Veggies – I used onions, bell peppers, and corn here because to me they scream TACO! But you could really use any vegetable that speaks to you here. Some combos that spring to mind…
- Sweet potato, poblano peppers, and black beans
- Zucchini, red onion, and mushrooms
- Squash, jicama, and jalapenos
- Fresh Tomatoes – OF COURSE you can use canned tomatoes! Especially if you’re making this when tomatoes are not at their best. In fact in that case I’d rather you use canned. If you’re going that route just make sure they are diced and drained. And if you find the kind that are fire roasted or studded with green chilis, even better.
- Cheese – Cheese, I’ve learned, is a deeply personal choice, and I would never think of steering you down any cheesy path you don’t feel great about. That being said, I’d stick to cheeses that melt well (so not feta, goat, ricotta, or haloumi) and that pack some punch in the flavor department (ie: not the time for that fresh buffalo mozzarella or super mild provolone). If you can, grate your own (it’s better I promise) but if you’re into the pre-shredded biz, don’t let that stop you from making this fabulous meal.
- Toppings – What are tacos without toppings? Sad, that’s what. This is the time to let your freak flag fly if you so choose. Minimal or maximal, crazy or demure, traditional or off the wall – it’s your landscape, paint it as you like. But if you’re in need of inspiration, a few of my faves include:
- Sour Cream
- Pickled jalapenos
- Pickled red onions
- Raw red onions
- Toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- Crispy fried garlic
- All the hot sauce
- Crushed up fritos (because why not have chips with your chips?)
- Shredded lettuce
- Diced tomato (if they’re looking good that is)
- Refried beans
- Or anything else that floats your boat!
- Chips – OK, no you don’t have to eat this with chips. You could easily make this a slightly healthier and more formal meal by serving it over rice, quinoa, or crunchy greens and eating it with a fork, like a proper lady/gentleman. But if you’d still like to go the chip and dip route, but don’t want to commit to all the tortilla chips then feel free to sub in thick slices of cucumber, carrot or bell pepper and be amazed how much those things can FEEL like chips, even when they so clearly aren’t.
How Can I Use the Leftovers?
Ha, like you’ll have any! But if you do no worries. You can reheat and repeat the next day, or you can re-purpose them into something new. A couple ideas to inspire you:
- Toss the leftovers into some soft scrambled eggs and pile them into a tortilla for a hearty breakfast taco.
- Pile into a bowl with shredded lettuce, some zesty salsa, and the broken chips at the bottom of the bag. Toss together for a taco salad.
- Boil some pasta in salted water. Hold onto some of the pasta cooking liquid before you drain the noodles. Reheat leftovers in a skillet with a small chunk of cream cheese, some black beans, and a splash or two of your reserved pasta water. Stir the pasta into the sauce and season to taste with hot sauce. Taco pasta is served!
Alright, now you are armed with (probably) more information about a turkey taco skillet than you’d ever need. But if you’re anything like me, knowledge is a comfort to me most days, so enjoy a hearty doss from me.
Turkey Taco Skillet
This is like chips and dip on steroids. It is also incredibly versatile. I often use ground beef instead of turkey, or you can make it vegetarian with soy chorizo and black beans. Confession: we usually eat this directly out of the skillet, parked in front of the TV. We classy.
- Prep Time: 10 Minutes
- Cook Time: 20 Minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 Servings 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: One Pot
- Cuisine: Mexican
2 T vegetable oil (or any neutral oil)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced with seeds and ribs removed
1 C frozen corn kernels
1 lb ground turkey
2 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 T chili powder
1 T ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 small or one large tomato, diced
2 tsp cornstarch
½ C water
6–7 dashes hot sauce
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
Avocado, jalapenos, diced onion, cilantro, and more cheese to garnish
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and bell peppers. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until they begin to soften and take on a little color at the edges.
Add garlic, jalapenos, and corn and cook for an additional minute.
Add ground turkey, salt, and pepper. Break up the turkey and sauté until turkey is fully cooked through and no pink remains.
Sprinkle in chili powder, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.
Stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes.
In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water until thoroughly mixed. Add this mixture to the skillet and stir to combine.
Simmer for 5 minutes. Add hot sauce and taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Turn off heat, sprinkle shredded cheese over the top and cover for 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Top with any garnishes you’d like and serve with chips!
*Sometimes instead of chips I’ll scoop this up with carrot chips and sliced cucumber for a healthier option.
Keywords: One pot meal, ground turkey recipe, easy weeknight dinner