Healthy Dinner Recipes Made With Ground Turkey

Step away from the beef. Cutting down on the amount of red meat you eat may reduce your risk of developing cancer and can help the environment. But reducing your consumption of meats like beef, pork, and lamb can also leave a gaping hole in your diet.

Enter ground turkey. A 4-ounce serving of lean ground turkey contains 170 calories and 9.4 grams of fat (just 2.5 of them saturated), while still delivering 21.2 grams of protein. When compared to the same portion of ground beef, turkey is the clear winner.

Ground turkey can replace ground beef in many recipes and can taste just as good as its fattier counterpart, provided its prepared correctly. If you’re ready to cut calories but not flavor at your dinner table, try one of these seven recipes using healthy ground turkey.

1. Turkey Chorizo Tacos

tacos

Turkey chorizo tacos | iStock.com

Ground turkey can be a bit bland on its own. Chorizo comes to the rescue in this taco recipe from Real Simple. The Spanish sausage provides all the seasoning you need, so you don’t need to raid your spice cabinet to enjoy a flavorful meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 ounces Spanish chorizo, chopped
  • ½ pound ground turkey
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 corn tortillas, warmed
  • Sour cream, sliced avocado, salsa, fresh cilantro sprigs, and lime wedges, for serving

Directions: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion and chorizo until the chorizo is crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the turkey to the skillet, season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and cook, breaking the meat up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.

Divide the turkey-chorizo mixture among the tortillas and top with sour cream, avocado, salsa, and cilantro; serve with lime wedges. 

2. Turkey Bolognese

bolognese sauce

Turkey bolognese | iStock.com

You don’t need ground pork or beef to make a tasty bolognese. Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis offers her take on the traditional, meaty sauce, which substitutes turkey for the more familiar meats. To make this dish, consider using dark meat turkey rather than white; the dish will be fattier but have a richer flavor.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 pound shredded cooked turkey (preferably dark meat)
  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

Directions: Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey and sauté 1 minute.

Add the marinara sauce. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend, stirring often. Stir in the basil. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper. (The sauce can be made 1 week ahead. Cool the sauce completely, then transfer it to a container and freeze for future use. Bring the sauce to a simmer before using.)

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until just al dente, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten as needed. Serve with the Parmesan.

3. Goat Cheese Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Bacon

man eating burger

Turkey burger | iStock.com

If a bad experience with a turkey burger has turned you off in the past, it’s time to give them another chance. Stuffing the meat with creamy goat cheese adds both flavor and moisture, while sweet caramelized onions and savory turkey bacon provide the perfect finishing touch to this sandwich. Recipe from Good Life Eats.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1¼ pounds ground turkey breast
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 4 to 6 strips turkey bacon (or substitute regular bacon)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or as needed)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 sliced hamburger buns

Directions: Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Shape the ground turkey into 4 patties. Flatten each with your hands, use your thumb to form a depression in the center of each patty, then fill with 1 ounce of goat cheese. Wrap the meat around the goat cheese and reshape into 1-inch thick patties.

Place meat on the grill and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.

As the burgers cook, fry the bacon until it is crispy. Remove bacon from pan and place on paper towels to drain. Add onions to the pan and sauté until very soft and starting to caramelize, about 5 minutes.

When burgers are done, remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minute. Transfer each patty to a bun and top with the bacon and onions. Serve.

4. Ground Turkey Stir Fry

ground turkey stir fry

Ground turkey | iStock.com

Quick-cooking stir-fries are an excellent solution for busy weeknight dinner. Add a little ground turkey to the mix and you can enjoy a filling meal with minimal effort. Recipe from The Lemon Bowl.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-inch piece raw ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoons shaoxing rice cooking wine (or cooking sherry)
  • 1 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ cup scallions

Directions: Heat a wok or large pan over high heat for 30 seconds. Add the peanut or canola oil. Add the garlic, ginger, and chili paste and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the ground turkey. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Add the red peppers and onions and cook for another few minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the meat is no longer pink.

Add the soy sauce, shaoxing wine, and hoisin. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sesame oil and scallions and remove from heat. Serve immediately with cooked brown rice.

5. Roasted Butternut Squash with Turkey Stuffing

butternut squash

Butternut squash | iStock.com

Vitamin C-rich butternut squash is stuffed with a mixture of ground turkey, apple, and cornbread for a flavorful dish that works both as a Thanksgiving side dish or a main course for low-key dinners at home. Recipe from MJ and Hungry Man.

Ingredients:

  • 2 butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 granny smith apple, diced
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt and pepper
  • 6 ounces cubed cornbread stuffing mix
  • ½ to ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 eggs
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil or coat with non-stick cooking spray.

Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Place in the baking dish, cut side up, and brush lightly with olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool. Scoop out most of the flesh and set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium-high. Add turkey and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, breaking meat up with a spoon. Remove meat from skillet and wipe pan clean with a paper towel. Add the butter to the pan and let melt. Add the onion, celery, and apple and cook until soft.

Combine the turkey, onion and celery mixture, cornbread stuffing, butternut squash flesh, chicken broth, and eggs. Mix until everything is combined.

Spoon stuffing into squash shells. Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, until stuffing has warmed through and the cheese is melted, about 15 to 20 minutes.

6. Ground Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

cast-iron skillet shepherd's pie with cheddar cheese

Shepherd’s pie | iStock.com

Classic comfort food gets a healthy upgrade in this take on shepherd’s pie from i am a food blog. Ground turkey replaces the traditional lamb or beef for a lower-fat meal that’s still incredibly satisfying.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons butter, or more to taste
  • 1 cup milk or chicken stock, or more to taste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill a large pot with water. Add the potatoes (make sure they are fully covered by liquid). Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

As the potatoes cook, add the oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook for about 2 minutes, until slightly browned. Add the carrots and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly tender. Add the ground turkey and cook until no longer pink, breaking up larger pieces with a spoon. Add the frozen peas and corn. Mix well, season with salt and pepper to taste, and transfer to an oven-safe casserole dish.

Drain the potatoes and transfer to a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of butter and mash. Mix in the milk or chicken stock, and add salt and pepper to taste. Add more butter or stock until the potatoes have the consistency you want.

Spread the potatoes over the meat mixture. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Bake until top is golden brown in color, about 30 minutes. Serve.

7. Turkey and Arugula Stuffed Bell Peppers

Baked Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers | iStock.com

You only need 15 minutes to prepare these simple stuffed bell peppers, which are filled with a delicious mix of ground turkey, rice, cheese, and arugula. After another 15 to 20 minutes in the oven, they’re ready to serve, which means you can have a healthy dinner on the table in less than 45 minutes. Recipe from Tastes Lovely.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large red bell peppers, cut in half length wise, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1½ cups shredded mozzarella, divided
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the olive oil to a large non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add ground turkey and cook until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Add the rice, garlic, diced tomatoes, arugula, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, and ½ cup of chicken stock. Stir to combine and remove from heat.

Place the peppers in an oven-safe baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Fill each with the turkey mixture. Top with the remaining ½ cup of mozzarella and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until peppers are tender and cheese is melted. Serve.

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