10 Tasty New Ways to Make Ground Turkey for Dinner Tonight

Ground turkey is a good substitute for ground beef when you’re looking to eat more healthfully. Ground turkey is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than ground beef, but it’s still full of protein and nutrients. The meat is also convenient in that you can swap it in for ground beef in many, if not all, of your favorite recipes. Check out these recipes that substitute ground turkey for your dinner tonight. The dishes are simple to make, healthy to eat, and easy to love. You might even find yourself preferring these ground turkey recipes over beef.

1. Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps

lettuce wraps

Lettuce wraps | iStock.com

We’re kicking things off with a dinner your family will request again and again. These Thai turkey lettuce wraps from Betty Crocker prove ground turkey doesn’t have to be bland. Seasoned with Thai flavors, the filling to these wraps will be so flavorful that no one will mind you’re feeding them lettuce wraps rather than carbs. This recipe serves a crowd, feeding 12, and it takes only 30 minutes to make. You might not have thought to flavor your ground turkey filling with cilantro, fish sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, and red chili paste, but now you know.

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ pound ground turkey
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions (4 medium)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic and red chili paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ⅓ cup chopped salted peanuts
  • 12 medium bibb lettuce leaves, rinsed, patted dry with paper towel

Directions: In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook turkey over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until thoroughly cooked; drain and return to skillet. Stir in green onions, cilantro, mint, lime juice, fish sauce, peanut butter, chili paste, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Cook 3 to 4 minutes longer or until hot.

To serve, spoon 2 heaping tablespoons turkey mixture, 2 tablespoons carrots, and 1 teaspoon peanuts onto each lettuce leaf; wrap around filling. Serve warm.

2. Turkey Barley Vegetable Soup

Barley soup

Barley soup | iStock.com

During soup season, it’s easy to get sick of slurping down your favorites night after night. Tomato and butternut squash soup are great, but sometimes you need something a little more hearty. Enter: turkey barley vegetable soup from Real Simple. Get in your lean meat and grains while still eating healthfully. One serving of this soup yields only 230 calories, and it couldn’t be easier to make. As long as you have ground turkey, vegetables, broth, and barley on hand, you can make this turkey barley vegetable soup. It will serve 4 and take you 15 minutes to prepare. The soup has texture and crunch thanks to the barley, vegetables, and turkey on its ingredients list. And it’ll warm you from head to toe.

Ingredients:

  • tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ pound ground turkey
  • onion, chopped
  • carrot, sliced
  • stalk celery, chopped
  • cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • cups baby spinach, chopped

Directions: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until browned, 3 to 5 minutes; transfer to a plate.

Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the saucepan and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Return the turkey to the pan and add the broth and barley; season with ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer until the barley is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the spinach.

3. White Turkey Chili

Turkey chili

Turkey chili | iStock.com

Chili is also fan favorite, and this white turkey chili from Eating Well will help you get your fix the healthy way. Take a break from the beef, and instead go the lean turkey route. You’re sure to enjoy how the white meat pairs with garlic, onions, zucchini, seasonings, and beans. Bulgar is added to the chili, giving it fiber and volume and helping you stay satiated longer. As it makes 6 servings, you can prepare this white turkey chili on a Sunday and enjoy it all week long. It can be covered and refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for three months.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced (about 3½ cups)
  • ½ cup bulgar
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 15-ounce cans no-salt-added white beans, rinsed
  • 2 4-ounce cans green chilis, mild or hot
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

Directions: Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add zucchini, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is starting to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add bulgar, oregano, cumin, coriander, white pepper, and salt, and cook, stirring, until aromatic, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in white beans and chilis, then pour in broth; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced and thickened and the bulgar is tender, about 50 minutes.

4. Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey meatloaf in a dish

Meatloaf | iStock.com

Meatloaf: It’s the dinner we all pretend to hate and then can’t get enough of. Try the turkey version from Epicurious, and see whether that story rings true. Meatloaf might not look appetizing, but everyone knows it’s delicious, especially when served with sauce or ketchup. This version enlists turkey, eggs, bread crumbs, seasonings, mushrooms, and vegetables. It requires 30 minutes of active time and then will bake in the oven for 50 to 55 minutes. Turkey meatloaf is the perfect healthy comfort food, and this recipe proves ground turkey can make the meal just like beef can.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into ⅛-inch dice
  • ¾ pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and very finely chopped in a food processor
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
  • ⅓ cup 1% milk
  • 1 whole large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1¼ pound ground turkey (mix of dark and light meat)
  • Ketchup

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook onion and garlic in oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Add carrot and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and they are very tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and 3 tablespoons ketchup, then transfer vegetables to a large bowl and cool.

Stir together bread crumbs and milk in a small bowl, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in egg and egg white, then add to vegetables. Add turkey and remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper to vegetable mixture, and mix well with your hands.

Form into a 9-by 5-inch oval loaf in a lightly oiled 13-by 9-by 2-inch metal baking pan, and brush meatloaf evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons ketchup. Bake in middle of oven until thermometer inserted into meatloaf registers 170 degrees Fahrenheit, 50 to 55 minutes.

Let meatloaf stand 5 minutes before serving.

5. Ground Turkey Bolognese

Bolognese sauce

Bolognese sauce | iStock.com

It’s hard to turn up your nose at ground turkey when it’s the star ingredient of a Bolognese dish. Try this turkey Bolognese from Delish, and watch yourself come around to the substitute for beef. This lighter Bolognese is something everyone will approve of, and no one will feel guilty about second helpings. The recipe serves 4 and takes only 10 minutes to prepare. Turkey Bolognese is as easy as cooking angel hair pasta and then combining vegetables, garlic, ground turkey, crushed tomatoes, and seasonings in a large skillet. Toss your homemade Bolognese with the angel hair pasta, and garnish with Parmesan and parsley. Italian food doesn’t have to be diet-devastating, and you can thank ground turkey for this one.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup dry white or red wine
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

Directions: In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook angel hair according to package directions until al dente. Drain, and return to pot.

Meanwhile, make Bolognese. In a large skillet or pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add ground turkey, and cook until no longer pink, 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

Add crushed tomatoes, wine, parsley, and dried oregano.

Let simmer until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Toss with cooked angel hair. Garnish with Parmesan and parsley.

6. Turkey-Spinach Sliders

Turkey burgers

Turkey burgers |iStock.com

Mini turkey burgers you can cook on the stove? We say yes, thanks to this food formula from Bon Appetit. It proves how delicious ground turkey can be in a round of sliders. You’ll pack your patties with spinach, scallions, garlic, turkey, and cumin, and then you’ll cook them on the stove. There’s no need to brave inclement weather and make these turkey-spinach sliders on the grill. Simply heat oil in a large skillet, and you’re ready to go. You can enjoy your patties on buns or on a bed of lettuce. The recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • ½ bunch flat-leaf spinach, thick stems removed, leaves chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 slider buns or small dinner rolls, split, lightly toasted (for serving)
  • Mayonnaise, sliced red onion, and pickle slices (for serving)

Directions: Combine spinach, scallions, garlic, turkey, and cumin in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Using a fork, mix gently just to combine. Form turkey mixture into 12 ½-inch-thick patties.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook patties until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Serve turkey-spinach patties on buns with mayonnaise, onion, and pickles.

7. Ground Turkey Tacos

Tacos

Tacos | iStock.com

Beef and cheese tacos are all the rage, but don’t forget there are other meats you can serve in your tortillas. Ground turkey is especially exceptional in tacos, and the lean meat helps you leave room in your stomach for all of the toppings. This recipe from Martha Stewart serves up ground turkey tacos that have all of the good stuff. Flavor your ground turkey with chili powder, salt, and tomato paste. Then, divide it among 10 shells, and top your tacos with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pico de gallo and sour cream.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 pound ground turkey (dark and light meat)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth or water
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 medium red tomato, cored and chopped
  • 10 hard taco shells
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Pico de gallo
  • Avocado, for garnish

Directions: Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add onion, and cook until onion becomes translucent. Add turkey and cook, breaking up meat with the side of a spoon, just until meat is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in chili powder, salt, and tomato paste and cook 1 minute. Add broth and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid becomes thick and clings to meat.

Divide meat mixture, cheese, lettuce, and tomato among taco shells, and serve immediately with optional sour cream, pico de gallo, and avocado.

8. Turkey and Egg Casserole

egg and pianch casserole baked in a ceramic dish

Egg casserole | iStock.com

You can have your lean meat for breakfast and get your protein while indulging in your favorite breakfast or brunch fare. This turkey and egg casserole from Betty Crocker subs out fatty sausage and for lean ground turkey, making it a breakfast you can feel good about eating. This casserole is perfect to serve when you have a crowd coming over, as it serves 12. You can make the colorful egg bake the night before and relax the next morning. It stars ground turkey, hash browns, mushrooms, olives, eggs, cheese, and a fresh tomato topping.

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ pound bulk Italian-seasoned lean ground turkey
  • 5 cups frozen country-style shredded hash brown potatoes
  • ½ cup sliced green onions
  • 2 jars sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 can sliced ripe olives, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 3 cups shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 8 eggs
  • 1½ cups fat-free milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Topping:

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 medium Italian plum tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves

Directions: Spray 13-by-9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish and 10-inch nonstick skillet with cooking spray. In skillet, cook ground turkey over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until no longer pink. Remove turkey from skillet; drain on paper towels.

In large bowl, mix potatoes, onions, mushrooms, olives, 1 tablespoon basil, and 2 cups of the cheese. Stir in turkey; spoon evenly into baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese.

In large bowl, beat eggs. Stir in milk and ½ teaspoon salt; pour over potato mixture in baking dish. Cut sheet of foil large enough to cover baking dish; spray with cooking spray. Cover baking dish with foil, sprayed side down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake covered 45 minutes. Uncover; bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until center is set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Meanwhile, spray 8-inch nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add garlic; cook and stir over medium heat 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are tender. Stir in 2 tablespoons basil.

To serve, cut egg bake into squares; serve with warm topping.

9. Turkey Fried Rice

scoop of fried rice

Fried rice | iStock.com

Back to the dinner game, we come to this turkey fried rice from Food & Wine. This recipe proves ground turkey is versatile. It tops homemade fried rice flavored with lemongrass and ginger. Turkey fried rice might sound intimidating to make, but it’ll only take you 30 minutes and serves 4. Potato chips garnish the fried rice for a little crunch, and you can serve the dish with hot sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced lemongrass, tender inner white bulb only
  • 4 ounces ground turkey
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups leftover (cold) cooked rice
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped mint
  • ½ cup plain potato chips, lightly crushed
  • Asian-style hot sauce, such as sriracha, for serving (optional)

Directions: Heat a wok until very hot. Add the vegetable oil, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass, and stir-fry over high heat until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the ground turkey and salt, and break up the meat into small clumps. Stir-fry until the turkey is just cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Make a well in the center of the ground turkey. Add the eggs, and stir-fry over high heat until just set into large curds, about 2 minutes. Add the rice, and stir-fry until heated through and the grains are separated, about 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce, and stir-fry until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil, and transfer to bowls. Stir in the scallions and mint, and garnish with the potato chips. Serve with hot sauce.

10. Turkey Biryani

Indian chicken biryani on a silver platter garnished with mint

Biryani | iStock.com

Last is turkey biryani from Fine Cooking. The traditional Indian rice dish is composed of layers of rice, meat, and vegetables. In this simplified version, you can make everything in one pot on the stove. Then, bake the turkey biryani for 10 to 12 minutes. The spiced meat of choice in this dish is ground turkey, and it pairs perfectly with the butter, curry powder, cardamom, cloves, garlic, ginger, and cinnamon. Step out of your box, make this turkey biryani, and feel good about your homemade cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 16- to 20-ounce package ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup roasted cashews
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions: In a heavy-duty 5-quart pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, 1 tablespoon of the curry powder, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the turkey is lightly browned and cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the peas, and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick, and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the rice and the remaining 1 tablespoon curry powder. Add the broth and raisins, and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook until the rice is just tender and the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes.

Discard the cinnamon stick. Fold the turkey mixture, cashews, and cilantro into the rice, and cook just until the turkey and peas are warm. Season to taste with salt and serve.