Ground Turkey Taco Pasta is a super creamy and flavor-packed meal made a little lighter with lean ground turkey. This easy meal idea is going to change the way you do taco night!
Taco Tuesday is something a lot of families look forward to, but as the one who actually has to make said tacos, I am always looking for ways to change things up a bit.
My Turkey Taco Pasta is loosely based off of my super popular Taco Mac and Cheese recipe. It’s got tender pasta shells, sharp cheddar cheese, salsa, and a hint of lime. It’s a simple meal that packs a real punch of flavor. The pasta is tender and the sauce is creamy and cheesy with a little bit of heat and a hint of lime. I used a jarred salsa for this taco pasta recipe, which adds a fantastic flavor, but you could also add some additional veggies, like peas and carrots, to round out this dish as a full meal. On the side, my taco salad (just leave out the meat) would be a delicious option.
I love creating ground turkey recipes as an alternative to ground beef. It’s tasty and packed with protein, and is much lighter than beef which will save a few calories and fat while still creating a delicious meal.
HOW TO MAKE TURKEY TACO PASTA
Making a big pan of my Ground Turkey Taco Pasta couldn’t be easier! You just need a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand.
Start by cooking a pound of ground turkey with some onion and garlic. This will add flavor to the meat itself. If your turkey releasing a lot of liquid during cooking, you may want to drain it before adding anything else.
Next, add some of your favorite salsa, but I do recommend that it be a more blended salsa, and not chunky so that it can help to form the sauce a little better. Chunky salsas tend to be more thin and watery. Stir in some taco seasoning and water and let that pot simmer for about 10-15 minutes. The mixture will reduce and thicken a bit, so when time is up you can add some cheese to complete the sauce.
While the turkey taco meat is simmering away, cook some pasta shells (or macaroni, or rotini) in a pot of boiling water. Depending on the brand and the size of the pasta the cooking time may vary, so be sure to check the package. You want al dente pasta, so the pasta should be tender but still have a bit of a bite to it.
Once everything is cooked, it’s time to bring it all together with some more cheese! I used two kinds of cheese for this Turkey Taco Pasta – Sharp Cheddar and Pepper Jack, for a little added heat, and just sprinkled them on top and let them melt.
Just before serving, garnish the pasta with some fresh tomatoes, green onions, avocado, sour cream, or any other taco toppings you can think of! We like to add crunchy tortilla chips sometimes, too.
CAN YOU FREEZE LEFTOVER TACO MEAT?
Sometimes I will make a double batch of the taco meat and yes, it freezes beautifully! Just scoop out the portion you plan to freeze to a separate bowl and let it cool completely. Then transfer it to a freezer bag, label it and freeze for up to 6 months. To thaw, place frozen taco meat in the refrigerator overnight.
Sliced green onions and diced tomatoes for garnishoptional
Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook onions until soft; 3-4 minutes. Add ground turkey and garlic and cook until meat is no longer pink; about 5 minutes. Drain any liquid and return meat mixture to the pan.
Stir in salsa, taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until sauce is thickened and reduced. Stir in cheeses until melted.
Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and stir pasta into the meat mixture until coated.
Sprinkle remaining cheeses (½ cup of each) evenly over taco pasta, turn heat to low and cover for about 3 minutes or until cheese melts).
Garnish with sliced green onions and fresh diced tomatoes. Serve immediately.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.