Weeknight Baked Turkey Tacos.
Everyone adores these baked ground turkey tacos! These are perfect to make on a busy weeknight and so delicious. Cheesy, warm and topped with lettuce, avocado and pico de gallo, they are great for a family meal.
This is our family’s most favorite taco recipe at the moment.
They’re crunchy, cheesy and loaded with all the good toppings.
Tacos have changed a bit in our house! Much to my excitement, one of Max’s current favorite foods happens to be tacos. It makes me so happy and honestly… shocked.
It’s not just any tacos though. And it’s not a version of a street taco or anything fancy.
It’s that classic hard shell taco, which I find hilarious because it had been YEARS since I bought hard corn shells. Years. It’s basically the kind of taco I ate as a kid.
He really loves tortilla chips and I’m not sure when, but he had a taco in a hard corn shell and put cheese, salsa and lettuce on it and was thrilled. Now he asks for them almost every single week. We even ate them the night before school as our special dinner.
I make these many different ways, but this is the no-fuss version that happens often when we’re busy during the week. Especially now with school back in session, our weekdays are packed. I want dinner to be easy, delicious and something that everyone looks forward to.
These tacos are ALWAYS a winner. Everyone gets excited at the thought of them.
I almost exclusively use ground turkey for our tacos, but of course that is interchangeable with ground beef. Use whichever you have or love. I brown the ground turkey and add my own taco seasoning. It’s something that I make so often that I don’t even measure it anymore – but it is a bit smoky and not very cumin heavy. We enjoy it so much and use the seasoning mix any time we make nachos or taco salads too.
Once the ground turkey is ready, I stuff the shells. The kids love to help with this part too. This is what I’ve found: now that we have five solid eaters in this house, it’s great to make a big baking dish full of these tacos. It’s simple, easy and gets the job done. Plus, everything gets warm and melty and tastes so good together!
(P.S. can I just say that it’s crazy that we have FIVE eaters in this house? I seriously feel like it was just Eddie and I a few weeks ago, and I was cooking whatever, whenever I wanted and we ate whatever, whenever we wanted. My mind is blown!)
So, back to the tacos. I line up the shells in a 9×13 baking dish. This works best for our family but if you are feeding fewer people, use an 8×8 or 9×9 dish. Regardless of size, the taco shells won’t fit perfectly in dish. That’s okay! Just make them work and don’t smash them.
The delicious secret is to add some cheese to the bottom of the hard shell. This makes everything extra cheesy. I love to use chihuahua cheese (I find it at my local grocery store) because it melts perfectly. You can also use cheddar. Sprinkle in some cheese, then top with a few spoonfuls of the seasoned ground turkey. There is no right or wrong here, no way to overfill or underfill. Fill them as much as you wish, based on the toppings you want to add on.
Of course, the next step is to add another little sprinkle of cheese. Cheese on both ends please! Then I add shredded lettuce. My kids love lettuce for some reason. They don’t really eat salad, but they ask for lettuce on their burgers and lettuce on their tacos! I am not complaining.
Next comes a salsa or in this case, my quick homemade pico. This is Eddie’s favorite part of any taco-ish meal that we have, so I always make it. We use it for topping and use it as a chunky salsa too. I make it a few hours ahead of time if possible and it gets better as it sits in the fridge. I also throw in some avocado if I have it.
Then I bake ‘em. 400 degrees for 10 or 15 minutes, just until everything is crisp, warm, melty and marrying together in flavor.
Baking these in a dish like this makes them so incredibly easy to serve, especially to kids. This way we can all sit and eat at one time, as opposed to them eating one taco, then asking for help with another and so on. It’s convenient, delicious and also a great way to utilize the leftovers!
If we happen to have leftovers for this meal, I will wrap the tacos up in foil and store them in the fridge. A quick reheat in the oven makes them taste brand new.
Annnd thank you for coming to my ted talk on easy tacos. This is nothing groundbreaking but it’s a huge hit with our little family and I knew I had to share with you!
Baked Ground Turkey Tacos
Weeknight Baked Turkey Tacos
- 1 pound lean ground turkey (you can sub beef)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- 12 to 15 hard taco shells
- 1 to 2 cups grated chihuahua or cheddar cheese
- shredded lettuce, for serving
- chopped avocado, for serving
quick pico de gallo
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
- ½ sweet onion, diced
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- ½ lime, juiced
- pinch salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line up your taco shells in a 9x13 baking dish. They won’t fit exactly like a puzzle, and based on the shape of your dish, you can lose or add a shell.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. With ground turkey, I rarely add any oil to the skillet. If needed, you can add 1 teaspoon of olive oil (or your oil of preference).
- Once the skillet is hot, add the ground turkey and break it apart with a wooden spoon or meat chopper.
- Cook, stirring and breaking apart the turkey often, until it begins to brown. Add in the cumin, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, salt and pepper. Stir well to disperse all the seasonings. Cook until the turkey is just browned.
- I love seasoned turkey for tacos like this, on the drier side – it’s a personal preference. If you’d like it saucier, follow the directions below. You can also add in a tablespoon of beef or vegetable stock, or even tomato sauce, to make it saucier.
- Sprinkle a bit of cheese in the bottom of each taco shell. Top with a few spoonfuls of ground turkey. Top with more cheese.
- Place the baking dish in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until everything is melted and warm. You can make the pico at this time if you haven’t already.
- When the tacos are done, bring them out and cover with shredded lettuce, chopped avocado and the pico de gallo. Let cool for a minute then serve.
- Note: if you find yourself with extra ground turkey, just store it in the fridge. I use it to either make a quick quesadilla, throw on a taco salad or make a single taco if needed. (Always needed.)
FOR A SAUCIER GROUND TURKEY
- I use a slurry to make my taco ground turkey saucy. Fill a shaker cup with ½ cup cold water or beef/vegetable stock. Add 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour, masa or whole wheat flour to the liquid and cover it. Shake for at least 30 seconds. With the turkey skillet on low heat, slowly stream in the slurry while stirring with a wooden spoon. Stir often and cook over low for about 10 minutes.
Chewy, crunchy, limey goodness.