Quick & Easy Kid-Friendly Turkey Taco Recipe

This recipe for turkey tacos is quick and easy and your kids will love it.  It is loaded with fresh vegetables, but you can’t even tell they are in there.  Making tacos as a family is a great way to get everyone involved in a fun stress-free environment.

Quick & Easy Turkey Tacos Recipe with Simple Pico de Gallo

Turkey Tacos Recipe

Adapted From:  Cooking Matters; Chef John Haddock
Serves:  8 with leftovers


For The Tacos:

turkey taco ingredients - cooking matters

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 15oz can pinto beans, drained
1 zucchini
1 15oz can petite diced tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes – but I like the petite diced for little mouths)
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
…or skip chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and paprika and add 2.5 tbsp taco seasoning
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

shredded cheddar cheese
taco shells
romaine lettuce
pico de gallo

For The Pico de Gallo:

pico de gallo ingredients - cooking matters

4 roma tomatoes
1/4 red onion
1/2 jalapeno pepper
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 tbsp garlic (1 clove)
1 lime
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cumin

Making these tacos couldn’t be easier, and the kids can help with almost every single step.  Even your youngest kids.  Anthony helps me out all the time around the kitchen, and is able to do a lot of the tasks that older kids can do.  Here are a few way your kiddos can help you out around the kitchen.

Cooking Side By Side – Cooking Tasks To Get Your Kids Involved in The Kitchen

  • crack eggs
  • measure out ingredients
  • rinse, scrub and peel produce
  • grate cheese and vegetables
  • roll out and shape dough
  • open cans
  • stir ingredients in pots and pans
  • use tongs to flip over foods
  • pour ingredients while someone else stirs
  • set and clear the table
  • clean up and do the dishes
  • gather ingredients and cooking equipment

Now that you know HOW to get the kids involved in the kitchen, it’s time to start cooking.

First, start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees.  Place taco shells on a baking sheet in a single layer, and set aside.

Prepare vegetables for pico de gallo and tacos:

  1. Rinse and grate zucchini.  Use a box grater, like one you would use to shred cheese.  Shred into a bowl lined with paper towel, and squeeze to remove the extra liquid.
    grated zucchini

    If you do not have paper towels, a clean kitchen towel or even a coffee filter will work.

  2. Rinse and shred lettuce.
  3. Grate cheese.
  4. Rinse, core and dice tomatoes for pico de gallo.  Slice tomatoes into quarters, and using a sharp knife, carefully cut away the seeds in a slow, sideways motion.  Cut seeded tomato quarters into strips and then dice.  Add diced tomatoes to a bowl and continue to step 5.  You can save the tomato seeds, and any other vegetable scraps (other than peppers, really) and freeze them for an easy homemade vegetable stock.
    IMG_2045 IMG_2046IMG_2047
  5. Next ingredient in the pico de gallo is the red onion.  Finely dice onion, and add to bowl with diced tomatoes.
  6. To seed and chop the jalapeno for the pico do gallo, cut the top of the pepper off, and then cut vertically in half – think like a hot dog, not a hamburger.  Use a spoon and over a trash can scrape out the seeds and ribs.  Cut seeded jalapeno into thin strips and very finely mince.  Add to bowl with tomatoes and onion.
  7. Chop cilantro very finely by keeping the tip of your knife on the cutting board and moving the blade back and forth until all of the leaves are finely chopped.  Add to bowl with onion, tomatoes and jalapeno along with 1 tbsp minced garlic.  I really like buying the already chopped garlic that is in oil – it is cheap and goes a long way, and saves a lot of work of chopping sticky garlic.

Finishing mixing Pico de Gallo.  In the same bowl that your tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, garlic and cilantro are in, add the juice of 1 lime, salt, pepper and cumin.  Stir and set aside until you’re ready to eat.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil and heat until shimmering.  Add turkey and half of the spices, and cook, stirring constantly to break up all the clumps of turkey and mix in the seasoning.

turkey tacos - raw meat and seasoning

Cook turkey for 5-8 minutes or until there is no more pink, and the meat is all broken up.  It should look like how ground beef looks when you cook it.

turkey tacos - raw meat and seasoning

Add zucchini, tomatoes and pinto beans and remaining spices to turkey.  Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix the veggies and beans with the turkey to really combine.


Reduce heat to medium and cook until thickened – about 20 minutes.


Meanwhile, with about 8-10 minutes or so left of cooking time of your taco mixture, bake taco shells according to package directions.  Remove from oven, and set aside until ready to serve.

To serve, add cooked meat mixture to each taco shell and top with grated cheese, shredded lettuce and pico de gallo.



These turkey tacos were absolutely stinkin’ delicious.  I couldn’t even tell there was beans, or vegetables in with the turkey, and adding the little bit of extra veggies and beans really stretched this pound of turkey far.  We had a ton of leftovers – see what I did with those tomorrow!  Anthony devoured his taco in 2.5 seconds it seemed.  I can’t wait to see how the parents and kids in the Cooking Matters for Families class love these tacos on Tuesday!



Side Notes:

If your family prefers soft tacos, go ahead and switch out the corn taco shells for whole wheat tortillas or even serve the meat mixture over a bed of brown rice for a burrito bowl! 

Don’t like pinto beans?  No problem.  Substitute any kind of bean your family likes.  Black beans and kidney beans would both make great additions to these tacos.  

Top your turkey tacos with your favorite hot sauce for an extra kick, or add a some sour cream to cool them down.

Comment (1)

  • MMMM! My family LOVES tacos and this looks fantastic! Must try 😉

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