April 28, 2020

TURKEY TACO MAC AND CHEESE

7 Comments

This turkey taco mac is a satisfying family dinner made easy. With ground turkey, packaged shredded cheese, and a few pantry items, it is a simple one-pot meal everyone will love.

Turkey Taco Mac and Cheese
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These days cooking from what is available in the house is essential now that I can’t run the store anytime I’m out of an ingredient. This pasta maximizes a package of ground turkey and turns it into a hearty meal that feeds a family. Utilizing canned sauces, packaged taco seasoning, and shredded cheese makes this taco mac an ideal (mostly) pantry meal.

Things I like about this dish: one-pot, budget-friendly, easy to make, quick, kid-friendly, and comforting.

Are you in?

Let’s get to it!


Turkey Taco MacTurkey Taco Mac and Cheese


Recipe highlights:
  • Add olive oil to a large pot over medium high heat.
  • Add ground turkey. Brown.
  • Season with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder.
  • Reduce heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent. 
  • Stir in crushed tomato, tomato sauce, water, sugar, and taco seasoning.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Add elbow macaroni and pickled jalapeño peppers.
  • Bring to a boil. 
  • Reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until elbows are just shy of tender, stirring every five minutes. 
  • Stir in half of the shredded cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over pasta.
  • Cover and cook for a few minutes until cheese is melted.
  • See recipe card for detailed instructions.

Ground turkey and onions cooking in a pan

Ground turkey and tomato sauce cooking in a pan

Ground turkey and tomato sauce cooking in a pan

Turkey taco mac cooking in a pan



What to serve with this meal?
While this taco mac is delicious and substantial on its own, these here some great sides ideas:


What can I substitute?

Pasta dishes in general are versatile, and that's one of the reasons I love them. This is no exception. Substitutions for this recipe can be made without sacrificing taste.

Pasta substitutions:
No elbow mac? No problem! Use pasta you have on hand. Make sure to swap out for the same quantity by weight. This recipe has 10 ounces of elbow mac. If swapping out for pene, for example, you would need 10 ounces pene.  Keep in mind, cooking time might vary slightly when making pasta substitutions. Adjust accordingly.

I use a kitchen scale regularly. It is a helpful gadget to have if you do any amount of cooking. My scale is old and I don’t think it’s available anymore. But something like this one (affiliate link) is handy to have when you need to weigh ingredients.



Turkey Taco Mac and Cheese

Turkey Taco Mac and Cheese

Tomato sauce substitutions:
This recipe utilizes 28 ounces of canned crushed tomatoes. You can substitute with an equal amount of another variety (28 ounces of diced tomatoes, for example). Canned whole tomatoes would work too but make sure to hand crush the tomatoes before adding to the sauce. 

The recipe also requires 8 ounces of tomato sauce. If there is none available, switch it out for chicken broth. In a pinch, water will do.

Meat substitutions:
Ground turkey is used in this recipe, but any ground meat would be delicious...chicken, beef, even pork!

The taco seasoning gives the dish a Tex-Mex flair and warm robust flavors. I mixed half of the shredded cheese into the pasta and half on top. Other options are to incorporate all the cheese into the pasta or add all to the top. Whichever you choose, it will be fantastic!!  


More easy dinner ideas you'll want to try!

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TURKEY TACO MAC AND 
CHEESE

Turkey Taco Mac and Cheese


INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/3 pound ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup chopped onion (1 small onion)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (28-ounce can crushed tomatoes)
1 (8-ounce can) tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup water
2 (1-ounce packet each) taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sugar
10 ounce uncooked elbow macaroni (2 1/4 cups)
1/3 cup pickled jalapeño peppers, chopped (comes in a can)
8 ounce shredded cheese(I used taco blend)



INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Add olive oil to a large pot over medium high heat.
  2. Add ground turkey. Brown, breaking into small chunks. 
  3. Add salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Stir to incorporate.
  4. Reduce heat to medium.
  5. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently.
  6. Stir in crushed tomato, tomato sauce, water, sugar and taco seasoning.
  7. Bring to a boil.
  8. Add elbow macaroni and pickled jalapeño peppers (more is even better).
  9. Bring to a boil. 
  10. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until elbows are just shy of tender, stirring every five minutes. 
  11. Stir in half of the shredded cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over pasta.
  12. Cover and cook for a few minutes until cheese is melted.

Makes 6 servings.


Recipe Notes:
  1. Pasta substitutions can be made using the same quantity by weight of another pasta variety by weight. Cooking time might vary slightly when making substitution. Adjust cooking time accordingly.
  2. Add 1/2 cup or so more liquid towards the end of cooking time if the pasta seems too firm when the majority of the sauce has been absorbed.


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7 comments:

  1. I sometimes make something similar to this in the Instant Pot, and it's always a win! Your looks so cheesy and comforting, Thao!

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    Replies
    1. Yours must be delicious, Katherine!!! One of these days when I finally tackle the instant pot, I’ll try to make this in it. I have had the thing for 1 1/2 years and have yet put it to use (my husband has a few times)!😆

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    2. I smiled here because I gave my first instant pot to one of my daughters. Then I found a really good sale and bought another--which is still in the box :)

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    3. Thank you for making me feel better about showing up late to the instant pot party, Inger!😁

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  2. Mac and cheese is my all time favourite. Your pictures look so great and step by step pictures are helpful. Thanks for an amazing recipe.

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  3. This looks really good and I'm not even a mac n cheese fan! Plus I think I have most of the ingredients!

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    Replies
    1. Sounds like you’re in the same mac and cheese club as my husband. He’s not a fan of it either. I’m glad it looks appealing to you, though!

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