What's For Dinner? Ground Turkey for the Win

It’s time to give ground turkey — a weeknight hero — its due.

Mini Turkey Meatloaf and Green Beans Sheet-Pan Dinner

Mini Turkey Meatloaf and Green Beans Sheet-Pan Dinner opens in a new tab

Life without ground turkey would be a lot less delicious. It’s my go-to meat for burgers and meatloaf, one of my favorites for chili, and a terrific stuffing for tacos, empanadas and more.

Sure, it’s a weeknight workhorse, quick cooking, economical and boasts a pretty stellar nutritional profile. But it’s also outstandingly tasty, always elicits requests for second helpings. All that, and it even has an exotic side (more on that later!).

A marvelous ingredient deserves a genius recipe, and this Mini Turkey Meatloaf and Sheet Pan Dinner opens in a new tab is exactly that: A delicious dinner full of deep, satisfying flavor that’s a cinch to make and, since everything bakes on one pan, you’re left with minimal cleanup.

Crispy Turkey Patties with Artichoke Chimichurri

Crispy Turkey Patties with Artichoke Chimichurri opens in a new tab

One of the great qualities of ground turkey is how well it mixes with shredded vegetables, absorbing their flavor and gaining moisture for tender results. This meatloaf mix uses familiar onions, but also gets kudos for introducing a new turkey partner — grated sweet potato. It keeps the meatloaves in the comfort-classic realm while still adding depth of flavor. Best of all, the mixture is neutral enough to invite some kitchen improv: Stir in a favorite chopped herb such as sage or thyme, add some minced garlic or ginger, or try a teaspoon of ground cumin or Cajun seasoning.

More Great Recipes

Did I mention ground turkey’s exotic side? My family’s been on a dumpling kick for some time now, and that’s made Quick Make-Ahead Turkey Dumplings opens in a new tab very relevant. If you’ve got a free hour, it’s great to prepare and freeze for easy dinners; there’s even a video to walk you through it.

And if you want to experiment with just how deliciously different a turkey burger can be, don’t miss this fabulous recipe for Crispy Turkey Patties with Artichoke Chimichurri opens in a new tab. Quinoa both inside the burgers and as a coating gives them a wonderfully unique texture. They’re a great match for the spicy, tangy sauce, which leaves ketchup in the dust.

Finally, for an explosion of seasonal flavors, you can’t beat this Turkey Pumpkin Chili opens in a new tab; try doubling the jalapeño and spice, if you dare!

Turkey Pumpkin Chili opens in a new tab

Ground Turkey Tips

  • Ground turkey is usually sold as either breast (white) or thigh (dark) meat. Recipes may specify one or the other, or you can choose which you prefer. Ground breast will be leaner while ground thigh will be more flavorful. Turkey that’s not specifically labeled as either is probably a mixture of both.

  • Ground turkey will keep refrigerated for 2 or 3 days. You can also freeze it, double-wrapped in heavy-duty or freezer wrap for up to 6 months; thaw it for 24 hours in the fridge for best flavor.

  • Try not to compact ground turkey. Using a light touch when mixing it or forming burgers or meatloaf will help give you tender, juicy results.  

  • Use this trick to decide if you like the seasoning level in your mix for burger, meatloaf or meatballs before you cook it: Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add just a touch of oil. Form a heaping teaspoon of your mix into a small disk and cook it until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Let it cool for a minute or two and taste it.

  • Need a break from beef? You can substitute ground turkey in almost any recipe that calls for ground beef. Remember that it’s leaner, so you may need to add a touch more oil to your pan if you’re sautéing or browning it.

What’s your favorite ground turkey recipe? Let us know!

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