Slow Cooker Turkey Taco Meat {and a Taco Salad}

Turkey Taco Meat

I have never been a big slow cooker user, but over the last year have realized just how handy they can be. Now that our schedule has us away from home 4 evenings of the week, I am on a mission to collect good crock pot recipes because I will have to start prepping dinner in the morning if we want to eat at a normal hour.

I stocked up on my proteins at Costco but soon realized I have only tried chicken of vegetable dishes in the slow cooker. I wanted to have taco salads the other night so I thought it would be a good experiment to try simmering turkey taco meat in the slow cooker. The filling turned out great and was easy to prepare early in the day. If you have beef lovers they will never know this isn’t beef, especially since the black beans darken the mixture a little and add some more depth to the turkey.

My kids don’t love vegetables mixed in their food  (what is that all about anyway?) so I knew to limit the corn I added. All in all, it was a perfect make-ahead meal that is very versatile. It is great reheated for leftovers too!


In addition to prepping the meat, I went ahead and cleaned and chopped the vegetables for the salads in advance: lettuce, tomatoes, bell pepper, onions, cilantro, guacamole, etc. It was worth it come dinnertime when all I had to do was assemble the salads. The salad is dressed simply with fresh lime juice; feel free to add some olive oil or other dressing if you prefer. I knew with the guacamole, salsa and turkey/bean mixture there would be plenty of flavor! So good!!

This same meat mixture can be eaten in tacos, burritos, on nachos, over rice or another grain. Lots of options!

Turkey Taco Meat

I found the next three slow cooker recipes online (recipes and photos courtesy of Cooking Light) which I might try next.

I love that the soup is literally has you dumping everything into the pot. I think I can adapt this one to my kid’s likings.

Tuscan Chicken Soup


this looks healthy and a great way to get in those veggies….

Vegetable and Chickpea Curry


my kids love pesto so hoping they won’t miss the meat in this one…..

Pesto Lasagna with Spinach and Mushrooms


So I’d love to hear it, tell me YOUR favorite slow cooker recipe.

Slow Cooker Turkey Taco Meat (and Taco Salad Recipe)
  • 1 lb ground lean turkey
  • ½ onion diced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1½ cups black beans (or 1 (14 ounce) can drained)
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce with green chilies (I used Rotel brand)
For taco salad (use any or all of the following in desired amounts)
  • Romaine
  • Onion, diced
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Bell peppers, diced
  • Cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Limes for dressing
  • Guacamole
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Tortilla Chips
  1. Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil or cooking spray, add diced onions and saute for a couple minutes. Add ground turkey and break up with a wooden spoon, add salt, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and black pepper and cook for about 5-6 minutes or until turkey is has started to brown (it's ok if still a little pink).
  2. Transfer to crock pot, add beans, corn and tomato sauce and stir to combine. Place lid on crock pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Use mixture for taco salad, nachos or tacos.
  3. For taco salad, place chopped romaine, onions, diced tomatoes, diced bell peppers, chopped cilantro in a bowl and dress with fresh lime juice (and a drizzle of olive oil if desired). Add some tortilla chips on top of salad, spoon taco meat over chips, garnish with cheddar cheese, salsa, guacamole.

Questions: Do you use the slow cooker? What are your favorite slow cooker recipes?

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    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

      That is a great idea. I love getting some of the cooking out of the way before I am too tired!

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

      Most of the other recipes I have tried involve raw meat so I think it would turn out just fine. I wasn’t sure if it would get the same browning that the skillet does, but it is definitely worth trying. I also wanted it done in about 5 hours so that is why I thought of pre-browing it. If you use beef you might want to do the skillet method or find a point where you can drain it mid-way, with the lean turkey you don’t have to worry about that. You will also need to break up the meat at some point in the cooking or it might turn into one big clump after 8 hours of cooking. Let me know if you give it a try!

  1. says

    I have used my crock pot FIVE DAYS IN A ROW this week. I also cooked taco meat. But I put in almost 6 pounds of meat. Then we had some with taco salad and the rest I froze 4 one-pound freezer bags.

    My favorite crock pot recipe is to put a whole chicken in with seasoning. That is it. No liquid needed! It will be so juicy. Then you can shred the leftovers for another meal and strain the liquid for a soup base.

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

      I have been meaning to try the whole chicken for ages. Now I definitely need to! The crock pot is a life saver!

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

      How funny, you’ve made that curry recipe? I love all Cooking Light recipes- they never disappoint.

  2. says

    I love the slow cooker, especially now that the kids are back in school and sports–it’s always great to have a meal waiting for us. This one looks perfect and I will definitely be trying it out!

    My favorite slow cooker recipe is for a white bean/kale soup. Love it!
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