Mom’s Ground Turkey and Peppers

I’m smiling as I write this. Why? Because there is no dish that reminds me more of my mother than her ground turkey with peppers. I’ve never had it anywhere but at home, not even at a school cafeteria, where God knows they’ve served every other budget meal known to mankind. Did my mother invent it? Probably not, but she may just as well have. We’ve eaten this in our house at least once a month for almost 50 years. And you know what? It’s good. It’s cheap (especially ground turkey thighs which have the added benefit of more flavor). It can be cooked in the time it takes to make some rice or pasta to go with it. For years she seasoned the ground turkey with chili powder or chopped pickled jalapenos. These days she likes to add the smokey flavor of chipotle powder.

Do you have a favorite ground turkey recipe? Please let us know about it in the comments.

Mom’s Ground Turkey and Peppers Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

The method given is my mother's "one pan" approach, because she's only cooking up one pound of ground turkey, enough for 4 people. If you are increasing the recipe to serve more people, you may want to remove the vegetables after they've cooked and set them aside as you cook the turkey meat, or cook the meat and the vegetables in two separate skillets.



  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion, including some chopped greens from scallions or green onions
  • 1 bell pepper (red or yellow preferred), chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb ground turkey, preferably ground turkey thighs
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder or chili powder (or to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or cilantro


1 Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and bell pepper and cook until onions and peppers are softened, a couple minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds more.

moms-ground-turkey-1.jpg moms-ground-turkey-2.jpg

2 Push the vegetables to the edge of one side of the pan and position that side of the pan so that it is off the burner, away from the heat. The empty part of the pan should be right over the burner. Add one or two more tablespoons of oil to coat the empty part of the pan. Put crumpled chunks of ground turkey in the pan, sprinkle with salt and chipotle or chili powder.

3 Cook the turkey without stirring until it is browned on one side, then turn the pieces over to brown the other side. Once the turkey is just cooked through, stir in the onions and peppers, and sprinkle with more salt and chili powder to taste. Remove from heat. Stir in fresh chopped parsley or cilantro.

Serve alone, or with steamed rice or noodles.

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Ground turkey escarole soup from Lydia of The Perfect Pantry
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Showing 4 of 62 Comments

  • cheryl k

    We’ve been eating ground turkey forever in my house too! I like it with peppers, parmesan and orichetti pasta, we also love it in tacos. We like to mix the regular ground turkey with a spicy turkey sausage that we buy at our local farmers market. It’s great on pizza too!

  • Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    My mom, who was not a good or adventurous cook, never used ground turkey in anything when we were growing up. I can’t imagine cooking without it, as I’ve come to substitute it in so many dishes I used to make with ground beef. Meatloaf, meatballs, burgers — I still make the beef versions of all of them, but more often make them with turkey. And for those of us who don’t eat pork, ground turkey is a great substitute. I love your mom’s recipe. You could stretch it by adding a bit of cooked pasta and using the turkey and peppers as a sauce, too.

  • Terry Oliver

    One of the quickest things I could whip up for my teenage son and his 3 friends, that everybody loved, was a dish they named “Glorp”. It’s an old camping recipe we used to make with ground beef, updated with turkey. Browning the meat, then adding a can each of diced tomatoes, yellow corn, and a packet of ramen noodles (along with the seasoning packet)was easy enough, and I always doubled the recipe to keep everyone satisfied. I ended up modifying it over the years and substituted thin rice noodles for my celiac husband. It’s easy to jazz up with whatever spices that suit your taste, especially is sodium is a concern.

  • TexasDeb

    This looks great – just the kind of quick and easy dishes warmer summer weather requires. We have been enjoying M. Simon’s pickled peppers (from Ruhlman’s blog) around here recently and I think the peppers would be fabulous in this recipe. I could see throwing in leftover cooked rice as well.

    Thanks for sharing this – a real keeper!

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