Mom’s Ground Turkey and Peppers

Quick and easy, sautéed ground turkey with onions, garlic, bell peppers, and seasoned with chipotle chili.

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.

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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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Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. Cindy

    This looks great. I also started substituting turkey for recipes that call for ground beef. I just made my version of Shepard’s Pie using ground turkey. I’ll be sure to try this out next time.

  6. Tonya

    Growing up in a dairy family, we always had ground beef on hand so our budget meals revolved around that as our staple. Your mom’s recipe is very similar to one my mother made a couple of times a month. But my absolute favorite was one that she saved until the very end of the month when the fridge and wallet were at their barest.

    She’d brown a pound of ground meat with some onion and mix it into a box of prepared Macaroni & Cheese with a can of drained corn and small can of tomato sauce. OMG! It was the best EVER!

    Though I no longer eat beef, I do enjoy making some of those childhood recipes with ground turkey as a substitute.

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. mj

    Hi Elise…….I use ground turkey quite a bit like the others. However, I have one “recipe” that serves me very well. I brown very lean grd. turkey in olive oil with or without seasoning depending how I feel. LOL. I undercook lentils and peas and drain a bit. I cook bulgar or brown rice (quinoa might be good too). I blend them all together and make sure they cool quickly.

    Now I freeze this “recipe” FLAT in plastic bags. I use this combo to add to soups, stews or anything that needs a boost of thickness or nutrition…..quite a powerhouse. I just break off as much of the frozen combo as I need and add to whatever I’m cooking.

    I can also take this and add veggies to it to make a meal. I count on having it in the freezer. Thanks everyone!

  8. Karina

    I love the way your Mom cooks. I can just imagine the wonderful aromas in her kitchen. The combo of ground turkey, onion and peppers is a favorite around here. A welcome change from using beef.

    I remember the first time I served ground turkey burgers at a family gathering- years ago- and my elderly grandmother kept looking at the burger with suspicion. She took one bite and declared, Well. It’s certainly not beef! Everyone laughed.

  9. Denise

    HMO is my BF’s fav right now, he can’t get enough of it. We eat it about 2x a week. BUT as much as I love it, its time for a change. I’ll give this recipe a try. Thank you!

  10. Lillian

    Do you think extra-firm tofu would substitute for a full vegetarian version of this? If so, is there anything you would recommend to squeeze a little more flavor out of the tofu? Regardless, this recipe is definitely going on the “Elise’s recipes” rotation. Yum!

    Hello Lillian, I wouldn’t know what to advise. Perhaps someone else more familiar with substituting tofu for ground turkey could offer a suggestion. ~Elise

  11. Cookin' Canuck

    I love family recipes that mean so much to that family. I use ground turkey in almost any recipe that calls for ground beef. One of my favorite dishes is a lasagna that I make with a bechamel sauce. Yum!

  12. melissa

    We have been making chili with ground turkey for years! We put it in the crock pot in the a.m., and by dinner time it is ready! I also use a pound of ground turkey, cut fresh green peppers (we have a garden), use some chili powder and ground red pepper. We like to have it with spaghetti (Texas-style) and garlic cheese bread :-)

  13. Mary

    Elise, I love your post and this kind of casserole. Several months ago I did a post on victory gardens and slumgullion. Back then folks used ground beef in dishes such as these but it can be swapped with turkey in all the old recipes.

  14. Alicia

    We make something similar in our house, based on my mom’s “goulash” recicpe from my childhood (that really is nothing like real goulash). Take your recipe above, add cooked macaroni pasta (or any small “holed” pasta) and tons of shredded cheddar cheese, and mix together in a large saucepan or skillet until all melty and cheesy. I’ve tweaked the recipe to add whatever I have at the time. Sometimes I add fresh or frozen corn, sliced olives, and jalepenos or green chiles and go heavy on the cilantro and chile powder for more tex-mex style (I’ve even mixed some sour cream into it…it turns out great!). Sometimes I add mushrooms and italian stewed tomatoes and use parmesan instead of cheddar to make it more italian. :) Even small children eat it!

  15. Bob

    Looks great, ground turkey is a good time. I usually make turkey cakes with it, they’re like a mini meatloaf kind of thing.

  16. Duane

    Not being a full time cook, I have one question about this recipe. Is the ground up turkey ‘raw’ or the left over meat from a roasted turkey?

    Raw ground turkey. ~Elise

  17. Cynthia

    Turkey lettuce wraps

    1 package ground turkey
    1 can baby corn
    1 can sliced water chestnuts
    1 can bamboo shoots
    mushrooms (optional)
    handful of toasted pine nuts
    soy sauce

    1 bunch romaine lettuce or iceberg

    chop baby corn, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms roughly.

    sautee ground turkey, using spatula to break up chunks. When meat is almost cooked through, add 3-4 tbsp of soy sauce. Add chopped baby corn, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms. Stir and continue to cook. Either drain or cook off excess liquid. Toss in pine nuts and stir again.

    Spoon mixture into lettuce cups. wrap up like a soft taco and enjoy. Alternatively, spoon mixture onto a bed of lettuce and enjoy!

    *for low carb, omit the baby corn and use additional bamboo and water chestnuts.

  18. CM

    I grew up eating an Indianized version of this. There is an Indian dish called keema that is ground meat, traditionally mutton, with spices. My mom would make it with ground turkey, first cooking some finely chopped ginger, garlic, and onion in oil, then adding cubes of parcooked potatoes, whatever veggies were on hand, and seasoning with a mix of Indian spices (garam masala by itself works fine). We still eat this but my American husband christened it “turkey and stuff.”

  19. Stephanie

    I’ve been making a similar ground turkey dish, but I add a can of stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce and a little tomato paste. I start w/garlic, onions celery and carrots (sometimes adding bell pepper), then brown my turkey. I add the tomato trio and let things simmer about the same time I start the rice/pasta and it all gets done at the same time. Have always added a little cumin to my dish.

  20. edna lewis

    Lillian: try using “smoked” tofu as a substitute. Smoked tofu has a more robust flavor as well as being “firm.” You can probably find it in an Asian store. If you can’t find the smoked tofu, try the recipe with regular tofu with an Asian kick: ginger, garlic, water chestnuts, peppers, green onions, and dried red pepper flakes. Marinade the tofu in a sauce of mirin, sesame oil, etc. Good luck!

  21. Brian

    This is great basic recipe to use as a starting point for alot of other dishes too. you could use this meat/veg recipe as the basis for tacos, enchiladas, pasta dishes, dirty rice, chili, etc, etc. thx

  22. Mrs. L

    Ground turkey with peppers was a dish I made back when I was eating “low carb” years ago and didn’t have a lot of bucks. My mom would give me these frozen ground turkey chubs. These days I make the same dish with beef and pork at times. Good stuff, filling, simple to make. I call it “gloop”.

  23. Samantha

    I use the ground turkey to make my own version of sloppy joes. I use one pound ground turkey, 1 can of campbell’s chicken and rice soup, a small onion, 1/2 red bell pepper, 1/2 cup of ketchup, and 1/4 cup yellow mustard. I saute the turkey with the chopped onion and pepper until brown and then add all the wet ingredients, season it with salt and pepper to taste and server on toast or buns. It’s quick and easy and I think yummy!

  24. Allegra

    Update: We just had this for dinner and it was sooooo good and healthy. I put it over some steamed rice and topped it with some diced avocado — we couldn’t get enough!

    This would be perfect with some diced avocado thrown in. Excellent idea. ~Elise

  25. Kate

    This ended up being the perfect recipe for a night when I ended up having to work late… Quick to make and pretty tasty, too! Added a little hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce to the mix and served over white rice. Good times :)

  26. Barb

    One of my son’s favorite meals that I make is a Greek turkey burger/meatloaf. I mix ground turkey, frozen (thawed) spinach, feta cheese, chopped kalamata olives, Greek seasoning, sometimes a sauteed onion. I either make burgers or a meatloaf. Delish.

  27. Scott

    I made this last night. It was delish. I used Ancho and Chimayo chilies instead of Chipotle and added a cup of chicken broth to moisten the mixture up before adding to a bowl of rice. Very filling, fast, cheap, delicious! Thanks.

  28. purvis

    I made this last night also. It was quite good, and reminded me rather of Mom’s Chili Bean recipe which I’ve made more times than I can count. It seemed to be missing something, though. Like maybe it was a little dry and/or lacked flavor. I used 1 t chipotle pepper, but then added 3 small chopped jalapenos at the end, which helped. I used 2T oil for the veggies and none for the turkey (which as 15% fat–usually I use 7% but I had a gut feeling this would be much better with the higher fat, and I’m glad I went with it). Maybe I should use oil for the turkey also. I’m on Weight Watchers right now, and one serving (the way I made it) contains 8 points, so this was a good, filling choice for me.

    I do recommend using fat for the turkey too. Otherwise it is likely to turn out rather dry. Glad you liked it! ~Elise

  29. Jacque

    Could you give me a rundown on which ground turkey to buy. The few times I have used it, it has tasted awful, but I have had other people’s turkey dishes and been impressed. What am I doing wrong?

    No idea. I do recommend getting ground turkey thighs (dark meat) as it will be more flavorful than ground turkey breasts, assuming your store carries a choice. ~Elise

  30. Cat

    I made this last night… but before serving, I added some of your Mom’s recipe for Simple Salsa and a bit of Cilantro Vingerette from a cookbook that I LOVE called The Passionate Vegetarian. http://www.passionatevegetarian.com. WOW did it turn out great, served it with a little brown rice and a green salad. Thanks for the great ideas!

  31. Kate

    This looks great — I’m always looking for quick and easy dinner recipes for weeknights (darn day job!). This is very similar to my Thai turkey, which is essentially the same thing but with an Asian spin (sriracha and fish sauce instead of chipotle.)

  32. Sarah Knowles

    Hi Elise! Greetings from a blustery but sunny London, England. Two things: firstly, I love your recipes. Secondly, I made this dish last night and it was fab!

    I bought a pack of ready-ground turkey in readiness at the weekend but then only remembered fairy late yesterday evening that I wanted to make this recipe and didn’t have time to look it up, so I did it from memory.

    The only thing I forgot was the chili, which would obviously have given it a little kick. But to be honest, we add chili to nearly everything and it was actually nice for once to have something without it.

    Even my other half loved it, and he’s quite particular :-)

    A lovely, cheap, quick and soothing Monday night meal.

    Many thanks!
    Sarah

  33. Angela

    I made this tonight with a few modifications: lots of Italian parsley, Vidalia onions, extra garlic, and a tiny bit of honey barbecue sauce mixed with a couple teaspoons of water.

    Delicious with fresh sliced tomatoes and an onion roll!

  34. JM

    This also makes a great alternative to the processed taco kit from the super market. I prepared this verbatim save for the turkey which I stirred frequently; seasoned vigorously with chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, ground cumin; served on soft tortillas with a little shredded cheddar and jack, chipotle tabasco and sour cream. Delicious. Thanks for a great, versatile recipe.

  35. Percival

    Just made this recipe the other night, and it was delicious. The salt & spice of the turkey contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the onions & peppers. And so versatile! This one is going in the recipe book.

  36. Eden

    I’ve been on your website for a long time, but not sure I’ve ever commented before. Whenever I’m looking for food inspiration, I stop here first.

    I haven’t been cooking much the last week because of a busy schedule and the other night I came home starving and remembered this recipe. I printed it off and cooked it up and then made some roasted veggies too. Ate the whole thing. I love simple, quick, fast recipes for busy days and I think this one will be a keeper. Thanks!

  37. Dianne

    I just made this and it is a wonderful quick and satisfying lunch/dinner. I used hickory smoked sea salt and added mushrooms. Then I served it with Kashi whole grain pilaf and crusty peasant bread. Dinner on the table in about 20 minutes and everyone is satisfied.Very filling.

  38. Morgan

    I made this last night and it was great! I was searching for something that didn’t require me to go to the store :)

    It also makes great leftovers. I just added some pasta, baby spinach and a little spoonful of pesto to make it go further. YUM! Thanks for the great recipe. I’ll be adding this to our regular meal rotation.

  39. ROZ

    I have made this recipe and its a keeper!
    When I make this recipe I use already sliced
    peppers of red/yellow/green that I buy from
    Trader Joes, so its not costing me a bundle to
    buy them individually. I also season the ground
    turkey with poultry seasoning to bring out the
    flavor of the turkey.
    Another way to use this recipe is add a
    can of flavored stewed tomatoes and turn it
    sloppy joes.

    Love the frozen sliced bell peppers from Trader Joes, we use them all the time! ~Elise

  40. Julie

    Hi,

    I’m totally new to this cooking business (having just bought a house and realizing that it is up to me to provide nourishment for myself). I’d like to get a bit more adventurous than the same old spaghetti-and-store-bought-sauce routine, and since I’ve experienced considerable success with the dessert recipes on your site, I thought I’d try out this recipe (since it looks fairly simple, healthy, and really, really tasty)!

    However, I have what is sure to be a laughable question (take aforementioned paragraph into consideration, please):

    The recipe says to wait until the turkey is “cooked through” before adding the veggies. How long (after browning) – approximately – will it take for the turkey to cook through? Just a ballpark figure…I really don’t want to eat raw poultry!

    Thanks!

    Great question. It should take a few minutes, but you’ll know that the ground turkey is cooked through because it is no longer pink, anywhere. Pink=undercooked when it comes to turkey. ~Elise

  41. RD

    I made this last week for the wife and son. It was very tasty, easy, and inexpensive. I like the one-pan approach. Used chili powder and parsley and served it over cooked white rice. Will definitely make it again. Maybe I’ll try it with the chipotle powder and cilantro next time over brown rice instead of white.

  42. Heather

    Great recipe, I have been looking for a good ground turkey recipe for a while now and this is by far the best. i served it over rice and added black bean rinsed and drained with cream of chicken soup and melted hot pepperjack cheese to it and it turned out great!!!

  43. Kinnic

    This has become a household favorite. We add a little bit of fish sauce and sriracha to give it a little vietnamese kick (the cuisine I grew up with).

    Love the idea of the addition of fish sauce and sriracha, thanks! ~Elise

  44. Vallerie Gordon

    There are only a few meat eaters left in my family and turkey is the only meat we eat. This is a great recipe, I added some turkey sausage to the ground turkey and it was even better.

  45. Jean

    I’ve just discovered your blog and I love it!

    I actually grew up eating a variation of this dish. My mom called it torta (and used ground beef or pork). To stretch the dish, she would add cubed potatoes and other times she added raisins. Leftovers would be cooked with eggs like a spanish torta.

    These days, I typically use ground turkey and season the meat with lemon and soy sauce (and sometimes cumin and chili powder). I eat it with rice or use it as a taco filling.

    BTW, I am now back in the Silicon Valley but I lived in Sacramento for 11 years. Small world! I look forward to reading more recipes from your lovely blog!

  46. Helenore

    Like someone earlier said, I come here often, adore your site, but have never commented before.

    But today I need your help.

    I’ll be cooking this dish the first week in Feb. (2010) for 40 international college students. I searched your site for something with ground turkey (great sale, stocked up big-time) and I found this first.

    This looks like EXACTLY what I was hoping for. Easy, one pan (when cooked for fewer), one dish meal when served with rice….

    BUT, I think that when you double a recipe sometimes it gets crazy with the spices, right? I can only imagine what could go wrong when multiplying a recipe by TEN.

    Do you, or any of your readers, have any experience with this type of recipe cooked for a crowd and any tried and true advice on how to proceed? I’d sure appreciate it!

    And to fellow readers, I hope this doesn’t sound rude, but please don’t respond if you’re only guessing… It will only confuse me. ;-)

    Helenore

    Hello Helenore, I have never cooked this dish for a crowd. When all of the kids were at home, my parents had 8 total at the table, so pretty much anything my mother makes, she’s made for at least 8. You may just have to have several pans going at once. ~Elise

  47. Helenore

    It was just taken to the Frat house a few minutes ago. (It’s feeding International student their lunch today.)

    When I put this together, I did it in two pans so I could stir it. But the amounts shown refer to total amounts used.

    10 pounds 85% lean turkey
    Last night I browned it on the stove top in several batches to do it the way you suggest (chunks, mostly undisturbed) but it was worth it. (Otherwise it would have crumbled and I didn’t want a gruel-consistency.) I put it in the fridge until this morning.

    7 or 8 medium onions, coarsely chopped
    2 small heads of garlic, separated, not pealed
    I put the onions in my roaster drizzled with olive oil. In the corner of the same pan I put an aluminum foil pouch with garlic and drizzled it, too. I had to bring the kids to school and knew I’d be gone an hour or more, so I put it at 300°. When I got home the garlic was perfect. I uncovered the onions and left them about 20 more minutes. Some ended up caramelized, but not more that 10% of them. Perfect.

    I squeezed out and smashed up the garlic and mixed it with the onions. After the browned turkey had warmed up in the oven, I added the onions/garlic to it. Added some salt.

    10 Peppers, in about 1 inch long thin strips
    (4 red, 4 yellow, 2 green)
    I sauteed the peppers strips (in batches) in olive oil in my Grandma’s big aluminum sloped sided frying pan (THAT pan was a score, let me tell you!) I tossed them around until hot but still crisp.

    Tossed into turkey. (Chunks still intact!)

    I added probably 4 tablespoons of chili powder and I don’t know how much cayenne (less than a teaspoon total, just for fun).

    I wanted to take some out and save it for dinner, but I had multiplied it by 10 and couldn’t spare the many servings I’d need to feed my brood.

    It was probably a bit different than your mom’s in flavor, but I think it will work nicely for their meal, over/with rice. And I know it worked well for me when making so much.

    Thanks again for your delicious looking (and now I know, tasting) site!

  48. Elise Lafosse

    This is our new favorite budget recipe. We are eating this now almost once a week! We love it…so tasty and easy to cook…perfect when you are not in the mood to cook…Thank your mother profusely for me…Elise Lafosse

  49. Candice

    This is very similar to something I make, I leave out the chili powder and add thyme. Sometimes I add spinach. then served on na’an bread with feta cheese. Everyone I’ve made it for loves it!

  50. Ryan

    Thanks for the inspiration!I ended up not using the chili powder and threw in some honey tariyaki sauce at the request of my husband. It was a nice change for us, we eat so much heavy food.I’ll be searching your blog for more ideas.

  51. Stacey

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was a hit! I’ve decided to call it Turkey Delight because it is just delightful! I added some shredded carrots and a little leftover chopped spinach to up the veggie content. I also added (as suggested) some chicken broth for moisture. And crazy me used parsley and cilantro! Delish and Delightful! Thanks for the great recipe.

  52. Cheryl in NC

    Thanks for a great recipe, Elise. I was missing several ingredients, so it became the jumping-off point for a now-fav recipe! Cooked 1/2 lg sweet onion & 2 garlic cloves, chopped, in olive oil with a pinch of Kosher salt ’til onion began to soften. Added 2/3 lb ground turkey & 2 low-fat turkey sausages, casings removed, & sauteed briefly ’til starting to brown, then chopped roughly into irregular chunks, added some beef broth, Mrs Dash’s Italian & extra-spicy Italian seasonings, & pepper. When bubbling nicely, tossed in fresh kale leaves (more next time), covered & let cook for another 5-10 min. My very hard-to-please daughter said of it, “This meat is addicting!” A total success! Thanks again, & btw, I LOVE your site. Great recipes; great resource. What a gift to all!

  53. Jessica

    Great recipe! I made it for my family tonight and everybody loved it! I added black olives and put cheese on my daughters. I’m adding this to the rotation. Thanks!

  54. Rebecca

    This recipe was absolutely delicious! Thanks so much for posting it. We actually made it and then wrapped it in lettuce. So yummy!

  55. Jeff in Stockton, CA

    I first made this as the recipe when I first saw it on Simply Recipes. I have since modified it by adding one red pepper, one yellow pepper and one orange pepper. Adds so much flavor, color and crunch to this if you triangle cut and don’t over cook the peppers. My wife loves the dish with the Chipotle chili power. And I serve it with bow-tie pasta. Fantastic dish and as stated, real easy to prepare.