Turkey Tacos with Cranberry Salsa

One of my favorite things to make with leftover turkey is turkey tacos. Usually I have some leftover cranberry relish (I always make too much) to go with the tacos in lieu of salsa, but this time I thought I would make some fresh cranberry salsa from scratch, which turned out surprisingly good. Cranberries just pair so well with turkey, even regular cranberry sauce is going to taste as satisfying with a turkey taco as tomato salsa. Just add a little chopped fresh or pickled jalapenos.

Turkey Tacos with Cranberry Salsa Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.

If you want a super quick way of making the tacos, you can do them in the microwave. Just soften the tortillas first by cooking two tortillas at a time in a single layer on a paper towel, on high heat for 20 seconds per tortilla. Add the shredded cheese and turkey, fold over the tortillas, and heat them again on high for another 15 seconds each, or until the cheese melts.

Ingredients

Turkey Tacos

  • 8-12 corn tortillas
  • Butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese, or mild cheddar
  • Cooked turkey meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Lettuce, preferably iceberg lettuce, sliced very thin and sprinkled with a little vinegar and salt, about 2 cups
  • Avocados, peeled and sliced

Cranberry Salsa

  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 an apple, peeled and cored
  • Zest of one orange
  • Chopped serrano or jalapeno chili to taste (about a half a chili, but taste for desired heat)
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • Dash of lime or lemon juice
  • Dash of salt

Method

1 Prepare cranberry salsa. Combine cranberries and apple in a food processor and pulse until coarsely shredded, about 10 short pulses. Combine shredded cranberries, orange zest, chile, and sugar in a medium bowl. Let sit 15 minutes for the cranberries to macerate. Add cilantro, lime juice, and salt to taste. You can also use cranberry relish, just add chopped chiles and cilantro.

2 Heat a large frying pan (preferably cast iron) on medium high heat. Unless you are using freshly made homemade tortillas, you will need to soften them first. Working one or two at a time, spread a little butter on one side of the tortilla and fry it in the hot pan for a few seconds on both sides. Most commercially made tortillas will bubble up a little when cooked like this.

turkey-tacos-1.jpg turkey-tacos-2.jpg

3 Sprinkle one side of the tortilla with grated cheese, and cover one half of the tortilla with turkey meat. Fold over one side of the tortilla onto the other (like an omelette. Cook until the cheese is melted. You may need to flip the tacos over to cook the other side, but if the cheese is completely melted this is unnecessary.

4 Serve with cranberry salsa, fresh shredded lettuce (sprinkled first with a little vinegar and salt), and avocados.

20 Comments

  1. Jerry

    Funny, I made something similar just the other day, but on corn tortillas. Simply wonderful. I add some taco seasoning mix to the turkey and use a bit of cilantro.

    I suppose sometimes great minds (and mine, which may or may not be so great) think alike!

  2. Liza

    Mmmm, that makes my mouth water, I think we have found the Monday night meal. I never thought of making a turkey taco with cranberry sauce until now. Now I wonder what I am missing. Elise I love your blog and want to say keep it up.

  3. Becki

    This looks great. I can’t wait to try that cranberry salsa.

    I use your recipes constantly and rarely comment, but wanted to share with you my favorite recipe I’ve made from leftover turkey this year. There are no real measurements:

    Turkey Curry Salad
    Combine about 1 cup plain yogurt, a couple of tablespoons of curry powder (to taste), chopped chives, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper. To this mixture, add chopped turkey, golden raisins, chopped pecans, chopped celery, and chopped granny smith apple. This is better if you leave it in the fridge overnight before eating.

    Thanks for all your great recipes, Elise!

  4. jonathan

    ¡Que delicioso!

    Maybe I’m splitting hairs here, but that prep seems “quesadilla-like” with the flipping over and the melting of the cheese. And those tortillas you’re using look very sturdy (thick, almost like a fry bread). I’m also diggin’ that spicy cranberry salsa. Nice combo with the tart, sweet and heat.

    More importantly, I still can’t figure out…

    Where are all these leftovers coming from? You have a leftover tree in the backyard? Or perhaps you roasted a 40 lb. turkey this year? ;)

  5. Elise

    Hi Jonathan – Well, the reason the tortillas are sturdy looking is that I made the tortillas from scratch. They are definitely thicker than most store-bought. In fact, I was too lazy to drive to Trader Joes to get the corn-tortillas we usually use, and I had some masa harina in the cupboard, so there you have it. I may retake the shot when we get more regular store-bought tortillas.

    Regarding the melting of the cheese, yep, these are more quesadilla-like, but that really is splitting hairs. There are so many ways to prepare a taco. You can deep fry the tortillas, you can fry them lightly, you can essentially steam them by heating them in a microwave. A taco is just a tortilla, usually corn, with a bunch of stuff in it.

    Leftovers? We only had 6 people at the table this Thanksgiving for a 15 pound turkey, so yeah, we had some leftovers. Not much mind you, and I’ve called dibs on all of it for recipes for the site.

  6. Hank Osborne

    Wow. I must admit that I had never tried cranberry sauce with turkey until this past week. I loved it. Unfortunately, at least from a left-over perspective, we had Thanksgiving dinner with friends and have no left-over turkey. :-(

    I may just have to roast a turkey breast just to be able to have this recipe.

  7. Kara Lewis

    I’ve just recently discovered your blog and am hooked! I’m looking forward to reading all the archives. I have mucho cranberries in my freezer, so this salsa sounds perfect — do you think it could be canned, and therefore giftable?

    Note from Elise: Since it is raw, not cooked, you can’t can it as is. You would have to cook it to can it, which you might want to try anyway, just to see how it tastes.

  8. Lady Amalthea

    Oh, yum! Unfortunately, I, too, have no leftover turkey this year. But I just may make more turkey this week so as to have leftovers. And I love the idea of Cranberry salsa–minus the cilantro, of course.

  9. Rachel

    This looks delicious – it makes me wish I had snagged the leftover turkey from my family Thanksgiving! Someone hinted above, but it sounds like this would make fantastic quesadillas also.

  10. Maya

    Elise dear! :-)
    Wow…I miss so much mexican food for a couple of years now and this one is soooooo appetizing I can imagine eating a couple of them right now. Gosh…can I be your permanent guinea pig for all these recipes? I wish…;-)

  11. Lisa

    Yummmmm! I made this recipe with some of my leftover turkey and it did not disappoint! It makes my mouth water just thinking about it! I loved the cranberry salsa; it had such a great combination of flavors that really complimented the turkey. My husband wants me to make another turkey just so he can have these again. Elise – I was wondering…are there other recipes (that doesn’t involve roasting another turkey) that you use the cranberry salsa with?

    Hi Lisa, you can also serve the cranberry salsa with steak. All kinds of salsa taste great with steak. I would try it with roast chicken too for that matter. ~Elise

  12. Lisa

    I lay in wait for cranberries to be in season and in the stores and buy extra bags just to be able to freeze some so that I can have this recipe any time of the year I want to! It is (in my humble opinion), the best way to use up the rest of your white meat from your Thanksgiving turkey. The cranberry salsa has so many complex flavors, with sweet, sour and hot notes. It pairs really well with the crunchy, salty shells, creamy cheese and turkey in the taco! All I have to say is YUM!…Oh and MAKE THIS!

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