21 best ground turkey recipes for easy weeknight meals

When you’re making dinner on a weeknight, you want a delicious recipe that you can prepare quickly without too much work, ideally using the ingredients you already have in your kitchen. Ground turkey is one of those ingredients that most people have on hand, frozen and stored in the back of the freezer. Why? There are few ingredients more versatile than ground turkey, and cooking with it is an easy way to add more protein, flavor and texture to your meal.

But if you don’t regularly cook with ground turkey, you may not know the best ways to keep it moist and flavorful. That’s where our best ground turkey recipes come in. These recipes range from burgers to meatloafs to soups, and they’ll give you an idea of how you can use that package of ground turkey once and for all.

For starters, these turkey meatballs served with a creamy cheese sauce demonstrate just how easy it is to make this lean poultry the star of the show. With the help of a few other ingredients such as breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning, ground turkey can become an unforgettable entrée. Make a spicy white bean soup with greens and turkey for a healthy and hearty meal. Or slice up a turkey meatloaf, a better-for-you twist on the all-beef classic that’ll remind you of childhood dinners. These recipes will help you find a way to enjoy ground turkey in so many ways.

Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs by Donatella Arpaia

If you’re looking for a leaner, lighter meatball recipe, you’re going to love this recipe. It utilizes ground turkey in place of beef and swaps white bread crumbs for whole wheat. Cooking the meatballs in an air fryer ensures that they get crispy without the use of a ton of oil.

Spinach Chicken Meatballs in Parmesan Cream Sauce by Laura Vitale

Don’t have any ground chicken in the freezer? No worries. You can make these spinach chicken meatballs with ground turkey instead. Frozen chopped spinach, garlic and Parmesan cheese make the meatballs ultra-flavorful on their own, but after they’ve cooked in the Parmesan cream sauce, they’re transformed into a main dish you’ll want to revisit again and again.

Spicy Shrimp and Turkey Lettuce Wraps by David Rose

Surf and turf gets a lighter, more refreshing remake with these lettuce wraps that feature a combo of spicy shrimp and turkey. The best part about this recipe is the fact that it comes together relatively quickly, making it ideal for weeknights when you need to get dinner on the table fast.

Weeknight Turkey Bolognese by Katie Stilo

If you’ve ever made a bolognese before, you know it can take quite a bit of time to simmer. That’s why this recipe for weeknight turkey bolognese is one of our favorites — it comes together in a matter of minutes. The combo of turkey and zucchini keeps things feeling light but nourishing.

Slow-Cooker Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers with Tahini Drizzle by Joy Bauer

Stuffed peppers make for a filling dinner, especially when they’re packed with good-for-you ingredients like ground turkey, brown rice and feta cheese. When you make them in your slow cooker, you can forget about them until you’re ready to eat. Don’t forget to add the tahini drizzle on top for an earthy, grounding flavor to complement the peppers’ brighter notes.

Spicy White Bean Soup with Greens and Turkey by Melissa Clark

White bean soup always hits the spot, but it’s even more delicious when you make it just a bit heartier with ground turkey and greens. The crushed red pepper flakes add a hint of heat — adjust the quantity based on your spice preference. Don’t forget the fresh herbs, which lend a flavorful floral quality to the finished soup.

Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs by Joe Bastianich

Turkey meatballs can be just as flavorful as their beef and pork counterparts, especially when they contain bonus ingredients such as carrots, celery and garlic for added flavor and might. These turkey meatballs are delicious on their own, but they really shine when they’re served with spaghetti. The crushed San Marzano tomatoes are essential to making the perfect sauce, which ties the dish together.

Joy Bauer's Baked Ziti Casserole by Joy Bauer

This baked ziti casserole from Joy Bauer takes only a few minutes to prep. Then, all you have to do is put it in the oven and wait for it to crisp up nicely. Add some chopped spinach to make sure you’re getting your daily dose of veggies, and don’t forget the hearty ground turkey, which gives the dish more bulk.

Taco Soup by Joy Bauer

Ground turkey plays a leading role in this soup recipe, but so do the starchy black beans and grape tomatoes. Add in a diced jalapeño for spice, and serve some Greek yogurt on top to balance out the acid-heavy flavors. Make a big batch of this recipe and freeze the leftovers for an easy dinner in the future.

Turkey-Avocado Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash by Kathryn Miller

Who knew that you should’ve been adding avocado to your turkey meatballs all along? The addition of avocado gives these meatballs a creaminess and richness you wouldn’t get from just turkey. Add some spaghetti squash, and you may have just found your new favorite meatball recipe. The cilantro-lime chimichurri sauce brings it all together beautifully.

Joy Bauer's Loaded Bell Pepper 'Nachos' by Joy Bauer

This recipe for nacho-inspired bell pepper bites packs all the Tex-Mex flavors you love into one convenient package. Grab some ground turkey, black beans and yellow corn, mix the combo with taco seasoning and stuff it in your quartered bell peppers. This dish may even be more delicious than its corn chip-heavy counterpart.

Turkey burger recipes

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers with Portobello Buns by Renee Rucci

This mushroom burger doesn’t utilize portobello mushrooms for the burger itself. Rather, they act as the “buns” for the thick spinach-and-turkey patties. The unconventional combination is at its best when paired with balsamic onions. This gluten-free alternative will be a hit with mushroom lovers everywhere.

Joy Bauer's Greek Burgers with Feta and Roasted Red Pepper by Joy Bauer

Joy Bauer’s Greek-inspired burgers call for lighter ground turkey over beef. When served with bright, zesty tzatziki sauce, lettuce and tomato, they’re ideal for a hot summer evening. Serve them in pitas instead of on buns for a Mediterranean twist.

House of Balmain Turkey Burgers with Jam-Dijon Mustard by Will Coleman

You haven’t experienced how good turkey burgers can taste until you’ve tried this recipe. The patties, which are studded with bacon pieces, pack a ton of flavor, especially after you melt some brie on top of them. Once you add the jam-Dijon mustard, though, you’re never going to want to go back to an average burger again.

Bacon-Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Grilled Peaches by Jamika Pessoa

Sometimes, turkey burgers can be dry, but add in some bacon to ensure that they stay moist and utterly flavorful. By grilling the peaches, you’ll concentrate their sweetness, making them the perfect accompaniment to the rich intensity of the bacon-stuffed patty. Not a peach person? You can swap them out for tomatoes, pineapples or even mangoes.

Turkey meatloaf recipes

Turkey Meatloaf by Siri Daly

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned meatloaf, but if you’re trying to eat light, a traditional beef recipe may feel a bit too heavy. By simply swapping ground beef for ground turkey, you can easily make a leaner version of this celebrated budget dish. Don’t forget to spread plenty of ketchup on top to create that beloved salty-sweet glaze.

Melba Wilson's Barbecue Turkey Meatloaf by Melba Wilson

Craving the flavor of backyard barbecue but don’t want to fire up the grill? This turkey meatloaf recipe is just what you’re looking for. You’ll want to use dark meat turkey for as much flavor as possible, then grab a whole cup of your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce. You’ll never have to settle for average meatloaf again.

Pizza-Stuffed Meatloaf by Jocelyn Delk Adams

If meatloaf and deep-dish pizza had a child, it would be this pizza-stuffed meatloaf that calls for pepperoni and ground turkey. Mozzarella cheese melts into the meat, resulting in a gooey, slightly chewy meatloaf that’s unlike any you’ve tried before. Use jarred pizza sauce when you’re pinched for time, or make your own if you want more control over the flavors in the finished product.

Asian-Spiced Turkey Meatloaf by Elizabeth Mayhew

This meatloaf recipe calls for ingredients like soy sauce, sesame oil and fresh ginger for an East Asian-inspired flavor profile that’s a welcome departure from the ketchup-smothered meatloaf you’re probably used to. Water chestnuts and green onions offer just enough of a varied texture to keep each bite interesting. Don’t hesitate to add crushed red pepper flakes if you want more heat.

Valerie Bertinelli's Italian Turkey Meatloaf by Valerie Bertinelli

Classic meatloaf gets a twist in this recipe from Valerie Bertinelli. She uses ground turkey in place of ground beef and packs every inch of the meatloaf with Italian spices. The pancetta lends some extra fattiness to the mix, which works especially well with the lean turkey. Use unsweetened ketchup for a subtle topping.

Sheet-Pan Turkey Meatloaf and Smashed Potatoes by Siri Daly

Turkey meatloaf has never been easier to make than it is with this sheet pan recipe. The texture is surprisingly light and fluffy, but you’ll still get plenty of flavor from the onion, parsley and Worcestershire sauce in the meatloaf mix. Smashed potatoes drizzled with a Parmesan –olive oil mixture are the perfect carb-heavy counterpart to the meatloaf.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com