Make It Tonight: Ground Chicken & Turkey

September 7, 2021

As summer turns to fall, our culinary thoughts move from hamburgers, fresh garden salads, and steaks on the grill to hearty, warm foods that can cut through the autumn chill. 

Ground chicken is a great alternative to ground beef in a lot of dishes. Ground chicken is leaner, has more protein, and can cost around the same amount as ground beef.  

Due to ground chicken having less fat, you’ll want to make sure to add spices or other flavours to the mix, and make sure you cook your ground poultry to at least 165˚F.  

Ground Turkey shares its leanness and high protein content with ground chicken and is the leanest of all ground meats. It also is the lowest in calories, and lowest in saturated fat, meaning once again, you’ll need to bring some flavour to the party with spices.  

What To Make
Ground chicken or turkey are both excellent bases for many meals. You’ll be using it in place of ground beef, so any meal you’d typically use ground beef in is a likely candidate. Here are some ideas to get you started… 

Slow-Cooker Meals
Slow-cookers are ideal for ground chicken or turkey, as the lengthy simmering process means you can infuse a lot of flavour into the meat. Remember that these meats are leaner, so you won’t have as much fat for flavour; you might want to add more butter or other oils to the mix to help the flavour profile. Chili is probably the most popular slow cooker option, and in this version, we kick it up a notch: Chili with Butternut Squash and Apples. 

Sloppy Joes/Tacos
Sloppy Joe mix or tacos are both great choices for swapping out ground beef with chicken or turkey. With a long simmer and other strong flavours, you won’t miss the extra fat. Chicken or turkey also have a slightly different mouth-feel than beef, which may accentuate the dish. Check out our recipe for Turkey Sloppy Joe Sliders and both ground chicken or turkey would be brilliant in tacos as well. 

turkey sloppy joe slidersTurkey Sloppy Joe Sliders

Ingredients:
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, or to taste
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 pkg small tray buns (the kind that come attached in 9-12)
mayonnaise (optional)
1/2 - 1 cup grated aged cheddar or Gouda
canola or olive oil, for cooking

How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Drizzle some oil into a skillet set over medium-high heat and cook the beef or turkey, breaking it up with a spoon until it's no longer pink.

Add enough barbecue sauce to moisten it — or more if you love it saucy.

Transfer the meat to a bowl, add another drizzle of oil and cook the onion until golden.

Slice the whole sheet of dinner buns crosswise, opening it up like a book.6.

Spread with mayonnaise and top with the meat mixture and onion.

Sprinkle with cheese.

Replace the top buns and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until warmed through and the cheese has melted.

Casseroles
You’re probably sensing a pattern here, but most casseroles will also be a longer, slower cook, which plays to the strength of using ground chicken or turkey. With extra time to blend the tastes, sauces or spices, these meats will fit right in with your usual ground beef recipes.

Sheppard’s Pie
Sheppard’s Pie is a smart choice for trying out ground chicken or turkey, as they’ll play a significant role in the dish while having enough “supporting players” around them to make them fit right in. The gravy and mashed potato will add some extra taste and ensure enough moisture in the pie. 

Burgers/Meatloaf
Turkey burgers are tasty and healthier than ground beef. Try adding cheese to your mix and an egg to bind everything together. Add some breadcrumbs or ground almonds to the deal, and you’re in meatloaf territory.   

Pasta Sauces
Ground chicken or turkey will be right at home in a bolognese sauce, and with the tomato sauce and some cream for richness, your family (other than your nonna) might not even notice that you haven’t used ground beef.  

Ground chicken and turkey are a great way to reduce fat and calories from some of your favourite fall meals. They’ll also help change things up and keep your dishes interesting.

Three Make It Tonight recipes for Ground Chicken & Turkey

Fast MIT

Chicken Taquitos with Cal & Gary’s Guacamole

Fancy MIT

Turkey Sloppy Joe Sliders

Family MIT

Chicken Chili with Butternut Squash and Apples

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