These leftover turkey tacos fuse traditional Thanksgiving flavors with Mexican flavors to bring you a fun and unique dish. The tender, flavorful turkey is topped with sautéed Brussels sprouts and a zesty cranberry salsa followed by some crema and queso fresco.
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Beings Thanksgiving is just two days away, it seemed only appropriate that this week’s Taco Tuesday recipe be Thanksgiving inspired.
My guess is at least 99.9% of you have never had a Thanksgiving-y taco. Does that surprise me? Not one bit. The truth is, I had not experienced the deliciousness of them either until last week.
Following Thanksgiving, millions of Americans are faced with a dilemma. Like others, you may be asking yourself, “What do I do with all this leftover turkey?”. And if you’re like me you may also be asking yourself, “What can I do to make it taste better?”
You see, I’m not a big fan of turkey. Unless of course, you’re talking about those delectable, giant turkey legs they sell at the Renaissance Festival.
I’m gonna go ahead and take this confession one step further and just lay it all out there. I’m not a big fan of the traditional Thanksgiving spread. There I said it.
I mean canned cranberry sauce? Yams with marshmallows? Sorry, not sorry….just not my jam. The thing is the ingredients aren’t all that bad. In fact, many of them are staples in my diet. But the delivery would benefit from some creativity.
Ok, so now that I’ve revealed my dirty little secret, let’s talk a little bit about these leftover turkey tacos with Brussels sprouts and cranberry salsa.
These tacos start with turkey….DUH! Next come the Brussels sprouts which are sauteed and seasoned with cumin, salt, and a little bit of lime juice.
*On a side note, did you know that it’s Brussels sprouts? That’s right, with an s at the end. Not Brussel sprouts. I’m sure you did. I however did not. It is believed Brussels sprouts were named as such because they were cultivated in Belgium in the 1600s. And the city of Brussels, of course, is the capital of Belgium.
Then we have a salsa starring cranberries. The tartness of the salsa balances out the rich flavors of the turkey and Brussels sprouts and brings a much-needed freshness to the dish. Top it all off with some crema and queso fresco and these babies come together in perfect taco harmony.
I mean just look at these tacos. They are both appetizing and downright gorgeous.
Ingredients (+ notes & substitutions)
- Leftover turkey: Light or dark meat.
- Chicken broth: The broth is used to re-hydrate the turkey. Alternately, water could be used.
- Brussels sprouts
- Lime juice: Fresh is best, but bottled is fine for convenience.
- Fresh cranberries
- Tomatillos: Husked removed and rinsed.
- Jalapenos: Jalapenos vary greatly in heat, so use as many or as few as you like to reach the desired level of spiciness. I recommended starting with just one and adding additional peppers if needed.
- White onion
- Cilantro: For herby freshness.
- Olive oil
- Water: The water is used to thin out the salsa. You may or may not need to add any. I added an additional tablespoon. Use your discretion to obtain desired consistency.
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Ground cumin
- Kosher salt
- Soft corn tortillas: I highly recommend corn tortillas, but flour would be an acceptable alternative. Keep in mind this recipe is only gluten-free if corn tortillas are used. White or yellow are both acceptable although I prefer white for this recipe.
- Crema: Crema drizzles on so nicely. If you don’t have any crema or access to it, you can instead thin out some sour cream by stirring in a small amount of water.
- Queso Fresco: Queso fresco compliments this dish nicely as it is light and mild in flavor allowing the other ingredients to shine and also bringing some freshness.
How to make leftover turkey tacos w/ Brussels sprouts & cranberry salsa (+ tips)
Start by preparing the cranberry salsa. Turn on your broiler to low at least five minutes prior to use. Place tomatillos, cranberries, and jalapenos on a greased baking sheet. Broil for 2-3 minutes. This is just enough time to soften them. The cranberries may begin to pop sometime between the 2-3 minute mark. If you hear this, go ahead and remove them from the oven.
Transfer to a food processor or blender, add the lime juice and salt, and pulse until smooth. Pour into a small bowl and stir in onions and cilantro. Add water in small increments until desired consistency is attained. Set aside.
Next up are the sauteed Brussels sprouts. Start by shredding the Brussels sprouts. I used a food processor which makes it so incredibly easy. Simply cut the sprouts in half, toss them in the food processor, and pulse. You could use a mandolin or even a knife to slice if you prefer or do not have a food processor handy. Once Brussels sprouts are shredded, heat a saute pan to medium heat and add two tablespoons of olive oil. Add the Brussels sprouts, lime juice, cumin, and salt. Sauté, stirring frequently, for about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Now on to the turkey, which will need to be shredded. The simplest way to do this is by using two forks to pull it apart. Heat a sauté pan to medium-high heat. Add the turkey, broth, and seasonings. Cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Remove from heat.
To assemble the tacos, fill the tortillas with turkey, then Brussels sprouts, and top with cranberry salsa, crema or sour cream, and crumbled queso fresco. Serve warm
The components of this dish should be stored separately and refrigerated in airtight containers. Turkey and Brussels sprouts will keep for up to four days and the salsa for up to five.
More unique taco recipes:
- Chipotle Chicken Caesar Tacos: Filled with grilled chicken and Caesar salad then topped with avocado salsa verde, these chicken Caesar salad tacos with a Mexican twist are a delightfully fresh and delicious choice for lunch or dinner.
- Philly Cheesesteak Tacos: A fresh take on the cheesesteak, these tacos are loaded with all the classic flavors you know and love: steak, green bell peppers, onions, and cheese. Make this Taco Tuesday a good one with these Philly cheesesteak tacos!
- Buffalo Fried Pickle Tacos with Garlic Ranch: What’s better than fried pickles, buffalo sauce, and tacos?!?! A combination of the three; BUFFALO FRIED PICKLE TACOS!! These tacos start with crispy buffalo flavored fried pickles which are tossed in a tortilla and topped off with garlic ranch, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. Great vegetarian option with quick and easy prep.
If you make these leftover turkey tacos with Brussels sprouts and cranberry salsa I’d love your feedback. Please leave a comment and/or a rating below as I greatly value your opinion. Or snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @taoofspiceblog. Love, light, and happy cooking ya’ll ♥
- 1/2 pound tomatillos, husked & halved
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1-2 jalapenos, halved lengthwise (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup diced white onion
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Water to thin (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, shredded
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1 pound leftover turkey, shredded
- 3 tablespoons turkey or chicken broth, or sub water
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
For the Tacos
- Soft corn tortillas
- Queso fresco
- Crema or sour cream
- Turn on broiler to low at least five minutes prior to use.
- Arrange tomatillos, cranberries, and jalapeno on a baking sheet and broil for 2-3 minutes. (See notes)
- Remove from oven and transfer to food processor or blender along with lime juice and salt. Pulse until smooth.
- Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in onions and cilantro. Set aside.
For the Tacos:
- For the Brussels sprouts: Heat olive oil in a sauté pan to medium heat. Add Brussels sprouts, salt, cumin, and lime juice. Saute for 4-5 minutes stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.
- For the turkey: Heat a separate sauté pan to medium-high heat. Add the turkey, broth, and spices. Cook for five minutes stirring often.
- Heat a skillet to medium heat and warm both sides of tortillas.
- To assemble: Fill tortillas with turkey and top with Brussels sprouts, cranberry salsa, crema/sour cream, and queso fresco. Serve warm.
Storage: The components of this dish should be stored separately and refrigerated in airtight containers. Turkey and Brussels sprouts will keep for up to four days and the salsa for up to five.
- Jalapenos vary greatly in heat, so use as many or as few as you like to reach desired level of spiciness. I recommended starting with just one and adding additional peppers if needed.
- Water should be added in one tablespoon increments to salsa as needed to attain desired consistency.
- If you don't have crema, add a small amount of water to some sour cream to thin it out. This enables it to be drizzled.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 726Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 203mgSodium: 2380mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 7gSugar: 10gProtein: 58g
The nutritional information provided is computer generated. It is only an estimate and intended for informational purposes only. Nutrition details may vary depending on various factors such as origin, freshness of ingredients, etc