Turkey Is The Meat Swap You Need For Leaner Taquitos

If you're anything like us, then you go crazy over taquitos — and why wouldn't you? One crunchy bite of the rolled tortillas leads to savory meat, melted cheese, and sour cream. And when you want to indulge in them but prefer a leaner option, turkey is the meat swap you need. In terms of heart-healthy protein, white meat has red meat beat. White meat like turkey is known to have fewer calories, less bad cholesterol, and less saturated fat than red meat like beef or pork that you would typically find in taquitos.

On top of these health benefits, turkey tends to play well with a wide array of flavors, which is why recipe developer Tess Le Moing opted for it in her turkey taquitos with cranberry chipotle salsa recipe. "What sets these taquitos apart is the harmonious blend of flavors and textures," she explains. "Our favorite holiday dishes, like turkey and mashed potatoes combined with the sweet and smoky cranberry chipotle sauce, create a unique flavor that elevates taquitos beyond the classic flavors."

When it comes to using unconventional ingredients in taquitos, a mild, yet gamey meat like turkey really works. The tangy, smoky sauce pulls out turkey's richer side without competing with the taste. Ground turkey's smaller size works well when folding the meat into the tortillas, but shredded turkey is a great choice, as well. The taquitos can be deep- or shallow-fried in oil, or air-fried if that's what you prefer.

How should you season turkey for taquitos?

Turkey can be a little on the bland side, but that's exactly why the protein makes a great ingredient in taquitos. It's not overpowering at all; instead, it leaves room for the spices you add to shine more. Before seasoning, cook the turkey with butter rather than oil for an easy boost of flavor. From there, you can use bolder spices when flavoring the meat. Plenty of smoky taco seasoning will do the heavy lifting for you — the array of cumin, chili powder, oregano, and garlic powder gives turkey a more intense taste.

For the cheese, spring for sharper varieties over the milder ones. Monterey Jack is rarely a bad idea, but for turkey taquitos, a well-aged cheddar or cotija is even better. The bolder flavors contrast against turkey's mildness, ensuring that the overall taste of the recipe doesn't get lost in the background. If you do end up using a milder cheese in the taquito, top it off with something sharper after cooking; sprinkle cheese on top and melt it for a few minutes in the air fryer for a more delicate topping.

Dipping sauces are an equally important category. Spring for bright, bold flavors — something tropical and fruity like an easy mango salsa works well. To bring out turkey's earthier side, an herbaceous fresh chimichurri sauce is an excellent choice.