When a craving hits for cheesy pasta, but you don’t want to blow the fat and calorie bank, look no further than One Pot Turkey Mexican Pasta – a spicy, cheesy, delicious way to get your pasta fix. Lean ground turkey is cooked with pasta, salsa, plenty of smoky spices, and just a touch of sharp cheddar cheese – and as stated, everything is cooked in one pot!

For more one pot pastas, check out this One Pot Cacio e Pepe Ramen, this One Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs, and this One Pot Creamy Spinach Orzo.

One Pot Turkey Mexican Pasta

If aldente noodles tossed in a slightly spicy, smoky, hearty, but mostly healthy sauce sounds like something you can get down with, then let me introduce you to One Pot Turkey Mexican Pasta.  A saucy, taco/enchilada/general tex-mex inspired pasta that’s made completely in one pan, and in 30 minutes or less. 

It’s basically a cheesy, nostalgic casserole, but in Mexican form. 

I’ve been talking to my Mom a lot lately about going back to the basics when it comes to cooking. You know the foods I’m talking about, the dishes likely found in a dusty church cookbook and include ingredients like canned cream of chicken, a pound of cream cheese, or packaged pudding mix. It’s what my Mom grew up with, a little bit of what I grew up with, and even though I love those things, I’ve been guilty of steering clear of those nostalgic classics for two reasons:

  1. I, like the rest of the foodie world want to try new-to-me, exciting, over-the-top foods.
  2. Fat, calories, and preservatives

BUT! Over the last few years, I’ve been finding ways to make all of those classic church recipes from scratch, and also, a lot healthier. This One Pot Turkey Mexican Pasta isn’t my first go-around (this Lightened Up Chicken Tetrazinni is a. go-to), but it just may be my favorite because it’s still just a touch outside of the cream-of-chicken realm. 

How to make One Pot Turkey Mexican Pasta

  • Cook ground turkey in a little bit of olive, then add onion, garlic, and a little bit of salt. Continue to cook until the onion and garlic are slightly softened. 
  • Add spices! Chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and oregano. 
  • Add salsa, water, pasta, and a little bit more salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until pasta is aldente, about 10-12 minutes. 
  • Once the pasta is aldente, stir one last time and season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese and place in the oven just until the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes.
  • Garish with sour cream and chopped parsley or cilantro.
  • Done! 

Can One Pot Turkey Mexican Pasta be made ahead of time? 

Sure! Just cook the noodles shy of aldente, and leave the cheese off. When you go to re-heat, add in a splash or two of water, stir and bring up to a simmer again. Top with cheese and bake. 

How can I make this even healthier? 

Easy. Use whole-wheat or gluten-free noodles, just be aware, the cook time may be a little bit longer and you may have to add more water. You can also swap out the sour cream for plain Greek yogurt. 

Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success

  • Feel free to use ground chicken or ground sirloin in place of turkey 
  • Add in corn, beans, or even zucchini for some veggies. 
  • Any kind of salsa will do, I like to use a chunky medium-spiced salsa.
  • Be sure when you’re cooking the noodles, the mixture isn’t boiling too much, you don’t want the pasta to stick to the bottom. I’d also suggest stirring every once in a while to prevent sticking. 
  • Only need to pop the skillet in the oven for a very short period of time for the cheese to melt. You don’t want the cheese to get crispy. 

One Pot Turkey Mexican Pasta

One Pot Turkey Mexican Pasta

Yield: 4-6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

When a craving hits for cheesy pasta, but you don't want to blow the fat and calorie bank, look no further than One Pot Turkey Mexican Pasta - a spicy, cheesy, delicious way to get your pasta fix. Lean ground turkey is cooked with pasta, salsa, plenty of smoky spices, and just a touch of sharp cheddar cheese - and as stated, everything is cooked in one pot!

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/4 cups salsa
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups medium shells
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Heat a large oven-proof skillet to a medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Once oil is hot, add ground turkey. Use a wooden spoon to break up the turkey. Once the turkey is mostly cooked, add onion, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Continue to saute for 3-4 minutes until garlic and onion are softened.
  3. Add chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and oregano. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add salsa, water, pasta, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until pasta is aldente, about 10-12 minutes. If you're using whole-wheat or gluten-free pasta, you may need to add a little bit more water.
  4. Once the pasta is aldente, stir one last time and season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese and place in the oven just until the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes.
  5. Garish with sour cream and chopped parsley or cilantro.
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