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Al Pastor Ground Turkey Bowls

One thing I miss about living in Austin, Texas is the easy access to tacos al pastor. But when life gives you limóns, make a high protein tribute. These ground turkey taco bowls combine extra lean ground turkey with the signature al pastor sauce, half calorie rice, black beans, and fire roasted corn. Each bowl is packed with 38 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber, meaning you can have your turkey al pastor and eat it, too.

You will find a printable recipe card at the bottom of this post with notes about serving sizes and nutrition facts. If you have an ingredient question, I’ve included substitution tips and preparation tips between here and the recipe card.

two turkey burrito bowls with pickled onions and jalapeño peppers, cotija cheese, salsa verde, and smashed avocado

Ingredients for Al Pastor Ground Turkey

At the heart of this recipe is a blender sauce. Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • Pineapple Tidbits in Juice – We can’t talk about tacos al pastor without pineapple. Instead of slow roasted fresh pineapple like my chicken al pastor, this sauce uses pineapple juice for sweetness and acidity. You can either blend the pineapple pieces with everything else for a smooth sauce or leave them out to have pineapple pieces in the finished ground turkey.
  • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo – The recipe calls for four ounces, but you can reduce it if you’re worried about the spice level. I’d put this turkey in the 5/10 spice range.
  • Garlic Powder, Ground Cumin, Dried Oregano, Chili Powder – Standard fare aside from the call for ancho chile powder. If you have regular chili powder, that works fine.
  • Ground Cinnamon and Clove – Put some respect on their name. This duo is a great way to elevate Mexican inspired proteins like pulled chicken and this ground turkey.
  • Cider Vinegar – Any vinegar works.
  • Achiote Paste – This is a blend of seasonings and annatto seed, which gives al pastor its signature vibrant red color. You can get by without it, but I’d recommend ordering online or making your own for best results.

If you’re short an ingredient or two, you might want to check out my ground chicken tinga or chicken chorizo recipes. The seasoning blends in those recipes would work great for ground turkey and these taco bowls.

On the flip side, if you love this flavor profile and want to use it in other recipes, my make ahead breakfast bowls use the same sauce (minus achiote) with ground chicken.

cooking ground turkey with an al pastor sauce and pineapple

Let me know in the comments if you have a question about an ingredient or making a substitution.

Building Turkey Taco Bowls

If you’ve tried recipes like my teriyaki turkey stir fry or ground beef bulgogi, you’re familiar with a “half calorie” rice blend. It’s a simple blend of “real” rice like jasmine rice and riced cauliflower. You’ll never know the cauliflower is there. For these taco bowls, I added cilantro and lime juice to compliment the ground turkey and other flavors.

cilantro lime half calorie rice with jasmine and cauliflower rice

In addition to the rice blend, the recipe calls for canned black beans and frozen fire roasted corn. You’re welcome to use any beans and other pairings like grilled peppers and onions or other vegetables.

This would also be a great spot to mention you can use the al pastor turkey to make tacos, crispy baked tacos, quesadillas, tostadas, and all kinds of other stuff. I made sure to include nutrition facts for each individual component so you could easily plug and play without much math.

two meal prep containers with half calorie rice, al pastor ground turkey, fire roasted corn, and black beans

As far as garnishes go, diced white onion and cilantro are standard fare for tacos al pastor. But I would recommend adding a few extras like pickled onions and jalapeño peppers, salsa verde, avocado (or creamy avocado salsa), nonfat Greek yogurt or sour cream, and a crumbly cheese like queso cotija.

If you’re planning to pack your ground turkey bowls for a taco bowl meal prep, be sure to save the garnish for after you’ve reheated them.

Okay, I think that’s everything you need to know about these al pastor ground turkey bowls. Be sure to let me know how yours turn out via a recipe review or tag on my Instagram!

al pastor ground turkey with cilantro lime rice, black beans, corn, pickled onions, and pickled jalapeño peppers

Al Pastor Turkey Taco Bowls

Yield: 8 Burrito Bowls
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Extra lean ground turkey in the classic sweet and spicy chili paste combined with a cilantro lime half calorie rice blend, black beans, and fire roasted corn.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Extra Lean Ground Turkey

For the Al Pastor Sauce

  • 20 oz can Pineapple Tidbits in Juice, juice and pineapple separated
  • 4 oz can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Ancho Chili Powder (or your choice of chili powder)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Allspice
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) Cider Vinegar
  • 1 oz Achiote Paste*

For the Rice, Beans, and Corn

  • 4 cups Cooked Jasmine Rice
  • 12 oz bag Frozen Cauliflower Rice
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 2 handfuls Freshly Chopped Cilantro
  • 2 cans Black Beans
  • 3 cups (414g) Frozen Fire Roasted Corn

Instructions

To Make the Ground Turkey

  1. Add the juice from the canned pineapple (set the remaining pineapple tidbits aside) and remaining sauce ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground turkey on one side for 3-4 minutes before breaking apart and fully cooking.
  3. Once the turkey is fully cooked, add the sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low and add the reserved pineapple. Gently simmer while you prepare the rice, beans, and corn.

To Make the Sides

  1. Mix the rice and cauliflower rice together with the lime juice and chopped cilantro.
  2. Place the black beans and corn in bowls and microwave or heat in small saucepans on the stovetop.
  3. See the notes below for recommended serving sizes and nutrition facts. Garnish bowls with pickled onions and jalapeño peppers, queso cotija or queso fresco, fresh cilantro, nonfat Greek yogurt or sour cream, and guacamole or fresh avocado.

Notes

*If you can't find achiote paste in stores and would like to avoid ordering online, the recipe works okay without it. You may want to add some extra chili powder and salt (maybe a teaspoon of each) to account for its absence. The annatto seed in achiote paste will give the dish its signature red color, so your sauce will vary in color slightly.

Nutrition Facts Notes

So you can choose your own burrito bowl adventure, the recipe makes the following:

48 ounces of ground turkey: 1,440 Calories, 212g Protein, 85g Carbs, and 6g Fat

6 cups of rice blend: 990 Calories, 27g Protein, 205g Carbs, 0g Fat, and 13g Fiber

3 1/2 cups black beans: 775 Calories, 51g Protein, 141g Carbs, 2g Fat, and 59g Fiber

3 cups corn: 495 Calories, 13g Protein, 85g Carbs, 9g Fat, and 22g Fiber

Serving Sizes

8 servings with 6 oz ground turkey, 3/4 cup of the rice blend, 1/2 cup of the beans, and 1/3 cup of corn has 465 Calories, 38g Protein, 65g Carbs, 2g Fat, and 12g Fiber.

6 servings with 8 oz ground turkey, 1 cup of the rice blend, 3/4 cup of beans, and 1/2 cup corn has 615 Calories, 51g Protein, 86g Carbs, 3g Fat, and 16g Fiber.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 6 oz turkey, 3/4 cup rice, 1/2 cup beans, and 1/3 cup corn
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 465Total Fat: 2gCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 12gProtein: 38g

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Alicia

Friday 26th of January 2024

So quick & easy! I love the pineapple bits with the meat! It helps to offset the spiciness. Great job as always Mason!

Megan

Saturday 20th of January 2024

I just made this for my family, including the home made Achiote paste. It was so tasty and the picky kiddo even loved it!

brooke

Tuesday 16th of January 2024

this was so good god bless you for coming back to recipes

MJ

Friday 12th of January 2024

Can you do this with ground chicken ?

Mason Woodruff

Friday 12th of January 2024

For sure! Just made some breakfast bowls this week with the same sauce sans achiote paste and ground chicken.

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