Taco Turkey Mac and Cheese 


I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but here in Southern California it’s cold, rainy, and gross.  Can you tell I’m not really a winter fan? I’ve also been under the weather for the past week or so, and those two things combined can only mean one thing: time for some comfort food! I love nothing better than a comforting bowl of pasta, and this spicy Taco Turkey Mac and Cheese definitely fits the bill.

Truthfully, the creation of this recipe went something like this:

     Me: *pokes head in the refrigerator*

     *sees cream cheese*

     Want. NOW. With pasta.

I had bought a few extra packages of cream cheese around the holidays and had some leftovers.  I never buy bagels, so really I had nothing to use it in–until I had the bright idea of stirring it into a tomato-based sauce with extra cheese to make a super creamy mac and cheese sauce.  I thought it was pretty brilliant.

I love pink sauce–a mix between marinara and alfredo sauce–and this is a perfect way to cheat your way to it! I also added some freshly chopped jalapeno, onion, and garlic, plus ground turkey with taco seasoning to give it a Mexican-inspired twist.  I mean, what could be better than my two loves meeting, Mexican food AND pasta? Yum!

This makes a delicious and easy weeknight meal.  It kind of reminds me of one of those pre-made just-add-hamburger boxed meals, only without all those added chemicals and preservatives.  The great part about it is, I could use my own gluten-free pasta too, which kept it gluten free (which I am trying to do almost exclusively these days, thanks to nasty old autoimmune disease).  I was starting to miss my hamburger & pasta meals, and this makes it super easy to enjoy again!

I hope you’ll give this Taco Turkey Mac and Cheese a try–it’s a great alternative to plain mac and cheese.

Taco Turkey Mac and Cheese

I love nothing better than a comforting bowl of pasta, and this spicy Taco Turkey Mac and Cheese definitely fits the bill.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Taco Turkey Mac and Cheese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 8 oz elbow macaroni pasta gluten free (if desired–of course regular pasta works too, or even whole grain pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium jalapeno seeded, ribbed and minced
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey or beef
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened (1 block)
  • ¾ cup skim milk
  • 2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • Salt & pepper
  • hot sauce such as Louisiana Hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro


  • In a large pot, boil pasta according to the package directions. Drain and add a tiny bit of olive oil to keep from sticking. Set pasta aside.
  • In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the jalapeno, onion, and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about five minutes.
  • Add the ground turkey and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon (or a spatula–it works great to chop with!).
  • Once the meat is cooked through, sprinkle all the spices on top of the browned meat and stir to combine thoroughly.
  • Stir in the canned tomatoes.
  • Cut your brick of cream cheese into small squares, then stir into the tomato and meat mixture along with the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until thickened.
  • Add in the cheese over low heat, and stir until the cheese is melted.
  • Add hot sauce to taste, then stir in the cilantro. Add the cooked pasta back into the skillet with the sauce and stir to combine.



  1. Rae

    Why is it that every time I open your site to access the recipe you show, it’s a totally different recipe you give??? ex: looking for the seafood Mac and cheese and the Taco Turkey Mac & cheese comes up up. This is not the only time t hi s has happened…it happens all the time. I’m no longer going to fall for this.

  2. Bryce Thompson

    These cream cheese squares are an absolute delight! I made a batch over the weekend, and they were gone in minutes. The texture and flavor are spot-on!

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