The best turkey tacos – a simple, festive way to use up turkey leftovers

If you bought the biggest turkey on the shelf, then not to worry as theses turkey tacos are a delicious way to use up your Christmas leftovers

festive turkey tacos on Christmas table
(Image credit: Heinz to Home)

Turkey tacos is where it's at on every day, but especially if you're jazzing up this family favorite dish, with your Thanksgiving leftovers. These tacos call for shredded turkey leg, but if that was the first part of the bird to go, you can use whatever you have leftover!

Flavorsome, a little spicy, and full of texture from the delicious pickled carrot slaw – way to use up those spare carrots also – this is definitely going on our favorite leftover turkey recipes list. Make these before a night of relaxing on the couch
watching a family movie, or for a quick seasonal lunch, and let the festive mood carry on at home.

Turkey tacos recipe

Prep time: 25 mins

Cook time: 5 mins

Serves: 4

For the paste:

  • 2 tbs red chilli flakes
  • 1 minced garlic clove 
  • 1 tbs chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 chopped shallot 
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro stalks
  • 1-2 tsp caster sugar
  • 2-3 tbs Thai fish sauce
  • 2-3 rice or white wine vinegar 
  • 2-3 tbs vegetable or peanut oil 
  • 1 tbs lime juice

For the slaw:

  • 2 finely shredded carrots
  • 3 tablespoons rice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar

For the festive turkey tacos:

  • 1 cooked turkey leg, skin removed
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbs mirin or medium sherry
  • 1 tbs light soy sauce
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • A loose handful of cilantro leaves
  • 6-8 mint leaves
  • 1/4 shredded white cabbage
  • 4 chopped spring onions
  • 1 sliced green chilli
  • 4 small soft flour tacos
  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise (we use Heinz [Seriously] Good Mayonnaise)


1. First make the spicy Asian mayo by tipping the dry ingredients into a blender or food processor and blitzing them into a paste. 

2. Then, add the liquids until it the mixture runs smooth and is all well combined.

3. Set this aside in a jar. 

Top tip: this will keep fresh for 2-3 days in the refrigerator!

4. When you're ready to use your paste, stir the mayo through to suit your taste (we use about 2-3 tbs). Set this aside again.

5. Shred your leftover turkey meat and set it aside in a mixing bowl. 

6. Add the soy, sesame, garlic, ginger and sherry. Stir.

7. Make the carrot slaw by combining all the ingredients listed together, then leave it to macerate until serving.

8. When you're ready to serve and eat, flash the soft tacos in a hot pan to warm them through.

9. Next, layer up the shredded cabbage, turkey meat, pickled carrot slaw with a generous spoonful of your spiced mayo to finish. 

10. We like the idea of serving a few at a time on a dish for everyone to hop in on. So garnish yours with the spring onions, fresh herbs, maybe a little more mayo on the side and enjoy!

Cheeky tip: got leftover cheese? Grate a little on top also and you won't regret it!

Are turkey tacos better than beef?

Yes! In a nutshell, as turkey is naturally less calorific than beef, but still with a high protein and mineral content. As this recipe calls for roasted turkey leftovers – rather than turkey mince which is super lean – and mayonnaise, there is likely to be a little more fat content in them, but they are still a relatively healthy and delicious, crafty way to enjoy your leftovers!