Turkey Chili Recipe

Turkey Chili is one of my favorite big batch recipes for the colder months. It is also freezer friendly, so you can enjoy a tasty dinner even on busy nights! | themillennialmenu.com

One of my favorite winter comfort foods is chili. It's so great to cozy up with a bowl of steaming chili topped with cheese, sour cream, and of course, with a buttery, crumbling corn muffin. I've perfected this Instant Pot Turkey Chili recipe that is super simple to make (p.s. even if you don't have an Instant Pot - which you totally should - I've included slow cooker and stove top directions, too). 

Chili is super simple to make, so if you're looking for an easy first-time recipe, go for this one. It is also very flexible - you can adjust the types of beans, the amount of spice, add additional vegetables, change up the toppings, etc. As long as you've got some ground turkey (or beef, if you want!), beans, veggies, spices, and broth, you're basically good. It's easy to double the recipe and make a large batch for a crowd or to have leftovers either for lunches for the week or to keep in your freezer when you need a quick weeknight meal. Either way, you now have an easy go-to recipe for winter comfort food on a cold night!



Turkey Chili Recipe

Makes 6 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Chicken or vegetable broth: Butternut Squash & Apple Soup or Instant Pot Risotto // Cheese: Five Minute Fish Taco Bowls
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes (includes pressure cooking wait time)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground turkey Substitute: ground beef
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Cheese, sour cream, cilantro, for topping




Dietary Substitutions:
Gluten Free
Dairy-free: Skip the cheese on top or choose a dairy free cheese.
Vegetarian Friendly: Use vegetable broth and substitute the ground turkey for an extra can of beans - I like to add pinto beans sometimes, but you can also add an extra can of black or kidney depending on your preferences.
Vegan-Friendly Follow dairy-free and vegetarian recommendations.

Directions
(see non-Instant Pot directions in italics below)

SAUTÉ THE TURKEY
1. Turn on the Instant Pot "sauté" setting, normal heat. Add 1 pound ground turkey to the Instant Pot along with 1 full taco spice seasoning packet. Sauté the ground turkey until it is completely brown fully cooked.

  • If you're making this without an Instant Pot, just brown the ground turkey on the stove and add it to your slow cooker or, for stove top, a large soup pot.

ADD EVERYTHING TO THE POT
2. Drain 1 can black beans, 1 can kidney beans, and 1 can corn in a strainer. Add to the Instant Pot.
3. Add 1 can diced tomatoes to the Instant Pot along with 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth.
4.  Stir in 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons paprika, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Add salt & pepper to taste.

COOK, THEN ENJOY!
5. Once everything is in the pot, close the lid and turn the Instant Pot on Manual for 10 minutes (high pressure). When the timer is done, let the pot NPR (natural pressure release - basically, just don't touch it) for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, slowly release the seal valve until the pressure pin drops, and open up the pot!

  • If you're making this in a slow cooker: Cook on low 3 hours. 
  • If you're making this on the stove top: Cook at a low simmer for 30 minutes.

6. Stir and taste the chili. Add salt & pepper as needed. 
7. Serve topped with cheese, sour cream, cilantro, and whatever else you like! I love mine with cornbread muffins on the side, too. Enjoy!

Yum.

instant-pot chili

Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container. This is one of my favorite big batch recipes to freeze because it tastes just as good defrosted during a busy week! I often make a double batch just to keep some leftovers in the freezer. Pull my favorite trick, "soup in a bag" and load up freezer-friendly ziplock bags with chili. Freeze them laying down flat and then stand them stacked up in your fridge to grab whenever you need a quick meal.

LUNCH TOMORROW - This has been my meal prep lunch recipe for the week at school so many times. It seems to get tastier after the first day anyway, and I love packing corn muffins on the side to enjoy with it. Make sure to store any sour cream in a separate container so you don't end up heating that up as well.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - This recipe does a pretty good job of using up almost everything in it! You'll use all the turkey and add ins. If you have to buy the spices they'll last forever in your spice cabinet. If you end up having extra broth, try using it up in my recipes for Butternut Squash & Apple Soup or Instant Pot Risotto.


Post-Grad Pasta Recipe

Easiest Pasta and Meatballs. 4 ingredients, 20 minutes. The best weeknight dinner ever!  | themillennialmenu.com

Everyone needs a go-to pasta and meatballs recipe. This one is a classic post-grad dish - nutritious, fast, simple, and more respectable than downing an entire bag of chips and salsa when you get home and calling it dinner. A big heaping bowl of whole wheat spaghetti, Rao's Tomato Basil Sauce, and Trader Joe's Turkey Meatballs is topped with real Parmegiano Reggiano and in your stomach in 20 minutes. You can't go wrong.

This should be your go-to Millennial Staple Meal - meaning you should always have everything on hand to make this for dinner. Pasta and red sauce in the pantry, frozen meatballs in the freezer, and a block of cheese in the fridge. Boom. 

The key here is the ingredients - this isn't going to be the same with store brand sauce and shaker cheese. Trust me. When you've only got four ingredients, every ingredient counts. It's worth the money to invest in a good block of Parmegiano Reggiano cheese that will last a while (especially when you vacuum seal it with your FoodSaver). Splurge a bit in the tomato sauce aisle - choose something that looks a little bit more artisanal than Ragu, but I'll tell you a secret - Rao's is the best. I am not even a brand snob and often buy store brand, but when it comes to tomato sauce, I refuse to buy anything else. Rao's is often on sale, so I just wait until I can find a good deal on it and buy a few jars for my pantry - either way, you get what you pay for. It has the fewest ingredients (meaning it's the closest thing to your grandma's tomato sauce), no added sugar, and least sodium. Naturally. 


Post-Grad Pasta Recipe

makes 1 serving
Other recipes with these ingredients: Turkey Meatballs: meatball sub // Pasta: pesto pasta, shrimp scampi, chicken parm side dish // Tomato sauce: chicken parm, mini pizzas
Prep Time: 10 minutes (prep while waiting for water to boil)
Cook Time: 10 minutes (pasta)
Total Time20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Trader Joe's Turkey Meatballs (1 serving's worth) Substitute: homemade meatballs, another brand of pre-made meatballs, sausage, chicken, etc.
  • 1 serving of whole wheat spaghetti Substitute: regular spaghetti, another shape of pasta
  • 3/4 cup Rao's Tomato Basil Sauce Substitute: any other jarred tomato sauce, homemade sauce
  • Parmesan cheese, to taste - go with a real Parmegiano Reggiano, find out why in the Grocery Guide Optional




Dietary Substitutions
Dairy Free: Consider using nutritional yeast instead of cheese or a lactose-free cheese.
Gluten Free: Substitute a gluten-free pasta alternative - there are so many options!
Vegetarian Friendly: Skip the meatballs, add in sauteed veggies, or try out Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs
Vegan Friendly: Combine Dairy Free & Vegetarian

Directions

BOIL YOUR PASTA, COOK YOUR MEATBALLS
1. Choose how you're going to cook your meatballs - I preheat the oven to 350°F, wrap 3-4 defrosted meatballs in tinfoil, and heat them up in the oven while I cook my pasta. To defrost them, I just take 3-4 out and leave them in the fridge overnight to defrost by the time I get home for dinner. If your meatballs are already defrosted, you can either warm them in the oven as described or microwave them for 30 seconds - 1 minute. If your meatballs aren't already defrosted, you can also cook them in the oven - it will just take longer. You can also defrost them in the microwave, but I've found this often dries them out. My preferred method is defrosting them and then warming in the oven, as described above.
2. Boil water for your pasta (place the pot on the stove on high, there should be enough water in the pan to cover your pasta by about an inch). 
3. Add 1 serving of pasta (eyeball how much you want to eat, put that much in the pot, and simply tape the rest of your pasta box for a later date) to your boiling water and cook until chewable. For me, this is about 8-10 minutes. Stir occasionally.*

*Confession: sometimes I forget to stir occasionally. My pasta is totally fine. Try to at least swirl it around in there twice in the 8-10 minutes you're cooking it.

ADD SAUCE, CHEESE, AND ENJOY
4. Once your pasta is sufficiently chewable, drain the pasta. Add the pasta back into the now-empty pot you boiled it in.
5. Add approximately 1/2 cup tomato sauce (to taste) to the pot with the pasta.
6. Remove your meatballs from the oven and add them to the pot, tossing to coat with the sauce.
7. Top with parmesan cheese. 

Yum.



Lunch tomorrow, Storing, & Extra Ingredients

LUNCH TOMORROW - I really think that leftover pasta sometimes tastes better - the sauce has time to soak in. If you'd like leftovers, I would keep that in mind when you make your recipe - add a little extra pasta to the pot, and maybe defrost 2-3 extra meatballs. You don't have to warm up your meatballs in the oven if you're bringing them for lunch the next day - just add them defrosted to a Tupperware and re-heat at work the next day.

STORING - Keep both pasta and meatballs in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge.

Vacuum Sealed Parmesan Cheese

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - You can seal up your pasta box and re-use whenever you make pasta again (I recommend shrimp scampi or buying a nice pesto). Frozen meatballs will last months in the fridge and are great to have on hand for a quick, last minute dinner. Parmesan cheese will last for a while in the fridge because it's aged - to maximize the shelf life, vacuum seal it using the FoodSaver. The rest of your tomato sauce will probably last at least a week, maybe two, before getting moldy. To prevent this, use a clean spoon to scoop out your sauce (or just pour it out) so you don't add any extra bacteria to the jar. Seal it up tightly and keep it in the fridge. I use it to make chicken parm, more pasta and meatballs, and english muffin pizzas (these bring me back to my daycare days). If you're worried about using it, it's great to store in snack-sized ziplock bags (or even better, use your FoodSaver!) in single serving portions. You can defrost the night before, or even just pop the frozen cube in the microwave (outside of the ziplock, but you can keep it in the FoodSaver bag if you have that) or in a pot to defrost quickly. 

Freezer Friendly Mexican Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Make a batch of Freezer Friendly Mexican Stuffed Peppers filled with turkey and quinoa to have on hand for a quick, easy weeknight meal. | themillennialmenu.com

This Freezer-Friendly Mexican Stuffed Peppers Recipe is one of my most freezer friendly recipes, bursting with flavor as well as three(!) different protein sources: ground turkey, quinoa, and black beans. Stuffed peppers remind me of my grandma, who makes an amazing traditional version with rice and hamburger meat (covered in a sauce with ketchup and brown sugar) but I love this re-vamped version that is a complete and balanced meal.

It's really important to me (and my budget) that I eat a homecooked meal every night. But, I don't always have time to cook something from scratch. These peppers make eating a homecooked and delicious meal possible because they freeze so well. They're also tasty, travel well for lunch, easily adaptable for almost any dietary restrictions, and work with flexible ingredients. I can't think of a better Millennial Menu item! At the end of this post, you can read more about how to freeze these so you'll always have a few on hand for dinner during a busy week. 

I always have a few of these on hand in my freezer ready for busy weeks when I won't have time to cook but still want to eat a healthy, delicious, and filling dinner. What is your go-to dinner on a busy night?



Freezer Friendly Mexican Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Makes 4-5 large peppers
Other recipes with these ingredients: Black beans & cilantro: Fish tacos // Ground turkey & Quinoa: Quinoa Stuffed Baked Tomatoes // Quinoa: add to salad for lunch, Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
I'll be doing Millennial Menu posts of similar recipes to those linked here very soon, but for now, here are some ideas of how to use up ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 4-5 large bell peppers

FOR THE FILLING

  • 1/3 cup quinoa Subtsitute: farro, rice, etc.
  • Splash of olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground turkey Substitute: ground chicken, ground beef
  • 1/2 packet of fajita/taco seasoning  
  • 1 can diced tomatoes -  Optional canned diced tomatoes work, I've also used canned tomato sauce before and that is also tasty. You could use fresh tomatoes, but I prefer the canned because the added juice makes the filling more flavorful._
  • 1 small can corn -  Optional You could use fresh corn as well, but that raises the cost.
  • 1/2 can black beans  Optional
  • Salt and pepper

ADDED AFTER COOKING

  • Shredded Mexican cheese Optional
  • Sour cream Optional
  • Cilantro Very Optional




Dietary Substitutions
Dairy Free: Don't add sour cream & cheese at the end.
Vegetarian: Leave out the turkey and just use quinoa and veggies in your filling.
Vegan: Dairy Free + Vegetarian
Already Gluten Free


Directions

GET YOUR GAME FACE ON
1.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. This is always the first thing you should do if you're cooking with the oven! 
2. Assemble all your ingredients and the necessary kitchen tools:

  • Knives
  • Cutting board
  • A small sauce pan to cook the quinoa in
  • A frying pan to cook the ground turkey in
  • Spatula to cook the ground turkey with
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon to scoop the filling into the peppers
  • Oven-safe pan for the peppers (pie plates work great or 8x8 pans that have edges the peppers can lean up against)

PREP THE PANS YOU'LL USE & THE PEPPERS
3. Turn one burner on high. Add 2/3 cup of water to the sauce pan. Add in 1/3 c. dry quinoa. [Important Ratio: 1:3 dry quinoa:cooked quinoa, 1:2 quinoa:water]Read more about how to cook quinoa. Now you have to wait for the quinoa to boil, at which point you'll turn down the heat and let it sit and cook for 15 minutes, but...while you're waiting for the quinoa to boil...
4. Turn on another burner on medium and place the frying pan on it. Let the frying pan heat up on the stove for a minute. While this is heating up...
5. You want to core your bell peppers with a knife so that they're hollow and you can fill them with your turkey and quinoa filling. It's nice to get this out of the way so you're not overwhelmed trying to do this while your raw meat is cooking. Need help? Watch Martha Stewart core a pepper.

COOK THE QUINOA & TURKEY
6. Add a splash of canola oil to the frying pan that was heating up, enough to lightly coat the entire bottom of the pan. Wait 30 seconds or so for the oil to het up a bit, and add your 1 pound of ground turkey to the pan. Move it around with a spoon or spatula - this is called browning. Sprinkle the 1/2 packet of taco seasoning as it cooks, continuing to move the turkey around and mix in the seasoning with the spatula. It should take about 5-8 minutes for the turkey to cook. When it's done, it should be entirely brownish-grey, with no pink.
7. Once the quinoa comes to a boil, turn down the heat to low and cover the pot. Let the quinoa sit and cook for 15 minutes. 

MIX IT ALL TOGETHER
8. Mix together the cooked turkey and cooked quinoa in a mixing bowl.
9. Add 1 can of corn, 1/2 can of beans, and 1 can of tomatoes to the bowl. Use a spoon to mix everything together.
10. Smell it! Does it smell like you want more taco spice? Add it now if you do!
11. Add in salt and pepper, to taste.

STUFF THE PEPPERS
12. Spoon the filling into the peppers, filling each pepper to the top.
13. Place on a pan to cook in the oven. A pie plate or 8x8 pan with edges works to keep the peppers upright.

COOK
14. Cook for approximately 30 minutes on 350°F. Since your meat isn't raw, you can cook for as long or short as you want. Just cook until the peppers are as soft as you want them to be in order to eat them. You can poke them with your finger to see how soft they are.

EAT
15. Take your peppers out of the oven when the pepper is soft enough to eat (about 30 minutes on 350°F).
16. Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, and cilantro.

Yum.


Lunch tomorrow, Storing, & Extra Ingredients

LUNCH TOMORROW - Pack these in a Tupperware for lunch with the sour cream on the side. Cut in half to make microwaving quicker.

STORING - The peppers will keep for about 3 days in the fridge. But, they're practically MEANT for freezing! Especially because the recipe makes 4 - you can eat one, bring one for lunch the next day, and still have TWO dinners for later always ready to go in the freezer. Once they come out of the oven, I let them cool a bit before popping them in the freezer (on the dish you cooked them in is fine). Let them freeze overnight before storing for the long term. I didn't take the time to let them freezer overnight the first few times I made these (I just plopped them in a bag still hot), but it's worth it. Allowing them to harden overnight means they'll be more likely to retain their shape and flavor, and they won't leak juices all over the bag you're going to store them in. The next day, you're ready to bag the peppers to store them in your freezer for the long term. If you're smart, you've read Why Every Millennial Needs a FoodSaver and can use your Food Saver to vacuum seal the peppers for storing in the freezer. If not, add it to your Christmas list and store in freezer Ziplock bags. It's always good to label and date your freezer food. The peppers will last indefinitely at 0°F in the freezer, but for best taste and flavor, eat them within 3-4 months.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - You'll have half a can of black beans left. These freeze wonderfully and can go into so many recipes. Use a FoodSaver or place in a ziplock bag, label and date, and freeze! You can also use them in a fish taco bowl, taco soup, or added to a salad for lunch or breakfast scramble with eggs. The shredded cheese and sour cream will last for weeks in the fridge and are great ingredients for healthy multigrain nachos as a snack. The best way to store cilantro is in a drinking glass with a bit of water in it, and place it in the fridge with a plastic bag over the top. You can use it for other Mexican-inspired dishes, like in a fish taco or breakfast burrito.


This recipe was inspired by and adapted from Chef Savvy's Healthy Mexican Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers.