Thanksgiving Leftovers: Spicy Tequila Lime Turkey Tacos

20091201-Turkey Tacos

Everybody has expe­ri­enced it. Piles of thanks­giv­ing food left over after the big meal. For days at almost every meal its turkey, dress­ing, pota­toes, etc. Monday I took a big plate of every­thing we had at Thursday’s Thanksgiving feast to work with me for lunch. It was still really good, but it had lost its charm. Instead of deli­cious smoked turkey and excit­ing sides it was just another round of left­overs. I was done with Thanksgiving food. It was time to move on. Inspired by a taco theme day on Whiskerino (a bian­nual beard grow­ing com­pe­ti­tion I’ve par­tic­i­pated since its incep­tion in 2003), I decided that slow-cooking the turkey in a spicy sauce would be a great way to use up the rest of the turkey we had left.


This totally hit the spot for me as I’ve been crav­ing tacos all day. As I said, my Thanksgiving turkey was brined overnight in an apple cider mix­ture before being smoked for eight hours over a com­bi­na­tion of hick­ory and mesquite chunks. This smokey sweet­ness and the spice was a per­fect com­bi­na­tion and after sim­mer­ing for over an hour in the sauce, the won­der­fully moist and ten­der meat just fell apart. I paired the tacos with a quick and easy salsa rice & beans. You take cup of rice and sub­sti­tute salsa for the water and cook as directed. Once the rice is done cook­ing, stir in a can of beans and a pinch of salt and top with a lit­tle shred­ded cheese and you’ve got a fast, tasty side dish that’s sure to please.


Spicy Tequila Lime Turkey Tacos, Thanksgiving Leftover Edition
Serves 4

2 tsp. olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 small toma­toes, cored and diced (about 1 cup)
2 cloves gar­lic, minced
2 cayenne pep­pers, diced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly-ground black pep­per
2 cups chicken broth
2 oz. tequila
1 tsp. triple sec
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. Tapatio Mexican hot sauce (or equiv­a­lent)
1 tbsp. chili pow­der
1/2 tsp. crushed red pep­per flakes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chipo­tle pow­der
1 tsp fresh cilantro (plus more for gar­nish)
1 lb cooked turkey
24 corn tortillas


In a large pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add onions and cook, stir­ring occa­sion­ally, for 5 – 8 min­utes or until translu­cent. Add toma­toes, gar­lic, cayenne, salt and pep­per and cook until the toma­toes start break­ing down, about 5 minutes.


Stir in all remain­ing ingre­di­ents except for turkey and tor­tillas and bring to a boil. Add turkey, reduce heat to medium and sim­mer uncov­ered for 15 minutes.


Reduce heat to low and sim­mer cov­ered for 45 min­utes stir­ring occa­sion­ally. Remove from heat and pull turkey apart with forks.


To serve place a small amount of turkey in the mid­dle of two stacked tor­tillas and a top with cilantro. Garnish with shred­ded ched­dar or Monterey Jack cheese and sour cream.



Do you have any unique tips, tricks or tra­di­tions for using your Thanksgiving left­overs? I’d love to hear about them. leave me a com­ment and if you end up mak­ing these deli­cious tacos, let me know what you think!

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  1. Posted December 2, 2009 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    These look amaz­ing! We’ll be hav­ing these soon!

    • Posted December 2, 2009 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Aaron. let me know how it goes.

  2. Posted December 2, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    well, your smoked turkey looked incred­i­ble in the first place; I can only imag­ine how good these spicy left­overs are. Our turkey – every bit of it — is gone. It’s kind of a relief. But I do want to try your cider brine next time I smoke a bird!

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