Kristine Kidd

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Turkey and Cranberry Salsa Tacos
Thanksgiving Leftovers

A day or two after the big deal meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, we crave something lighter and more casual, and these turkey tacos have become a once-a-year tradition. Because they rely on leftovers, they are easy to put together.

I’m not talking about wrapping up turkey and gravy in tortillas, these are distinctive and brightly flavored. Quick cranberry salsa is the surprise here. I discovered that stirring fresh lime juice, minced chili, and cilantro into almost any leftover cranberry sauce turns it into an excellent relish for the tacos. The sweeter the cranberry sauce, the more lime juice I mix in. Of course, if you made my Cranberry Relish with Orange, Lime, and Mint you won’t need to mess with it at all, you are all set.

For Latin flavored turkey filling, sauté thinly sliced red onion until it starts to caramelize, then add strips of leftover turkey—dark meat, light meat, or a mixture—sprinkle with chipotle chili powder or hot smoked paprika and sauté just until heated through.

I make a spicy coleslaw that doubles as creamy sauce and crunchy vegetable. Start off with a package of shredded coleslaw vegetables. I prefer the variety with white and red cabbage plus carrot, but choose your favorite. Mix in lime juice, cilantro, red onion and chili, and make it creamy with a little mayonnaise and Greek yogurt.

That’s about it, except for slicing an avocado and toasting the tortillas.

Turkey and Cranberry Salsa Tacos

Kristine Kidd
Makes 4 servings.
Use Cranberry Relish with Orange, Lime, and Mint or turn any leftover cranberry sauce into the quick cranberry salsa here.


Quick Cranberry Salsa

  • 1 cup leftover cranberry sauce
  • 1 Serrano chili, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • Fresh lime juice to taste, 1-3 tablespoons, depending on sweetness of the cranberry sauce


  • 1 8- ounce package shredded coleslaw mix
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 Serrano chili, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Turkey and Tacos

  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups thin strips cooked turkey meat
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder or hot smoked paprika
  • 1 large avocado, sliced


  • For the cranberry salsa: Combine the cranberry sauce, minced chili, and cilantro in a small bowl. Mix in enough lime juice to season to taste.
  • For the coleslaw: Combine the coleslaw mix, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and chili in a medium bowl and mix to blend. Stir in the mayonnaise and yogurt. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • For the turkey and tacos: Cook the tortillas directly over a gas flame or on a hot dry skillet until beginning to brown in spots, about 20 seconds on each side. Transfer to a tortilla warmer or cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey. Sprinkle with chipotle chili and sauté just until heated through, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Place the tortillas, turkey, coleslaw, salsa, and avocados on the table and allow everyone to assemble their own tacos.
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