This one-pot turkey mac and cheese is like a grownup version of hamburger helper and a much healthier option than that boxed stuff. Filled with spinach, peppers, real cheddar cheese, on the table in just 30 minutes and easily made gluten-free too!

This one-pot turkey skillet mac and cheese is like a grownup version of hamburger helper and a much healthier option than that boxed stuff.
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Remember Hamburger Helper and that weird white hand with the red clown nose who bounced around countertops (he totally freaked me out)?

This 30 minute one-pot turkey skillet mac and cheese is like a grownup version of hamburger helper filled with spinach, peppers and real cheddar cheese.

This is what I’m calling the grownup version.

Granted, we never actually had that as kids (along with many other kid friendly/preservative filled foods we were deprived of) but this at least tastes like what I’d expect Hamburger Helper to taste like except with the addition of peppers, spinach and lean turkey.

And minus probably 95% of the ingredients you see here.

hamburger helper ingredient list

That’s kind of sickening isn’t it?

And what’s up with the imitation bacon bits, Betty? Go big or go home when it comes to the good stuff!

Before we get into this turkey skillet mac and cheese though, check out these other delicious and healthy one skillet meals!

Lexi from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen made a Loaded Veggie Taco Skillet
Lindsay from Cotter Crunch made a Mediterranean Marinated Balsamic Pork Loin Skillet
Taylor from Food Faith Fitness made a Mexican Sweet Potato Rice Bake
Brittany from Eating Bird Food made Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Lo Mein

Skillet meals

Ok, back to the turkey macaroni and cheese!

This is total, complete, utter, 100%, to the max (insert any other descriptor you can think of here) comfort food, that just happens to be pretty healthy too (kinda like this creamy Greek yogurt mac ‘n cheese with peas and bacon and this creamy white bean pasta).

It’s sit in front of the TV, put your sweats on (I do that a lot if you haven’t noticed), curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket kind of food.

Turkey Skillet Mac and Cheese is an easy, 30 minute dinner inspired by those Hamburger Helper meals except way healthier and much more delicious!
One pot and 30 minutes is all you need to get this easy and healthy turkey skillet mac and cheese on the table.

This is food that will win you bonus points with your significant other (especially if they’re mac and cheese fanatics like mine) and definitely have them doing the dishes afterwards while you sit and relax.

In my infinite wisdom, I made this on a night Ulysses wasn’t home though, so I didn’t even get that luxury.

Poor planning on my part.

Filled with spinach and peppers and tossed in a creamy read cheddar cheese sauce, this turkey skillet mac and cheese is an easy weeknight dinner everyone will love.

I usually get really annoyed by mac and cheese recipes out there that have me making a roux, using multiple pots, dirty whisks all over the place, starting on the stove top, moving to the oven…

It’s all just way too complicated for freakin mac and cheese, you know?

I want one pot, cornstarch exists for a reason and don’t make me decide which of my 5 different whisks I need to use.

The only recipe I’ll make a roux for is this creamy sausage macaroni and cheese. For some reason, it doesn’t bother me in that recipe. Probably because it uses just one cheese and is as streamlined as possible.

Turkey skillet mac and cheese is creamy and decadent tasting but still an easy and healthy dinner you can have ready in just 30 minutes with only one dirty pot!

Problem solved.

This turkey skillet mac and cheese fits all those requirements and still tastes like you spent hours in a dirty pot filled kitchen with flour and whisks strewn about.

Score.

Anytime you’re cooking ground turkey it’s worth checking out this guide on how long to cook ground turkey to ensure you don’t overcook or undercook the meat.

Looking for some other turkey dishes that aren’t as decadent? Try this turkey sweet potato skillet or this buffalo turkey cauliflower skillet.

Or, swap out ground turkey for the ground pork in this cauliflower gnocchi bake recipe – another easy 30 minute comfort food kinda meal!

This ground beef pasta recipe is also really similar to the original hamburger helper if you prefer beef.

Love this Turkey Skillet Mac and Cheese recipe?

Try Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese with SpinachSuper Creamy Spicy Sausage Mac and Cheese, and Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac ‘n Cheese with Peas and Bacon.

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4.42 from 70 votes

Turkey Skillet Mac and Cheese

Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Turkey skillet mac and cheese is creamy and decadent tasting but still an easy and healthy dinner you can have ready in just 30 minutes with only one dirty pot!
This one-pot turkey skillet mac and cheese is like a grownup version of hamburger helper and a much healthier option than that boxed stuff.

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, or tapioca/arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cups milk, (1% or 2% regular milk – or use unsweetened nut milk)
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 ounces elbow pasta, (use whole wheat or gluten free pasta if desired)
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Instructions 

  • Place olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add turkey and cook until browned, breaking up with a spatula as it cooks. Drain excess liquid from the pot and return to the stove.
  • Add the onions and cook with the turkey until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic to the pot and cook an additional minute until fragrant.
  • Add the peppers to the pot and cook another 3 minutes until slightly softened. 
  • Add cornstarch and spices and stir until the meat mixture is thoroughly coated. 
  • Add the milk, water and pasta, bring to a boil then reduce to a medium simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times while cooking. 
  • Uncover the pot, turn off the heat, add the spinach and cheese and stir until spinach is wilted and cheese is melted. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 574kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 46gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 156mgSodium: 442mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
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Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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Recipe Rating




71 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’m always on the lookout for new and tasty ground turkey recipes. This one does not disappoint. Thanks for the new recipe.