Skinny Tacos

I love tacos but sometimes find that tortillas are too heavy and take away from the enjoyment of the flavourful fillings. This lighter alternative is now my family’s favourite. You can adjust the heat with the chili powder; often it’s better to make the meat less spicy and then people can add more salsa to crank up the heat. Lean ground turkey or chicken can be a bit dry once cooked, hence the water in this recipe. Make sure you add the seasonings before the liquids so they have a chance to infuse the meat a little. Bibb lettuce is buttery-tasting and folds beautifully over taco fillings; it’s often sold in a clamshell package with the roots attached. The meat can be prepared ahead, refrigerated and reheated at mealtime.

Using lettuce leaves instead of tortillas means the focus is on the fillings, rather than the wrapper.

Using lettuce leaves instead of tortillas means the focus is on the fillings, rather than the wrapper.


1 pound lean ground turkey or chicken
1/2 small onion, minced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder or to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
1 pineapple, peeled and cored
1 lime, in wedges
1 head Bibb lettuce (can substitute with Boston or Romaine)
Favourite taco accessories: grated cheese, salsa, chopped tomatoes, grated carrot, diced avocado, etc.


  • Brown the meat in a medium-large frying pan that has a lid. Use a wooden spoon to break up any clumps.
  • While meat is browning, carefully remove the lettuce leaves from the root ball and wash then dry them. Handle them as gently as possible so you don’t tear or make holes in the leaves.
  • Once the meat is thoroughly browned, add the minced onions and cook, stirring, for 2 – 4 minutes until onions are softened.
  • Add the spices and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the water and tomato sauce. Stir, cover and let simmer on low for approximately 20 minutes.
  • While meat is finishing, wash lettuce and spin gently or pat dry.
  • Slice pineapple into rings; slice rings into thirds. In a heavy-duty frying pan (cast iron is great for this), fry pineapple pieces until nicely browned on both sides.
  • Also while meat is cooking, prepare toppings and put in small bowls.
  • When meat is finished, invite everyone to assemble their own tacos: place a spoonful of meat mixture in the middle of a lettuce leaf and add toppings.
  • A squeeze of fresh lime juice punches up the flavour in a beautiful way.
  • Seared pineapple can be enjoyed on the side or right in the middle of the skinny taco.
  • Fold up and devour.

Serves 3 – 4.

About Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I play with words and with food. I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. I'm also an enthusiastic explorer of faraway lands and cuisines.
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