Take your tacos to the next level with this Baked Tacos recipe! Create the perfect meal with all your favorite taco toppings without the taco crumbling all over your plate.
Why Make Baked Tacos
I know what you might be thinking. Really, Aimee, BAKED Tacos? What’s the point?
Well, let me tell you the point, since you asked (yes, pretend with me).
Baked Tacos are a great dinner idea to serve a crowd. Forget the mess of many bowls with toppings. These are easy, hassle free and always a hit!
With this taco recipe, you you prepare your taco meat ahead of time. Right before dinner, fill your shells with your meat and any other vegetables and taco fillings you like heated (corn, beans, peppers etc.).
Top with cheese and bake! The crispy shells with melted cheese and flavorful ground beef make the perfect base for adding all your favorite taco toppings.
Sprinkle with lettuce and tomato and serve with a few condiments like salsa, sour cream and guacamole. I can’t think of one single person who would be disappointed to see these baked tacos show up on their dinner table!
The real selling point of these tacos for me?
Baking tacos helps create a texture in your taco shell that prevents them from crumbling at first bite.
Seriously. This is the major reason I wanted to give these baked tacos a try! I love hard shells for my tacos, but after one bite they become taco salad. Having a leftover pile of shell pieces, meat and lettuce on my plate takes away some of the enjoyment of eating a taco.
Baking the meat and cheese in the shells adds moisture to the shell so it won’t crumble–without making it soft like a flour tortilla.
It’s just perfect. And if you have kids, they will LOVE this!
Here’s what you need to make these baked tacos:
- Ground beef – Ground turkey makes a good substitute, too.
- Taco seasoning – Homemade from my favorite taco seasoning recipe or a packet of store bought seasoning.
- Crispy taco shells
- Shredded cheddar jack cheese
- Taco toppings – Shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, salsa, peppers, guacamole, sour cream etc.
These tacos are so quick and easy to make, especially if you prep the meat in advance!
STEP 1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook ground beef until browned. Drain grease and return to stove top. Add taco seasoning and water and simmer for several minutes.
STEP 2. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place taco shells in a 13×9 baking dish. Fill with meat. (add beans and corn if desired) Top with shredded cheese and place in oven for 8-10 minutes.
Remove and top with lettuce and tomato. Provide additional toppings if desired. ENJOY!
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You can stick with the simple meat and cheese filling in these tacos or add some extras to fill out your meal with even more flavor.
I love tossing a can of black or pinto beans in with the meat!
Corn, diced onions, bell peppers and jalapenos are delicious when you add them to the taco meat before baking, too. The added vegetables will stretch the meat a bit so you may end up with leftover filling.
Store any filling that doesn’t fit in your taco shells in the fridge and add it to taco salads, nachos or burritos the next day!
Anytime I can make more than one meal from the same meat, I take advantage.
Taco Toppings Ideas
I once had a friend who liked her crispy tacos plain–just meat and cheese. To each their own, I suppose, but I love adding different flavors and textured to my tacos with toppings.
Think beyond the standard lettuce, tomato and salsa. There are dozens of creative and delicious ways to make these Baked Tacos stand out from your usual Taco Tuesday meals!
Here are a few of my favorite taco toppings for baked tacos:
Veggies: Red onion, cilantro, lettuce, tomatoes, and jalapenos add flavor and crunch to your taco
Topping flavor enhancers: Sour cream, queso fresco, shredded cheese, lime juice, and taco sauce!
Or, if you’re like my friend (and lots of kids I know), enjoy a baked taco just as it is, with the spiced meat and cheese as the main focus.
Yes, ground turkey is a delicious substitute for the beef in these tacos. While I haven’t tried it with meatless beef substitutes, this method of baking tacos should work just fine with those ingredients as well.
While soft tortillas are great for most taco recipes, you need to start with a crunchy taco shell to achieve that crispy bite.
If your tacos are soggy after baking, make sure you start with ground beef that has been cooked and drained fully of sauce. You can add your cheese before adding the meat and this helps.
More Dinner Recipes
Place a pan full of piping hot Baked Tacos on the table the next time you have a dinner party or Taco Tuesday night! You get all the delicious fun of crispy tacos with none of the crumbly mess with this taco recipe!