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Taco Mania: A Marathon of Taco-Inspired Recipes

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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

taco-mania-a-marathon-of-taco-inspired-recipes

What Makes a Great Taco?

  • the salty/savory flavor of meat or beans
  • earthy flavor of ground cumin
  • creamy melted cheese
  • crisp fresh shredded lettuce or cabbage
  • sweet/tart fresh bits of tomatoes
  • briny black olives
  • the tang of sour cream
  • a kiss of fresh cilantro
  • the perfect envelope—soft pillowy flour or crunchy corn tortilla

Have I made you hungry?

But That's Just the Beginning

Tacos can be made in so many different ways. Are you vegetarian? There's a taco recipe for you. Gluten free? Step right up and grab a corn tortilla. Vegan? There are cheese and sour cream substitutes that taste as good as the real thing. Perhaps you are craving breakfast—breakfast tacos are easy to make. Dessert? We've got an app for that!

In fact, the flavors of tacos can go far beyond the "food-in-a-tortilla." Taco pizza, taco burger, taco casseroles, and the list goes on.

So, let's start cooking. I promise that there's something for everyone.

Fun Taco Facts

  • October 3 is National Taco Day
  • The fish taco originated in Ensenada, Mexico
  • Taco Bell began in 1950 as "Bell's Hamburgers and Hot Dogs," in San Bernadino, California. The price of a crisp taco back then was 19 cents.

Breakfast Tacos

Mom always told us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (so why do you eat a dry piece of toast and the kids scarf up cereal that is 40-50 percent sugar?). There’s a better way, also known as “Breakfast Tacos.”

If you precook the bacon and potatoes on the weekend and store them in the refrigerator, you can assemble these tacos in just a little more time than it takes to pour cereal and milk into a bowl. I haven’t tried it, but I think you might even be able to precook all of the ingredients (even then eggs), and then just load up the tortillas and zap in the microwave.

Bacon and Potato Tacos (with vegetarian version) (4 servings)

Ingredients

  • 4 slices of bacon, diced (see note below for vegetarian option)
  • 1 ½ cups frozen cottage fries, defrosted
  • 8 small (6-inch) flour tortillas (we like the whole wheat ones)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Salsa (garnish)

Instructions

  • Place diced bacon in cold nonstick skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Move from skillet with slotted spoon and set aside.
  • In same pan cook cottage fries, stirring often, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the same plate as the bacon. Wipe skillet clean.
  • Whisk eggs in a medium-sized bowl. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook eggs, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula until large curds form and eggs are just barely set, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Wrap tortillas in paper towels. Warm in microwave 1 minute.
  • Evenly divide the eggs and fill the warmed tortillas. Top eggs with bacon/potato mixture (reheat in microwave if previously cooked and stored in the refrigerator).
  • Add cheese and avocado to filled tortillas.
  • Fold in sides of tortillas, roll up and serve.
  • You can spoon the salsa into the tortillas before you roll them up, or use as a dip.

NOTE: If you want a vegetarian version, simply omit the bacon and warm 1/2 can of rinsed drained black beans; stir in 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin.

Taco Casserole

Jenn is the person behind the blog MotherThyme.com. She lets visitors to her page know that she is "...a wife and a super blessed mommy of 6 year old twins. We live in beautiful western New York. I love good food, good wine and lots of coffee!"

Jenn makes tasty meals for her family, documents them in her blog, and (lucky for us) takes amazing photographs of all of those yummy things. She made a taco casserole that is very much like something that I cook for my family, but she was quicker to grab the camera than I. So I share her photo, and recipe for Cheesy Taco Casserole, with you.

Taco Salad

Holly Lofthouse is a recipe creator for Pillsbury, so she is no stranger to cooking in the kitchen and creating new and interesting flavor combinations. She began her blog in September 2010. Her Doritos Taco Salad is inspiration for the recipe below.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean (93 percent) ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 romaine lettuce hearts, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped black olives
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup low-salt broken tortilla chips
  • 1 cup ranch-style dressing

Instructions

  1. Crumble ground turkey into skillet; cook over medium-high heat until it begins to brown. Add dry seasonings (chili powder through oregano) and stir. Add water and simmer, stirring constantly, until liquid in pan evaporates. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine lettuce, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, and black olives. Toss to combine. Add cooked meat and cheese and toss to combine.
  3. If salad will be served later, cover and refrigerate. Add chips and dressing and gently toss to combine just before serving.
  4. If serving immediately, add the crushed chips and salad dressing; toss gently to combine. (I prefer the flavors of the salad when it is NOT chilled).
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Taco Pizza

The dough for this pizza does include yeast, but it isn't the typical mix-knead-proof-punch down-shape-let rise again pizza dough. I'm guessing that is why so many people shy away from making pizza at home. This dough is quick (moments, not hours) and easy (no kneading or proofing involved).

Ingredients for Pizza Crust

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. dry oregano

Instructions for Pizza Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. Place warm water in large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over and stir just to moisten. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir quickly to mix thoroughly. Let dough rest 5 minutes.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead about 10 times. Divide dough in half and place each half in the center of a lightly greased 12-inch pizza pan. Press or roll the dough to the edges. (A lightly-floured pizza roller makes this a cinch!).

Ingredients to Assemble and Bake the Pizza

  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 cup salsa (mild, medium or hot depending on how much heat you like)
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped black olives

Instructions

  1. Place ingredients on pizza crusts in the order listed.
  2. Bake in preheated oven 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly.

Quick and Easy Taco Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 can (16 ounces) refried beans (I use vegetarian)
  • 2 cans (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
  • 1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chilies) OR
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes, cut up plus 1 4-ounce can chopped green chilies
  • Tortilla chips (for garnish)
  • Sour cream (for garnish)
  • Diced avocado (for garnish)

Instructions

Combine the first 5 ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low; simmer for 10 minutes or until heated through. Add a bit of water if soup is too thick (I like THICK soup).

Dessert Tacos

I found these apple pie dessert tacos on TipBuzz.com. They are easy to make (only six ingredients), tasty, and totally addictive. The recipe from TipBuzz recommends caramel sauce and whipped cream. I like salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.

© 2017 Linda Lum

Comments

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 13, 2019:

Sha, I'm so happy to hear from you and to know that both you and your son enjoyed the meal. Thanks so much!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 13, 2019:

Linda, I'm back to tell you about the taco casserole recipe you have above. It was delicious! I used grass-fed beef, tri-colored rotini, and organic salsa. Once done, I topped mine with plain Greek yogurt. So did my son, which surprised me. He scarfed it up like he hadn't eaten in a week!

It was delicious and I'll definitely be making it again!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 11, 2019:

Ooh, I can almost taste it. Honestly, I think I could eat tacos (or taco-flavored things) every day. Well, maybe not on Thanksgiving, but just about any other time. I hope you and your son enjoy. Thanks for writing and Happy Mother's Day to you as well.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 11, 2019:

I'm making the taco casserole for dinner tonight. I think I'll top my portion with tomatoes, avocado, and plain Greek yogurt. I bought tortilla strips for Christopher to crunch over his. I'll let you know how it comes out.

Happy Mother's Day, Linda!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 11, 2019:

Eric, I'm not 100% clear on what you are asking. Can you pair taco-flavors with pasta? Absolutely! Can you fill your taco shell with chorizo? Goodness yes, that sounds amazing.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 10, 2019:

Linda I am thinking of a Chorizo twist. Maybe give your take on your next wonderful questions and answers. Just a thought but I love that cayenne easy taste.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 10, 2019:

Eric I've been known to buy taco shells myself, so you have my pardon LOL.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 10, 2019:

I was writing you elsewhere and remembered this. My son and I love tacos. Saturday for sure I am thinking a pasta mix with somewhat spicey ground beef. We will go crispy shell. Please don't be upset I will buy them made. hihihi

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 20, 2017:

Flourish, vegan ice cream has really improved in the past few years. It used to have a grainy mouth feel, but now it's really quite good. The coconut ones are awesome.

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 20, 2017:

Those dessert tacos look good, like open little apple pies. Glad you include some vegetarian options. I could add some of that really good vegan "ice cream" and be good to go.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 09, 2017:

Wow Shauna, that stinks, doesn't it? May I assume that a taco dinner is in your future? I hope the day goes quickly for you, and thanks for stopping by. You've given me yet another reason to be thankful for retirement.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 09, 2017:

For some reason I have the hungries this morning, Diva. Now I'm craving a good ole ground beef taco in a crunchy corn tortilla. Cheese, black olives, tomatoes, lettuce and sour cream. Yum! Since it's only 9:22 a.m. and I'm at work, I guess I'll have to settle for the graham crackers I have in my drawer. Definitely NOT the same!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 09, 2017:

Too many tacos? How is that even possible? Hope you enjoy that breakfast taco. And, try the apple dessert ones--they are SOOO good.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 08, 2017:

Ooooh this was fabulous! I love tacos and get falsely accused of making them too much. Going to try breakfast tacos. I've had breakfast quesadillas but not this. Yum!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 06, 2017:

Hi Mary - It's so good to hear from you. I am impressed that you make your own tortillas. Good for you. They don't get any fresher than that.

As for the dessert tacos. If you do a Google search or go to Pinterest (my downfall), there are a LOT of recipes for dessert tacos. Not (obviously) the traditional taco, but certainly a fun hand-held dessert. I think they would be great as the sweet treat for a Super Bowl or World Series party.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on April 06, 2017:

All of these look good. I make my own tortillas, as I haven't seen them for sale here.

I never thought of making a sweet taco, like the apple ones. I also love the idea of making a taco pizza.

Great stuff.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 06, 2017:

Eric - Taco Saturday works for me! And, I loved the story time. Thanks for sharing.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 06, 2017:

Well, Bill you are a bit of an odd duck, but that's what we all love about you. I do hope that you and Bev try the casserole. Good comfort food on a cold wet day like today.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 06, 2017:

Thank you Kyriaki. I think I just might make that casserole today--the weather is frightful, and something warm, cheesy, and meaty (comfort food) sounds like what the doctor ordered. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 06, 2017:

So cool. Hey, I think I just decided on Taco Saturday. We will have a blast with all these recipes. We love tacos.

Now I must reveal our special Taco book. I think you will like it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUTmRJqwI_c

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 06, 2017:

Tacos are weird for me. Big surprise, right? I like them, enjoy eating them, but never go out and buy them or make them. It's just not something I crave at any time. Having said that, the taco casserole looks yummy and like something I'd be willing to cook up, so thank you my talented friend.

Kyriaki Chatzi on April 05, 2017:

I love your article!

Even though I don't get to eat tacos all too often, your suggestions (especially the casserole) are great excuses to start doing so.

Also, I had no idea there was such thing as dessert taco. But, I am going to try it as well.

Thanks for sharing!