Tacos are a scrumptious way to pile all your favorite Mexican seasonings and spices into one simply fold. Whether you prefer more unconventional tacos toppings or those that are tried and true, tacos are a quick option for dinner, a party, or to quench a craving because they are bursting with flavor and color.
Tacos are so versatile, you can literally eat them every day of the week and just vary the contents -- you can choose from seafood, chicken, pork, tofu, veggies or any other fare to satiate your hunger. No taco is quite complete without its tasty fillings and sauces to give it added flavor, crunch, and texture. From cilantro to ceviche, there is no end to how flavorful tacos can be. Keep these enticing toppings in mind for your next meal plan.
Shredded cheese is probably the most common topping for tacos, and for good reason. It adds a nice, creamy tartness that elevates the flavors that are in the meat and vegetables. Cheddar cheese is one of the most popular options for a taco topping, but you may also use other types of cheeses, such as blue cheese, Cojita, or even feta if you'd like a unique spin on a classic recipe. Try out some different cheeses until you find the one that fits your tastes.
Salsa is a staple in Mexican cuisine that is used to add more zest to a variety of food, whether it be used as a taco topping, wrapped in burritos, a dip for nachos, etc. Though recipes vary, salsa is typically made of tomatoes, lime, chilies, onion, cilantro, and other raw fruits or vegetables. Some salsa varieties contain ingredients including pineapple, mango, tomatillos, or avocados. Salsa can be stirred for a chunky texture, or blended for a more soupy mix. There are numerous salsa options out there, and each flavor will transform your taco.
Both lettuce and cabbage can be utilized for tacos. However, they are prepared quite differently, in that the soft leaves of lettuce enable it for easier chopping -- so if you're choosing between the two, lettuce might be easier to use if you're in a hurry. Lettuce comes in a variety of different types and colors, such as green, red, or deep purple and adds a nice dose of fiber and water to your taco, which serves as a refreshing touch.
Sour cream adds a smooth, cool, slightly sour taste and is a vital topping for any taco. But although this taco topping adds an irresistible creaminess to your food, it might not be the best option if you're watching your waistline. According to the USDA, sour cream must contain at least 18 percent butterfat, but there are lighter varieties if you are watching your waistline. But worry not, sour cream can easily be substituted with plain yogurt as a healthier option, including the removal of whey for those who suffer from a gluten intolerance.
Guacamole is a creamy concoction of mashed avocados, onion, garlic, peppers, lime juice, and seasonings. It's a delicious dip that can be served with nachos or spread onto burritos, tacos and toast. Avocado can be very creamy or it can be a bit chunky, depending on your taste and how you choose to prepare it. Just be careful you don't give yourself a nasty case of avocado hand.
Tomatoes are typically used alongside vegetables, but they are actually a fruit, despite popular belief. Tomatoes are full of delicious benefits that help keep you healthy, such as potassium and calcium. Along with the health benefits, tomatoes also incorporate a juicy sweetness to your tacos that pairs well with any of meat and vegetable.
Hot sauce is a spicy condiment made from hot chili peppers, and when used as a taco topping it brings the heat. However, despite its name, not all hot sauces are created equal -- some are much hotter than others, and all have different flavors. A Tunisian hot sauce called Harissa, for example, is a blend of dried chilis, tomatoes, caraway, paprika, garlic and olive oil for a vibrant and sometimes smokey taste. Sriracha, a spice that originated on the other side of the world in Thailand, adds a tangy, sweet finish, but is also very hot. Depending on your tastes and how much heat you can handle, top your tacos with as much (or as little) hot sauce as you like.
Pico de gallo is made from chopped tomatoes, serrano peppers, onions, cilantro, lime, juice, salt and pepper that is stirred together to combined something similar to a tossed salad that can be added as a delicious taco topping. Unlike salsa, which can have many different variations and consistencies, pico de gallo has a more universal and uniform taste. Pico de gallo is also typically chunky with minimal liquid, and it can be eaten alone or topped over meats, salads and other food for a fresh, tangy flavor.
Cilantro is a type of plant that is related to parsley, and, like parsley, it is also used as an herb and as a spice. Cilantro has many culinary and medicinal benefits, making it a great source of antioxidants. Although all parts of the plant are edible (its seeds are referred to as coriander and also used as a spice and seasoning), it's the leaves that are perhaps the most well-known in cuisine. Cilantro can be utilized to prepare sauce, salads, as a dressing for meat, fish, and poultry -- and, of course, the herb makes for a great taco topping.
A jalapeño is a type of hot chili pepper that makes for a great taco topping. The spiciness derives from Capsaicin, a chemical compound found in its seed, which adds spice and flavor to a variety of Mexican dishes, sauces, and dips. Jalapeños can be yellow, orange, green, and red, though the pepper's color does not indicate flavor. Add some jalapeños to spice up your next taco night.
A green onion, also known as a scallion, is a root vegetable that is taken from the ground before it gets a chance to take the shape of a bulb. Because of this, it offers a less intense flavor than the other types of onions. Scallions contain long green stalks that stem from white bulbs that aren't fully grown and are commonly used for toppings. Green onions can also be cooked as an ingredient to impart a light earthiness to a variety of meals, and also helps bring out the flavor of meat and vegetables. When chopped, they appear as small, green rings, which makes a beautiful garnish for any taco.
Sweet onions lend a light and sweet flavor when cooked and are best when caramelized and placed on top a variety of foods such as hot dogs, salads, burgers, and, you guessed it, tacos. Although they aren't as pungent as yellow onions, sweet onions are juicier and, when added to the top of tacos, so yummy.
Rice comes in many different varieties, and is delicious when paired with almost anything that you can put your mind to, especially tacos. Rice is easy to flavor because it absorbs any seasoning, herb, and spice that it's cooked with, and it can be made sticky or loose. Once you get the gist of cooking rice the proper way, you'll never want to put it down. This is a great ingredient to stuff your tacos with.
Corn is used in many popular North American meals, and is incredibly versatile -- it can be used boiled, raw, milled, mashed and shaved. When boiled corn is added to a taco, it offers a naturally sweet taste and its starchy flavor that adds bulk. Along with being used as a taco topping, corn can also be ground into the taco's tortilla itself. Corn tortillas are also typically lower in calories than common flour tortillas.
If you love peppers, but not the spiciness that comes with many chili peppers, mild bell peppers will make the perfect taco toppings for you. Bell peppers can be grilled, baked, fried or eaten raw and come in an assortment of colors that indicate each flavor. They're delicious, but definitely not spicy. And they can be incorporated into tacos in ways other than a topping, as well -- if you're a taco lover but want to be healthier, you can stuff bell peppers with taco ingredients for a low-carb alternative to tortillas.
This small, green citrus fruit adds a strong, punchy flavor to many types of foods, including guacamole, poultry, salads, sauces, desserts, drinks, and fish. As a taco topping, all you have to do is simply sprinkle some juice over the top of your meal. The natural zesty flavor of the lime enhances the flavors of other seasonings and makes an ideal alternative to salt for those watching their sodium intake.
Black olives offer a meaty, slightly bitter, yet earthy flavor to tacos, and is especially delicious when paired with other toppings, such as sour cream. Black olives are picked right at the peak of ripeness, unlike green olives that are picked before -- therefore, black olives are much sweeter and go well with tacos without being too overpowering. Black olives are also heart-healthy, due to its monosaturated fat, and can be used to create more robust dishes thanks to fruit seed's bold flavor.
Potatoes are starchy vegetables that can have a variety of flavors, from buttery to sweet. Although russet potatoes are widely used in a variety of dishes, sweet potatoes also taste great when added to Mexican food because they are a sweet, yet useful food to add bulk to your meal and create an interesting flavor. Potatoes are essentially fat-free and can be prepared in a variety of ways, such as mashed or Hasselback-style. This veggie tastes scrumptious with any of your favorite herbs, including seasonings commonly used with Mexican cuisine such as cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and more.
Black beans add delicious contrast and flavor to a variety of meals. They can be eaten alone, as a soup, or mashed for preparing refried beans. Because they are full of protein, they are very useful for making black bean tacos, a wonderful alternative to meat for vegetarian or vegan taco-lovers. Black beans' striking color also adds an enticing touch as a garnish or for adding other colorful toppings when prepared as a main course.
Try these topping suggestions for your next Taco Tuesday night, or whenever the craving hits.