Taco Tuesday gets a facelift with our latest recipe: a hearty and satisfying taco casserole. Not only is this tasty meal family-friendly, but the leftovers can be easily heated for hectic weeknight dinners. Read on to learn how to make our taco casserole plus some inventive variations to take your taco bake to the next level. Taco ’bout a win-win!
An Easy Taco Casserole Recipe
- 3 cloves garlic (fresh)
- 2 bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow)
- 1 jalapeño
- 1 onion (white or yellow)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 pound ground beef (about 90% lean)
- 3 tablespoons taco seasoning
- one 4-ounce can diced green chiles
- half a 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (drained)
- 2 large eggs (white or brown)
- 1 jar red salsa (medium spice)
- 1 package tortillas
- 1 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
- 1 handful iceberg lettuce
- 1 handful cilantro (fresh)
- 1 avocado (ripe)
- salt, to taste
- 8-inch-by-8-inch glass baking dish
- nonstick cooking spray
- large skillet
- large mixing bowl
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prep by mincing the garlic and chopping the bell peppers, jalapeño, and onions. Be sure to remove the jalapeño seeds. Next, spray a baking dish with nonstick spray and set it aside.
Heat the avocado oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it is warm, add the onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes. Add the jalapeño and minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the ground beef and taco seasoning to the skillet. Using a spatula, break the beef into smaller pieces, stirring it until it is fully browned, about 5 minutes.
Transfer the contents of the skillet to a large bowl. Add the diced green chiles, tomatoes, eggs, and salsa and stir until the ingredients are well combined.
Begin building and layering your casserole. Add a large scoop of the bowl’s contents to the bottom of your greased baking dish. Top with one tortilla. Repeat until the mixture in the bowl is gone, smoothing during each step. You’ll want to end with the mixture, not a tortilla.
Bake for 1 hour. Then add a cup of cheese to the top and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the casserole is no longer wobbly in the middle. Remove the dish from the heat and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
Chop the iceberg lettuce and cilantro and cube the avocado. Garnish the casserole with these toppings, and then add a pinch of salt if you would like. Serve immediately and enjoy.
It’s best to place a baking sheet underneath the casserole dish in the oven; that way, your oven is protected if your casserole bubbles over during the baking process.
For a thinner, longer taco bake, consider using a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan. Layer with 1 1/2 or 2 tortillas, and subtract 15 minutes from the cooking time.
Now that we’ve mastered the classic taco casserole, let’s explore some ways to customize this recipe to your tastes. There are countless ways to make this taco bake your own, so read on for some suggestions. And don’t forget to get creative!
- Specific Salsa: If you prefer green salsa, substitute it for the red salsa in the original recipe. If your palate craves a little spice, consider a spicy salsa instead.
- Tantalizing Tomato: If you love tomatoes, use a whole can and subtract the diced green chiles.
- Gourmet Touch: If you are an experienced home chef, consider creating your own taco seasoning at home. Be sure to add extra salt if you go this route, since store-bought taco seasoning contains higher amounts of sodium.
- Toppings Time: There are so many ways to add flair to this taco bake with different toppings. You could add some guacamole instead of a fresh avocado. Pico de gallo is delicious and pairs well with this dish. Sour cream is another great topping option for taco casserole. Olives could provide a briny tasting note.
- Spice Up Your Life: If you want to feel the burn, consider adding hot sauce to the bowl mixture or as a topping. Additionally, you could add another jalapeño or simply not remove the seeds.
- Cheese Please: While cheddar remains a classic pick, you could also use pepper jack for this dish. For a more authentic take, consider a crumbly Mexican cheese like queso fresco, asadero, or oaxaca. While these don’t offer the melty goodness of other options, they are a cool way to incorporate new ingredients into your dinner. Check out Mexican specialty stores or local gourmet grocers to find these unique cheeses.
- Perfect Peppers: Consider using a poblano, serrano, or habanero pepper instead of a jalapeño pepper. Play around until you find your favorite!
- Neat Meat: For a leaner dish, substitute ground turkey for ground beef. We like using equal parts ground turkey breast and ground turkey thigh for the juiciest and most flavorful lighter casserole.
- Very Veggie: To make this casserole with a veggie twist, crumble cauliflower and use it in lieu of the ground beef. You’ll want to add another tablespoon of oil to up the fat content. You can add black beans to the cauliflower mixture.
This taco casserole is the perfect dish to warm up your winter, and it can be tweaked to suit your tastes. All the yum!