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The Best Walking Taco Casserole Recipe

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

One of the best meals of the last few years is the walking taco casserole recipe. Walking tacos became popular as more and more people take their lunch breaks on the go and need to walk to food trucks. But what if you aren’t on the go and you want those flavors? A walking taco casserole is the best option.

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A walking taco casserole mixes together Fritos, ground beef, and shredded cheese along with your favorite toppings for tacos, including olives, lettuce, and tomatoes. My recipe makes some extra because I actually love this one even more on the second day-as long as it is stored properly.

Walking Taco Casserole Recipe

Let’s talk about the ingredients to the walking taco casserole before listing them out. I’ve tried to use something other than ground beef in mine, and nothing is as good as 90% lean ground beef. It has a ton of flavor and it still has some grease but not too much. Turkey is fine as well, but it isn’t as good.

To make this recipe easier, you can use premade taco seasoning. I will even use it in a pinch. However, I do like to mix my own taco seasoning as well. This will help to give your walking taco casserole its own flavor. Even so, you can use any packaged seasoning you like – I often use the Market Pantry brand!

For chips, I have tried just about every type of tortilla chip or nacho cheese chips and I’ve found that old fashioned Fritos are really the best. You can use a blue corn tortilla chip if you want some color.

This recipe makes 8 servings of walking taco casserole, takes 20 minutes to prep and cooks in 30 minutes.

Ingredients

2 Lb. Lean Ground Beef

1 Onion (Chopped)

2oz. Taco Seasoning Mix (Two Packs)

1 1/2 Cups Water

2 Cups Corn Chips

1 8oz. Package Shredded Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese

2 1/2 Cups Shredded Lettuce

3/4 Cup Chopped Tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure it gets to this temperature before you cook it, or it won’t finish in the cooking time and it won’t taste right.
  2. In a large skillet, cook your ground beef over medium heat until you don’t see pink. Break up any clumps as well as you can. Drain all of the liquid.
  3. Stir in taco seasoning mix and water. I like to add a bit at a time to ensure that the meat gets completely covered and there aren’t any clumps. Cook according to directions on the package.
  4. Transfer the fully-cooked mixture into a greased 11×7-inch baking dish. Top the mixture with crunched up Frito chips and cheese. Cover.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or so until the meat is fully heated and the cheese melted. Uncover the baking dish during the last 10 minutes of cooking to brown the cups. Top the casserole with tomatoes, lettuce, and any other toppings you’d like. Sometimes we add olives or sour cream.
  6. Serve and enjoy! Try to eat it right away as it tastes better hot.

If you are the type of family that eats a ton of food, you may double this recipe or even triple it for special occasions. It has really been a hit for those family parties where everybody needs to bring their own foods.

Tips For Walking Taco Casserole

If you are looking to make your own walking taco recipe, don’t be afraid to branch out and try your own mixtures of spices or toppings. You really can’t go wrong if you follow the instructions for the meat and spices.

For The Meat: If you are looking for a healthier choice, you can use leaner meat. I’ve used turkey, venison, ground beef, and even Beyond Meat crumbles in my casseroles. Every one will have a different taste, but they are all pretty good. You can also skip the meat altogether and add some jackfruit or mushrooms, but you will have to play around with the proportions there.

For the Cheese: The cheese is really what makes this casserole for me. I like to use full-fat shredded cheese, but you can use reduced-fat or low-sodium versions for a healthier dish. I’ve used cheddar, Monterey Jack, and even Mexican cheese mixes. They all taste really great. You can use just about any type of cheese-my mom will even use swiss!

One big tip is to make the shredded cheese yourself. I do this because the pre-shredded cheeses are actually cut with what is essentially sawdust. You can eat it, but you get a much better flavor (at a cheaper price) if you just buy a block of cheese and do it yourself.

Toppings: As mentioned above, you can top this with just about anything you top a taco with. Typically I will serve mine with sour cream (or a dollop of plain Green Yogurt), and some salsa. But you can also use other taco ingredients like olives, beans, corn, jalapeno, and guacamole.

For The Chips: I will use a rolling pin to break down my chips until they are coarsely crushed. I don’t buy anything smaller than tortilla chips because they tend to get mushy even if they are crushed to the same size. I’m not sure why, maybe it is just the way they are made. Even if you really do want to make the meal healthier, I would not recommend getting the low sodium chips. They don’t firm up as much and I’ve found that they do reheat as well. To get that authentic walking taco taste, you should use Doritos or some other type of cheesy chip.

How to Store and Make A Walking Taco Casserole Ahead of Time

Walking taco casserole is absolutely a stunner at any event or for those days when you just don’t feel like making something. You can make it up to two days ahead of time, so you can plan for busy days or potlucks ahead of time. It is easy to make and store so that you just need to reheat it. You will just need to do a few things a little differently to get the best results.

To prepare your walking taco casserole in advance of a big event, brown, drain, and season your meat according to the recipe listed above. Then place the ground beef in a greased baking dish and allow it to cool. Cover it with foil or plastic wrap, then refrigerate it until you are ready.

When you’re ready to serve your casserole or make it to take with you, take your meat out of the fridge, top the casserole with the chips and cheese (sprinkle a little extra cheese), and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the cover from the casserole and bake for another 5 minutes or until you see that the cheese has melted.

I would add at least the tomatoes and the lettuce and it will be ready to serve. If this is an event that I really want to impress at, I will bring some of the other sides in a little bar of sorts.

If you just want to make your walking taco casserole for your family, but you have some leftover, you can keep it for at least 3-4 days when it is properly stored. Put it into an airtight container and be careful not to add any extra liquids like salsa or sour cream before storing. When you are ready to reheat, you will need to take off the lettuce and tomatoes first. Then, you can either microwave it (if you are feeling lazy) for 30-second increments until it is warm.

The better option is simple to bake it for 5-10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help the chips to stay crunch. I will sometimes crumble a few extra chips on top and even add some more cheese. When you are done heating, then put the lettuce and tomatoes back on top.

Walking taco casserole is a crowd favorite in my home and it absolutely could be in yours as well. This meal is easy to make, easy to personalize, and reheats well for leftovers. It’s so popular that it even gets requested for birthday parties.

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a freelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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