Tex-Mex Taco Bake

If it is Tuesday, chances are pretty good that I’m going to be making tacos. They’re easy, they’re fast and they’re a vessel for lots and lots of cheese. What’s not to love?

Even when you love something a lot, you can get a little tired of it. Sometimes you just need a change.

That’s how I was feeling when I set out to shake up Taco Tuesdays. I wanted something a little different that would still be a hit with the girls. I found a lot of taco casseroles online, but they all used taco seasoning packages. I came up with this Tex-Mex Taco Bake that uses spices you’re likely to have on hand. It takes a little longer to prepare than standard tacos, but it’s a nice change of pace. The tacos lose most of their crunch in the process, but you still get a little bit of crunch along the edges.

But you don’t have to wait until a Tuesday to make this—it is a great meal any day of the week.

As you can see by this photo, breaking up the shells is a great job to delegate—especially to princesses!

Tex-Mex Taco Bake

  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro (optional)
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 cup Mexican small red beans (or black beans)
  • 1.5 cups mild salsa
  • 2 tbsp roasted red peppers, diced (jarred)
  • 12 taco shells, broken (156 g box)
  • ½ cup light sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Directions:

  1. Spray a 9” square pan with cooking spray and preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line bottom of pan with half of the broken taco shells.
  3. Saute onions in a large skillet three minutes until soft; add ground beef and sauté for 10-12 minutes until browned.
  4. Combine spices in small bowl (chili powder, paprika, salt, cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, cumin and cayenne) and add to beef. Saute one more minute. Stir in Mexican small red beans, roasted red peppers and salsa until combined well.
  5. Layer half of the meat mixture on top of the broken taco shells.
  6. Spread the sour cream over the meat.
  7. Sprinkle one cup of cheese over the sour cream.
  8. Layer the remaining half of taco shells.
  9. Add remaining half of meat mixture over shells.
  10. Sprinkle last cup of cheese on top of casserole.
  11. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until dish is brown and bubbling hot.
  12. Serve with your favourite taco toppings such as sour cream, green onions, jalapenos and salsa.

TIPS:

  • To lighten this dish, you can use ground turkey in place of ground beef.
  • Given that fresh cilantro has such a distinctive flavour, you may want to avoid substituting fresh cilantro for the dried cilantro if preparing this for kids. The dried cilantro is widely available in supermarkets.
  • I have used mild salsa because this is for kids. Feel free to spice up the recipe to suit your tastes!