From ground beef and guacamole to grilled corn and pico de gallo, here are 22 fantastic taco toppings to prepare for your next Mexican fiesta.
Tacos are a fun and exciting dish to serve at a party or even just on a random Tuesday at home. It offers a beautiful harmony of exciting flavors and textures that are sure to make those growling tummies full and happy.
I love me some Mexican food, and my favorite of them all is, hands down, the taco. There is something about the combination of sweet, spicy, savory, and creamy Mexican ingredients resting in a piece of soft flour tortilla that just makes me so giddy!
Another thing I love about tacos is that they are customizable. With tacos, you can be as traditional or as creative and experimental as you want – because no matter what you do, they will still taste amazing.
And the best thing about them is that they are so easy to prepare. Just lay out all the ingredients on your table and Voila, you’ve got a festive taco bar for you and your family to enjoy. It’s a great set-up as everyone gets to pick and choose their favorite toppings.
Here are 22 fantastic taco toppings to prepare for your Mexican fiesta. Whether you use soft or hard-shell tacos, these toppings are sure to satisfy.
1. Ground Beef
Let’s start things off with this essential ingredient. You can’t call a taco a taco if it doesn’t have some meaty goodness in it!
When it comes to the main protein of the dish, you can’t go wrong with seasoned ground beef, pork, or chicken. And of course, fried fish fillet works great as well. It’s more delicate than other meats, though, so you may want to reserve this for more intimate gatherings.
Now, if you’ve got some vegetarians in the house, refried beans make a great alternative to meat.
Fun fact: refried beans are called frijoles refritos in Spanish, and it means “beans that are fried well,” not twice. So, don’t worry about them being too fatty or greasy, because they’re totally not. Instead, what they offer is a medley of sweet and earthy flavors that taste so good in a taco.
Next up: lettuce. This leafy veggie gives your tacos a wonderful crunch and color. And it also offers a healthy contrast to the rich elements of the dish.
Don’t just use the traditional green lettuce, though. Give your tacos a wonderful combo of colors by using purple and red lettuce as well!
Aside from lettuce, you could also use shredded cabbage as an even healthier substitute.
This tomato-onion-cilantro sauce is a Mexican staple. It offers a bright and zesty flavor that makes everything, especially tacos, taste oh so delicious!
Making salsa from scratch is incredibly easy, too. Just combine the three main ingredients and season it with lime juice, salt, and pepper. Blend it depending on how coarse or smooth you want your salsa. I like mine chunky, so I don’t blend it; instead, I just give it a simple stir.
Here’s another taco topping staple – guacamole. This rich and nutty spread is so irresistible, I just have to have it in, on, and around my tacos.
And the best thing about guacamole is how easy it is to make. Just mash some avocadoes, tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, and lime juice. Some want their guacamole chunky, while others want it smooth. That’s what I love about making guacamole at home – I can mash the mixture depending on my desired consistency.
Pico de gallo comprises tomatoes, onions, serrano peppers, cilantro, and lime juice. Now, you may wonder – isn’t that also exactly what goes in salsa? So what’s the difference?
Well, pico de gallo IS actually a type of salsa. It’s also referred to as salsa fresco and is a chunkier version of the thin and soupy salsa we all know and love. Aside from using it as a taco topping, you may also eat it as is or with meat and salad dishes.
While many people classify tomatoes as veggies, they’re actually fruits! Yup, these red beauties are technically berries. Not only are they healthy and pretty, but they are also sweet, juicy, and essential in tacos.
If you are feeding a huge crowd, rice is your best armor. This starch is so hearty, if you use it as a taco topping, your guests will be feeling full and happy in no time.
What I love about rice is that while it’s a bit bland on its own, it can easily soak up spices and seasonings, making it so easy to flavor.
For instance, adding lime juice and cilantro to steamed rice will make it more vibrant and exciting. Plus, you already know that cilantro and lime taste great with tacos, so you’re on the right track here.
9. Sour Cream
Want a creamier and tangier taco? Well, sour cream is a must for you. This rich dressing has a hint of sourness that enhances the flavor of your taco ingredients. Just one dollop of this irresistible cream is more than enough!
But, because of its rich and fatty nature, sour cream is not the healthiest of ingredients. In fact, it contains a whopping 18% of butterfat. If you want a healthier alternative, opt for plain yogurt instead. Still yummy, but less fatty.
10. Hot Sauce
If you want to add a nice kick to your tacos, drizzle some of this spicy condiment all over your tacos! Hot sauces have varying levels of flavor and heat, and it’s up to you to decide which ones you can handle.
For instance, you’ve got Harissa, a Tunisian hot sauce made with dried chilis, paprika, caraway, tomatoes, and hot oil. Apart from the spiciness, it also has a smokey flavor to it.
Another one is Sriracha, a Thai condiment that’s got a beautiful medley of tanginess and sweetness. And of course, it definitely brings some heat.
11. Shredded Cheese
To me, the one non-negotiable element in a taco is the cheese. You can’t have tacos without it. You just can’t. It’s impossible. If you don’t have cheese available, just have tacos on another day. That’s how crucial cheese is to this dish.
Cheese has a wonderful creaminess and saltiness that enhances the flavor of other taco ingredients. The most commonly used cheese for tacos is cheddar, but feel free to experiment on other cheeses as well!
I find that blue cheese gives a wonderfully pungent flavor to tacos. Don’t add too much, though, because you don’t want it to overpower the other flavors.
Cojita cheese tastes great too! It’s a Mexican cheese that has a sharp salty flavor that works great with tacos.
Oh, and here’s a tip when using cheddar cheese: shred it yourself. I’m telling you, it’s much cheaper and it just takes a little effort to do. And, did you know that pre-shredded cheese contains an anti-caking agent called cellulose? Yup, this substance is added to prevent cheese from sticking together.
Sure, it’s not at all harmful at all, but if you buy pre-shredded cheese, you don’t know how much cheese versus cellulose you’re actually getting. And cellulose also prevents the cheese from reaching its maximum melt potential, so just stick to block cheese as much as you can.
Many people often mistake cilantro for coriander. If these two confuse you too, let me clear things up: they both come from the same plant. Coriander refers to the seeds, while cilantro refers to the stems and the leaves.
Why they have different names for different parts, I’ll never understand! All I know is, cilantro gives a wonderful herby flavor and vibrant color to tacos.
13. Grilled Corn
This versatile vegetable offers a sweet and crunchy contrast to your taco toppings. You can boil them or microwave them, but the best way to bring out its beautiful flavor is to grill them.
14. Black Olives
Give your tacos a meaty and earthy flavor by adding some black olives. Because they are at their ripest, black olives have a sweeter flavor than green ones, which is why I prefer using them when making tacos. It’s not too bold – it has just the right amount of sweetness, earthiness, and meatiness that does not overpower the other elements of the taco.
15. Fried Egg
A perfectly fried egg has such a rich and unique flavor, it gives any meal that additional depth of deliciousness. Top your tacos with a fried egg and let that beautiful golden yolk drip all over the other ingredients. Fantastic.
Not a fan of fried food? No problem! Poach the egg instead and you still get that irresistible runny yolk.
16. Sliced Avocadoes
For those days when you are just too lazy to make guacamole! Avocadoes have such a rich and nutty flavor on their own, they don’t need other ingredients to make it wonderful.
If you want to spice things up a little, you can’t go wrong with jalapeños. This hot chili pepper is a traditional Mexican spice, so you already know its flavor works well with tacos.
Most people usually put green jalapeños in their tacos, but if you want less heat, use red jalapeños instead. Since they are older than green jalapeños, they’ve had more time to ripen and are sweeter.
Give your regular salsa a tropical flair by adding some crushed pineapple. The sweet and tangy fruit offers not just a nice balance to the tomatoes and onions, but a beautiful color contrast as well.
With this simple addition, you can transform your ordinary salsa into an extraordinary taco topping.
Here’s another idea: aside from pineapples, try using ripe mangoes too! A sweet, savory, and spicy mango salsa will definitely take your tacos to the next level!
Also known as green onions, these baby root veggies have a less pungent flavor than a regular onion. And they have these green stems that have a mild earthiness that’s great with a variety of dishes. Chop these long narrow stalks to make a beautiful and flavorful garnish to your tacos.
20. Sweet Onions
Sweet onions offer a sweet balance to your salty and savory taco. If you want a stronger flavor, serve them raw. But if you want a sweet and mild flavor, cook them over low heat in butter and sugar. Sweet onions become even sweeter and lovelier when they caramelize.
21. Bell Peppers
If you like chili peppers, sans the spiciness, use their milder cousin instead: bell peppers. These guys are sweet, crunchy, juicy, and taste amazing with other taco toppings. And it doesn’t matter if you bake, grill, fry, or eat them raw – they’re still 100% yummy and 0% spicy.
Here’s a simple guide when it comes to bell pepper colors: green is the most bitter, red is the sweetest and yellow and orange taste somewhere in between.
In the mood for a taco, but not the calories that go with it? I feel you! So here’s a healthier way to still have all those scrumptious taco flavors minus the guilt – instead of a tortilla, stuff your taco toppings in a hollowed bell pepper instead. Pop them in the oven and bake to perfection. It’s the perfect low-carb alternative.
22. Lime Juice
It only takes a little bit of juice from this zesty citrus fruit to pack a punch! Lime juice has such a strong tanginess that enhances the flavor of your taco toppings and seasonings.
So, instead of sprinkling salt, here’s a healthier option – drizzle a bit of lime juice over your tacos and see how it magically transforms your dish.
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