This walking taco casserole is layers of Frito chips, ground beef, and shredded cheese, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and olives. It’s all the goodness of a taco salad in casserole form! Feeds the entire family with plenty of leftovers.
Taco Casserole Ingredients
Ground Beef. I like to use 90% lean ground beef. It still has lots of flavor but it’s not overly greasy. For a healthier option, you can also use ground turkey.
Taco Seasoning Mix. This is what really brings that irresistible Mexican flavor. I know homemade taco seasoning would be even better. But I’m all about saving time in the kitchen. So it’s the Old El Paso Taco Seasoning packet for me.
Frito Chips. Gives every bite the perfect amount of crunch. You can also use regular tortilla chips or some nacho cheese chips. Let your taste buds lead the way!
Shredded cheese. You can use Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a Mexican blend. You can even use pepper jack if you want to add a spicy kick!
Lettuce. No taco salad would be complete without lettuce. Plus, it always makes me feel like I’m being halfway healthy.
Tomatoes. Lettuce and tomatoes are layered on top at the end. Sweet cherry tomatoes pair perfectly with the savory taco flavors. But feel free to use any style of tomato.
Tips & Tricks
- Healthier options for guilt-free indulgence:
- Use 80-90% lean ground beef. Both of these have a LOT less saturated fat. Lean ground turkey’s good too.
- Opt for reduced-fat shredded cheese and reduced-sodium ingredients.
- Try sharp cheddar. It has a richer and more pronounced flavor – especially as it ages.
- Mix it up with sour cream. Add a dollop on top, and you’ve got a classic Mexican meal. You can also use plain Greek yogurt. But again… mix and match to your preferences.
- Jazz it up with more Mexican mix-ins. Corn chips and tortilla chips work well here. You can also add other taco ingredients, such as olives, beans, jalapeno, and guacamole.
- Shred your own cheese for ultimate freshness. It’s easy and saves money. But if you buy the pre-made shredded cheese, don’t worry I won’t judge. We’ll be in the same club.
- Crush your chips with a rolling pin. A meat mallet works, too. Use either tool to crush your chips until they’re coarsely crushed, about ¼-inch in size.
- For additional variations, you can also add bell peppers, corn, or beans into the ground beef mixture.
How to Store and Make Taco Casserole Ahead of Time
What I love about taco casserole is that you can make it two days ahead of time. Meaning, you can make a huge batch, store it, and reheat for dinner.
How to Make Ahead
Brown, drain, and season your meat. Place the ground beef in a greased baking dish and let cool. Cover with foil or plastic wrap, then refrigerate.
When you’re ready to serve your casserole, take it out of the fridge, top with chips and cheese, and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the cover and bake for another 5 minutes, or until the cheese melts. Add the tomatoes and lettuce, and Voila, it’s ready to serve!
How to Store
You can also refrigerate leftover taco casserole in an airtight container. It should last for a good 3-4 days when properly stored.
To reheat, take out the lettuce first, though, so it won’t get soggy. You can either microwave it or bake.
If you microwave it, do so in 30-second increments until warm.
If you’re using the oven, preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 5-10 minutes. Place the lettuce back and serve.
How to Make Walking Taco Casserole
This recipe makes eight servings, perfect for an intimate dinner with family and friends. If you’re feeding a bigger crowd, double the recipe to make more.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large skillet, cook ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain the liquid.
- Stir in taco seasoning mix and water. Cook according to directions on package.
- Transfer the mixture into a greased 11×7-inch baking dish.
- Top the mixture with Frito chips and cheese. Cover.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the meat is fully heated, and the cheese melted. Uncover the baking dish during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Top your casserole with tomatoes and lettuce.
- There you have it – a walking taco casserole baked to perfection. Serve and enjoy!
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