American style tacos, that is. Don’t get me wrong; more traditional tacos are a gift to the world and deserve a moment of appreciation. ((bows head in silence))
But that isn’t what I’m referring to. Instead, I want to talk about the proudly American, fast food-level grub food that keeps every single college student alive with their super cheap price and their crack-level addiction. Because that’s the thing: American tacos might not be authentic, but they’re still good. However, can they be even better?
Tip #1: put down the seasoning packet!
I know; those mixes are easy. They’re even tasty. But they’re so incredibly full of sodium, even the lower sodium ones. And considering how easy homemade taco seasoning can be, it’s not worth the additional tax on your health.
Here are my two go-to taco seasoning recipes. I’ve been making them for YEARS. Just add in these spices the same way you would with your seasoning packet. Couldn’t be easier!
1 lb ground beef
1/2 white onion, diced
2 TBSP garlic powder
1 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 lb cooked and shredded chicken breast or ground chicken
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
2 tsp fresh lime juice
Tip #2: Recreate your restaurant favorites
You don’t have to stop with a simple crunchy taco shell. Experiment and recreate your favorites! Get creative and make Gorditas, or Crunchwrap Supremes, or even those glorious deep fried crack tacos from Jack in the Box.
My preferred copycat: Double-Decker Taco Supremes from Taco Bell (pictured). I don’t even know if they are still on Taco Bell’s menu, but they were my favorite throughout my teen years. Once Adult-Me realized I could simply wrap a small flour tortilla covered in refried beans around my crunchy taco shell, BAM!…I never looked back. It’s classic munchies food, it’s filling, and it’s so much healthier than its counterpart.
Tip #3: Kick your meat up a notch!
Last year, I learned the trick of stirring in a few little secrets to take your taco meat to the next level. You guys, this is a game changer! First, cook and season your beef or chicken according to the recipe above. Then, stir in the following:
2 cups of refried beans
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup salsa of your choice
1-1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
Stir to combine, heat through, and enjoy!
This mixture also makes great burrito filling, and honestly, it is so stinkin’ good, you could just make this as a warm dip for tortilla chips.
Bonus points for anyone who uses homemade refried beans and/or salsa. Both are also not difficult to make from scratch; I’ll post recipes soon. Otherwise, Trader Joes offers great tasting and relatively clean pre-made versions of both.
(Final unofficial tip: splurge and buy taco holders. No seriously. You can call me bougie all you want, but these things are taco night game changers. I own – and love – this set from Amazon. DO IT!)