Oven Baked Tacos equipped with crispy taco shells, juicy meat, savory chili beans, and melty cheese is a hearty, filling, and absolutely delicious 30-minute meal. Whip them up for a weeknight dinner, to feed a crowd, or even your next Cinco de Mayo celebration!
Whether you're serving up baked beef tacos or the lighter turkey rendition, this is a guaranteed dinner success for you and the family. Not only is it quick and easy to make, it is also super versatile, making it perfect for pleasing multiple palates and preferences. Now that is a win!
We love to serve up our tacos with a hefty dollop of sour cream, some fresh, diced tomatoes, and crunchy, shredded lettuce. Guac and queso are also great additions! And for all my taco lovers out there we have so many amazing recipes for you to try! Our tacos de barbacoa, camaron tacos, and tacos de pollo are a great place to start.
HOW TO MAKE BAKED TACOS
To kick off your oven-baked taco recipe, you'll need to get your oven preheating to 350°F, and you'll also want to have a 9 x 13" casserole dish on standby.
Once your oven is preheated and ready to rock, you'll move it on over to the stovetop. Add the oil to a large skillet over medium heat and allow that oil to come to temperature. Once the oil is hot, add the diced onion and stir until the onion has softened.
After about 4 minutes, the onion should be softened and you will add either ground turkey or beef. We recommend using lean ground beef or ground turkey so that you don't have to do any additional straining or draining after the meat is cooked through!
TURKEY VS. BEEF FOR BAKED TACOS
We've all heard that you should use ground turkey in place of beef for the health benefits, but is that always the case? Let's break it down a bit.
In general, ground turkey is going to have a lower fat content than that of ground beef. It is also great at taking on the flavors of the other ingredients it is combined with and maintaining its moisture in the process. Its leaner qualities definitely make it a good choice if you're watching your heart or gallbladder health.
On the flip side, ground beef is generally a more fatty meat, but also more full-flavored and less likely to leave you with a bland meal. You can also buy ground beef in a variety of fat contents so it can actually be a very lean meat as well, depending on what you buy.
What it boils down to is that it depends on your personal preferences and health needs. Neither one of these meats is inherently "bad", just good for different things.
Okay, back to the recipe!
Right about the time the meat goes in, you'll also add one packet of taco seasoning. Break apart the taco meat and stir, occasionally, cooking over medium heat for about 10 to 12 minutes.
Once the taco meat is fully cooked, you'll add in the chili beans and the chili sauce from the can – the chili sauce will add a ton of flavor to this Baked Taco recipe! Next, the tomato sauce, kosher salt, and garlic powder go in.
Stir everything together until the beans are evenly distributed throughout the meat mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
The next thing you'll need to do is grate some cheese. Freshly grated cheese will have a better texture and better flavor! For an authentic Mexican blend, we will be using a combination of mild cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. If you are in a pinch for time, feel free to grab a bag of the Mexican blend pre-packaged cheese, but freshly grated is highly recommended! It really does make a big difference.
Mix the cheddar cheese and the Monterey Jack in a small bowl and set aside.
For the taco shells, we recommend using stand-and-stuff taco shells. These crispy taco shells have a flat bottom and make extremely easy work of lining and stuffing within the casserole dish! Avoid street taco shells, as they are very small, and note that flour tortillas are also not recommended for this recipe.
Line your casserole dish with your taco shells and divide the meat mixture among the shells. Add a generous tablespoon worth of cheese to the top of each taco and transfer to the oven to bake for about 10 minutes.
The taco filling is already fully cooked through at this point so as soon as the cheese is melted and your taco shells are warm and toasty, your Baked Tacos are done! Pull the casserole dish from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
Ready your favorite taco toppings like shredded lettuce, sour cream, chopped tomatoes, and if you were feeling real extra, maybe even some guacamole and queso. Allow your guests or your family to serve themselves in a baked taco assembly line, and enjoy!
LEFTOVERS AND REHEATING
Baked Tacos are best eaten fresh. Since they are a pre-assembled dish they will probably get soggy by the next day. If we do end up with leftovers, I either remove the filling from the shell and add it to a new crispy taco shell or to a flour tortilla. Pro tip: This filling is also great on top of nachos or even stuffed inside a quesadilla!
If you would like to keep your tacos assembled and reheat them the next day, we recommend wrapping each one in aluminum foil and warming them in a 350°F oven for about 6-8 minutes on a sheet pan.
To store your meat mixture, seal it up in an airtight container and pop it into the fridge. It will stay good for 3-4 days when stored properly.
6 MORE TACO RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
This Baked Tacos recipe is about to revolutionize the way you cook for a crowd. It's quick, easy, and oh-so-delicious!
- 2 tablespoons avocado or canola oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
- 1 (1-ounce) package taco seasoning
- 1 (16-ounce) can chili beans
- ⅓ cup mild taco sauce
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 12 Stand and Stuff Corn Taco Shells
- ½ cup freshly grated Mild Cheddar
- ½ cup freshly grated Monterey Jack
- Topping Ideas: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream, etc...
Preheat the oven to 350°F and have ready a 9x13" casserole dish.
Add oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat and allow it to come to temperature. Add the onion and sauté, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes.
Add the ground beef or turkey to the skillet and sprinkle over the taco seasoning. Break apart with a spatula and cook for about 10-12 minutes, stirring often, until fully cooked.
Add the beans (with the chili sauce), tomato sauce, salt, and garlic powder to the pan and stir until everything is well combined. Remove from the heat.
Place the taco shells upright in the casserole dish, and divide the meat mixture evenly amongst the shells. Mix the Cheddar and Monterey Jack together in a small bowl, and add a generous tablespoon of cheese to the top of each taco.
Transfer to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted and the taco shells are warmed through. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Have ready your favorite taco toppings, serve, and enjoy!
Sources: Ground Beef vs. Ground Turkey