Love mashed potatoes? Then you’re really going to love them loaded with melty cheese, wrapped inside of a tortilla, and fried to crispy, golden perfection. These authentic Potato Tacos are crunchy on the outside, and light, fluffy potato heaven on the inside. They’re easy to make and come brimming with flavor thanks to a simple ingredient list featuring Russet potatoes, melty Monterey Jack cheese, cumin, and garlic powder.
Lightly fried and absolutely delicious, you can now fix your Mexican food cravings fast with this easy, 30-minute recipe! They are the ideal finger food for any fiesta and a soul-satisfying vegetarian dinnertime option!
ABOUT TACOS DE PAPA
Potato Tacos translates to Tacos de Papa in Spanish. You might also see them labeled as Tacos Dorados de Papa (dorados meaning crispy). While many have laid claim that hard-shelled tacos are indeed a Tex-Mex invention, Potato Tacos are of Mexican origin through-and-through, often enjoyed during the Catholic lent season when meat is a no-go and vegetarian dishes take center stage.
These crispy, fried tacos are made with corn tortillas and a filling of mashed potatoes and shredded cheese. Once assembled, they’re pan-fried in oil and can be served as an appetizer or a main dish. They often come equipped with popular toppings like sour cream, salsa, pico de gallo, or chopped cilantro.
POTATO TACOS INGREDIENTS
- Spices (Kosher salt, cumin, garlic powder, and black pepper)
- Shredded Cheese
- Cilantro (optional)
- Corn Tortillas
- Oil For Frying
ABOUT THE FILLING
The filling is very similar to mashed potatoes, but because you want the filling to be fairly thick, there really is no need for butter or milk.
Our choice potato for filling Tacos de Papa are Russet potatoes, although technically speaking, any potato that can be mashed can be used. You should also have the following spices on hand: Kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and cumin. Garlic powder and cumin are not absolutely necessary, however, they will add a great deal of flavor to the filling.
Shredded cheese is a very common ingredient for these crispy tacos, and makes for a creamy interior without adding too much liquid to the mix. The best one for the job is Monterey Jack cheese, as it is mild, smooth, creamy, and absolutely perfect for melting. You could also use just about any other mild-flavored, semi-firm cheese in its place: Gouda, Mozzarella or even Fontina cheese would work.
Last, but not least, comes the cilantro. As mentioned above, this ingredient is optional, but if you’re on the fence about its contribution to the recipe, keep in mind cilantro adds a fresh vibe to Mexican cuisine and a pretty pop of color to this savory Potato Taco filling!
CAN I USE LEFTOVER MASHED POTATOES FOR POTATO TACOS?
The answer is sometimes yes, and sometimes no — it really depends on how decadent you make your mashed potatoes in the first place.
Mashed potatoes with generous portions of butter and milk (or cream) will probably be too thin in consistency for filling Tacos de Papa. On the other hand, if you’re a minimalist when adding ingredients to your mashed potatoes, they might be just fine for the filling.
No matter what, some of the filling will escape from the tacos during the frying process — this is inevitable and should be expected. In fact, escaped filling is actually what creates those crispy, delicious bits of starch that cling to the outside of the tortilla.
However, if the filling is too thin, your tacos will not stay together and you’ll end up with more free-floating in the oil than within the taco itself.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The filling for Potato Tacos should be just thick enough to spread, and not much more. The bottom line? You’re probably taking a risk if you’re using leftover mashed potatoes to fill them.
HOW TO MAKE POTATO TACOS
- Boil the Potatoes – Prep the Russets by peeling them and cutting them into 1″ cubes. Then, transfer them to a pot, cover with water, and bring it to a boil. Cook them until they’re fork-tender, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add Spices and Cheese and Mash – Drain the potatoes and transfer them to a mixing bowl. Add all of the spices and mash it all together until smooth. Then, gently mix in the cheese and cilantro (if using).
- Soften Tortillas – You’ll need to make the tortillas warm and pliable so they do not tear while both assembling and frying. The quickest way to do so is to wrap a stack of about 5 tortillas in a damp paper towel or two. Then, microwave for about 30 to 45 seconds, just until they are soft and pliable.
- Fill the Tacos – As tempting as it may be, try not to overfill the tortillas; you only want to use about 2 tablespoons of filling per tortilla. Draw an imaginary line down the center of the tortilla, add the filling on one side and spread it to the edges. Then, fold the tortilla over and continue assembling until all tortillas are filled!
- Fry In Oil – Add the oil to a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once the oil is ready (it should be between 350-360°F — best gauged with a thermometer), add the tacos to the skillet, three to four at a time and take care not to overcrowd the pan! Fry each one for 1 1/2 minute on each side.
HOW TO PREVENT THEM FROM GETTING SOGGY!
Here’s a quick tip for keeping your tacos crisp on both sides! Instead of transferring them to a paper towel-lined plate, place a few sheets of paper towels on a rimmed baking sheet. Then, add a cooling rack on top of the paper towels. Having airflow on the bottom-side of the Potato Tacos will keep condensation from building underneath the tortilla, and make for a much crispier texture all the way around!
HOW TO SERVE POTATO TACOS
You can serve them either as a main dish or an appetizer, but in any case, you should have the toppings ready to go! Serve them with any of the following for a complete spread:
- Shredded Lettuce
- Guacamole or Diced Avocado
- Chopped Tomatoes or Pico de Gallo
- Cotija Cheese
- Sour Cream or Mexican Crema
- Salsa or Hot Sauce
- Fresh or Pickled Jalapeños
- Chopped Onions
- Chopped Cilantro
YOU COULD ALSO SERVE TACOS DE PAPA WITH…
- You might find the tortillas crack a little on the edges and this is totally fine. However, if you notice your tortillas are cracking all the way across, you probably didn’t warm them long enough in the microwave.
- Take caution when using leftover mashed potatoes! Remember, the consistency of the filling matters.
- Got leftovers? Reheat in the oven rather than the microwave for “like-new” crispy results.
- Get creative! You can change out the spices and the cheese to make this recipe your own.
- If your oil is becoming overrun with potato filling, a fine-mesh skimmer is great for quickly clearing the oil between batches.
5 MORE MEXICAN RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
An easy recipe for Mexican Fried Potato Tacos (also known as Tacos de Papa) -- crispy on the outside, and light, fluffy mashed potato heaven on the inside!
- 3 medium-sized Russet potatoes
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
- 15 corn tortillas
- 2 cups canola or vegetable oil (or enough to measure 1" deep in the skillet)
Peel the potatoes, halve them lengthwise, and cut them into 1" slices. Add them to a pot and cover with water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for about 10-15 minutes, until fork-tender, reducing heat as necessary to prevent boiling over. Drain well and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add all of the spices and mash the potatoes. Gently mix in the cheese and cilantro if using. Set aside.
Wrap a stack of 5 tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave for about 30-45 seconds, just until they are soft and pliable.
Add about 2 tablespoons of filling to half of each tortilla and spread to the edges. Fold the tortilla over and continue assembling until all tortillas are filled.
Add the oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is ready (between 350-360°F), add the prepared tacos to the skillet, three to four at a time, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for 1 1/2 minute on each side, using a pair of tongs to turn them. Allow to cool slightly, serve, and enjoy!