Walking Taco Casserole Recipe
This Walking Taco Casserole is a delicious and easy dinner recipe that takes only 10 minutes to prepare! The taco meat is packed with flavor and protein, the Fritos give it a nice salty crunch, and the fresh toppings are the perfect complement!
This recipe has similar ingredients and a similar flavor to my Easy Taco Soup recipe. So I like to top it with similar things I’d add to my taco soup like delicious homemade Pico de Gallo and some homemade Guacamole. Another delicious recipe made with chips is my Doritos Taco Salad!
Why This Recipe Works
- Beefed up taco mixture. The taco mixture has the delicious browned ground beef, but I also included a can of chili beans to give a bit more protein, texture, and substance to the mixture.
- Topped with fresh ingredients. I love this easy dinner recipe because you can really pile on the fresh ingredients. Add a bunch of lettuce, diced tomatoes, etc!
- Easy way to make walking tacos in bulk! Walking tacos are such a fun dinner recipe, but making it into a casserole is a good way to make dinner for the entire family!
- Ground Beef: Can substitute with ground turkey if you are looking for a healthier option.
- Taco Seasoning: I like to use homemade taco seasoning (which is an easy way to customize how spicy you want the taco seasoning to be) but you can use a taco seasoning packet as well.
- Crushed Tomatoes: This adds a bit more depth and saucy-ness to the walking taco casserole meat. You can also use Rotel if you want (it’s crushed tomatoes and diced green chilis).
- Chili Beans: Adding a can of chili beans gives the mixture a bit more substance and protein than if you just left it as the taco meat.
- Fritos: The Fritos add a nice crunch and saltiness to the walking taco casserole.
- Shredded Cheese: Colby Jack cheddar, Mexican cheese blend, Monterey Jack are all good options.
- Toppings: Ideas include shredded lettuce, diced Roma tomatoes, sliced black olives, sour cream, etc.
- Cook the onion and ground beef. Add the ground beef and diced onion to a large skillet and cook over medium heat, breaking the meat as you go. Cook until the meat is browned. Drain the grease, if any and discard.
- Add the mix-ins. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, chili beans, and taco seasoning. Bring the mix to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Prepare the pan and bake. Spray an 9×9-inch or 11×7-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and place the meat mixture in it. Top the mixture with Frito chips and shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 375°F for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5-10 more minutes or until the cheese is melted and the top is slightly golden.
- Add the toppings. Remove the walking taco bake from the oven and top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, olives, sour cream, cilantro, etc.
Variations: Add a can of diced green chilis, corn or black beans to the taco meat. Not a fan of Fritos? Use sweet potato chips, tortilla chips, Doritos, etc.
When covering the bake with aluminum foil, puff up the foil a little. You don’t want to tightly cover it or else the cheese will stick to the foil.
I like to really pack on the lettuce, making this more like a walking taco salad.
If you know there are going to be leftovers, I would recommend putting the toppings in bowls and letting people add their own instead of putting them all on top of the bake. This way if there are any leftovers you don’t have to worry about reheating the diced tomatoes or chopped lettuce when you have the dish again.
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
If making ahead of time, make the taco meat mixture and place in the baking dish then cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days until ready to bake. Then top with Fritos and cheese.
Store the walking taco casserole covered in the fridge for 3-5 days. If making in advance, however many days it was storing in the fridge prior to eating, you’ll want to take those days into account for storing any leftovers.
You can freeze the taco meat mixture in an airtight container or Ziplock bag for 3-4 months. Remove from the freezer and let thaw in the fridge overnight.
You definitely can! Due to the crushed tomatoes and the chili beans, you won’t be able to taste a big difference in the dish if you used ground turkey.
A walking taco is typically all the makings of a taco (taco meat, tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, etc.) served in a bag of chips!
No you don’t. The baking just allows the flavors to develop better. It also helps the cheese melt. If you want, you can make this into a walking taco skillet dinner and just top the taco meat mixture in the skilled with the shredded cheese and let it melt, remove from the heat and then add the Fritos and toppings and serve immediately.
Walking Taco Casserole
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1/2 small yellow onion - diced
- 3 tablespoons taco seasoning mix - I like to use homemade taco seasoning but you can use a taco seasoning packet as well
- 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 15 oz can chili beans
- 2 cups Fritos corn chips
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese - Colby Jack cheddar, Mexican cheese blend etc, Monterey Jack… choose 1!
- 2 cups iceberg lettuce - shredded
- 2 roma tomatoes - diced, for topping (optional)
- 1/4 cup olives - sliced, for topping (optional)
- sour cream - for topping
- avocado - for topping, optional
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray an 9”x9 “or 11”x7” baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large skillet over medium heat add the ground beef and diced onion. Cook until meat is browned, breaking up the meat into small pieces. Drain the grease, if any and discard.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, chili beans, and taco seasoning. Bring the mixer to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the meat mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top the mixture with Frito chips and shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for 5-10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and the top is slightly golden.
- Remove from the oven and top the casserole with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, olives, sour cream, avocado etc.