Traditional tacos are a gift to the world from their respective cultures and will be getting their own moment of appreciation later this week. But today, 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 culturally 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
BONUS FLAVOR BOOST: 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 your favorite snacks from any other preferred drive-thru, including those glorious deep fried “crack” tacos from a certain fast-food joint.
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 I realized I could simply wrap a small flour tortilla – smothered 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 Protein 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!
Bonus points for anyone who uses homemade refried beans and/or salsa. Both are easy to make from scratch; recipes will be posted soon! Otherwise, Trader Joes offers great tasting and relatively clean pre-made versions of both.
TIP: Splurge and buy taco holders. No seriously. They are taco night game changers. DO IT!