At-Home Taco Night Done Right

Tacos are life. It’s the meal that keeps on giving if you can eat over a plate that has an open tortilla on it waiting to become… a new taco! Lebron James loves tacos and you should, too. Even Dragons Love Tacos.

ALL HAIL TACOS!!!

But seriously. I’m mildly obsessed with tacos and went as far as mentioning that in my bio. I grew up in a Hispanic household where Mexican food was always on the menu. In Phoenix, there is a wide variety of Mexican food located on just about any corner, with and everyone making their meals differently! At the end of the day though, nothing compared to family recipes made with love and enjoyed over a loud boisterous meal. It’s one of the biggest things I miss about my hometown and the family there.

This food culture is a part of who I am. So much so that until I sat down to write this article, I hadn’t realized I made taco night for our first at-home family meal when we moved to Lee’s Summit because it brought a sense of home. Finding that night documented makes it even more special to me, see picture.

Before moving to Kansas City, I was sure to ask for and observe some of my favorite family recipes so that I could keep that “made with love” spirit in my own home. To be honest, most of our taco-inspired meals are eyeballed. However, I have managed to find similar recipes via Pinterest and through trial and error; I even found success in duplicating observations. It would be unfair to not share such a slice, or bite, of the happiness meals such as these bring me.

For any on-the-fly taco night, here are some of our favorite taco-related grocery store essentials. As a rule of thumb we keep these uncooked tortillas in our house at all times (check your local Costco). They freeze perfectly for backups. For easy out-of-the-jar salsa (also comes in a can), two-thirds of my family completely support this selection of salsa verde. Avocados are also a great add on to any taco and here are some tricks for picking them out at the grocery store. Finally, if you don’t have a meat thermometer, get one. They are key to perfectly cooked meat.

Without further ado, here is a sample of my family’s favorite taco-inspired meals for your very own at-home taco night!

Crunchy Tacos

Deep fried beef tacos that you stuff with your favorite toppings. My children call these “chip tacos.” This is the basic taco that I grew up with.

1 ½ lbs ground beef
1 medium sized potato
½ onion
2 t ground oregano
½ t salt
1 t pepper
vegetable oil for frying
20-25 corn tortillas, fresh and soft
favorite taco toppings

Wash and peel potato. Using a cheese grater, grate the potato. Set aside. Finely dice onion.

In a large bowl add beef, potato, onion, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mash together well.

Heat up a large skillet of cooking oil over medium heat.

In each tortilla, place a strip of meat mixture. The meat should go across the tortilla and be about 1-2 fingers-width wide. Do this until you run out of tortillas or beef.

Test the oil to see if it is ready by dipping the edge of a tortilla into the oil. If it bubbles around the tortilla, it’s ready.

When the oil is ready, using tongs, carefully place the tortilla with the beef strip into the oil. You don’t need to completely submerge the entire taco, one side is fine. The tortilla will start to soften enough for you to fold it over the beef without breaking. You can fill your skillet with a few tacos. This is demonstrated here.

Cook each taco for about 2 minutes on each side. When the tortilla is golden brown and crunchy, remove from oil and let drain on paper towels. Continue this process until the meat is all used. Serve hot with desired toppings.

Street Tacos

My first ever street taco came from a tiny Mexican supermarket in Beloit, Wisconsin. Odd place for killer tacos, but here is my husband’s favorite chicken taco recipe.

Chicken Marinade

2-3 chicken breasts
2 T olive oil
2 limes, juiced
2 – 3 t minced garlic
½ t salt
2 t pepper

Toppings

1 bunch cilantro chopped
½ onion, diced
½ lime, juiced

Tortilla Prep

yellow corn tortillas
cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F. Chop chicken into bite sized pieces.

Coat with oil, juice of 2 limes (depending on preference), garlic, salt, and pepper.

Line cookie sheet with foil. Spread chicken evenly on pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

Mix together cilantro, onion, and remaining lime. Set aside to fill tacos with later.

On a hot griddle or pan, make small cheese crisps with the corn tortillas and cheese. Assemble tacos.

Cheese crisp is base, add chicken, chopped onion mixture, and any additional desired ingredients. Enjoy!

Here are some of my Pinterest finds and how I tweak their recipes. All tried and true finds!

Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas Tacos: This recipe is a super easy slow cooker meal. It features shredded chicken with a citrus marinade. I follow this ingredients list exactly as shown. My only change is in the last few steps. After the chicken comes out the slow cooker and is shredded, we serve it up. The recipe has you crisp the chicken up in the oven on broil. I prefer juicy chicken and am too impatient to wait any longer for my meal. We eat this over flour tortillas with our favorite toppings. This is great for left-over salads the next day!

Easy Creamy Crockpot Salsa Verde Chicken: This one is literally the easiest, most fail-proof meal ever. Five ingredients people, that’s it! Also a shredded chicken meal and my kiddos go nuts for this one.

Southwestern Beef Wraps: This shredded beef recipe is a classic slow cooker meal that makes great leftovers. Occasionally we will swap the beef out in this recipe for chicken. Follow this one exactly, and always make sure you give the beef enough time to cook so it can be shredded easily. We eat this more as a burrito than a taco, but it’s best with just some cheese on top, nice and plain.

Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime Rice: Who hasn’t seen this while waiting in line at Chipotle?

Authentic Mexican Rice: This is the closest recipe I can find to the sort of rice my mom makes. The eyeballed kind of recipe. Reduce the water called for in this recipe by ⅛ – ¼ cup and add a can of Rotel when you pour in the water.

Grilled Mojito BBQ Chicken Tenders: Personally, mint belongs in a glass, not in my taco, so I made some adjustments! Also no BBQ sauce involved. Here is my adapted version, but feel free to click the link for the original recipe. This is a sweeter chicken for your tacos. Recipe is adapted from Jamie at Life is Sweeter By Design.

8 limes worth of zest,
¾ – 1 c lime juice
¾ – 1 c orange juice
4 T honey
6 – 8 t garlic cloves, minced
8 t olive oil
4 t ground cumin
2 t salt
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied open

Make a marinade with the ingredients listed above. Half of the marinade will go on the chicken, the other half of the marinade will be poured over the chicken when it’s done cooking. If it is easier to build this recipe in two bowls, please half the ingredients. Otherwise, combine and split.

Zest your limes first, over a large bowl. Juice zested limes and combine with orange juice. Mix well. Briefly heat honey in the microwave, mix into citrus juices.

Add in seasoning: garlic, oil, cumin, and salt. Mix all ingredients together.

When done, there should be two bowls of marinade. Add chicken to one of the bowls and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Take chicken out of marinade and grill breasts for about 15 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through.

Discard marinade that was combined with chicken. Grill chicken until it has reached an internal temperature of 165°F.

Warm the second bowl of marinade over the stove top or in the microwave so that it is not cold. Chop up cooked chicken into bite sized pieces.

Pour fresh and warm marinade over chopped chicken. Serve chicken over flour tortillas with your favorite taco toppings.

There you have it my friends! This is the starter’s guide to taco night. I could seriously give you at least five more recipes, but I’ll slow my roll for now. Feel free to reach out for questions or more recipes. Don’t forget, if someone tells you tacos are lame, walk away—you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life!

Hi! I'm Franchesca! I am originally from Arizona, the Phoenix area, but moved to Missouri in 2015. It was one of the scariest things I have ever done in my life, but I have absolutely fallen in love with Kansas City! I live in Lee's Summit with my husband and four boys and we have no clue what we are doing! We fly by the seat of our pants on any given day, but we are so happy here. I love learning and have a background in cosmetology. I am currently working on completing a degree at UMKC, majoring in psychology, please pray for me. As a stay-at-home mom, I spend most of my day, honestly, cleaning up messes and drinking Dr. Pepper. I love to bake, read non-textbooks, do DIY home projects, think about exercising, and binge watch TV shows. But, my favorite hobby is letting my kids run wild through the neighborhood while the adults socialize on the patio. Also tacos, I love Mexican food and tacos!