I have to admit, I was well into my 20’s before I realized that you’re supposed to bake hard taco shells for a few minutes to toast the corn before filling and eating them. I guess I just never bothered to read the package before then, but I’m glad I finally did. A few minutes in the oven makes a world of difference in the taste of a hard taco shell. So, when I started to see people baking the entire taco, I had to wonder if the magic extended beyond just the shell. And let me tell you, after making these Baked Beef and Black Bean Tacos, I can tell you that yes, yes it does. Baking will take your taco game to the next level.
Despite using some super fancy and expensive beef (oops) and the generous estimate of $0.10 per teaspoon that I use for spices, these baked tacos were still super affordable at $1.75 per two tacos. Using half beef and half black beans goes a long way toward keeping costs low and it adds a ton of fiber and other nutrients. I used my own homemade taco seasoning for the beef and bean mixture, but if you don’t have a well stocked spice cabinet you can just pick up an envelope of store bought taco seasoning. I kept my cold toppings simple, with just diced tomato, jalapeño, and cilantro, but sky’s the limit. You could add avocado, sour cream, green onions, pico de gallo, pineapple, taco sauce, or whatever your favorite taco toppings are. Have fun with it. :)
Baked Beef and Black Bean Tacos
- 1 Tbsp chili powder $0.30
- 1 tsp smoked paprika $0.10
- 1 tsp cumin $0.10
- ½ tsp oregano $0.05
- ¼ tsp cayenne $0.03
- ½ tsp salt $0.02
- Freshly cracked pepper $0.03
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04
- 1 yellow onion $0.37
- 2 cloves garlic $0.16
- ½ lb. lean ground beef $3.90
- 15oz. can black beans $0.79
- 1 box (10) hard taco shells $1.00
- 1 cup (4oz.) shredded cheddar $1.20
- 1 tomato $0.49
- 1 jalapeño $0.06
- Handful fresh cilantro $0.13
- In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the taco seasoning and set it aside (or use one envelope of store-bought taco seasoning).
- Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion, garlic, and cooking oil to a large skillet. Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until the onion is soft and transparent (about 5 minutes). Add the ground beef and prepared taco seasoning and continue to sauté until the beef is cooked through (another 5 minutes). Drain the can of black beans and then stir them into the seasoned beef.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Arrange the taco shells in a casserole dish so they are all standing upright. If you do not have a dish that fits them snuggly enough to hold them up, use balled up aluminum foil to act as "book ends" to help hold the line of tacos upright.
- Fill the tacos with the beef and bean mixture. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over top. Bake the tacos in the preheated oven for 7-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the taco shells are golden brown on the edges.
- While the tacos are baking, dice the tomato, slice the jalapeño, and roughly chop the cilantro leaves. Sprinkle the diced tomato, jalapeño and cilantro over the tacos just before serving.
Step by Step Photos
Start by mixing up your homemade taco seasoning (if making your own–you can use a store bought blend instead). Stir together 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1/2 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Set the taco seasoning aside.
Dice one onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add them to a large skillet along with 1 Tbsp cooking oil. Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent.
Add a 1/2 lb. lean ground beef and the prepared taco seasoning. Continue to sauté until the beef is cooked through (about 5 minutes).
Drain a 15oz. can of black beans, then stir them into the skillet. Begin to preheat your oven to 400ºF.
Line up the taco shells in a baking dish so that they are all standing upright. My box of taco shells had 10 shells, but I think I had enough filling for 12. I used a smallish 8×12″ baking dish, which allowed them to sit in the dish snuggly enough to hold them upright. If you don’t have a dish that this works well with, you can use balls of aluminum foil to act as book ends and help hold the shells up.
Top the tacos with 1 cup (or 4oz.) shredded cheese.
Bake the tacos in the preheated oven for 7-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges of the tacos become slightly golden brown. The total cooking time will depend on the type of shell you have, your oven, and other factors, so just keep an eye on them. The important part is that after baking they are all hot and toasty with melted cheese allll over ’em.
Finally, add your favorite cold taco toppings. I used one diced tomato, one sliced jalapeño, and a handful of chopped cilantro. Sour cream, avocados, taco sauce, pineapple, and pico de gallo, are all great choices.
Srsly, though. Tacos should not be confined to just Tuesdays. Tacos EVERY DAY. #teamtaco