If you want to take your Taco Tuesday to the next level, try baking your tacos! Yes, I said baking them. These Baked Beef Tacos are one of my favorite fast and easy weeknight meals. Their crunchy, toasty shells, melted cheese, and liberally seasoned beef and black bean filling always have me coming back for more. …And more. 😅
Why Bake Tacos?
Baking your tacos toasts the corn shells, makes sure the filling is nice and hot, and the cheese perfectly melted. Toasting hard taco shells is an often overlooked step in the taco making process, but makes a huge difference in the flavor of the taco shell.
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. So don’t feel bad if you’ve never done this before!
But baking the whole taco really takes these beef and black bean tacos to the next level.
Do the Baked Beef Tacos Stay Crunchy?
Yes, the taco shells stay crunchy! That is, if you use a lean ground beef, or make sure to drain the fat well when using a higher fat content beef. If the beef and bean mixture has too much oil, the oil will saturate the shells and make them soften. Also make sure to drain the beans well.
Can I Use Store Bought Taco Seasoning?
Yes. I used my own homemade taco seasoning for these baked beef and black bean tacos, but if you don’t have a well stocked spice cabinet you can just pick up one packet of store bought taco seasoning.
Can I Make These Baked Tacos Vegetarian?
Sure! try using an extra can of black beans in place of the ground beef, or try the filling from my Lentil Tacos or Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos!
Baked Beef Tacos
- 1 Tbsp chili powder ($0.30)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika ($0.10)
- 1 tsp ground cumin ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.03)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- Freshly cracked black pepper ($0.03)
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.04)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.37)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 1/2 lb. lean ground beef (93% lean or higher)* ($3.90)
- 1 15oz. can black beans ($0.79)
- 1 box hard taco shells (10 shells) ($1.00)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar (4oz.) ($1.20)
- 1 tomato ($0.49)
- 1 jalapeño ($0.06)
- 1 handful fresh cilantro ($0.13)
- 1/4 cup sour cream ($0.11)
- In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the taco seasoning, then set the seasoning aside (or use one envelope of store-bought taco seasoning). Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- 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 translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the ground beef and prepared taco seasoning and continue to sauté until the beef is cooked through (another 5 minutes).
- 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.
- Drain the can of black beans well, but do not rinse them. A little sauciness helps keep the beef mixture moist.Stir the beans into the seasoned beef and allow them to heat through.
- 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, and add a dollop of sour cream just before serving.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Baked Tacos – Step by Step Photos
Start by mixing up your homemade taco seasoning (or 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. Begin to preheat your oven to 400ºF.
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 translucent.
Add a 1/2 lb. lean ground beef and the prepared taco seasoning to the skillet. Continue to sauté until the beef is cooked through (about 5 minutes). If you are using a higher fat content beef, add the beef alone first and cook until browned, then drain the excess fat. Add the taco seasoning after draining and cook for one minute more.
Drain a 15oz. can of black beans well, then stir them into the skillet. I did not rinse the beans because the little bit of starchy coating they had helps keep the beef mixture moist.
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″ glass 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.
Divide the beef and bean mixture between the taco shells, then top the tacos with 1 cup (or 4oz.) shredded cheddar cheese.
Bake the beef 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. See those browned edges? That’s the FLAVOR. 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 toppings to your baked beef tacos. I used one diced tomato, one sliced jalapeño, a handful of chopped cilantro, and a little sour cream. Avocados, taco sauce, pineapple, and pico de gallo, would also be awesome!
Seriously, though. Tacos should not be confined to just Tuesdays. Tacos EVERY DAY. #teamtaco
Delicious!!! I will make tacos like this going forward!
I was not expecting these to be as delicious as they were! I plan on making these on a regular basis.
I love how easy this recipe is to make for a big group. I usually double it and it makes one pound of ground beef go a long way!
I was well into my 60’s when one of my family members laughed because I didn’t know to bake the taco shells before filling. Now I burn them half the time but they are still delicious.
your Instagram post where you said that hard shell tacos are basically just nachos convinced me to try these and I’m so glad I did! these are in the regular rotation now!
Hahah, I almost forgot about that! I’m glad you liked them. :)
So good. So easy! I really appreciated a couple of comments that suggested refrigerating or freezing extra filling. It’s just me and it makes a lot. I ate it twice this week and the rest is in the freezer. This one is definitely going into a regular rotation for me.
These are an easy and yummy go-to in my house. My partner will eat an entire tray of these if left to his own devices.
I use TVP or other ground meat substitute with no issues. I’ve also skipped the TVP and doubled the beans with no issues.
I made these tonight. Would have never thought about baking the tacos, but doing so made them feel so much more special, like real homemade. Would definitely make these again. They were so easy and delicious!
I had a hard to keeping roommates from stealing bites of taco meat before I had a chance to put it in the shells!
Fast easy and delish. Deserves MORE than five stars.
Easy to make and delicious. We had them with the easy taco rice and they were both finished right about the same time. We had limes in the house, so we did squeeze little juice on top. Yummy!
Literally eating them right now! Delicious. Easy recipe, little clean up.
We have made this just about every week and it’s the best taco recipe we’ve had! The only thing I do differently is I add the black beans at the bottom of the taco shell instead of mixing it in with the ground beef (it was initially an accident because I didn’t read the directions well but now that’s how we prefer them). Thanks again Beth for an awesome and easy recipe that my husband and 2 young kids LOVE.
This is such an easy and tasty recipe! We’ll be making it again soon.
Another excellent, tasty, and easy meal from Beth of Budget Bytes! This was fun, delicious and, of course, inexpensive. :) There is something so attractive about the look of this dinner, and then it was equally good to eat. I think there is also scope for imagination, too, lots of others things to add or sub. We made Beths’ corn salad to go with. The whole family liked this meal and want it to come around again, soon.