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Walking Taco Casserole

This Walking Taco Casserole recipe is an easy weeknight meal that has all the flavors of tacos with the crunch of corn chips, too. It’s a favorite with our family (and especially me since it’s so quick and simple to make)!

overhead shot of walking taco casserole in a white dish with a spoonful coming out

What is Walking Taco Casserole?

Walking taco casserole is basically the “walking taco” in casserole form versus individual bags. You might have seen recipes for walking tacos, which I personally think is pretty brilliant and is perfect for taking camping, tailgating, or anywhere that a hot meal and bringing dishes along isn’t always easy. Ground beef, taco seasoning, beans, and green chiles or salsa is cooked together, then it’s spooned into individual bags of Frito chips with some shredded cheese. It’s portable and delicious!

It’s so delicious, in fact, that making one big pan of it at home is just taking it to the next level. The casserole version likely came first, but deciding which to make is really a matter of where it’ll be served. We still make the bagged version occasionally when it makes more sense, but the walking taco casserole is so simple and quick for a weeknight dinner that it’s often on our table.

A similar casserole that we love is Dorito Casserole, made with shredded rotisserie chicken instead of the ground beef, and Doritos instead of the corn chips. There are a few other small changes, so check that one out, too! A great side dish is this sweet corn cake. You might also like this one-pot Chili Mac and Cheese!

closeup of walking taco casserole just out of the oven

Ingredients

  • ground beef (90% ground beef is suggested but any will work)
  • onion (a large sweet onion works well)
  • taco seasoning (two packets of your favorite brand)
  • water
  • tomatillo salsa (you can also use red salsa but green is recommended)
  • sour cream (softened cream cheese also works inside the casserole but use sour cream for topping)
  • black beans (a layer of refried beans will also work)
  • corn (canned corn is fine but fresh is amazing)
  • Frito corn chips (Doritos will also work)
  • shredded cheese (use a Mexican blend if you can find it, otherwise a blend of Colby and Jack will work; mix in some pepper-jack if you like a little more spice)
a plate of walking taco casserole

How do you make Walking Taco Casserole?

It’s really easy to make this! Just brown some ground beef then add some chopped onion when it’s just about cooked through. The onions are optional but we love them so I always add them if I’ve got some. Add taco seasoning with some water, then let it simmer until some of the water has evaporated and it’s thickened slightly.

Next you’ll mix it some salsa and sour cream. The sour cream is also optional but it gives a creamier texture that we prefer (softened cream cheese will also work). Stir in a can each of black beans and corn, then remove it from the heat. (If you have fresh summer corn that you can remove from the cob, definitely use that instead. You don’t even have to cook it first!)

Crush half of the corn chips and place them into the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Pour the beef mixture over the top, sprinkle on the cheese, then top it all with the remaining corn chips. Cover it and bake! We like to serve it with extra salsa and sour cream on the side.

an overhead shot of walking taco casserole with a spoon in a white dish with a plate next to it

Extra toppings

These toppings are optional but delicious!

  • Shredded lettuce
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Sliced or diced avocado
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Minced jalapeño (fresh or pickled)
  • black olives
  • Taco sauce
a closeup of a spoonful of walking taco casserole

Variations

  • Use red salsa instead of the green tomatillo
  • Try it with refried beans instead of black beans
  • Use chili beans and chili powder instead of black beans and taco seasoning
  • Use tortilla chips or Doritos instead of corn chips
  • Put shredded lettuce in individual bowls and top with the walking taco casserole for a “taco salad”
  • Use ground turkey or chicken

Make it ahead of time

You can definitely make this ahead of time. Prepare as directed through step 4 but don’t top it with the corn chips yet. Cover and refrigerate it for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to bake, just add the corn chips, recover, and pop it in the oven! Add at least an extra 5 minutes of baking time since the casserole will be chilled at baking time.

You can also make it in the slow cooker! Prepare as directed through step 4 but don’t add the corn chips. When you’re ready to bake, transfer the mixture to a slow cooker and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-5 hours. Add the corn chips and cook for another 30 minutes.

To reheat, we usually just pop individual portions in the microwave. If you know you’ll have leftovers, you can leave the corn chips off half of the casserole when baking so they don’t get soggy when refrigerated, then just top the individual bowls with them. If you want to reheat the entire casserole, just follow the instructions above for making it ahead of time.

overhead photo of walking taco casserole

Walking Taco Casserole

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

An easy weeknight meal that has all the flavors of tacos with the crunch of corn chips, too.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 2 packets original taco seasoning
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cup tomatillo salsa
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans corn, drained
  • 4 cups Frito corn chips, divided
  • 3 cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese

Optional toppings

  • chopped cilantro
  • sliced avocado
  • shredded lettuce
  • chopped tomatoes
  • sliced jalapeños

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F and spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Brown the ground beef over medium heat until almost no pink remains. Add the chopped onions; saute 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add the taco seasoning and water, stirring well. Cook for a couple of minutes until slightly thickened.
  3. Add the salsa and sour cream; stir well. Add the black beans and corn; stir well and remove from heat.
  4. Coarsely crush half of the corn chips and distribute over the bottom of the baking dish, taking care to completely cover the bottom. Add the taco meat, then sprinkle with the cheese. Top with the remaining corn chips.
  5. Cover and bake for 15-20 minutes or until it's bubbling and cheese is melted. Uncover the casserole and bake for about 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and top with desired toppings. Serve immediately with extra salsa and sour cream on the side.

Notes

You can omit the corn chip layer on the bottom of the casserole, if desired.

The recipe doesn't call for added seasoning due to the salty corn chips and that taco seasoning has salt added, too. As always, taste and season to your tastes.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1284Total Fat: 79gSaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 47gCholesterol: 158mgSodium: 1372mgCarbohydrates: 92gFiber: 13gSugar: 7gProtein: 54g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

Kristy Bernardo
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