Creative Taco Recipes You Have to Try

Tacos may be the perfect quick-fix dinner solution, but it’s easy to fall into a rut if you make this dish a lot. Not that there’s anything wrong with favorites like seasoned ground beef, carnitas, or grilled chicken, but those predictable taco fillings can sometimes be a bit boring. Thankfully, creative cooks can stuff their tacos with virtually any type of filling. If you’re looking for ways to spice up your taco game, try these seven taco recipes featuring ingredients you may not have tried yet.

1. Grilled Octopus Taco

Grilled octopus

Grilled octopus for tacos | iStock.com

If you’re craving seafood tacos, skip the fish or shrimp and try filling them with grilled octopus instead. In this recipe from KitchenAid’s Kitchenthusiast blog, the octopus is topped with a pineapple salsa and spicy mayo for a flavorful and creative spin on a familiar dish.

Ingredients:

Octopus

  • 8 (6-inch) octopus tentacles, about 1-inch round
  • Water for boiling
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Pineapple salsa

  • 1½ cups chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Spicy mayo

  • 3 tablespoons mayo
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha, Tabasco, or other chili hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice

Tacos

  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Head to KitchenAid’s Kitchenthusiast blog for the full recipe. 

2. Gator Tacos

plate of tacos with rice and beans

Gator tacos with rice and beans | iStock.com

Alligator meat doesn’t regularly show up on most people’s dinner tables, but if you can get your hands on this versatile protein (try a specialty grocery store or order online), you can prepare it any number of ways, from deep-fried to tossed in a Cajun-style stew. It also works in tacos. This recipe from Pitchforks & Butter Knives calls for seasoning the meat with Sriracha or mustard and then pan-frying it before topping with cabbage, cheese, and spicy mayo.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound alligator meat, cubed
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ head cabbage, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 package corn tortillas
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • Olive oil

Head to Pitchforks & Butter Knives for the full recipe.

3. Tacos de Tripas

Worker making Tacos in restaurant kitchen

Tacos de tripas are made with beef intestines | iStock.com

Tripas, or beef intestines, is a traditional taco filling in Mexico, and if you frequent certain taquerias in the U.S. you’ve probably encountered it on the menu and may have even tried it yourself. But to many American diners the idea of eating offal is a little off-putting. If you’re adventurous, you’ll want to give it a chance. The meat in these tacos from Mexico in My Kitchen is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside and looks a bit like tubular pasta once cooked. It’s the perfect way to shake up a ho-hum taco routine.

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds of small beef intestines (1 pound per person, per serving)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Corn tortillas
  • 1 white onion finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of cilantro finely chopped
  • Salsa of your choice
  • Salt to taste

Head to Mexico in My Kitchen for the full recipe. 

4. Beer-Braised Duck Tacos with Cilantro Sauce

duck tacos in a tray

Beer-braised duck tacos | iStock.com

Rich and flavorful duck is the star ingredient in this taco recipe from Not Eating Out in New York. If you’ve bought a whole duck and already eaten the breast, this recipe is a great way to use up the leftover wings and legs. Once you have your meat, braise in a mix of beer and shallots or onions and then top it with a garlicky cilantro sauce for the perfect simple taco.

Ingredients:

  • Roughly 2 pounds bone-in duck legs, wings and/or backs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large shallots (or substitute ½ medium-sized onion, chopped)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups pale ale
  • 12 to 16 fresh corn tortillas
  • Sliced fresh radishes for garnish (optional)
  • Sliced jalapeño for garnish (optional)

Cilantro sauce

  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, both stems and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Head to Not Eating Out in New York for the full recipe. 

5. Crunchy Lentil Tacos with Avocado Feta Guacamole

tacos with chips and salsa

Lentil tacos | iStock.com

You’ve probably eaten lentils before, and you’ve definitely had tacos. But have you eaten them together? This recipe from nutritionist E.A. Stewart spices up hearty lentils and uses them as the filling for delicious (and healthy) tacos, topped with a creamy feta guacamole. Trust us, you won’t miss the meat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 2½ cups precooked lentils
  • 1 small sweet onion, finely chopped and divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 small avocados or 2 medium/large avocados
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 8 to 12 crunchy taco shells
  • Chopped lettuce, chopped tomato, cilantro, hot sauce (optional, for serving)

Head to E.A. Stewart for the full recipe. 

6. Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tacos

fresh asparagus spears

Fill tacos with roasted asparagus spears and cherries | iStock.com

We can see you scratching your head over this one. Combining roasted asparagus and fresh cherries in a tortilla might seem a bit odd at first, but according to the folks at The Kitchn who developed the recipe, the result is “sweet, succulent, and rich with complex, seasonal flavor.” Even better, these vegetarian tacos are incredibly easy to prepare — just roast the main ingredients and then garnish with a homemade asparagus salsa and some queso fresco.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed or snapped off
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ pound cherries, halved and pitted
  • 8 corn or flour tortillas
  • Queso fresco and cilantro for garnish

Asparagus salsa

  • 1 pound asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed or snapped off
  • ½ white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, cored and seeded, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (optional)
  • Pinch of salt

Head to The Kitchn for the full recipe. 

7. Spaghetti Tacos

dry spaghetti noodles

Spaghetti tacos are a kid-friendly dinner | iStock.com

Kids will get a kick out of these spaghetti tacos, which were inspired by the Nickelodeon show iCarly. This quirky Italian-Mexican fusion dish may seem a bit odd to grown-ups, but the younger set is sure to enjoy the mashup of two kid-friendly foods. Recipe from Foodie Crush.

Ingredients:

    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus about ⅛ cup reserved
    • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
    • ½ yellow onion, chopped
    • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
    • 3 ribs celery, chopped
    • ¼ cup white wine
    • ¼ cup low-fat milk
    • 2 (15-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
    • 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
    • ¼ cup tomato paste
    • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1 cup zucchini, grated
    • ¼ cup fresh shredded Parmesan or fresh mozzarella
    • 1 pound spaghetti noodles
    • 12 white corn taco shells

Head to Foodie Crush for the full recipe.

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