Make tonight taco night at the dinner table, and your friends, family, or roommates won’t be disappointed with what you’re dishing out. Flavorful and full of fresh ingredients, tacos can be made with virtually anything you have on hand. To give you variety, we’ve found several meat varieties, a vegetarian option, and even a few twists on the typical taco to bring you seven recipes you’ll definitely want to try out tonight.
1. Garlicky Shrimp-Cilantro Tacos
The name alone of this taco recipe from Sunset promises strongly flavored shrimp, which gets a spicy twist from the serrano chiles. For a milder taco, use fewer chiles, you can also substitute another hot pepper–such as jalapeño or habanero if you do not have serranos on hand. The recipe yields sixteen tacos, or eight servings.
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 pound white onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 or 3 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
- 2½ pounds shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled, deveined, and halved lengthwise
- 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- Kosher salt
- 32 corn tortillas, warmed
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
Directions: Heat oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add onions and chiles and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Pour vegetables into a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in same frying pan over medium-high heat, add garlic, and stir until sizzling, about 1 minute. Add half of shrimp to pan. Stir often until shrimp are bright pink and no longer wet-looking in thickest part (cut to test), about 5 minutes; transfer shrimp to bowl with reserved vegetables.
Add remaining shrimp to pan and cook as above, then return cooked shrimp and vegetables to pan and stir everything together until hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cilantro and salt to taste. Serve shrimp in a large bowl with tortillas (use 2 tortillas, stacked, per taco), accompanied by lime wedges to squeeze over top.
2. Skirt Steak Tacos with Roasted Tomato Salsa
Grill master Bobby Flay is, not surprisingly, taking you to the grill with his taco recipe from The Cooking Channel. Ready in about 30 minutes, this dinner for four is kept from being your average skirt steak taco by the addition of a homemade grilled tomato salsa that brings a roasted kick to the dish.
- 8 (6-inch) flour tortillas
- 1½ pounds skirt steak
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ head romaine lettuce, thinly shredded
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, halved and diced
- Grilled Tomato Salsa, recipe follows
- 8 ounces sour cream
Grilled Tomato Salsa
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for brushing tomatoes
- 2 serrano chiles
- 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 6 plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 limes, juiced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Directions: For the salsa, heat grill to high. Heat oil in a small saute pan and sauté the chiles, onion, and garlic until soft. Brush tomatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill on both sides until slightly charred and soft.
Transfer tomatoes and serrano mixture to a food processor; add the lime juice and salt and pepper and process until smooth. Add the cilantro and pulse a few times (there should be flecks of cilantro in the salsa.) Transfer to a bowl.
To make the tacos, heat grill to high. Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil and on the top rack of the grill while the steak is grilling. Heat grill pan over high heat. Brush steak with oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Grill on one side until golden brown and slightly charred, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the steak over and cook to medium-rare doneness, about 3 to 4 minutes longer.
Let rest 5 minutes then slice against the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices. Fill each tortilla with some lettuce, three to four pieces of meat, onion, grilled tomato salsa, sour cream, and avocado.
3. Taco Corn Bread Squares
Rethink tacos and cornbread with Taste of Home‘s recipe which combines the two in a dish closer to a casserole than your average taco. What does stay the same are the classic components of a taco, but with a cornbread crust instead of tortilla casing. It will make enough for four to six servings.
- 1 package (8½ ounces) corn bread/muffin mix
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup milk
- 2½ cups cooked Taco-Seasoned Meat
- 1 can (16 ounces) refried beans
- 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
- 1½ cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 1 cup shredded lettuce
- 1 can (2¼ ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine the corn bread mix, egg, and milk until blended. Spread into a greased 9-inch square baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Combine taco meat and beans; spread over corn bread. Combine sour cream, 1 cup cheese, and onion; spread over meat mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes longer or until heated through and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with the tomato, lettuce, olives and remaining cheese.
4. Black Bean Tacos with Roasted Peppers and Onions
If taco night falls on Meatless Monday, make Vegetarian Times‘s meat-free version for a dinner that is still filled with protein (around 16 grams) and comes together in under 30 minutes. With strong spices, and fresh roasted peppers, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will find delight in this dinner; it makes eight servings.
- 3 red bell peppers, thinly sliced (3 cups)
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced (1½ cups)
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced (2 tablespoons)
- 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced organic fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
- 16 organic corn taco shells, warmed
- 3 cups shredded lettuce
- 1 (16-ounce) container prepared salsa
- 2 large tomatoes, diced (about 2 cups)
- 2 avocados, diced (about 2 cups)
- 1½ cups shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 cup low-fat sour cream
Directions: To make the roasted peppers and onions, preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss peppers and onion with oil on large baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast 15 minutes, stir, and roast 15 minutes more, or until vegetables are tender and peppers are beginning to blacken. Transfer to small bowl.
Meanwhile, make the tacos. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more, or until fragrant. Stir in beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, hot sauce, and 1 cup water. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Mash beans until filling is thickened, but chunky, and most beans remain intact. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. Transfer to serving bowl. Pass taco shells, filling, with roasted peppers and onions, and toppings, as desired.
5. Slow-Cooker Pulled-Pork Tacos
When we’re looking to make life easier in the kitchen, the slow cooker is one of our favorite tools to use. For Real Simple‘s pulled-pork tacos this kitchen aid does the heavy lifting, and a store bough salsa further eases you cooking duties and helps ensure the pork will not dry out as it cooks in the crock-pot. It will make six servings.
- 2 cups store-bought salsa, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- kosher salt
- 1 (2½-pound) boneless pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
- 18 corn tortillas
- ½ cup fresh cilantro sprigs
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
Directions: In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the salsa, chili powder, oregano, cocoa, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the pork and turn to coat. Cook, covered, until the meat is tender and pulls apart easily, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours. Twenty minutes before serving, heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Stack the tortillas, wrap them in foil, and bake until warm, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, using two forks, shred the pork and stir into the cooking liquid. Serve with the tortillas, cilantro, sour cream, lime, and extra salsa.
6. Beer-Braised Turkey Tacos
When you are tired of chicken, ground beef, or pork fillings, turn to turkey and the recipe for beer-braised turkey tacos from Food & Wine. You can make the shredded turkey component of the dish up to two days in advance, and store it covered in the refrigerator. It yields twelve tacos.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 (1-pound) bone-in turkey thighs or drumsticks, skin and fat removed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 medium white onion, cut into 1-inch dice, plus minced white onion, for serving
- 1 large oregano sprig
- 1 large jalapeño—stemmed, seeded and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
- 1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
- 1 ancho chile—stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped or torn
- One 2-inch cinnamon stick
- One 12-ounce bottle Mexican dark beer, such as Modelo Negro
- 1 cup water
- 12 corn tortillas
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds and cilantro sprigs, for serving
Directions: In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season the turkey with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until richly browned all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer the turkey to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the casserole along with the garlic, diced onion, oregano and jalapeño and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato, ancho and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring, until the tomato releases its juices.
Return the turkey to the casserole, add the beer and water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, turning once, until the turkey thighs are tender, about 1 hour. Transfer the turkey to a plate and let cool. Discard the oregano sprig and cinnamon stick and boil the sauce over high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 12 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap the tortillas in foil and bake for about 8 minutes, until softened and heated through. Remove the turkey meat and shred it. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and puree. Return the sauce to the pot and stir in the shredded turkey. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the turkey onto the tortillas. Top with minced onion, sesame seeds and cilantro sprigs and serve.
7. Fresh Fruit Tacos
Cap off taco night with a fresh fruit, taco-inspired dessert from Dole. The tortillas are shaped into cups for presentation, and if you do not have custard cups you could try using ramekins or a muffin tin. You will also need any ingredients necessary to prepare the instant pudding. It makes four servings.
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 (6-inch) flour tortillas
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 package (4 serving size) instant sugar free vanilla/chocolate pudding mix
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 banana, peeled and sliced
- 1 mango, peeled, sliced
- 1 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 cup strawberries or raspberries
Directions: Combine sugar and cinnamon. Brush tortillas lightly with water. Sprinkle sugar mixture over both sides of tortillas. Spray large custard cups with nonstick cooking spray. Gently press tortillas into cups. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Prepare pudding according to package directions. Stir lemon peel and vanilla into pudding. Combine banana, mango, kiwi, and strawberries, in small bowl. Arrange tortilla shells on dessert plates. Spoon about 1/2 cup pudding into each shell. Spoon fruit over pudding in shells.