Everyone loves a good taco. The best thing about the popular Mexican dish is that it is customizable, meaning no one is ostracized from the fun. With beef tacos, chicken tacos, pork tacos, fish tacos, and bean tacos on the menu, there really is a taco for everyone, and now that Cinco de Mayo is approaching, it’s high time you master your recipes. Here are five taco formulas to get you started. No matter if you’re feeding a meat eater, fish lover, or vegetarian, you’re guaranteed have some satisfied eaters on your hands with these recipes.
But before we get to the tacos themselves, let’s talk tortillas. You can always buy store bought tortillas, but if you’re feeling ambitious this Cinco de Mayo, try making your own via this recipe from Two Peas and their Pod. All you need for homemade flour tortillas is flour, salt, baking powder, shortening, and water — and as to be expected, homemade tortillas make a world of a difference.
Homemade Flour Tortillas
- 2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal Flour
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons shortening
- ¾ cup water
Directions: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add shortening and mix with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the water. Place dough on a clean floured surface and knead until dough is smooth. This will take 3 to 4 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl and cover. Let sit for 30 minutes.
With a dough knife, divide the dough into quarters. Next, divide each quarter into thirds. You should have 12 equal dough portions. Using a rolling pin, roll out each dough portion into a circle, about 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Heat a skillet or a griddle pan to medium-high heat. Cook the tortillas until they start to puff up and are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until lightly browned on the other side. Place tortillas on a plate and cover with a towel to keep warm while you make the rest of the tortillas. Serve!
1. Beef Tacos
First up is the tried and true beef taco. Take this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and put away your pre-packaged taco seasoning. Now you can season your dish by yourself. The beauty of beef tacos is that they come together in no time, and yours will too as soon as your beef is browned.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- ¾ cup chopped onion
- 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
- 1 to 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced fine
- Taco shells
- Additional taco garnishes
Directions: In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and chopped onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the meat into smaller chunks, until it is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, drain the grease from the meat.
Return the skillet to the heat and stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 30 seconds and then add the tomato sauce and jalapeño. Turn the heat to low and simmer the meat mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in taco shells with your choice of toppings.
2. Grilled Chicken Tacos
Grilled Chicken Tacos from Epicurious is next. Don’t eat red meat? Get your chicken thighs ready. Even beef lovers won’t have a problem giving up meat if it means these grilled chicken tacos are their replacement, and as always the case with Mexican dishes, it’s all about the spices.
- 1 medium onion, cut into wedges, keeping root intact
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, coarsely crushed
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 corn tortillas, warmed (for serving)
- 2 avocados, sliced (for serving)
- Charred Tomatillo Salsa Verde (for serving)
- Cilantro sprigs, sliced radishes, and lime wedges (for serving)
Directions: Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Toss onion, garlic, chicken, cumin, oil, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Grill onion and chicken until cooked through and lightly charred, about 4 minutes per side.
Let chicken rest 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with tortillas, avocados, Charred Tomatillo Salsa Verde, cilantro, radishes, and lime wedges.
3. Crock Pot Pulled Pork Tacos
Moving on to the pig we come to Crock Pot Pulled Pork Tacos from Weelicious, because if you don’t want beef tacos, and you’re not in the mood for chicken ones, how about some zero-fuss pork tacos? Turn your crock pot on in the morning and have your dinner ready for you by nightfall. Few people can resist good pulled pork, and now you don’t have to. Put the good stuff in a tortilla this Cinco de Mayo and get ready to toast to Mexico.
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 (3½ to 4 pound) pork shoulder, rinsed and cleaned
- 1 16 ounces jar mild salsa (I used pace chunky salsa)
- 1 package corn or flour tortillas
Directions: Place the first 7 ingredients in a bowl and mix. Place the pork shoulder in the crock pot and rub all over with the seasoning mixture. Pour the jar of salsa around the pork shoulder. Cook on low heat for 8 to 12 hours.
Remove the pork to a plate and using 2 forks, shred the into bite size pieces. Pour a scoop or two of the juices into the pork and stir to combine. If you want to remove the excess fat from the juice you will use, pour it into a cup and refrigerate it until the fat solidifies and can be easily scooped out. Only the juices will remain. Place the pork into the tortillas. Serve with desired accompaniments.
4. Basic Fish Tacos
Now it’s fish time! The fish in fish tacos can either be fried or grilled, but with this recipe from Chow, the good stuff is healthfully prepared and served with a citrus marinade and a cabbage slaw. The dish practically screams summer. Even if you’re not a pescetarian, consider serving up fish tacos at your next big dinner. The dish typically goes over well with everyone, and can be used with any kind of white fish.
- 1 pound firm white fish, such as tilapia, snapper, cod, mahi mahi, or catfish
- 2 medium limes, halved
- 1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for oiling the grill grates
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ small head of green or red cabbage (about 14 ounces), cored and thinly sliced
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 6 to 8 soft (6-inch) corn tortillas
Directions: Place the fish in a baking dish and squeeze a lime half over it. Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season with salt and pepper and turn the fish in the marinade until evenly coated. Refrigerate and let marinate at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the slaw and warm the tortillas.
Combine the cabbage, onion, and cilantro in a large bowl and squeeze a lime half over it. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary; set aside.
Warm the tortillas by heating a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tortilla at a time, flipping to warm both sides, about 5 minutes total. Wrap the warm tortillas in a clean dishcloth and set aside while you prepare the fish. Brush the grates of a grill pan or outdoor grill with oil and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Remove the fish from the marinade and place on the grill.
Cook without moving until the underside of the fish has grill marks and is white and opaque on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip and grill the other side until white and opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer the fish to a plate. Taste the slaw again and season as needed with more lime juice. Slice the remaining lime halves into wedges and serve with the tacos. To construct a taco, break up some of the cooked fish, place it in a warm tortilla, and top it with slaw and any optional garnishes.
5. Avocado and Black Bean Tacos
Lastly, Avocado and Black Bean Tacos from Whole Living. Vegetarianism next tasted so good. You’ll forget all about meat after you bite into one of these beef-free tacos this spring. Packed with flavor from avocado, black beans, and seasoning, these tacos simply don’t need any meat.
- ½ avocado
- ½ minced clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Dash cumin
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Two corn tortillas
- ½ cup thinly sliced kale
- ¼ cup cooked black beans
- 2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
Directions: In a medium bowl, mash avocado with garlic, lime juice, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Toast tortillas over a gas burner, turning, until lightly charred. Divide avocado mixture between tortillas and top with kale, beans, and sunflower seeds. Season with salt.