This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This walking taco casserole takes just 25 minutes from start to finish and comes together all in one pan for a tasty alternative to your classic taco Tuesday family dinner! It's loaded with all your favorite taco flavors including a signature homemade seasoning blend!
You Will Love This
- If you grew up eating walking tacos at the softball field like I did, you are going to LOVE this walking taco casserole. It's got browned ground beef with a simple homemade taco seasoning plus onion, garlic, and black beans. The seasoned beef layer is topped with plenty of shredded cheese which gets perfectly melty and ooey gooey in the oven. Top that with a hearty layer of crunchy Fritos and then crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and cool sour cream for a delicious one-pan family dinner that takes less than a half-hour to throw together!
- If you're looking for more tasty one-pan dinners be sure to check out my Vegetarian One Skillet Enchiladas, One Pan Cheesy Quinoa, and Skillet Pot Pie.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- White Onion - You can also use yellow or red onion in place of the white onion in this recipe.
- Garlic Cloves - If you don't have fresh garlic on hand, try a ½-1 teaspoon of garlic powder in place of the fresh garlic.
- Ground Beef - I like to use 80/20 ground beef that is organic, grass-fed and grass-finished for the best flavor in this recipe. If you can find locally raised ground beef where you're at - even better!
- Black Beans - You can omit black beans if you don't have any on hand. Or you can use pinto beans or even kidney beans in their place.
- Chili Powder - If you don't have chili powder on hand, try adding more paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper in its place.
- Cumin - Cumin adds a delicious earthiness and a classic taco meat flavor to the ground beef mixture. If you don't have any on hand try using coriander in its place.
- Paprika - If you don't have paprika, just add a bit more chili powder instead or omit it entirely.
- Garlic Powder - You can also add a couple more cloves of minced fresh garlic in place of the garlic powder if you don't have any on hand.
- Dried Oregano - I love the depth of flavor that the dried oregano adds to this walking taco casserole, but you can omit it or add dried thyme in its place.
- Restaurant Style Salsa - If you have 5 minutes to throw together my quick and easy Restaurant Style Salsa, I highly recommend doing that. If not, your favorite store-bought brand will work too!
- Shredded Cheese - I like to use a Colby jack for this recipe, but any of your favorite cheeses will work. If you can, buy a block and shred it yourself as it will melt a bit better than the pre-shredded cheese. If not, pre-shredded will work just fine!
- Fritos - Regular Fritos or scoops will work in this casserole recipe. If you don't have Fritos on hand, tortilla chips or even Doritos will work as well, but Fritos are going to give you that classic walking taco flavor.
Sauté onion then add garlic, spices, and herbs and cook.
Add raw ground beef and cook, crumbling with a spatula until cooked through.
Add salsa and black beans and stir to combine.
Cover taco meat with cheese.
Bake until cheese is melted.
Add a layer of Fritos.
Garnish with lettuce, tomato and whatever else you enjoy on tacos!
- Depending on what percentage of fat is in the ground beef you use, you may end up with a bit of excess grease at the bottom of the casserole. Using a lean ground beef will mean less grease overall, but keep in mind that fat equals flavor! I prefer to use an 80/20 ground beef for maximum flavor, and then use a slotted spoon for serving so that any excess grease stays in the pan and not on your plate! Also, remember fat doesn't make you fat and it's not the enemy!
Frito Pie vs. Walking Taco Casserole
- If you're a Frito pie fan, you're going to love this walking taco casserole! While there are many variations of both, Frito pie can include seasoned ground beef mixed with enchilada sauce or even a chili-type mixture that's spooned over Fritos.
- Some also call classic walking tacos Fritos pie and serve them with single-serve Fritos chip bags (opened on their sides) and topped with classic taco ingredients of seasoned beef, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream.
- It's thought that Frito pie originated in Texas, becoming a southern staple, and then moved its way up to the Midwest where we (of course) made it into a casserole - which is also arguably a hot dish if you want to get technical.
- Here in the Midwest, we love a good casserole recipe and our pies are generally filled with fruit (or chocolate), so I chose to call this walking taco casserole.
As the name implies, it's basically a taco that you can eat while you're walking! In the Midwest, these are a classic staple at the concession stand of any softball/baseball/football game so chances are if you grew up playing sports (or watching them) you grew up eating walking tacos! They've got all the classic tacos fixings piled high inside a bag of Fritos. In recent years, Doritos have also crossed the threshold into walking taco territory becoming a new favorite among the younger generation.
Yes! The term walking taco (AKA traveling taco) was a term coined in the Midwest. They are enjoyed across the US but are called different things depending on the region you're in. In the southern states, you may hear it called a Frito pie while on the west coast they are sometimes called pepper bellies.
Family Favorite Dinners
- Slow Cooker Beer Braised Pork Carnitas
- Easy Black Bean Enchiladas
- Street Corn Pasta Salad
- One Skillet Black Bean Enchiladas
- Homemade Creamy Southwest Dressing