My Mom’s Baked Tacos Are a Weeknight Family Favorite

They're quick, easy, and customizable for picky eaters.

<p>Simply Recipes / Sara Haas, RD</p>

Simply Recipes / Sara Haas, RD

Ground beef tacos were on heavy rotation at my house when I was growing up. My brother and I both loved them but often disagreed on how they should be made or served, much to the delight of my mom (not!).

Then the day came that she took us grocery shopping. She dropped the taco seasoning packet in the cart and my brother and I immediately started to argue. I remember begging my mom to choose the “soft” tortillas while my brother insisted he would only eat tacos if they were the “crispy” hard-shell kind.

To silence us both and prevent one of those horrific moments where you have to leave the cart in the middle of the grocery store and remove your children from the scene, she came up with a compromise. She promised a soft taco shell (for me), made crispy in the oven (for him). We conceded, and that's how these baked ground beef tacos came to be.

A Dish Born From Necessity

Anyone who cooks for kids knows there will be challenges. One day kids like the food you’re serving and the next day they don’t. They’ll tell you they’re “starving” and then next moment they’re pushing food around on their plate. It’s frustrating and confusing! That’s why meals like these baked tacos are perfect.

This meal works for fussy eaters because you’re in control of every step. You know your family best and you choose how to cook the meat and season it. You choose the cheese (or skip it), then let the oven put the finishing touches on everything and leave the garnishing to your lucky diners.

There are plenty of opportunities for “selective” eaters to customize their tacos. My mom would pull my tacos out a few minutes before the others since I wanted mine to be soft. She'd also set out a spread of toppings so that we could decide what we wanted inside, and I do the same thing with my family.

<p>Simply Recipes / Sara Haas, RD</p>

Simply Recipes / Sara Haas, RD

How To Make My Mom's Baked Ground Beef Tacos

To serve four, you'll need:

  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef

  • 1 (1-ounce) packet taco seasoning

  • 2/3 cup water

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

  • 8 (6-inch) whole wheat flour tortillas, room temperature

  • 1/2 cup finely diced white onion

  • 1 cup diced tomatoes

  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

  • Salsa (or pico de gallo), sour cream, and guacamole, for serving

Place a large sheet pan on the middle rack in the oven and preheat to 400°F.

Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the ground beef. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the taco seasoning and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the cheese. Cover half of each tortilla with the ground beef mixture and fold in half. Carefully remove the sheet pan from the oven and add the folded tacos. Cook until golden brown on the first side, about 5 minutes, then flip and cook until golden on the other side, about 4 more minutes.

Serve with onion, tomatoes, and lettuce for topping along with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.

Tips for Making Baked Tacos

  1. The tortilla temperature matters: Room-temperature tortillas are easier to work with, especially if you’re folding them in half like in this recipe. I typically pull mine out of the fridge about 30 minutes before I need them. If you forget, you can also wrap them in paper towels and microwave them on the defrost function for 30 seconds and get similar results.

  2. Make your own spice mix: If you have the time and a good collection of spices, feel free to make your own taco seasoning mix. Since you’ll want the mixture to be a little saucy, stir in 1 teaspoon cornstarch to the 2/3 cup water before adding to the ground beef mixture in the skillet.

  3. Adjust the time as needed: Oven temperatures vary and so do our opinions of finalized dishes. My oven runs hot, so I tend to check things earlier than suggested cooking times. I like my tacos crispy, so I often let them go about 8 minutes per side, but if you prefer something softer, stick with the recipe as written.

<p>Simply Recipes / Sara Haas, RD</p>

Simply Recipes / Sara Haas, RD

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.