Cheesy Gordita Crunch-Inspired Beef Tacos

published Aug 24, 2021
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Cheesy Gordita Crunch-Inspired Beef Tacos Recipe

These Taco Bell-inspired tacos feature a double taco shell stuffed with a beef-and-bean filling.

Serves4 to 6

Makes12 tacos

Prep15 minutes

Cook25 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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tacos on sheet tray
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

I don’t have kids, but there’s no doubt in my mind that if you made these Cheesy Gordita Crunch-inspired tacos for dinner, your kids would never stop asking you to make them again. Sure, it may seem like they just want new iPhones or permission to stay up late, but what they really want are these cheesy, beefy tacos made with two types of tortillas. After just one bite you’ll understand the hype: They’re the perfect way to liven up Taco Tuesday.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

What Are Cheesy Gordita Crunch Tacos?

The inspiration for this double taco shell comes from the beloved Cheesy Gordita Crunch tacos at Taco Bell. This menu item features a soft-shell taco wrapped around a hard-shell taco with a thin layer of melted cheese holding the two together. Luckily for us, it’s easy to re-create at home — grab the kiddos and have them help you.

You’ll start by arranging small flour tortillas on a sheet pan and sprinkling each one with shredded cheese. Bake just until the cheese melts, then lay a crunchy taco shell on its side on one half of each tortilla, deliciously fusing the hard and soft shells together with the melty cheese.

Once the hard shell is adhered, return the sheet pan to the oven and bake until the flour tortillas brown slightly. Fold the remaining half of each tortilla onto the hard shell, then toss it back in the oven for a few more minutes until the flour tortilla is browned and fully secured. Then, stuff the cheesy double shells with your homemade beef-and-bean filling.

How to Customize Your Tacos

These tacos are infinitely riffable. Here are four ways to switch things up.

  1. Switch up the protein. Use ground turkey, ground chicken, or your favorite plant-based ground meat instead of ground beef.
  2. Swap in taco seasoning. Feel free to use 2 tablespoons store-bought taco seasoning in place of the individual spices.
  3. Try another cheese. Don’t have shredded cheddar? Swap in any Mexican cheese blend or your favorite Jack cheese. Pepper Jack would be a good choice.
  4. Have fun with the toppings. While lettuce, tomato, and onion are classic, feel free to throw in fresh cilantro, avocado slices, or pickled jalapeños — whatever you like on your tacos are more than welcome here.

Cheesy Gordita Crunch-Inspired Beef Tacos Recipe

These Taco Bell-inspired tacos feature a double taco shell stuffed with a beef-and-bean filling.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Makes 12 tacos

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    black beans

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 3 large cloves

    garlic

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground cumin

  • 2 teaspoons

    smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon

    chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    cayenne (optional)

  • 1 cup

    water

  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the tacos:

  • 1

    medium romaine lettuce heart

  • 2

    medium tomatoes

  • 12 ounces

    cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3 cups), divided

  • 12

    (about 6-inch or fajita-size) flour tortillas

  • 12

    crunchy taco shells

  • Sour cream and hot sauce, for serving

Instructions

  1. Arrange two racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Drain and rinse 1 can black beans. Finely chop 1 medium yellow onion and mince 3 large garlic cloves. Finely shred 1 romaine lettuce heart. Dice 2 tomatoes.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the beans, garlic, half of the onion, and 1 pound lean ground beef. Break up the meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (if using) and stir to combine. Add 1 cup water and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, assemble the gordita shells.

  5. Place 12 flour tortillas on 2 baking sheets, arranging them in a single layer (it’s OK if they overlap a little). Sprinkle 2 1/4 cups of the cheddar cheese onto the tortillas (about 3 tablespoons each). Bake until the cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes.

  6. Gently press a hard taco shell onto each tortilla so it is covering half of the tortilla. Bake until the flour tortilla is lightly browned and the taco shell adheres to the cheese, about 2 minutes. Fold the remaining half of each tortilla onto the taco shell and gently press to adhere. Bake until set, about 2 minutes more.

  7. Taste the filling and season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed. To serve, spoon the filling into the gordita shells. Top with the remaining cheese, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and hot sauce.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The filling can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Rewarm before serving.