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Tired of making the same taco recipe? These beef tacos are a great addition to your family dinner menu and make for a cheap meal.
Tacos are a crowd pleasing, easy dinner. These beef tacos are a family favorite for us. Stuffed with ground beef and cheese, what sets these tacos apart are the parmesan-crusted fried tortillas. Yes, please!
Looking for ways to make your dollars stretch in the kitchen? Check out how to meal plan on a budget.
Crispy Parmesan Beef Tacos
My family loves tacos, and these crispy parmesan beef tacos are my daughter’s favorite of all the different kinds of tacos we make. These are inspired by Jimboy’s Tacos, which we ate regularly on our Disneyland trips before the restaurant relocated. Oh, the delicious memories!
The Beef Taco Seasoning
Although you can use any prepackaged taco seasoning, I like to make my own. It’s super easy and if you make a batch, it stores well in an airtight container. As a bonus, there aren’t any artificial preservatives if you make it yourself. Recipe for the seasoning is below.
What makes my seasoning different (better) is that I add smoked paprika. This gives a subtle smoky flavor to the meat.
The Taco Meat
Since these are ground beef tacos, use ground beef. You want to use to beef that has no less than an 85/15 fat ratio; we use 80/20. This will add flavor to your tacos and keep the meat from drying out. Plus, the higher the fat, the cheaper the cost. And who isn’t looking to save money on groceries nowadays?
If you choose to use a leaner ground beef or ground turkey, you should add water to the meat and seasonings. Use anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup per pound of meat to create moisture. Start with less water and add it slowly to get the right consistency.
Cooking the Beef
I highly recommend using a cast iron skillet for this meal. Cast iron heats evenly and retains its heat, so your food will cook at a consistent temperature across the pan. Also, cast iron is the best for frying because of this heat retention.
My husband will tell you, it took me a ridiculously long time to come around to cast iron cooking. But now that I’m addicted, these are the only skillets we use unless I’m making a large, saucy dish that I need an extra deep pan for.
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Get the skillet good and hot. No oil is necessary*; the fat is enough to keep the taco meat from sticking. Once the meat is broken up and still red, add in the seasonings. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and reaches the 160 degrees that the FDA recommends.
*If cooking with lean meat, add a tablespoon of high heat oil, such as avocado oil or canola oil to the pan before adding the meat.
You want a crispy lettuce for these tacos that can withstand the heat. Romaine hearts or iceberg lettuces are the best. Cut it into thin, ribbony strips.
To Spice It Up or Not
Three of the five of us in my family love spicy, whereas the other two do not. These beef tacos are super delicious with some added heat to them. To do this, add hot salsa to the meat as you scoop it into the tortilla. The heat from the pan will enhance the heat in the salsa. Plus, the meat will be extra moist. So good! Pick up salsa from your local Mexican restaurant to add authentic flavor. You won’t regret it!
Any grated parmesan will do. I always have the shakers like these shown here on hand. As another option, you can grind up shredded parmesan in something like a magic bullet for a thicker texture. It really doesn’t matter. If you are watching your grocery budget, then the shaker is your best bet.
Have leftover taco meat? Check out this taco casserole recipe!
Crispy Parmesan Beef Tacos
Beef Taco Seasonings (see above) or 1 packet of Taco Seasoning
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp onion
- ¼ tsp dried oregano Mexican oregano preferred
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 lb ground beef see above
- 1 ½ cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
- 1 cup shredded lettuce romaine hearts or iceberg
- 12 corn tortillas
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- canola oil for frying
- Step 1: Heat the cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add the ground beef once the skillet is good and hot (use 1 tbsp oil if using lean meat). Break the meat up and add the seasonings.
- Step 2: While the meat cooks, chop the lettuce into ribbony strips. Also warm tortillas in a separate pan with a little cooking spray or oil until the tortillas get a bit browned. Fold them in half on removal.
- Step 3: Fill each tortilla half way with meat and top with desired amount of cheese, leaving room for lettuce.
- Step 4: Place the cooked meat into a bowl. Using the same cast iron skillet, add a thin layer of oil to the pan to shallow fry the tacos.
- Step 5: Shallow fry the tacos. We do them in batches of 3-4 tacos at a time. Flip to fry both sides.
- Step 6: Once the tacos are fried and still damp from the oil, carefully open them up and add the shredded lettuce. Coat both sides of the taco with the parmesan cheese.
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