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Quirky Taco Casserole

June 15, 2020 7 min read

Quirky Taco Casserole

Casseroles aren't exactly a dish that you would associate with Mexico, but given how deliciously adaptable they can be, we decided to create this unique Mexican-inspired taco casserole to set your taste buds on fire.

Add a taste of Mexico to your casserole cooking, with our cheesy taco casseroles recipes that call for refried beans, crunchy tortillas, and plenty of spices. This is a great casserole to bake in a cast iron casserole dish!

How to make a Taco Casserole

Ingredients

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • 1 diced yellow onion
  • 1 oz of taco seasoning or similar Mexican spices
  • 16 oz of refried beans
  • 3/4 cup of sour cream
  • 2 cups of grated Cheddar cheese (more cheese is fine with us!)
  • 1/4 cup of black olives
  • 1/3 cup of diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup of tortilla chips
  • Optional extra chilis and spices to add a fiery kick!

Instructions

  • Start off our delicious taco pie recipe by preheating your oven to 350°F.
  • Bring a large pan to medium heat on the stovetop, with a dash of oil added to the bottom.
  • Dice up your onions and place them in the pan with all of your ground beef.
  • Gently fry until the meat has lightly browned, then drain the oil and grease.
  • Mix in your taco seasoning to the ground beef and onions and pour in 3/4 of a cup of water.
  • Turn up the heat and bring your taco mixture to the boil.
  • Once it's boiling, turn the heat down and allow the contents to simmer for at least 5 min.
  • Turn the heat off and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, take your retired beans and empty them into your cast iron casserole dish. Spread them over the bottom of the dish to create an even first layer of refried beans, to form the base of your casserole.
  • Add your next layer to the taco casserole. We suggest you spread sour cream over the refried beans for this second layer of the taco bake.
  • Add your seasoned ground beef and onion mixture to the taco bake recipe, to create an even third layer.
  • Add a thick layer of grated cheese to the top. The more cheese, the better (in our opinion!).
  • Place the taco casserole in the oven and leave it to bake for 15 min. It needs to be left uncovered to allow the cheese to properly melt.
  • After 15 min, remove the beef taco casserole from the oven and add your black olives, tomatoes, and crunchy tortillas to the top layer.
  • Add more cheese and then place back in the oven for a final 8 min of baking.
  • Remove your gooey, crunchy taco casserole with tortillas and serve it with your chosen garnishes or condiments!

Taco casserole recipe FAQ

We hope that this recipe explains how to make taco casserole, but if you're still got a few burning questions, we hope to answer the most common queries in the FAQ below.

Keep on reading and you can find out more about freezing your beef taco casserole, preparing taco casserole recipes in advance, and much, much more!

Can I layer my taco casserole anyway I like?

Of course you can! Our beef taco casserole recipe is just one way to prepare it. You can mix up the different layers, you can even mix in the different layers too.

Some people prefer having the ground beef on the bottom, while others prefer keeping the refried beans as the base. One thing we always suggest though is leaving the extra garnishes (that's the olives, tomatoes, and tortilla chips) on the top, as they don't need nearly as much baking time as the rest of the casserole does.

If you're feeling adventurous, then you can switch out some of the existing layers for new ones. If you're not a huge fan of sour cream, you can change this for a tomato salsa or a guacamole sauce. If you have a preference for black beans or pinto beans instead of refried beans, why not use what you love instead?

Can I prepare a taco casserole in advance?

Yes. The secret to preparing Mexican recipes with tortillas in advance is to leave off the tortillas until later.

This easy taco casserole is a great dish to prepare in advance. You can store the base in the refrigerator for at least 2 days before topping it off and serving it. You can prepare the first few layers and have them ready. That means having your refried beans, sour cream, and ground beef ready in the casserole dish. The ground beef, onions, and taco seasoning need to be pan-fried, of course.

Store the casserole in the fridge, and then when it's time for your taco bake dinner, cook the dish in the oven for 25 min. While it's baking (note the longer baking time when you cook straight out of the fridge), prepare the rest of the toppings (so that's your tortilla chips, olives, tomatoes, and any other garnishes).

After 25 min, remove the taco casserole and add on the freshly prepared toppings and a few extra layers of cheese for good measure. Now you can brown the casserole in the oven for 8 min before serving.

Can I store leftovers in the fridge?

If you have any taco casserole leftovers (we'll be amazed if you do!), you can store them in the fridge for later. If you can, transfer the leftovers to a suitable container, rather than leaving them in the casserole dish.

Leftovers should be refrigerated for no longer than 3 or 4 days before they start to turn for the worse. We recommend reheating the taco casserole in the oven or microwave. You can always add some more cheese, then garnish with salad and tomatoes to give it a fresher look and feel!

Can I freeze taco casseroles?

Yes, taco casseroles are suitable for home freezing. You can store individual portions in smaller freezer bags, or if you have a large enough container, this works too.

If you are preparing your taco casserole in advance and planning to freeze it for later use, don't add on tortilla chips, as these do not freeze well. You can add these on later, after letting the taco casserole thaw overnight. Make sure it's thoroughly defrosted before microwaving or reheating in the oven.

If you have leftovers that you weren't intending to freeze, then try and take off the tortillas as best you can before placing the rest in the freezer. When you thaw the taco casserole, any leftover tortilla chips will come out rather soggy, rather than crunchy!

Can I make this a veggie or vegan recipe?

Our recipe isn't vegetarian (ground beef is the primary ingredient, of course). Still, there are a few ways to turn this into a veggie taco casserole or even into a vegan casserole.

Instead of ground beef, you can add in a mince substitute. Quorn mince is the most popular choice for vegetarians. You can also use lots of vegetables, such as mushrooms, peppers, or zucchinis, and mix them with the taco seasoning to create a veggie casserole.

Vegans will need to substitute the meat and the cheese, but with so many vegan cheese products on the market these days, it's really not too difficult to find a suitable replacement.

Both vegans and vegetarians should be careful when they are selecting their refried beans. Many authentic Mexican refried beans are actually made with pig fat. Double-check the contents before purchasing.

What can I garnish this casserole with?

When you're ready to top off and garnish your Mexican-inspired casserole, we find that this is the best time to get creative with the recipe. We've recommended olives, tomatoes, and tortillas chips, but you can add so much more than this if you prefer!

A dedicated Mexican-style spicy salsa is always a good addition, while a bowl of guacamole on the side will never be turned down. A fresh salad makes a for a great topping (especially fresh lettuce), while anything spicy always adds that much-needed kick to the proceedings.

You could serve your casserole with extra beans, extra salsas, extra sour cream, and much more. Taco lovers even enjoy preparing some fresh tortillas (of the none crispy variety). This gives you the unique opportunity to wrap taco casseroles inside of a tortilla taco!

Do I have to use cheddar cheese?

You don't have to use cheddar cheese for this casserole recipe, but we do find it melts the best in the oven. Popular alternatives to cheddar include Monterrey Jack or Colby Cheese, which both melt well too.

You could even use a mix of all three of these cheese for a super cheesy casserole that will quite literally be oozing with cheese when you serve it up. Cheese lovers can also create a dedicated cheese sauce to add in as a separate layer, or you can melt a cheese sauce over the top of the tortilla chips for extra taste!

How spicy is this recipe?

This recipe isn't the spiciest, as there's no extra chilis or spicy sauce thrown into the mix. This recipe uses taco seasoning, and so the finished casserole will be just as spicy as the seasoning you use. Premade taco seasonings can come in a range of different spice levels, so choose carefully!

If you want to add more of a spicy kick to your tasty taco bake, then you can opt for a spicier seasoning, or add in some extra chili powder or hot sauce. If you want it to be super spicy, we recommend chopping up some fresh chilis. You can fry these in with the opinions and ground beef. When you're topping off the casserole, you could think about adding some jalapenos too!

That's our fiery taco casserole recipe all wrapped up and ready to hit the kitchens! Everyone will be begging for seconds with this fantastic recipe!



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