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Walking Taco Casserole

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Walking Taco Casserole is inspired by the traditional walking taco eaten out of a bag of chips. Our version includes layers of savory meat sauce, creamy refried beans, cheddar cheese, and sautéed corn tortillas. Top each serving with avocado slices, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, and cilantro!

A dish of walking taco casserole.

Walking Taco

Have you ever ordered a walking taco at a sporting event or carnival? Well, these are a casserole version of those little bags that people walk around with. Or do they? Either way, this casserole is definitely one that you should sit down to eat!

In fact, I recommend doubling the recipe and sitting down to eat the leftovers too. It’s really delicious!

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Why This Recipe Works:

  • SIMPLE STEPS – This easy taco casserole uses simple ingredients that the whole family will love. Making your own taco seasoning and refried beans takes a little extra time but is totally worth it. 
  • HEALTHIER VERSION OF WALKING TACO – This hearty casserole is made healthy with ground turkey and gluten-free corn tortillas (instead of Frito corn chips or Doritos).
  • FLAVORFUL – Make this simple casserole recipe for taco Tuesday or Cinco de Mayo and enjoy all of our favorite taco flavors. Creamy, a little bit spicy, and crunchy on top!
  • NOSTALGIC – Make a basic walking taco from back in the day into the most delicious meal in casserole form. It will soon become a family favorite for you too!
A white shallow bowl of a serving of walking taco casserole with sliced avocado and sour cream.

Ingredients for Walking Taco Casserole Recipe:

  • Ground Turkey
  • Yellow Onion
  • Homemade Taco Seasoning – or use store-bought packets
  • Diced Tomatoes (salsa-style is what we like)
  • Cheddar Cheese (or use Mexican blend cheese or Monterey Jack cheese)
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Homemade Refried Beans (see below)

For the Refried Beans:

  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pinto Beans – two 15 oz. cans
  • Onion, Jalapeno, and Garlic
  • Seasonings – cumin, salt, and pepper
  • Butter
  • Lime

How to make Walking Taco Casserole:

Step 1
Make refried beans.

  • Warm a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and when hot, the diced onion and jalapeño. Sauté until veggies are softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add minced garlic and seasonings and stir for another 30 seconds.
  • Add pinto beans to the skillet and cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Pour the bean mixture into a large food processor. Add butter and lime juice and process for a minute or two, or until smooth. If needed to thin, add a little bit of water and mix again.

Step 2
Sauté corn tortillas. In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and when hot, add the cubed corn tortillas. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tortillas are browned and crisp. Remove to a clean plate.

We use sauteed corn tortillas in our Mexican Breakfast Skillet too!

A skillet of chopped corn tortillas with a spatula.

Step 3
Brown ground turkey. Use the same cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of olive oil, ground turkey, and diced onions. Cook until the meat is cooked through, stirring frequently (and breaking the meat apart) with a silicone spatula. Drain the meat in a fine mesh colander, if needed.

Step 4
Add taco seasoning and tomatoes. Add the taco seasoning and diced tomatoes (salsa style if you can find it) and simmer for just a few minutes.

Step 5
Assemble Casserole.

  • Add the meat mixture to the bottom of a 9×9 deep casserole dish.
  • Then add the refried beans and smooth to all sides.
  • Top beans with freshly shredded cheddar cheese.

Step 6
Bake. Bake casserole for 20 minutes or until the cheese melts and the casserole is getting hot. Remove dish from oven, and add the sautéed corn tortillas on top of the melted cheese. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

NOTE: The casserole should sit for a few minutes before serving so that some of the juices get absorbed back in.

Step 7
Serve casserole. Add sliced cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado, and chopped cilantro to the top of the baked taco casserole.

Store leftover walking taco bake in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Want some shortcuts for this simple meal? Use store-bought taco seasoning, two cans of refried beans, and packaged chips.

Closeup on a square casserole of walking taco casserole with avocado and tomato on top.

What to serve with Walking Taco Casserole:

Other Tex-Mex Recipes:

We love our Tex-Mex, and these are some of the favorites.

Closeup on a square walking taco casserole with a spoon inside where some has been removed.

Recipe FAQs:

What are the origins of walking tacos?

Walking tacos, also known as “taco in a bag” or “Frito pie,” have a history rooted in various regional cuisines in the United States. The concept of combining taco ingredients in a portable and convenient manner is popular at many fairs, festivals, and sporting events across the country.

Can I use store-bought taco seasoning or canned refried beans?

You can use store-bought seasoning in the packets or canned beans. However, I highly recommend making a large batch of our homemade seasoning for all the taco things. Plus our homemade refried beans are truly restaurant quality.

Can other ground meats be used?

Yes, instead of ground turkey, you can use ground beef, ground sausage, ground chicken, or any combo of these.

Can I make this casserole ahead of time?

Yes, you can assemble the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it. Bake it when you’re ready to serve.

A bowl of a serving of walking taco casserole.

Kitchen Tools Used: (affiliate links)

xoxo ~Sue

A square dish of walking taco casserole with sliced avocado on top.

Walking Taco Casserole Recipe

Walking Taco Casserole is inspired by the traditional walking taco eaten out of a bag of chips. Our version includes layers of savory meat sauce, creamy refried beans, cheddar cheese, and sautéed corn tortillas. Top each serving with avocado slices, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, and cilantro!
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 5 servings
Calories: 684kcal
Author: Sue Ringsdorf

Ingredients

For the refried beans:

  • 30 oz. pinto beans – rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion – diced
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 medium lime – freshly squeezed

Remaining ingredients:

  • 6 oz. corn tortillas – cubed and sautéed
  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion – diced
  • 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning – use our homemade version for best flavor
  • 15 oz. diced tomatoes – we like salsa style (because it's smooth)
  • 6 oz. cheddar cheese – shredded

Serve with sliced avocado, chopped tomatoes, and sour cream (or whatever toppings you like).

Instructions

Make refried beans:

  • Warm a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and when hot, the diced onion and jalapeño. Sauté until veggies are softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add minced garlic and seasonings and stir for another 30 seconds.
  • Add pinto beans to the skillet and cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Pour the bean mixture into a large food processor. Add butter and lime juice and process for a minute or two, or until smooth. If needed to thin, add a little bit of water and mix again.
  • Sauté corn tortillas. In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and when hot, add the cubed corn tortillas. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tortillas are browned and crisp. Remove to a clean plate.
  • Brown ground turkey. Use the same cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of olive oil, ground turkey, and diced onions. Cook until the meat is cooked through, stirring frequently (and breaking the meat apart) with a silicone spatula. Drain the meat in a fine mesh colander, if needed.
  • Add taco seasoning and tomatoes. Add the taco seasoning and diced tomatoes (salsa style if you can find it) and simmer for just a few minutes.
  • Assemble Casserole.
    * Add the meat mixture to the bottom of a 9×9 deep casserole dish.
    * Then add the refried beans and smooth to all sides.
    * Top beans with freshly shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Bake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake casserole for 20 minutes or until the cheese melts and the casserole is getting hot. Remove dish from oven, and add the sautéed corn tortillas on top of the melted cheese. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
  • NOTE: The casserole should sit for a few minutes before serving so that some of the juices get absorbed back in.
  • Serve casserole. Add sliced cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado, and chopped cilantro to the top of the baked taco casserole.

Notes

  1. For a shortcut, you can use store-bought seasoning in the packets or canned beans. However, I highly recommend making a large batch of our homemade seasoning for all the taco things. Plus our homemade refried beans are truly restaurant quality.
  2. Instead of ground turkey, you can use ground beef, ground sausage, ground chicken, or any combo of these.
  3. You can assemble the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it. Bake it when you’re ready to serve.
  4. Store leftover walking taco bake in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 684kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 58g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 121mg | Sodium: 401mg | Potassium: 1456mg | Fiber: 19g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 715IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 392mg | Iron: 6mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @Suebeehomemaker or tag #suebeehomemaker!

8 Comments

  1. Put this into the rotation and you will not be disappointed.

  2. I’ve never made my own refried beans — OMG! They were amazing! As was the casserole, the whole fam loved it!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Thanks Kathleen! We’re obsessed.

  3. We made this amazing recipe for the super bowl and it was a hit!

  4. This is a family favorite, perfect for game night or other fun events.

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Agreed! Thanks Lynn!

  5. Laura Ashley Johnson says:

    This made for the perfect dinner!! Thank you so much! The whole family loved it!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      I’m so happy to hear this, Laura!

5 from 5 votes

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