Recipes That Will Take Taco Tuesday To The Next Level

Have your Taco Tuesdays become more of a chore than a fiesta? Then it's time to change up your menu! Taco Tuesday doesn't have to just include tacos — there's an entire spectrum of delicious Tex-Mex, Mexican, Latin and Spanish-themed dishes you can try. From appetizers to drinks, entrees and even dessert, the possibilities of an epic feast are endless.


Few dishes are as comforting and welcoming as a steamy bowl of soup. A classic Mexican soup, like this posole from Epicurious is chock full of Hominy, hulled kernels of corn, and pork shoulder. The robust soup is best finished with slices of radish, cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime.

Put your slow cooker to good use and whip up slow cooker Mexican street corn and chicken chowder from Chelsea's Messy Apron. Black beans, fire-roasted corn, chilies and heavy cream give this chowder the vibrant taste of Mexican street corn with minimal effort.


Not every Taco Tuesday has to focus solely on piping-hot plates of food. And the layered taco salad from Chin Deep is no exception. Everything you've come to expect from a loaded taco (including bacon!) is arranged in a 9x13 glass pan, making it a treat for the eyes and the stomach. The best part is that it's completely make-ahead, making it ready to serve when you're ready to eat. Serve with tortilla chips on top or on the side for a crunchy finish.

Are you looking for a salad with a little more lettuce? Gimme Delicious has a must-try recipe to lighten up your next fiesta. Skip the chain restaurant and make your own version of Southwestern chicken salad at home. Paired with a homemade creamy cilantro dressing, and topped with avocado, tomatoes and juicy chicken, this salad will quickly become a go-to, even on a regular weeknight.


One of my favorite items to try from a Mexican restaurant is street corn, also known as elotes. The smoky, charred ears of corn are slathered in a spicy chili-lime sauce, and sprinkled with cotija cheese — or even feta, in a pinch. Serious Eats has a recipe for the classic street food, but that's not the only way you can enjoy the flavors of elotes.   

Fresh corn on the cob isn't always available or in season so the The Lemon Bowl's skillet Mexican street corn is the perfect substitute for a weeknight dinner. It makes a welcome addition to your Taco Tuesday menu or any night you need a break from the ordinary. Closet Cooking turns street corn into a topping for nachos, a fresh alternative to traditional toppings. The bonus? These savory bites are naturally vegetarian.


Empanadas are delicious bundles of goodness, whether they're savory or sweet. Although the fillings vary depending on what region or country you're enjoying dishes from, they're still the  ultimate in comfort eats. I've found that Argentinian empanadas, with a filling of ground meat, garlic, and olives, are my favorite. Goya's recipe for empanadas are as traditional as they come.

For a baked empanada with all the taste (but less of the guilt), Hottie Biscotti's recipe is stuffed with slow cooker pork carnitas. It takes a little time to put together, but the end result will be worth the extra effort. If you'd prefer to keep your meal vegetarian, the sweet potato and black bean empanadas from Cooking Light are the answer. They aren't just meat-free, they're also baked, making indulging even sweeter.


As Serious Eats says, carnitas are "...the undisputed king of the taco cart." Translated to "little meats" carnitas are delectable bits of pork, equivalent to American pulled pork — crispy bits and all. They are a staple of Mexican cuisine and a welcome change from chicken, steak or ground meat. It's possible to make carnitas during the week, if you know a few tricks. As Carlsbad Cravings suggests, the slow cooker is your friend. It makes the cooking process a breeze, and all you need to do is finish the carnitas for a few minutes in the oven to achieve the signature crispness.

But, you don't have to wait all day to enjoy carnitas. Nom Nom Paleo has a recipe for the slow cooker to rival even the best taco stand, and the whole thing is ready in about an hour. Not too shabby. Although tacos are a common way to eat carnitas, they're just the beginning. You can stuff the meat into all sorts of wrappers: quesadillas, burritos, tortas, or simply enjoy on a plate with some sides. Whichever option you choose, you'll be glad you experienced the joys of carnitas.

Tortas and quesadillas

There are few things more delicious or enjoyable to eat than an ooey, gooey sandwich dripping with cheese and stuffed with flavorful ingredients. So, this Taco Tuesday, put away the taco shells and instead opt to make quesadillas or tortas. Tortas are more of a newcomer to the Mexican cooking scene in America, but there is definitely room on the table for these heavy-hitters. Tortas combine a fresh roll with "...meat garnished with mashed avocado, a sandwich spread made of black beans or refried beans, pickled jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, and onion," as defined by Recipe Tips. a good option to try is a green chile chicken torta from The Complete Savorist.

If your family loves fajitas, take all the components of the staple dish and combine them into some new choices. Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will go wild for Isabel Eats' Mexican fajitas grilled cheese. Stuffed with cheese, veggies and a cilantro parsley chimichurri sauce, these sandwiches are guaranteed to be a winner grilled cheese dinner.  Or try a classic mashup with this recipe for a chicken fajita quesadilla from Yummy Healthy Easy.

Rice dishes

Growing up I wasn't exposed to a lot of Spanish or Latin cuisine, but things were different in the 1980s. No Instagram, no 24-hour cooking channels, so aside from the occasional Chinese food take-out, the only time we had food with a little more flair was when my mom would make Spanish rice. It was a one-dish meal made with ground meat, tomato and rice and it was delicious. I recently recreated the dish and subbed cauliflower rice similar to this recipe from Wholesomelicious, but with the addition of ground beef. Another idea, a recipe for Texas hash from A Family Feast is a one-pot meal that again, combines ground meat, rice, and tomato, but with more vegetables and spices.   

If you'd prefer to have some beans with your rice, few recipes are more drool-worthy than cilantro lime rice with black beans from Carlsbad Cravings. Perfect as a side, or as the base of a burrito bowl, it would be equally delicious all on its own.


If anything turns heads in a restaurant it's the smell and sound of a sizzling skillet of fajitas. And with these recipes in your arsenal you can make the same head-turning fajitas at home. For a simple wonder, these five-ingredient slow cooker steak fajitas from Fit Slow Cooker Queen are ready when you are.

Perhaps you're in the mood for a meat-free meal? Oven-roasted veggie fajitas from Delish Knowledge contain all the spiced goodness of meaty fajitas, but are delicious all on their own. Want to make dinnertime even easier? Try the sheet pan steak fajitas from No. 2 Pencil — dinner can't get any simpler.


The distinctive beauty of enchiladas is the variety of sauces that smother each rolled-up tortilla. Chicken mole enchiladas from Muy Bueno Cookbook are an edited version of a complicated sauce normally reserved for large family gatherings. Comprised of "...traditional mole without all the hard work" these enchiladas will perk up any Taco Tuesday.

Short on time, and in need of a vegetarian entree? The black bean green chile enchiladas from Minimalist Baker are just what you need. The prep is quick, yet they still taste homemade and flavorful. Celebrate the holidays all year long with red and green chicken enchiladas, aka Christmas enchiladas. The nickname comes from the addition of not one, but two sauces (red and green), making these the most festive enchiladas around.


Some nights, the thought of chopping little bowls of ingredients can be daunting. That's where the beauty of the casserole comes in. Layer upon layer of love and spice combine for a dinnertime hit. When I saw this taco spaghetti recipe from Plain Chicken, my mouth started to water. It's such a simple recipe, and the only cooking you have to do is boil the spaghetti and brown some ground meat — the oven does the rest of the work. Since the entire dish can be made in advance and stored in the fridge or freezer, it's perfect for a busy weekday night.

If you were to ask me what was at the top of my favorite foods from Trader Joe's, I would, without question, answer chicken tamales from the frozen section. I first read about tamales years ago, and learned they were mainly made around Christmas. Fast-forward 20 years later and when I saw them I knew I had to try them. I was hooked. Although, I don't get many opportunities to try handmade tamales, I can always make tamale pie from Ree Drummond to hold me over until my next authentic tamale fix.

Desserts and drinks

After a night of spice, you could probably use a creamy drink to sooth away the heat, and that's where horchata comes in. It's made overnight from a mixture including rice, cinnamon, and milk, and is an authentic Mexican drink that's also popular throughout central and south America — and it's a great way to wind down Taco Tuesday.

If you have a sweet tooth, there are so many delicious and decadent dessert recipes you can try. For every traditional favorite such as churros or New Mexican sopaipillas — fried dough drizzled with honey, there are new versions like sopaipilla cheesecake bars. And what's more satisfying than a slice of silky coconut flan complete with it's own caramel sauce? Not much, that's for sure.

Other taco ideas

If you still can't get off the taco train, at least branch out into new variations on the traditional standbys. Puffy and hearty, Navajo tacos, like this recipe from Cooking Classy, are served atop a base of Indian fry bread.

If fusion is more your speed, Korean barbecue kogi tacos just may change everything you know about tacos. The marinated short ribs in Food For My Family's recipe is a welcome departure from traditional fillings.

Maybe you just want a regular taco, but are watching your carb intake. Turn to Cooking Classy's turkey taco lettuce wraps. By using Romaine leaves in place of the shells, you can pile on even more filling (if that's your thing!).

Armed with these new ideas, Taco Tuesday will be the best night of the week whatever you decide to make. Provecho!