Crispy flour tortilla tacos take me back to my childhood, when I ALWAYS ordered Taco Light on family trips to Taco Bell. Winning!
When I was a kid, Taco Bell was sort of like an exotic version of fast food. That was back before there was a McDonald’s on every corner and Taco Bells were pretty scarce. I mean, I’m sure that there were more Taco Bells in the greater Chattanooga area than I realized, but as far as I knew there were only two.
On Saturdays, I always went to the bowling alley with my grandparents to watch my uncle Bobby with his Special Olympics bowling team. Afterward, we’d stop at the Taco Bell for lunch. Every time we went, I ordered the same thing: Taco Light.
I don’t actually know when Taco Light was discontinued. I remember, though, going in and not seeing it on the menu. I was terribly disappointed and had to move on to something else. I never forget about the Taco Light, though. It was larger than a regular taco, double the meat plus cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and tomatoes. Those were not the things that were important to me, though.
What I cared about was the shell. Taco lights = crispy flour tortilla tacos. The shell was basically a taco-shaped version of the taco salad bowl. Per.Fec.Tion. Adult me had to figure out how to make them myself.
Frying a flour tortilla taco shell is not quite as easy as you might think. I had a few go-rounds when I was first testing this dish. All you need is some shallow oil, a pair of tongs, and a steady hand. To keep them from closing up too tightly for me to get the toppings in, I stuff paper towels in the shells while I finished frying.
I’ll be honest. These crispy flour tortilla tacos are not exactly Taco Light. The texture is a little different. I am sure that was some sort of magical food engineering sorcery. They’re close enough to perfect for me.
Yield: 8 tacos
10 minPrep Time:
30 minCook Time:
40 minTotal Time:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ?-¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- pinch ground cumin
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 8 soft-taco/fajita size flour tortillas
- 4 ounces shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese
- sour cream
- shredded lettuce
- diced tomatoes
- Brown the ground beef in a medium skillet over medium heat. Drain any fat. Add the cornstarch, chili powder, paprika, onion and garlic powder, salt, cayenne, cumin, and water. Stir and cook until thickened. Turn heat to low and hold over the heat.
- Heat the oil in another medium skillet over medium heat. Line a plate with paper towels. Fold up 8 paper towels. When the oil shimmers, use tongs to hold the tortillas, one at a time, folded in half. Place into the oil, with the folded bottom first flat against the bottom of the skillet until brown. Turn and brown both sides. Place a folded paper towel into the fold of each taco shell and leave to drain on the paper towel lined plate until all the tortillas are cooked.
- Fill the taco shells with the taco meat and top with desired toppings. Serve immediately.