A walking taco is a thing of genius.
They’re super easy to make and are always a crowd pleaser at parties, game day, camping, or even when you just need a little pick me up. They’re all the deliciousness of a hard taco in a portable, easy-to-eat form factor. The crunchy corniness of the Fritos, the savory saucy meat, the fresh toppings. It’s just the perfect nostalgic comfort food bite.
What are walking tacos?
Fritos, seasoned ground beef, shredded cheddar, tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, and sour cream all in a convenient bag served with a fork. A walking taco is all the components of a Mexican American crunchy hard shell taco served up in a bag. You might know them as Frito pies – they’re essentially the same thing – but in a bag. Like most popular food items, the origins are somewhat murky. Origins aside, they are childhood comfort food, bringing back memories of when everything was all right.
How to make walking tacos
If you’ve ever made hard shell tacos, you’ve got this!
- Make the seasoned ground taco meat. Cook some diced onions until soft, but not brown, then add ground meat of choice and sauté, stirring, until brown and cooked through. Season with taco seasoning and stir in a can of fire roasted tomatoes. Bring everything up to a simmer and reduce slightly.
- Prep the toppings. While the taco meat sauce is reducing, wash and chop the lettuce, dice the tomatoes, shred the cheese, and slice the green onions.
- Assemble. Open up a bag of Fritos, fold down the sides (so you can reach into the bag more easily while you’re eating) and top with the taco meat, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, sour cream, and green onions. Repeat as needed.
- Enjoy. You can close up the bag and shake everything up then scoop it out with a fork or you can just dig around and scoop out as desired. Everyone eats walking tacos in their own personal way.
Walking taco ingredients
- Fritos – the oldest brand of corn chips in the United States. Crispy, crunchy corn chips in the classic scoop shape. Fritos are super similar to tortillas chips as they’re both made of corn. Fritos are thick, rigid, and super crunchy with a roasted corn flavor.
- onions – a diced onion adds sweetness and depth to or taco meat sauce
ground meat of choice – I like using lean ground beef, but you can go with any ground meat of choice: pork, chicken, turkey. If you’re vegetarian, you can substitute crumbled firm tofu or beans.
- taco seasoning – I usually make a super simple homemade taco seasoning (chili powder, granulated onion powder, granulated garlic powder, cumin, and oregano) because I have all the spices in my pantry, but I’ve also used store bought taco seasoning too. When going with store bought, I always get low sodium so I can adjust the saltiness as needed.
- fire roasted tomatoes – a small can of fire roasted tomatoes gives our taco meat some umami, sauciness, and heft. Lots of times walking tacos just have seasoned ground meat, but I like adding fire roasted tomatoes for the smokiness and liquid.
- lettuce – chopped or shredded lettuce adds freshness and crunch. Plus, if there’s lettuce, it’s practically a salad right? You can use green leaf, iceberg, romaine, or anything that’s crunchy.
- cheese – a taco blend of shredded chesse is pretty classic when you think of hard shell tacos, but you can also go for shredded cheddar, mozzarella, colby jack, or even an authentic Mexican cheese like queso fresco or cojita.
- tomatoes – diced fresh tomatoes add a welcome bit of acidity and freshness. There’s tomato in the taco meat as well, but I find that fresh diced tomatoes add a huge amount of contrast.
- sour cream – a dollop of sour cream adds richness and tang.
- green onions/cilantro – a sprinkle of freshly chopped green onions or cilantro is the finishing touch.
What are Fritos?
Fritos (frito means fried in Spanish) are the original brand of corn chips created way back in 1932. The creator of Fritos, Charles Elmer Doolin wanted a corn snack for his confectionary store, but didn’t want tortilla chips because they got stale. He discovered extruded corn chips made by a Mexican man at a gas station, paid the man for the patent, and went on to fry and bag Fritos as we know them today. They’re made with just three ingredients: corn, corn oil, and salt.
Corn chips vs tortilla chips
Corn chips tend to be saltier, sturdier, and harder than tortilla chips. They’re also extruded in a scoop shape and made from whole cornmeal (dried, ground corn). Corn chips have a stronger roasted corn flavor.
Tortilla chips are usually triangles made from tortillas, which are made with ground masa (cooked, ground corn). They’re larger, thinner, and tend to be more delicate than corn chips.
What to do if you can’t find Fritos
You can substitute in any other brand of corn chips, or if you can’t find corn chips, you can use Doritos or other brands of tortilla chips.
Walking taco variations
Vegetarian walking tacos
Skip out on the seasoned beef and use beans instead. Simply drain and rinse two 14 ounce cans of black beans or beans of choice and use them in place of the ground beef.
Instead of Fritos, you can use Doritos in your favorite flavor: cool ranch, nacho, flaming hot, you name it. Give the bag a slight crush before assembling so the chips aren’t too large and unwieldy when scooping up with a fork.
If you want to get a little bit more authentic, crush up some homemade tortilla chips, place them in a bowl, add taco meats (barbacoa, birria, tinga, carnitas, al pastor) and top with pico de gallo, salsa, and crumble queso fresco or cojita.
Meal prep walking tacos
Walking tacos are perfect for meal prep or school lunches. Just pack a bag of Fritos along with a sectioned lunch box that has all the toppings: the beef in a warm thermos and the lettuce, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, and green onions in a cold thermos. Open the bag, add everything in, shake it up, and eat.
Happy walking and taco-ing!
All the deliciousness of a hard taco in a portable, easy-to-eat and easy-to-make form factor.
- 1 tbsp neutral oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 tbsp taco seasoning
- 14 oz fire roasted tomatoes ~1 can
- 4 bags Fritos individual sized
- 2 cup chopped lettuce
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese
- 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tbsp green onions sliced
In a large pan, add the oil and cook the onion over medium high heat, stirring, until soft, but not brown.
Add in the beef and cook, breaking up, until browned and cooked through. Drain off any excess fat. Stir in the taco seasoning and the fire roasted tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Turn to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thick.
Meanwhile, prep the toppings: chop the lettuce, shred the cheese, dice the tomatoes, and slice the green onions or chop cilantro.
Assemble the walking tacos by opening up the bags of Fritos and rolling down the top of bag.
Scoop in some saucy meat and top with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, sour cream, and sliced green onions or cilantro. Enjoy!
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp granulated onion
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
Mix together all the seasoning ingredients and use with 1 lb of ground beef. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 375
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 12.9g81%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.