What makes a taco a taco is the soft corn tortilla, which should be either fresh off the comal (griddle pan), reheated over an open flame from a gas stove, or in a pan with a touch of oil. The fillings can really be anything, from traditional carnitas and tongue, to Tex-Mex ground beef and cheese, to vegan potato and kale. Make cooking already cheap tacos even cheaper by repurposing leftovers such as cooked meats and roasted veggies into fillings by adding canned chipotles or jalapeños and flavorful salsas. Here are 30 taco filling ideas to get the creative juices flowing.
30 Cheap, Delicious Ways to Fill Your Tacos
The original fusion taco -- or at least the one that stole the hearts of foodies everywhere -- the bulgogi taco is easy to make for way less than even taco truck prices. Short rib and tri-tip, the recommended cuts for this recipe, are relatively inexpensive to begin with. Recipe: Food Network
Sweet potatoes are cheap and healthy, and can be prepared to work perfectly in tacos. Their natural earthy sweetness works especially well with fiery hot salsas, offering a balance of flavors. This recipe roasts chunks of sweet potato for a combination of soft and crunchy textures. Recipe: Cookie + Kate
Lentils work a lot like textured vegetable protein or ground beef, taking on customized seasoning well and creating a meaty character. Using spices rather than a seasoning packet to create a flavor profile yields a more focused flavor with less sodium and lower cost. Recipe: It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken
This dish has its roots in peasant food, and like many foods of humble origins, is delicious. Chicharrones, or pork cracklings, are cheap, as is a homemade salsa verde. The result is more than the sum of its parts, and one of the most traditional ways to enjoy tacos. Recipe: Food Network
Tacos can even be dessert (with a shell recipe adapted from homemade ice cream cones). Pair inexpensive seasonal or frozen fruit with simple condiments such as Nutella or whipped cream for a fun, if a bit messy, dessert that's a little out of the ordinary. Recipe: Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking
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