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+ servings

Taco Bowls

This taco bowl recipe is a fiesta of vibrant flavors and textures that will satisfy even you pickiest eater! They are destined to become a go-to dinner for all those busy nights but they are equally fabulous for entertaining too (in the future of course) – taco bar anyone? These taco bowls are loaded with juicy ground beef or turkey (with other protein options too!), cilantro lime rice, lettuce, black beans, corn, guacamole, with tons of possible variations and add-ins. I’ve included how to make taco bowl shells (so easy, so good), or you can simply add the taco crunch with chips. This taco bowl recipe is perfect for meal prep lunches, make ahead dinners or QUICK AND EASY dinners – winner winner taco bowl dinner!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 bowls

Ingredients

TACO BOWL SHELLS (Optional)

  • 4 burrito size flour tortillas (10-12 inches)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Cooking spray

CILANTRO LIME RICE

  • 1 1/2 cups white long grain rice or brown
  • chicken broth amount according to your rice cooker
  • 1 tsp EACH ground cumin, onion powder, garlic powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro chopped
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste

TACO MEAT, BEANS & CORN

  • 1 15 oz. can sweet corn, drained and rinsed or fresh sweet corn from 2 cobs
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans,, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped or 1 tsp onion powder
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp EACH smoked paprika, dried oregano, salt
  • 1/2 cup mild salsa (medium for more of a kick)
  • 3 tablespoon mild diced green chilies from 4 oz. can - optional
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

TOPPINGS

  • chopped lettuce
  • Guacamole or chopped avocado
  • pico de gallo or chopped tomatoes
  • sour cream
  • cilantro
  • lime juice
  • Tortilla chips

Instructions

CILANTRO LIME RICE

  • Add the rice, chicken broth (amount according to your rice cooker for 1 1/2 cups rice), garlic powder, ground cumin, onion powder, and cayenne pepper to your rice cooker. Once rice is cooked, stir in butter to melt, lime juice, cilantro, and season with salt and pepper to taste. *See notes for skillet directions.

TACO BOWL SHELLS (OPTIONAL)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the inside of 4 oven safe bowls with cooking spray and place on a large baking sheet.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add one tortilla and flip to coat each side in the oil. Next, pan-fry the tortilla for 30-45 seconds per side, until it bubbles and becomes golden brown.
  • Use tongs to transfer the tortilla to one of the bowls and push it snuggly into the bottom to fit the bowl (try not to burst any bubbles while doing so). Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until crispy. Allow to cool before filling.

TACO MEAT, BEANS & CORN

  • Heat 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil in large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn starts to char, approximately 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add beans and warm through. Seasons with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Heat the now empty skillet over medium heat. Add beef and onions and cook while breaking up beef. When almost browned, add all seasonings and garlic and continue to cook until beef is completely cooked through. Drain off any excess grease (if there is any). Add salsa and green chilies. Stir over medium-low heat until warmed through. Season with cayenne pepper and additional salt to taste.

ASSEMBLE

  • Evenly divide rice between 4 bowls followed by taco meat, beans, corn and your favorite topping such as shredded cheese, lettuce sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, fresh lime, fresh cilantro, and crushed tortilla chips.

Notes

STOVETOP CILANTRO LIME RICE

You must use long grain white rice (preferable basmati) for the stovetop version.
  • Bring 3 cups of chicken broth to a boil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet.
  • Stir in the rice and butter and return to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring a couple times towards the end of cooking and covering again.  
  • Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes-don't peak!  Stir in lime juice, cilantro, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe Variations

  • Vegetarian taco bowls: You can make the bowls vegetarian by swapping the ground beef for roasted veggies and using the same seasonings.
  • Low-carb taco bowls: Make low-carb taco bowls by replacing the rice with cauliflower rice or double the beans and lettuce.
  • Ground turkey: You can equally swap the ground beef for ground turkey.  If you want the turkey to taste like ground beef, then omit the salt and add 2 teaspoons beef bouillon, then salt to taste (it will blow your mind!).
  • Swap protein:  You can use any protein you want!  You can literally make a different taco bowl every time by swapping out the protein. Some options include: carne asada, ancho spice rubbed steak, carnitas, chipotle sweet pulled pork, beef barbacoa, crockpot Mexican chicken, honey lime salsa verde chicken, quick Mexican shredded chicken,  cilantro lime chicken: salsa verde chicken, chipotle chicken, chili lime chicken, or chicken Tinga. 
  • Leftover or 90 second rice: You can keep it simple and season leftover rice with salt, pepper and lime juice. You can also save time by using brown rice or quinoa packets which take 90 seconds to cook.
  • Add veggies: You can add any sautéed or roasted veggies your heart desires in addition to the corn such as bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, etc. You can also add stir fried bell peppers with a little fajita or taco seasoning and a splash of lime juice.
  • Add heat: Turn up the volume by adding a chopped jalapeno to the taco meat with the onions or add a few tablespoons of canned jalapenos to the cooked filling.   You can also control the heat of the taco bowls by passing around the hot sauce.
  • Add pickle red onions: My homemade pickled red onions recipe is super simple with only 10 minutes prep and 30 minutes hand’s off pickling time. They also keep for weeks in the fridge.
  • Melted cheese: The cheese in taco bowls is generally a fresh topping, but you can also melt cheese directly in the meat filling.  For even creamier, cheesier taco meat, add some cream cheese to the filling or you can even get a little crazy and pour some homemade or store bought queso over the ground beef – to live for!
  • Add dressing: Instead of sour cream, try either Cilantro Lime Dressing or Tomatillo Avocado Ranch- they are SO addicting and make everything 10X bette

How To Store and Reheat 

  • Storage: Store the cooked/warm components together — taco meat, rice, black beans and corn — and store the fresh/cold components in separate containers — lettuce, tomatoes, etc. — so they don’t make each other soggy and stay as fresh as possible. Refrigerate for 4-5 days. The taco bowl shells are best if made right before serving but can be stored for up to 48 hours, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. 
  • Transform leftovers into taco salad: Instead of warming up leftovers, add everything to a big bed of chopped Romaine lettuce and drizzle with Cilantro Lime Dressing or Tomatillo Avocado Ranch.
  • To reheat:  Transfer the rice, beans, corn and taco meat to a skillet and heat over medium heat until warmed through or microwave for 60 seconds then at 20-second intervals, as need.
  • To reheat taco bowl shells: The air fryer is the best way to reheat taco bowl shells   - they will emerge every bit as crispy.   Transfer taco bowl shells (with or without filling) and air fry for 8-10 minutes. Alternatively, transfer taco bowl shells to a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F until heated through, about 10 minutes.

How to Meal Prep Taco Bowls 

  • Divide rice between 4 containers. Top with taco meat, beans and corn. Don’t close containers until the taco meat has cooled.
  • Store remaining cool toppings in separate plastic bags or airtight containers so you can reheat the warm ingredients without wilting the fresh ingredients. Store these bags inside your meat container and takeout when reheating, or place them on top.
  • Refrigerate the bowls and toppings for 4-5 days.
  • When ready to use, warm the rice/taco meat/beans/corn together and then top with the prepared toppings.