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 20minutes
Cook Time 25minutes
Total Time 45minutes
TACO BOWL SHELLS (Optional)
4burrito size flour tortillas (10-12 inches)
CILANTRO LIME RICE
1 1/2cupswhite long grain riceor brown
chicken brothamount according to your rice cooker
1tsp EACH ground cumin, onion powder, garlic powder
dashof cayenne pepper
1/2cuploosely packed cilantrochopped
freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste
TACO MEAT, BEANS & CORN
1 15 oz. can sweet corn, drained and rinsedor fresh sweet corn from 2 cobs
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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!
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.
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.