Walking Taco Casserole

5 from 5 votes
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This tasty Walking Taco Casserole recipe is a hit in our house, with layers of spicy seasoned ground beef or chicken, doritos or corn chips, sour cream, cheese, and refried beans in a yummy taco bake the whole family loves.

Walking Taco Casserole in a 9x13-inch baking dish

What is Walking Taco Casserole (or Walking Taco Bake)?

Walking tacos are a popular street food or concession stand item where taco ingredients are served in a portable bag of tortilla chips, allowing people to eat while walking around. A walking taco casserole is a delicious and easy-to-make dish that combines the flavors of a classic walking taco with the convenience of a taco bake.

In a walking taco casserole, the same concept is applied, but the ingredients are layered and baked in a casserole dish. The main components of a walking taco casserole typically include:

  1. Ground Beef or Chicken: Cooked and seasoned with taco spices like chili powder, cumin, garlic, and onion powder. I love this chicken taco spice mixture which can be used only any ground meat or poultry.
  2. Corn Tortilla Chips: Crushed or broken tortilla chips (I use Doritos, which thrills my kids to no end) are used as a base layer for the casserole, providing a crunchy texture. Frito corn chips are probably the most popular option for walking tacos in general.
  3. Refried Beans: Canned or homemade refried beans are spread over the tortilla chips, adding creaminess and flavor.
  4. Cheese: Shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese is sprinkled over the beans, providing a gooey, melted layer.
  5. Sour Cream: A layer of sour cream adds creaminess and tang to the casserole.
  6. Toppings (optional): Diced tomatoes, lettuce, chopped onions, sliced olives, jalapenos, and sour cream are common toppings, similar to those used in traditional walking tacos.

Once all the layers are assembled, the casserole is baked in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly. The result is a hearty and flavorful dish that captures the essence of a walking taco in a comforting casserole format.

Walking taco casserole is a crowd-pleasing meal that’s perfect for gatherings, potlucks, or simply for a fun family dinner. It allows everyone to customize their portions with their favorite taco toppings, making it a fun, tasty dish for any occasion. Isn’t a ground beef casserole the ultimate comfort food?

Gather Your Ingredients

Alright, let’s get down to business. Here’s your shopping list for this easy taco casserole:

Ingredients for Thai Red Curry Chicken laid out on a kitchen countertop, featuring onion, garlic, shredded cheese, refried  beans, taco seasoning, sour cream, ground beef and corn chips.
  • Oil: Your slick sidekick for sautéing onions and browning beef.
  • Onion: This adds some serious flavor backbone.
  • Garlic: Bringing a bold kick to your casserole party.
  • Lean ground beef: The main event. It’s all about that savory, meaty goodness. I also love it with ground chicken.
  • Taco seasoning: Borrow this simple homemade Chicken Taco Seasoning, or use storebought (homemade taco seasoning tastes better, though!)
  • Refried beans: These provide a creamy, rich layer that sticks everything together.
  • Sour cream: Adds a tangy creaminess to balance out those spicy, savory flavors.
  • Corn chips: The crunch factor. Plus, who doesn’t love a good chip?
  • Cheese: Melted, bubbly, cheesy bliss. Need we say more?
  • Optional toppings: Your chance to get creative and customize your dish (see suggestions below).

How to Make Walking Taco Casserole: Easy Step-by-Step Directions

Here’s your game plan to get this casserole from kitchen to table:

In a large skillet, the onion is cooked over medium-high heat with 1 tsp salt until it turns golden and very soft, stirring frequently. Then garlic is stirred in and cooked, constantly stirring until it softens, taking about a minute.
  • Preheat and prep: Fire up your oven and grease your baking dish. Easy start, right?
  • Sauté onions: Let the onions hang out in the oil, get golden, and soften. That’s flavor town, right there.
  • Add garlic: It’s a quick addition, but it’s all about that depth of flavor.
Beef is added and sprinkled with taco seasoning. It is then broken into small chunks and stirred well with the onion mixture to combine. The beef is cooked until it browns and renders its fat, which takes about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, the refried beans are spread evenly along the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
  • Cook the beef: Break it up, stir it in, and let it get nice and brown.
  • Layer up: Start with the refried beans, then a layer of chips, followed by the ground beef mixture.
  • Spread sour cream: Dollop and spread this tangy creaminess evenly over the meat.
Add a layer of half of the chips is placed over the beans. The taco meat mixture is spread over the chips, and the sour cream is dolloped over the meat, evenly spreading it out.
  • Cheese time: Sprinkle that glorious cheese all over the top.
  • Bake: Let the oven do its thing. Sit back, relax, and maybe do a little happy food dance.
  • Cool and serve: Give it a hot minute to cool, then pile on your fave toppings and dig in.
The dish is topped with shredded cheese. Finally, the casserole is baked in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and becomes bubbly.

How to Serve it

I love to serve the casserole with extra crunchy Fritos, Doritos, or tortilla chips on the side. Here are some more tips on serving:

  • Straight from the dish: This Walking Taco Casserole is built to be casual. Grab a fork and dive right in! It’s a party in a dish, after all.
  • Plate it up: If you’re a fan of the classics, scoop out servings onto plates and add your favorite toppings. The bright colors of the toppings will stand out beautifully against the savory base.
  • Taco bar style: Want to get interactive? Set out a spread of toppings and let everyone customize their own plate. It adds a fun twist to the meal and is a sure-shot hit for a party or a family dinner.
  • As a taco salad: I personally love big meal salads, so I pile my plate high with all the salad fixin’s and top it with a good scoop of taco casserole.

What Toppings Should I Add to Walking Taco Casserole?

The beauty of Walking Taco Casserole is how customizable it is with toppings. Here are some delicious suggestions that can add extra layers of flavor and texture to your casserole:

  • Chopped Tomatoes: These add a refreshing, juicy burst to balance out the rich flavors.
  • Shredded Lettuce: Lettuce can provide a crunchy texture and a cool, fresh flavor.
  • Diced Avocados or Guacamole: They lend a creamy, rich contrast to the other elements.
  • Sliced Jalapenos: For those who like it hot, jalapenos can kick the spice level up a notch. Pickled green chiles are also great.
  • Sliced Black Olives: They contribute a unique, slightly briny taste.
  • Sour Cream: A dollop of sour cream can add tanginess and creaminess.
  • Salsa or Pico de Gallo: A flavorful salsa or pico de gallo brings a mix of tomatoes, onions, and cilantro to the dish.
  • Fresh Cilantro: For those who enjoy its flavor, cilantro can add a touch of fresh brightness.
  • Green onions or minced red onion

Remember, these are just suggestions. Feel free to get creative and use your favorite taco toppings to make your Walking Taco Casserole uniquely yours!

Choose the Perfect Side Dishes

This Walking Taco Casserole is a meal all by itself, but if you’re looking to round out the fiesta, here are a few delicious options:

  • Mexican Rice: Fluffy and full of flavor, Mexican rice is the perfect companion for the hearty casserole.
  • Coleslaw: A crisp, tangy slaw can offer a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the casserole. Try a simple slaw for fish tacos.
  • Mexican Street Corn Salad: Sweet, smoky, and with a bit of a crunch, grilled Mexican corn is always a crowd-pleaser, especially as esquites (the salad version of elotes).
  • Black Bean Salad: For a healthier side, a colorful black bean salad with a tangy dressing works wonders.
  • Guacamole: Creamy guacamole is a versatile side that also works as an additional topping. Some slices of avocado or avocado crema would also be delicious.
  • Pico de Gallo: This fresh salsa can brighten up the flavors and add a pop of color to your plate.

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

Here are some helpful tips to keep taco tuesday going:

  • Prep ahead: Busy day ahead? You can prepare the beef mixture a day before. Simply store it in the fridge and when you’re ready to party, assemble and bake the casserole.
  • Leftovers: Leftovers are gold! Store them in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. It’s perfect for those lazy days when you need a quick meal.
  • Freezer friendly: If you’re a plan-ahead kind of person, you’ll be glad to know this casserole can be frozen for up to 2 months. Just thaw it overnight in the fridge and reheat in the oven when you’re ready to eat. A future fiesta is just a freezer away!
  • Reheating: Reheat covered in a 350ºF oven or microwave individual portions.
Walking Taco Casserole in a 9x13-inch baking dish

Variations and Substitutions

Here are some ideas to shake things up:

  • Change your protein: Swap out the ground beef and use ground turkey, chicken, or even ground pork for a different flavor profile. Or go plant-based with tofu or tempeh for a vegetarian-friendly version.
  • Different beans: Not a fan of refried? No problem! You can use black beans, pinto beans, or even kidney beans. The choice is yours!
  • Cheese switch: Experiment with different kinds of cheese. Try using Monterey Jack cheese for its mild flavor and good melting properties, Colby for a more pronounced cheese flavor, or even a spicy pepper jack for an extra kick! You can also swap softened cream cheese for sour cream.
  • Chip swap: This casserole is versatile enough to work with different types of chips. Use different flavored chips like barbecue or even jalapeño for a twist. Or try a more traditional corn tortilla base!

Expert Tips and Tricks for Perfect Walking Taco Casserole

Become a fiesta master with these pro tips:

  • Browning the beef: Make sure to brown the beef nicely before adding the seasonings. This caramelization adds a depth of flavor that takes the dish to the next level.
  • Layering: An even bake is key for the perfect casserole. Make sure your layers are spread evenly across the dish. You don’t want to end up with a bite that’s all chip and no filling!
  • Serving: The casserole will be piping hot and bubbling when it comes out of the oven. Let it cool for a few minutes before serving. This not only makes it easier to scoop out but also allows the flavors to meld together, improving the overall taste.


I’ll leave you with some common questions and a TLDR recap in case you were in a hurry:

What is a Walking Taco Casserole?

A Walking Taco Casserole is a fun and flavorful dish inspired by the “walking tacos” commonly served at fairs and food trucks. It’s a baked casserole featuring layers of refried beans, taco-flavored ground beef, corn chips, and cheese, typically served with traditional taco toppings.

Can you freeze Walking Taco Casserole?

Yes, you can freeze this casserole. It’s best to freeze it before baking. Assemble the casserole in a freezer-safe dish, wrap it well to avoid freezer burn, and store it in the freezer for up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking as per the recipe instructions.

Is Walking Taco Casserole the same as Frito Pie?

No. Although Walking Taco Casserole and Frito Pie both involve corn chips, seasoned meat, and cheese, they are not identical. Walking Taco Casserole mimics a bag of walking taco and includes refried beans and sour cream. Frito Pie, popular in the Southern and Southwestern U.S., consists of Fritos, chili con carne, onions, and cheese, without refried beans or sour cream. Hence, while similar, they are distinct dishes.

Can I make a vegetarian version of the Walking Taco Casserole?

Absolutely! You can substitute the ground beef with a plant-based alternative like tofu, tempeh, or even a mix of hearty vegetables like bell peppers and zucchini. Don’t forget to amp up the spices to make up for the flavor of the meat.

How spicy is this casserole?

The spice level depends on the taco seasoning you use. If you’re not a fan of heat, choose a mild taco seasoning. If you love spicy food, go for a hot variety or add some sliced jalapeños to the mix.

What type of chips should I use for this casserole?

You can use any corn chips you like. Doritos, plain tortilla chips, and Fritos corn chips all work well. Experiment with different flavors to find your favorite combo!

What should I do if my casserole looks dry after baking?

If the top looks dry, simply add some extra shredded cheese or a dollop of sour cream. You can also cover the dish with aluminum foil during the final part of baking to prevent the top layer from drying out.

More Delicious Recipes For Your Taco Cravings

  • Chicken Street Tacos: These spicy chicken tacos are a trip to Mexico in every bite. The chicken is cooked in a flavorful sauce and topped with a drizzle of cilantro lime crema.
  • Spicy Fish Tacos: These crispy, spicy fish tacos are the perfect way to satisfy your taco cravings. The fish is perfectly cooked, and the cabbage slaw adds a nice crunch. The tangy lime crema really ties the whole thing together.
  • Crispy Baked Chicken Tacos: These crispy baked chicken tacos are a fun twist on the traditional taco. They’re perfect for a party or potluck.
  • Authentic Beef Tacos From Scratch: These flavor-packed ground beef tacos are made from scratch, using a blend of spices and fresh ingredients. They’re the real deal!
  • Crockpot Chicken Tacos: These easy and delicious slow-cooker chicken tacos are bursting with flavor and perfect for a fuss-free weeknight meal.
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5 from 5 votes

Walking Taco Casserole

This Mexican casserole recipe with layers of doritos. spiced ground beef or chicken, beans, sour cream and cheese is so tasty and craveable you're going to love it.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 cups finely-chopped onion from 1 large
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic about 3 large cloves
  • 1 lb lean ground beef or ground chicken
  • 3 tbsp homemade taco seasoning or 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 15-oz can refried beans
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 bag 9.25 oz corn chips such as Doritos, Plain tortilla chips, or Fritos
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend or cheddar cheese
  • Optional toppings: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, jalapeños, sliced black olives, additional sour cream, salsa, or any of your favorite taco toppings
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  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and 1 tsp salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is golden and very soft, 7-10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook, stirring constantly until softened, about a minute.
  • Add beef and sprinkle with taco seasoning. Use a spoon or sturdy spatula to break it into small chunks and to stir it well with the onion mixture to combine. Cook until beef renders its fat and browns, about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, spread the refried beans evenly along the bottom of your prepared baking dish.
  • Layer half of the chips over the beans.
  • Spread the taco meat mixture over the chips, then dollop the sour cream over the meat, spreading it out as evenly as possible.
  • Top with the shredded cheese.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Allow the casserole to cool for a few minutes before topping it with your chosen taco toppings and serving with the remaining chips.



Calories: 406kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 610mg | Potassium: 424mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 744IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 331mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Bailey says:

    5 stars
    The browning tip for the beef is spot-on; it adds a rich flavor to the dish. Taco perfection! 

  2. Emerson says:

    5 stars
    I made this taco casserole for a family gathering yesterday, and it was a huge hit. I topped mine with diced avocados and fresh cilantro for a burst of freshness!

  3. Emerson says:

    5 stars
    I love the idea of serving it taco bar style for a family dinner!!

  4. Arya says:

    5 stars
    This is gonna be my new go-to for casual get-togethers! The customization with toppings is such a fun twist, and it’s a breeze to serve straight from the dish. I added some sliced jalapenos for an extra kick, and it was a hit.

  5. Kylie says:

    5 stars
    I just tried this Walking Taco Casserole last weekend, and it was a total crowd-pleaser! The layers of flavors, from the seasoned ground beef to the crunchy chips and creamy sour cream, make every bite incredibly satisfying. It’s the perfect comfort food.