This super tasty Walking Taco Casserole features Fritos, a seasoned ground beef filling, cheddar cheese, and cream cheese served hot and bubbly.
Just before serving, top with chopped lettuce and tomatoes, then dig right in.
Walking Taco Casserole Recipe
I’m always looking for an easy taco frito casserole recipe and I bet you are, too.
You can have this hearty one-skillet casserole meal on the table in 30 minutes or less, and the leftovers reheat like a dream!
At my house, anything that has Mexican inspiration is usually a hit.
Walking Taco Casserole is family-friendly, and you can easily customize it to your liking.
Don’t care for Fritos? Use Doritos instead.
Tired of cheddar cheese? Use Colby Jack on top.
Want to add a little fire? Use a spicy picante sauce in place of the salsa.
Ingredients for taco bake with fritos
- Ground beef: I have also substituted ground venison in this recipe and it’s delicious. You could also use ground turkey, chicken or even ground bison.
- Taco seasoning blend
- Cream cheese: Cube the cream cheese before adding it to the ground beef mixture to make it melt easier and quicker.
- Salsa: Sometimes if I’m out of salsa, I’ll stir in red or green enchilada sauce as a substitute – it works great and changes the flavors up a bit.
- Fritos Chili Cheese Corn Chips: If you find chili cheese corn chips too spicy for your family, you can use the original Fritos instead. Sometimes, I substitute tortilla chips or Doritos in a pinch.
- Iceberg lettuce and tomatoes: Chop these up and sprinkle them over everything. Sometimes, I add sliced black olives, too.
- Cheddar cheese: Or your cheese of choice.
Recipe tips for walking taco bake
- Keep reading for my easy tip to drain your ground beef. It’s a lifesaver!
- If you’re making walking taco casserole for a more mature group, they will like the addition of black beans or chili beans to the ground beef mixture.
- Don’t add the ground beef to your skillet until it’s nice and hot. Place the ground beef into the skillet covering the bottom, then let it sit there and cook for a few minutes to get good and browned before you crumble it. The browning adds great caramelization to the meat and that means lots of extra flavors.
How to make walking taco casserole
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
When the pan is hot, add the ground beef, crumbling the meat into pieces, letting it brown until no pink remains.
Remove the skillet from the burner, then remove any fats that accumulate in the skillet.
To do this easily, tilt the skillet up on one side by propping it on a folded hot pad.
Move the ground beef to the elevated pan side, allowing the fats to drain down to the low side of the pan.
Use a paper towel to sop up the fats and toss it away.
Return the skillet to the burner. Stir in the taco seasoning and ⅔ cup of water.
Bring the ground beef mixture to a boil.
Then, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for a few minutes until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
Add the salsa and cream cheese cubes.
Simmer the mixture until the cream cheese has fully melted and incorporated.
Grease an 11″ x 8.5′ oven-safe baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Pour in the meat mixture and spread it out evenly.
Sprinkle the casserole with one cup of the shredded cheese and then top that with the Fritos.
Spread them evenly over the cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
Bake the walking taco casserole, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until the casserole is hot and bubbly throughout (160-165 degrees F. at the center) and the cheese has melted on top.
Let the casserole rest for 5-10 minutes before serving with your favorite taco toppings, such as sour cream, salsa, more shredded cheese, and chopped scallions, as desired.
What is a walking taco?
Walking tacos are perfect for places and events where it’s not feasible to bring dishes along, such as your county fair, tailgating, watching parties, or camping.
You pile a cooked and seasoned ground beef mixture made with beans and salsa into individual bags of Fritos, then top it all with shredded cheddar cheese.
These portable pulled pork walking tacos are easy, fun, and delicious examples – everybody loves them!
But when you’re home with the fam and need a big pan of walking taco bake (or Frito pie), Walking Taco Casserole is the way to go.
Talk about the best comfort food, and I love how simple it comes together for a quick weeknight meal.
Why is it called a walking taco?
Walking tacos (also known as tacos in a bag) are meant to be eaten on the go right from the bag in which they are made.
This makes them much more manageable to eat than regular tacos.
What is the difference between a walking taco and a frito pie?
Frito pie is made from chili with Frito corn chips served over the top.
Walking tacos are made from a ground beef taco mixture that is ladled over Frito corn chips in a bag that has been split open.
What was the original name of the walking taco?
Some people say that Frito Pie was the original walking taco since many versions of walking taco recipes are made using Fritos corn chips.
However, lots of recipes for walking tacos now include individual-sized bags of Doritos chips cut open on one side and filled with taco meat and the usual taco toppings.
Made either way, walking tacos are delicious and fun to eat!
Are walking tacos a Midwest thing?
Walking tacos are often thought of as classic Midwestern fare.
They are popular because they are hand-held taco-seasoned ground beef food eaten from a bag of Fritos corn chips.
Are walking tacos just nachos?
No. Nachos are tortilla chips topped with a taco-seasoned ground beef mixture and cheese.
Then they are baked until hot throughout.
Walking tacos are prepared in bags of Frito corn chips.
They travel well and can be enjoyed on the go, such as at tailgating parties, carnivals, or school functions.
More favorite recipes –
Walking Taco Pull-Apart Bread is inspired by walking tacos mixed with monkey bread, and it’s such a fun twist that you simply won’t be able to stop eating this appetizer!
When you need a festive and easy weeknight dinner or an appetizer that everybody loves, give sizzle steak nachos a go.
Or another taco-inspired casserole we love is this Taco Tater Tot Casserole.
Use your pressure cooker to make tender slices of Instant Pot seasoned carne asada meat that’s ready in less than 30 minutes.
Walking Taco Casserole
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 Tbs. dry taco seasoning blend
- 4 oz. cream cheese cubed
- ½ cup mild salsa
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 cups Fritos Chili Cheese corn chips or plain Fritos corn chips, if desired
- 2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
- 1 tomato diced
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the ground beef, crumbling the meat into pieces, letting it brown until no pink remains. Remove the skillet from the burner, then remove any fats that accumulate in the skillet.
- Return the skillet back to the burner; stir in the taco seasoning and ⅔ cup of water.
- Bring the ground beef mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for a few minutes until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Add the salsa and cream cheese, stirring to combine, simmering until the cream cheese has fully melted and incorporated.
- Grease an 11″ x 8.5′ oven-safe baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour in the meat mixture and spread it out evenly.
- Sprinkle the casserole with one cup of the shredded cheese, then top that with the Fritos, spreading them evenly over the cheese.
- Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, then bake the walking taco casserole, uncovered, on the center oven rack for 20-25 minutes or until the casserole is hot and bubbly throughout (160-165 degrees F. at the center) and the cheese has melted on top.
- Let the casserole rest for 5-10 minutes before serving with your favorite taco toppings, such as sour cream, salsa, more shredded cheese, and chopped scallions, as desired.