Updated on 08.22.17

Eight Cheap and Tasty Taco Recipes

No matter your ethnic background or where you live, it’s fairly safe to say that almost everyone you know likes tacos. They’re easy to make, can be assembled with all kinds of ingredients, can be altered to fit nearly any diet (vegetarian, gluten-free, picky five-year-old) — and are often downright cheap.

When you can make tacos out of pretty much anything and your family will actually eat them, it’s hard to complain. Depending on the type of tacos you make, you may also score easy clean-up and simple-to-reheat leftovers to boot.

Still, it’s possible to expand your taco horizons by trying new fillings and flavors that are both delicious and cheap. Believe it or not, some taco recipes are even best when made with leftovers from other meals.

If you’re trying to save money on meals, it’s important to know all the different ingredients that can go into a taco while still tasting amazingly good. Here are some of the best cheap taco recipes from my own kitchen and around the web.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

This recipe is a meal I’ve started making since I experimented with meal delivery service, Hello Fresh. Hello Fresh sent a similar dish and I altered the recipe so I could make it myself. Not only do the adults in our house love it, but the kids will eat it, too.

Ingredients:

  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • Can of black beans
  • Small onion, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Honey
  • Cumin
  • Olive oil
  • Flour or corn tortillas
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream

Directions: Start by turning your oven up to 400 degrees. Wash and cut your sweet potatoes into one-inch cubes, then coat them in olive oil. Bake them in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until mostly cooked.

Once your sweet potatoes are almost cooked, heat up a skillet on the stove. Saute diced onion and black beans together on low.

In another skillet set on medium, take your baked sweet potatoes and add a few tablespoons of honey and some olive oil. Sprinkle with cumin as your potatoes are browning up.

Once you’re done, you can assemble your tacos however you want. Add black beans and sweet potatoes to your tortillas, then garnish with sour cream and cheese as desired.

Leftover Hamburger Tacos

Since my family is vegetarian, we always use soy crumbles in recipes that call for hamburger. But, this simple recipe is perfect with regular ground beef, and even leftover hamburger meat or patties from another meal.

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound to 1 pound of hamburger or soy crumbles
  • Small onion, diced
  • 2 cups lettuce, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, diced small
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Taco seasoning
  • Flour or corn tortillas

Directions: If your hamburger is browned already, you can easily just throw it into a skillet to heat it up and add taco seasoning and a cup of water until it’s ready to serve. If your hamburger isn’t cooked yet, you’ll need to brown it first before adding a packet of taco seasoning and a cup of water (possibly more, if required).

Once your meat is done cooking, start assembling tacos as desired. Add a layer of meat on the bottom, top with diced veggies, then add sour cream or cheese as desired. It’s as simple as that.

Shrimp Tacos with Slaw

While I really like this Real Simple recipe for shrimp tacos, I alter it to make a cheaper, easier version for my family.

Ingredients:

  • Bag of frozen shrimp
  • Avocado
  • Small onion, diced
  • Small tomato, diced
  • Bag of shredded cabbage
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sour cream
  • Sugar
  • Vinegar
  • Celery salt
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dry mustard
  • Taco seasoning
  • Flour or corn tortillas

Directions: The first step to getting started is making the slaw for your tacos. Whisk together ¾ cup of mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons diced onion, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 1 tablespoon dry mustard, 2 teaspoons celery salt, and dash of salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour the mixture over your shredded cabbage in a bowl, mix, and set aside.

Heat a skillet on your stovetop and set the temperature on medium. From there, you can add frozen cooked shrimp and any kind of seasoning you want. Taco seasoning is a good choice, of course, but so is cumin or simple salt and pepper. You can also use Cajun or blackening seasoning.

Once your shrimp is prepared, cut your avocado into taco-sized slivers and begin assembling your tacos. Add a layer of shrimp and slaw, vegetables on top, and a slice or two of avocado to each taco.

Mushroom and Corn Tacos

One night, I was trying to find a way to use ingredients I already had when I stumbled onto this recipe for mushroom and corn tacos. Since I didn’t have the exact ingredients and wanted to make it cheaper, I altered it some. Here’s what I came up with:

Ingredients:

  • Canned or fresh corn
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Canned or fresh mushrooms, one pound
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 corn or flour tortillas
  • White onion, diced
  • Salsa
  • Fresh cilantro

Directions: Saute canned corn (or an equal amount of fresh corn) in a skillet on medium heat for at least five minutes. Remove corn from skillet and set aside.

Add oil to the skillet, then add mushrooms, oregano, chili powder, and cumin. Cook 2-3 minutes until mushrooms seem properly cooked, then add garlic and salt. Cook another 5 minutes until mushrooms are firm and add corn to the mix.

Saute for a few more minutes, then add a scoop of the mixture to your tortillas and garnish with fresh cilantro and salsa as desired.

Fajita Tacos

Fajita tacos offer a smart way to use up expiring bell peppers and red peppers. I’ve made this dish plenty of times, usually relying on whatever vegetables I have on hand — you can of course add strips of chicken if you want.

Ingredients:

  • Sliced peppers, at least two cups
  • Olive oil
  • Small onion, diced
  • Small tomato, diced
  • Taco seasoning
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Taco shells or tortillas

Directions: Start by heating up a skillet on medium heat. Add sliced peppers and onions, then cook for 3-5 minutes. Once the peppers and onions have cooked down, add taco seasoning and water. Continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes.

Once the mixture is ready, add it to your taco shells or tortillas, then top with diced veggies, sour cream, and cheese as desired.

Garden Vegetable Taco Wraps

Garden vegetable tacos can be served warm (as described above) or cold as more of a “wrap.” Personally, I love to make the latter type of taco when summer hits and my garden is in full bloom. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients:

  • Shredded lettuce
  • Cucumber, sliced thin
  • Tomato, diced
  • Zucchini, sliced thin
  • Onion, diced
  • Avocado, cut into slices
  • Ranch or garden flavored cream cheese
  • Flour tortillas

Directions: Start by dicing and slicing all of your vegetables. From there, you can spread a thin layer of cream cheese on your tortillas and begin assembling your wraps based on personal preference. While the vegetables above work great, you could consider adding other vegetables that taste good fresh, including mushrooms or peppers.

Easy Taco Salad

Taco salad is easy to make and hard not to love. We make it with soy crumbles at our house, but you can use ground beef, found turkey, chicken, or any other meat you wanted as well.

Ingredients:

  • Shredded lettuce
  • Tomato, diced
  • Onion, diced
  • Avocado, cut in slices
  • Bag of tortilla chips
  • Can of black beans
  • Ground beef or soy crumbles
  • Packet of taco seasoning
  • French dressing (we love Ken’s)
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheese

Directions: Start by cooking your ground beef or soy crumbles in a skillet on medium heat. Once the mixture is fully cooked, you can add a packet of taco seasoning and a cup of water. Continue cooking the mixture until the taco seasoning becomes sauce-like, adding more water as required. In another pan, heat a can of black beans until piping hot.

Assemble your taco salad starting with a bed of shredded lettuce. Add diced tomato and onion, sliced avocado, and black beans, then top with a few handfuls of crumbled tortilla chips. Add sour cream, French dressing, and shredded cheese on top as desired.

Rotisserie Chicken Tacos

We’ve written about the many ways to use leftover rotisserie chicken before, and rotisserie chicken tacos definitely fit the bill. With this recipe, you’ll start with leftover rotisserie chicken and end up with a taco dinner your family will love. This recipe is also extremely hard to mess up.

Ingredients:

  • Rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Tomato, diced
  • Onion, diced
  • Avocado, cut in slices
  • Packet of taco seasoning
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheese
  • Flour or corn tortillas

Directions: Heat a skillet on medium before adding your leftover rotisserie chicken, a packet of taco seasoning, and a cup of water. Cook on medium heat until chicken is fully heated and the taco seasoning takes on a sauce-like texture. Continue adding water as required.

Once your chicken is fully cooked, you can start assembling your tacos. Start with a layer of chicken, then add diced veggies, avocado, shredded cheese, and sour cream if you desire.

Holly Johnson is an award-winning personal finance writer and the author of Zero Down Your Debt. Johnson shares her obsession with frugality, budgeting, and travel at ClubThrifty.com.

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What is your favorite cheap taco recipe? Please share in the comments!