These homemade Cheesy Gordita Crunch Tacos are just as flavorful and addictive as the Taco Bell version they’re inspired by. If you need an excuse to skip the drive thru, with this copycat recipe it’s never been easier.
I love a good copycat recipe. There’s something satisfying in making a wholesome, homemade version of what would otherwise require a trip past the drive thru window. Whatever is lost in convenience, you gain back in freshness ten fold.
Case in point: these homemade Cheesy Gordita Crunch tacos. Soft and crunchy shell layers brimming with tender, savory meat and melty cheese. Crisp romaine lettuce and a squeeze of lime. Of course, no T-Bell copycat would be complete without a generous dollop of homemade spicy ranch sauce, too. Fresh, delicious, and no fast food involved!
Making a Cheesy Gordita Crunch is so easy, sometimes I feel like this recipe should come with a disclaimer. Like, warning: just because you can make these tacos every night, doesn’t mean you should make tacos every night. But who am I to judge? I’ll leave it to your discretion, but be warned, these crunchy, cheesy tacos are wildly addictive!
What Is a Gordita Crunch?
I modeled my recipe after the Cheesy Gordita Crunch of Taco Bell fame. If you’ve never had one, a Gordita Crunch is a hard shell taco (the “crunch”) surrounded by a second layer of soft flatbread, with melted cheese in between.
This doubled-up shell is then stuffed with taco meat and topped with cheese, shredded romaine, and Taco Bell’s spicy ranch sauce. It’s the ultimate balance of crunchy, chewy, crispy, cheesy, spicy, and just all around delicious – and even more so when you make it yourself.
These homemade tacos keep it simple with savory seasoned taco meat and a handful of ingredients for assembling. Here’s an overview of what’s involved, with the full amounts in the recipe card:
For the Taco Meat
- Olive oil
- Ground beef – A nice quality, lean ground beef will yield the best taco meat. You can also use ground turkey if you prefer.
- Onion – Yellow onion or brown onion, finely chopped.
- Seasoning – I use a Mexican-inspired blend of spices including regular or smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, and sea salt.
For Assembling the Tacos
- Shredded cheese – I recommend a Mexican cheese blend. This usually includes a combination of cheddar, Monterey Jack, queso quesadilla and asadero cheese.
- Taco shells and tortillas – This Gordita Crunch recipe calls for both hard corn taco shells as well as soft flour tortillas. The tortillas should be fajita sized, and not the size for street tacos.
- Spicy ranch sauce – I use my homemade copycat version of spicy ranch sauce that’s perfect for these tacos. It’s optional, but delicious!
- Romaine lettuce – Shredded.
How to Make Cheesy Gordita Crunch Tacos
Let’s get going with this easy homemade version of everyone’s favorite cheesy, crunchy taco takeaway. First, set your oven to preheat to 400ºF while you line two baking sheets with parchment paper, for laying out your tortillas.
Next, you’ll prep the other ingredients before assembling your gordita crunch tacos:
Cook the onions and beef. Get started on the taco meat by gently browning the ground beef and onions in a large skillet with some oil.
Add the spices and finish the taco meat. Once the beef and onions are cooked through, stir in the seasonings along with a bit of water. Next, lower the heat and simmer the taco meat to thicken. You can leave the heat on very low while you prepare the taco shells.
Warm the tortillas and melt the cheese. Next, place the soft tortillas out on the two baking sheets from earlier. Top each tortilla with a bit of the cheese blend, and move the baking sheets to the oven so that the cheese can melt a little before you add the hard taco shells.
Warm the taco shells. Take out the tortillas with the slightly melted cheese, and place a hard taco shell over each tortilla, covering one half. Place these back into the oven to warm.
Combine the tortillas and shells. After a couple of minutes, remove the tacos from the oven. Carefully fold the taco shells onto the cheese so that the soft tortilla wraps around the shell. It should look like your taco shell is double-layered.
Assemble the tacos. Now it’s time to fill your gordita crunch! Spoon the taco meat into each shell, topped with spicy ranch sauce and shredded lettuce. Give your tacos a sprinkle with what’s leftover of the cheese blend, and serve with your favorite taco toppings. We’re partial to salsa, hot sauce, and lime wedges in this family – see below for more suggestions.
Tips for Success
You’ll see, these Cheesy Gordita Crunch tacos come together in a flash. Especially when you keep the following in mind:
- Use ready-made taco seasoning. I blend my own taco seasoning since I have all the spices handy, but you can absolutely use a packet of pre-mixed taco spices instead. It’s the perfect quick hack to get the flavor into your taco meat!
- Adjust the heat levels. You can leave off the spicy ranch sauce to make this recipe kid-friendly, or to cater to milder palates.
Make Some Spicy Ranch Sauce
Although this is an optional step, I highly recommend making this copycat Taco Bell sauce to go with these tacos. It uses simple ingredients, takes minutes to mix together, and then you just need to let it chill in the fridge for an hour. This chill time helps the flavor develop.
We often enjoy these tacos with a side of lime wedges for squeezing, homemade pico de gallo salsa, and simple homemade guacamole. If I’m craving something extra fiery, I’ll drizzle my gordita tacos with a bit of salsa macha.
Other topping ideas include sour cream, jalapenos, sweet corn, pinto beans, or refried beans – anything you would put on a taco, you can put on these! To make it a meal, serve these cheesy gordita tacos next to crispy black bean flautas, mexican rice, and birria beef enchiladas. And don’t forget fresas con crema (Mexican strawberries and cream), for dessert!
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
The assembled tacos are best enjoyed fresh from the oven. However, any leftover taco meat can be refrigerated airtight for up to 4 days. Reheat the meat in a skillet or in the microwave before serving.Print
Cheesy Gordita Crunch Tacos
These homemade Cheesy Gordita Crunch tacos are just as flavorful and addictive as the Taco Bell version! Skipping the drive thru has never been easier than with this copycat recipe.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 16 minutes
- Total Time: 31 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
For the Taco Meat
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
- 8 hard corn taco shells
- 8 soft flour tortillas, taco or fajita size (not street tacos)
- Spicy ranch sauce
- 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
- Spicy Ranch Taco Sauce
For Serving (optional)
- Lime wedges
Prep your tools. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cook onions and beef. In a large skillet or frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and add the onion and ground beef. Brown the hamburger and onions for about 6-7 minutes or until cooked through.
Add spices and finish taco meat. Add the paprika, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, oregano, sea salt and water. Stir to combine and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the liquid starts to thicken. Remain on very low heat to keep warm while you prepare the shells.
Warm tortillas and melt cheese. Lay out the soft tortillas among two parchment paper lined baking sheets. Using 1 1/2 cups of the cheese blend, evenly divide among the tortillas. Place the baking sheets in the oven for 2 minutes to slightly start to melt the cheese.
Warm taco shells. Remove from the oven and place a hard taco shell on the melted cheese, positioning on half of the tortilla shell. Place back in the oven for an additional 2 minutes.
Combine tortillas and shells. Remove the shells from the oven and gently fold the second half of each shell into the melted cheese. This will give the layered shell effect.
Assemble tacos. Fill each shell with the prepared taco meat. Top with a spoonful of spicy ranch sauce, shredded romaine lettuce and the remainder of the Mexican cheese blend.
Serve with any additional favorite toppings. I recommend salsa, hot sauce or lime wedges.
Refrigerate any leftover taco meat filling in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Keywords: taco bell gordita, crunchy gordita, best taco recipe