Inside-Out Tacos 4.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Nourish May 9, 2019

This recipe gives the hard-shell ground beef taco a fresh, healthful update by turning it inside out and using lettuce leaves in place of the shells and crunchy tortilla chips as one of the toppings. With black beans stirred into the fragrant meat mixture, you also get some good-for-you plant protein.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic (a.k.a. garlic powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces lean ground beef (93 percent lean or higher)
  • One 15-ounce can no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 24 large leaves of gem lettuce or hearts of romaine (about 3 heads)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into small dice
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped pickled jalapeño peppers (jarred)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 ounces (1 cup) crushed tortilla chips


Whisk together the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic, salt, onion powder and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.

Heat the oil until shimmering in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring and breaking it up with the spoon until no pink remains. Add the beans and the chili powder mixture; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the water and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Taste and season lightly with salt and cayenne pepper, if desired.

Place the spiced meat mixture and the tomatoes, cheddar, jalapeños, cilantro and tortilla chips in separate serving dishes, and put them out on the table so diners can build their own tacos. To assemble, place about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture into each lettuce leaf.

Garnish with tomatoes, cheese, pickled jalapeños, cilantro and some crushed tortilla chips.

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Recipe Source

From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.

Tested by Richard Kerr.

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