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These tiny tacos were inspired by a fast food commercial I saw. I loved the idea and wanted to figure out how to do them better, and at home. Serve in a taco salad presentation (on top of shredded lettuce with avocado, onion, salsa, sour cream, cilantro, and lime wedges) or as appetizers.


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

20 mins
55 mins
25 mins
1 hr 40 mins
60 tiny tacos

If you think regular tacos are fun to eat, just wait until you try these delicious and adorable tiny tacos. They might be about the same size as the ones at a certain fast food chain, but that's where the similarities end: These are filled with cheese and taco beef and not some gray-brown mystery meat. Also, these tacos are fried crisp in a pan (and not packed into a container to steam and get soggy in a "cheese" sauce). There are other differences as well, but those first two should be enough.

There is just something about eating miniaturized food that brings a certain type of joy. I joked about people wanting to feel like a giant in the video, but maybe there's actually something to that. Or maybe it's just that tiny food is so darn cute. Whatever it is, people really do seem to enjoy these kinds of things.

The only down side? They're generally harder to make than the full-sized versions. I'm not going to say these are just as easy as regular tacos, since they are not — but with this method, they don't take that much extra time and effort. Plus, the results are well worth it. Just be sure to add a pinch of cheese on top of your beef before the oven and folding step, so they stick together easier than mine did. So, no matter what taco meat you decide to use, I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

chef john's tiny tacos
Credit: Chef John

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Original recipe yields 10 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
For the Taco Beef:
For the Tiny Tacos:


Instructions Checklist
  • Add oil, onion, and ground beef to a cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Add salt, chili powder, cumin, chipotle, garlic powder, black pepper, oregano, and cayenne. Break beef apart with a spatula to mix in spices; cook until browned and crumbled into very small pieces, 5 to 7 minutes.

  • Stir in tomato paste and water and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until most of the liquid has reduced, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in jalapeno peppers and cook for 1 minute. Turn off the heat, taste, and adjust seasoning.

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  • Stack up 2 or 3 corn tortillas at a time and use a 2-inch round pastry cutter to cut 4 small circles out of each stack, making 60 total. Place circles in a single layer, 1/2 inch apart, on sheet pans.

  • Mix Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses together. Top each tortilla circle with cheese, using the pastry cutter to keep it from spilling onto the pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas and cheese. Top each with about 1 teaspoon taco beef and another teaspoon cheese.

  • Bake in the preheated oven until cheese melts, about 3 minutes.

  • Remove from the oven. Carefully fold each tortilla in half, being careful not to press out the filling. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 20 minutes.

  • Heat vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches and adding more oil as necessary, pan-fry tacos until crispy and heated through and the edges are a bit caramelized, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Chef's Notes:

Use any taco filling you like in place of ground beef, just chop it up really small.

The tortilla scraps can be used to make chilaquiles.

Nutrition Facts

300 calories; protein 15.6g; carbohydrates 19.1g; fat 18.3g; cholesterol 49.8mg; sodium 192.8mg. Full Nutrition