This taco meatloaf is an easy recipe packed with the unmistakable taco flavors of ground beef, tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream. Close your eyes, and you might think you’re eating a taco.
This Mexican-inspired meatloaf has made meatloaf lovers out of people who think they don’t like meatloaf. I promise you. This taco meatloaf recipe will change your life.
I have a bit of a cookbook collection. It may not be as large as my shoe collection, but it’s close. This, if you knew me, would tell you something.
So for the last few years, I have forced myself to borrow cookbooks from the library and cook from them before I buy. Library browsing means that I get to take home more cookbooks.
On one such occasion I picked up A Meatloaf in Every Oven. I tried a few recipes and mostly came out disappointed. If you know of the perfect Peking Duck Meatloaf, please share.
(6/27/2021: Edit to add. I’ve finally perfected the Peking duck-inspired meatloaf!)
But one of them, the taco meatloaf, has been on regular repeat any time there are tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream in the house. It’s a great recipe for someone learning to cook.
This recipe was minimally adapted at first, to reduce the level of spiciness for my household. In subsequent versions of this recipe, I’ve made additional changes, though never straying far from the original. Except, perhaps, for the meatball version which were battered with crushed tortilla chips and fried.
My taco meatloaf recipe follows the standard formula for meatloaves. For every pound of meat, use one egg and one half cup of breadcrumbs as binder. Tortilla chips take the place of breadcrumbs in this recipe.
You can use this formula to make an infinite number of meatloaves inspired by whatever flavors you love. Use other ground meats. Use different spices. Use crackers or rice or quinoa as binders.
Go traditional and glaze the top with ketchup or BBQ sauce. Or get inspired and use salsa for a Mexican meatloaf or Hoisin sauce for an Asian one.
Tips and tricks
Step by step
Meatloaves are one of the easiest meals you can make because it’s nearly one step! All you do is form the mixture, pack it into a meatloaf pan, and bake.
Tip from the wise quacker: save your money and stop buying “taco seasoning” and other pre-made spice mixes and just use the spices in your spice drawer! Taco seasoning is just a combination of chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, paprika, garlic or onion powder, and crushed red pepper flakes.
I like making a one pound meatloaf in a meatloaf pan because it allows the fat to drain on all sides, but you can also double the recipe to fill the pan. Or shape the mixture into a loaf in the center of a cast iron skillet.
Bake until the internal temperature of the meatloaf is 160 degrees Fahrenheit. And then glaze the meatloaf with some salsa or top with slices of cheese for an even more cheesy taco meatloaf. Just know that the cheese on top doesn’t freeze well if you are hoping to freeze leftover meatloaf.
What to serve with taco meatloaf
If you need ideas for what to serve with taco meatloaf, I’d suggest:
- a corn salad and side of guacamole, mango pico de gallo, these spicy pickled onions and extra sour cream and salsa.
- a taco meatloaf bowl with cavatappi mac and cheese or cauliflower mac and cheese, steamed broccoli, and some greens.
- for beverages, there’s no question. Taco meatloaf calls for a cold beer or a spicy margarita with jalapeño simple syrup. Or a spicy skinny margarita, if you’re the kind of person who understands why you might drink a diet coke with your chocolate cake.
Variations and substitutions
Make the meatloaf in a muffin tin for taco meatloaf muffins.
Use ground turkey instead of ground beef for a slightly healthier taco turkey meatloaf. Note that I said “slightly.”
If you close your eyes while eating this meatloaf, your brain will tell you that you’re eating a taco.
Meatloaves fall apart for two common reasons. The first is not enough binder, like egg or breadcrumbs. The second is when the meatloaf is cut right as it comes out of the oven. You should let a meatloaf rest for at least 10 minutes before serving to make slicing easier.
No, you don’t need to cover the meatloaf. In fact, you want the top of the meatloaf to caramelize and brown. So don’t cover the meatloaf unless it is getting very dark before reaching 160 degrees.
Yes, this meatloaf freezes very well. Just slice and wrap and put it in to a freezer bag. Defrost in a pan in the oven.
- ½ cup (2.5 ounces) tortilla chips, crushed
- ½ cup (2 ounces) cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ cup salsa mild to hot based on your preference
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon oregano Mexican oregano, if available
- ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Mix all of the ingredients together with a spoon except for the ground beef. Then gently mix in the beef by hand.½ cup (2.5 ounces) tortilla chips, crushed, ½ cup (2 ounces) cheddar cheese, grated, ½ cup salsa, ¼ cup sour cream, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, 1 egg, lightly beaten, 1 pound lean ground beef, ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- Pack the meatloaf mixture into a meatloaf pan or shape it into a loaf in a cast iron skillet.
- Bake for about 45 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160°F.
- Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving
- You can increase the heat in this recipe by using a hot salsa, adding more chili powder, or adding some minced hot pepper to the mixture.
- Once the internal temperature of the taco meatloaf has reached 160 degrees, top the meatloaf with thin slices of cheddar cheese or glaze with additional salsa and cook for another few minutes.
This taco meatloaf recipe was originally published on January 8, 2021. It was last updated on May 3, 2022.
If you make this taco meatloaf, please comment here, particularly if it changes your life too!
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