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Easy Taco Meatloaf

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.

Backstory

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.

a bowl with two slices of meatloaf, cavatappi and cheese, braised carrots, broccoli, and spinach

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.

two slices of salsa-glazed taco meatloaf with guacamole and sour cream.

Making meatloaf

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.

taco meatloaf mixture packed into a meatloaf pan.

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:

Variations and substitutions

Make the meatloaf in a muffin tin for taco meatloaf muffins.

a muffin tin partially filled with taco meatloaf muffins.

Use ground turkey instead of ground beef for a slightly healthier taco turkey meatloaf. Note that I said “slightly.”

two slices of turkey taco meatloaf with cavatappi mac and cheese.

FAQs

What does taco meatloaf taste like?

If you close your eyes while eating this meatloaf, your brain will tell you that you’re eating a taco.

Why does meatloaf fall apart?

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.

Should I cover my meatloaf when I bake it?

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.

Can you freeze this meatloaf?

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.

Related recipes

Check out other meatloaf recipes like this Thanksgiving-inspired turkey meatloaf or this Peking duck-inspired ground duck meatloaf.

Taco Meatloaf

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Category: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4
Calories: 338kcal
This taco meatloaf is an easy, Tex-Mex-inspired 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.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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

Notes

Variations
  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 1033mg | Potassium: 569mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 622IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 164mg | Iron: 4mg
Love this recipe?Mention @Uglyducklingbakery or tag #uglyducklingbakery!

This taco meatloaf recipe was originally published on January 8, 2021. It was last updated on May 3, 2022.

What’s next

If you make this taco meatloaf, please comment here, particularly if it changes your life too!

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4 Comments

  1. Well, to be fair, no one could make this meatloaf pretty! But it is beyond delicious. Thank you forever for sharing this recipe with me.

    1. Thanks, Hillary! You are welcome. Always happy to share the goodness.
      I *am* still trying to figure out how to take prettier pictures of my ugly food and do it quickly. I get about a minute before the “I’m hunnnnnnggggry!” starts.

  2. Your Taco meatloaf sounds like that nacho cheese Doritos meatloaf,except the Doritos meatloaf uses spices from garlic,onion powder salt black pepper and Worcestershire sauce and either ketchup or barbecue sauce, it makes your kitchen smells like you were in a Taco Bell restaurant, it also have the taste of what flavor of Doritos chips you put in.

    1. Hi George. Agreed that my taco meatloaf sounds like it’s a cousin to your nacho Doritos meatloaf. Is smelling like a Taco Bell a good or bad thing? 🙂

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