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9 Fun Ways to Enjoy Taco Tuesday Out of the Shell

Two stuffed sweet potatoes, two bowls of Southwestern Quinoa, and a piece of Cornbread Taco Bake on a plate.
Belle of the Kitchen/Half Baked Harvest/The Country Cook

Taco Tuesday is just as delicious without the tortilla shells, and we have nine recipes to prove it. Pizza, spaghetti, and cornbread casseroles are just a few of the dishes we found for you to feast your eyes (and taste buds) on!

Whether you forgot to buy taco shells this week or are just looking to switch things up, enjoying your favorite meal is still a possibility. Before we get to the tasty recipes, though, we’ll delve into where the tradition of “Taco Tuesday” began.

Who Came Up with Taco Tuesday, Anyway?

Where the heck did “Taco Tuesday” come from? Who started this now-traditional culinary trend? Well, according to Thrillist, the expression appears to have started at a Midwestern Mexican restaurant called Taco Johns.

In 1989, “Taco Tuesday” became a registered trademark of Taco Johns, and it takes that trademark very seriously. While the restaurant legally claimed the phrase, there are much earlier ads from the 1930s marketing tacos on Tuesdays. The only difference is these companies didn’t use the actual phrase in their marketing.

The first-ever documented use of the term “Taco Tuesday” appeared in the August 1973 edition of a South Dakota journal. Other Mexican restaurants and chains then started to launch Taco Tuesday Campaigns, and, of course, they continue to do so today.

Whether you use the phrase on the reg or not, at least now you know a bit about its origin story. Be sure to share it and impress your friends with your vast knowledge … over tacos, of course.

Taco Spaghetti

Two images of taco spaghetti. The left image is of a skillet filled with taco spaghetti and the right image is of a fork pulling up a large amount ready to eat.
Princess Pinky Girl

If you love spaghetti and really fancy tacos, why not try a mash-up of the two. We appreciate this creative take on spaghetti for its one-pot ability to transform dinner in less than 30 minutes.

Juicy beef, combined with onions, diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar, and taco seasoning? Yes, please. Nothing beats an easy and delicious meal that even the kids won’t fuss about.

Get the Recipe: Princess Pinky Girl

Easy Cornbread Taco Bake

A piece of Cornbread Taco Bake on a plate, and meat, corn, and tomatoes cooking in a skillet.
The Country Cook

Now let’s taco-bout crumbly cornbread topped with a layer of ground beef, dotted with sweet corn kernels and Rotel tomatoes. Don’t forget the taco seasoning!

From there, you’ll shmear over a layer of sour cream bursting with cheese and chives. Finish it with a generous layer of shredded cheese and place it in the hot oven. The results are just, yum!

Get the Recipe: The Country Cook

Taco Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Two images of taco-stuffed sweet potatoes, topped with guacamole, tomatoes, ground beef and sour cream drizzle.
Belle of the Kitchen

Loaded potatoes are always a delicious dinner option, especially because the meal itself is super adaptable. This healthy version takes a sweet potato and transforms it into the perfect base for all your favorite taco fillings.

End things right with a dollop of homemade guacamole, shredded cheddar, and sour cream.

Get the Recipe: Belle of the Kitchen

Healthy Taco Salad

Two images of taco salad, plated in two different ways to highlight the tasty taco-inspired ingredients.
Wholesome Yum

Here’s another healthy idea for Tuesday night, or any day of the week, for that matter. Like others, this one is pretty adaptable so that you can follow your tastebuds for direction.

Feel free to use shredded chicken or sauteed mushrooms, onions, and peppers instead of beef. Go for pico de Galo rather than cherry tomatoes. Otherwise, follow this recipe as is; it’s a spot flavor-wise.

Get the Recipe: Wholesome Yum

Taco Stuffed Peppers

A fork cutting a bite out of a Taco Stuffed Pepper, and the filling ingredients in a skillet.
The Cozy Cook

Black beans, diced tomatoes, and cheesy beef work in tandem to create a mouthwatering meal worth sinking your teeth into. It’s already low carb, but you’re welcome to go leaner by subbing the beef with chicken or turkey protein.

After filling and baking, feel free to finish these stuffers off with some sour cream and/or cheddar. You can even add some crunch with crushed Doritos or Fritos.

Get the Recipe: The Cozy Cook

Spicy Southwest Quinoa Bowls

Spicy Southwest Quinoa on a plate and, sliced sweet potatoes covered in Old El Paso Taco Seasoning.
Half Baked Harvest

Quinoa Bowls are all the rage these days! Not only are they a healthier alternative to rice bowls, but once topped with the right ingredients, you have the ability to transform the superfood into so many dinner variations.

This southwestern bowl is vegetarian and highlights roasted sweet potatoes as a protein sub. It’s loaded with black beans, mango slaw, and sliced avocado, with a tomatillo vinaigrette to finish things just right.

Get the Recipe: Half Baked Harvest

Creamy Skillet Taco Pasta

Two images of creamy taco shells pasta, in a staub skillet, with parsley on the side.
Damn Delicious

Here’s a taco shells dinner in pasta form! Cheesy beef and shells swimming in a creamy tomato sauce all cooked in one skillet. Now, that’s a dinner meant for everyone. You’ll have no problem getting the picky eaters to devour this meal.

Get the Recipe: Damn Delicious

Hearty Taco Chili

A large dutch oven filled with taco chili, topped with Fritos, cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream, with a side of chives.
Dinner then Dessert

Meat, beans, and your favorite add-ins make up this hearty chili! It’s just like regular chili but takes on the flavor of taco seasoning.

You can make this on your stovetop or follow the Instant Pot directions. Give your ultimate bowl a final touch with a dollop of sour cream and a handful of Fritos.

Get the Recipe: Dinner then Dessert

Taco Pizza with Crushed Doritos

Taco pizza topped with taco meat, taco sauce, shredded cheese, lettuce and crushed doritos.
Show Me the Yummy

Tacos and pizza are two of the most popular meals all across the United States, and maybe even the world! So, why not combine the two into a delicious meal everyone will love.

Start with a store-bought or homemade dough, then combine pizza and taco sauce, and a can of refried beans to make your base. Then, top that with taco meat, cheese, and crushed Doritos. That’s what we call weeknight dinner gold!

Get the Recipe: Show Me the Yummy

Did we inspire you to concoct a mash-up of your own? If not, at least you can enjoy working your way through these tasty taco-inspired dishes for many Tuesdays to come!

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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