Taco night at our house is one of the most fun and enjoyable dinners that I do! We don’t go basic though! We do a family taco night without the store bought box kit. Now, my kids do not want anything else!
Kits are not the healthiest option and when you have a large family and a gaggle of hungry growing kids you end up spending a lot on them. They are packed with additives which we try to avoid!
For my family of five we would need at least two kits but truthfully most likely three to satisfy our dinner!
Family Taco Night Without The Store Bought Box Kit
This is not a sit down at the dinner table kind of supper. This is a very casual and fun pull up into the kitchen with TV dinner trays and enjoy each others presence dinner.
For us with small children we like to make it have a restaurant feel.
The kids will write their orders down. My husband acts as the sous chef building the tacos and I am the chef!
Chef takes some time beforehand to get all of the toppings done. Typically a protein, variety of chopped fresh vegetables, rice and sauce toppings!
Next, I will lay the toppings out on our island ready to be pulled from. Then, I will get to work slow frying the taco shells. They are best eaten quickly after coming out the oil.
Taco Night Toppings
Truly the options for tacos are endless. You can do a classic taco like us, or you can do really fun spins! Fish tacos, carnitas, Asian inspired tacos and on and on!
We kick it back to the basics with a couple of added additions. I grew up stacking my tacos with these traditional toppings so they keep my taste buds feeling right at home.
- Ground hamburger
- Diced tomatoes
- Chopped lettuce
- Yellow Sazon rice
- Black beans or refried beans
- Freshly shredded cheese
- Chopped onions
- Fire roasted corn
- Sour cream
- Hot sauce
Other great options…
- Sweet salsa like peach or watermelon
- Pico de gallo
- Black olives
- Pickled red onion
Homemade Taco Seasoning
Now, lets talk the beef! I like any type of taco meat but beef is our go to. It is affordable and quick to prepare. Ditching the kit means you have to season your own beef to fill your plate with. I’ve got you covered. Here are the ingredients that I use! It comes with a little heat but you can adjust to a level that your families palates allow.
This is a measure with your heart kind of meat seasoning. A sprinkle here and a sprinkle there. Some of these spices carry a little fire to the taste so you will need less of them. My youngest is almost 2 and I have slowly increased the amount I’ve used as she has gotten older!
The two ingredients out of this batch that really make this seasoning POP is the tajin and sazon goya. I’d say play around with the rest as you’d like but make sure you have those two to start! It brings layers of flavor without much effort at all.
Once I have all of my seasonings mixed into my cooked hamburger (usually around 2 pounds for our family of 5) I add in a cup to a cup and half of water to the mix and keep it cooking on low heat, stirring occasionally. This will help all those flavors really dive deep into your meat filling!
The Shells (The BEST part)
The brand of the shell does not matter. We have tried a large variety and there isn’t one that stands out amongst the others. Even the gluten free brands are delicious. However it has to be YELLOW CORN. They fry like magic and leave you drooling for more.
Frying Your Shells
- Step 1: Prepare a deep pan with oil. I suggest vegetable or canola oil to fry in. It will give you the best end result.
- Step 2: Allow your oil to heat up on a low to medium heat.
- Step 3: Drop in one shell, flat. Allow it to float around and begin to cook. I call this getting your oil “dirty.” The shells will cook better in the long run. Then, ditch that shell to the side once it is cooked.
- Step 4: Use a fork, be aware it will get hot in spots, or tongs to form your shell as you slowly rotate it back and forth to get an even fry. Sometimes an air bubble will form at the beginning of the process. Gently tear it or pop it so that the shell doesn’t become mis-formed.
- Step 5: Find your happy place! This shell if cooked just right is like a crossbreed of soft shell and hard shell. It is the perfect middle man. Both type of shell lovers always enjoy my shells! It has a little bit of crunch but the oil keeps it soft enough to not be overly hard.
- Step 6: Bring the shell out of the oil and place it down on a paper bag. Yes, a paper bag. It is the best thing to use for the oil to drip off. Paper towels will hold too much of the oil in place under the shell causing it to get mushy.
- Step 7: Eat right away! Form a rotation of who is up next and grab and go! The shells only need to sit on the paper bag for about 30 seconds to cool down enough to start building!
Ok, now….who’s hungry? I know I am!
Get your ingredients together and whip up a batch of these tacos! I promise you won’t ever go back to that box again.
And in song form you’ll hear my kids squeal, “taco – taco night…..don’t you wanna have a taco night?!!”
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Love, light and a little grace…
Olivia Whalen is mama to three young girls who is devoted to creative learning, exploration and free range imagination. Olivia enjoys thinking outside of the box when it comes to preparing homemade baby food or meals for her family. She most enjoys allowing the little minds in her life to flourish and with that you will see her write about creative kid crafts, recipes that fit a family budget and keep everyone asking for more, tips and tricks for a tiny babe, and beginner homesteader fun! Some of her hobbies include gardening, hiking, reading, cooking or just basking in motherhood.