Cheesy Baked Chicken Tacos
How to make the BEST cheesy oven baked chicken tacos that are packed with flavor and so simple to make! Perfect for a party, big family dinner, or any day of the week!
This recipe for Cheesy Baked Chicken Tacos is perfect for when you want a versatile recipe the whole family will love! We love easy Mexican-inspired meals like my Southwest Chicken and Rice and Roasted Salsa Verde. This is one of my Mexican recipes you’ll definitely want in your dinner rotation!
BAKED CHICKEN TACOS
We have several favorite dinners around here, and the top 2 are my Baked Mac and Cheese and taco night!
I’m a sucker for anything remotely Mexican or Tex-Mex flavored, and thankfully, so is my family. Otherwise, well we’d have some unhappy kiddos lol.
The only thing that gets me down about taco night is that my littlest can’t make his own tacos yet. So there I am, starving, making up his tacos. Once I give them to him and start to make my OWN tacos, he’s wolfed down his and is ready for more! I’m always the last one actually eating tacos on taco night. Sound familiar to anyone else?
That’s where these baked chicken tacos come in handy. The tacos are already all assembled and baked together, so everyone just gets to add their own toppings and they’re good to go!
Since this meal comes together in 30 minutes, it’s perfect for a busy weeknight. It’s also great for serving up tacos at a party, when tailgating, and more!
With the ability to make this with various proteins (even vegetarian), spicy, mild, or with homemade seasoning… you’re sure to find a taco style you’ll love!
HOW TO MAKE OVEN BAKED CHICKEN TACOS
- Preheat oven and prepare baking dishes.
- Brown chicken in skillet. Make sure you’re using a BIG skillet, or even a dutch oven for this, as you’ll be cooking 2 lbs of meat, plus other ingredients. Drain chicken when finished cooking and return to same skillet.
- Cook onion and garlic, then add seasoning. You’re not looking for any color on the onions here, just getting them to be soft and translucent. When you add the seasoning, stir the meat mixture really well to ensure the seasoning is well distributed.
- Remove from heat and add beans, tomatoes, green chiles. Making sure the canned ingredients are drained really well is important so you don’t get a soggy taco.
- Add shells and fill. Add 10 taco shells per baking dish and spread some refried beans on the inside bottom of each shell. Top with about 1/2 cup of the taco meat mixture and top that with a handful of shredded cheese.
- Bake tacos. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until cheese is melted, tacos are heated through and shells are just starting to get golden brown.
ADDITIONAL COOKING TIPS
Making these chicken tacos certainly isn’t difficult, but there’s a few tips that will help you make the perfect tacos!
NO SOGGY SHELLS
Inherently, these taco shells will be a bit softer on the bottom than when prepared the traditional way, but there are a few things you can do to minimize the sogginess.
- Make sure you drain the tomatoes, green chiles and beans REALLY well. I always open and drain/rinse my canned goods for this recipe before I do any other prep work, so they can sit in the colander and really drain.
- Add a barrier between the meat filling and taco shell. Here I’ve used refried beans, but you could use a layer of shredded cheese as well. Or hey, add some refried beans AND cheese… it’s your taco 🙂
- I’ve also included a method for pre-baking the shells on their own before adding any taco filling, which will really ensure a more crisp taco.
VARIATIONS OF THIS RECIPE
- PROTEIN – this recipe is so versatile, you can make these baked tacos with shredded chicken, ground pork, ground turkey, ground beef, shredded beef, shredded pork, etc. It’s also a great use up for leftover meat, or a rotisserie chicken. Try it with my Mexican Shredded Chicken! <— knock your socks off flavor!
- VEGETARIAN – if you’d rather not have meat in these tacos, no worries! You can either use more black beans (or your favorite canned bean), or use vegetarian meatless crumbles. I’ve also heard cooked lentils that have been semi-mashed are a good meat substitute as well.
- SPICY – feel like kicking up the heat? Try adding a diced jalapeno or two when you’re cooking the onion. You can also use diced green chiles that are labeled hot, and/or feel free to add some cayenne pepper to the taco seasoning.
- MILD – I would say these tacos are mild as written, but if you’re sensitive to spice, you can omit the diced green chiles (or use less), and use a taco seasoning that’s labeled as mild.
- SEASONING – if you prefer a homemade taco seasoning, check out my special blend in the recipe card of these Crockpot Tacos. It’s for the same amount of meat, so it’s an easy substitute.
HAVING A MEXICAN FIESTA?
Then you’ll need some great sides, appetizers and drinks to go alongside these delicious tacos!
MAKING CHICKEN TACOS AHEAD OF TIME
I don’t recommend making this whole dish ahead of time, as the shells could get soggy, but you can make the chicken filling ahead of time! Then you just have to assemble and bake.
Make sure to keep the chicken filling in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Leftover chicken tacos should be refrigerated in an airtight container and consumed within 3-4 days.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FOR THIS RECIPE
- 3 quart baking dish – any 9×13″ baking dish will work, I like the nonstick nature of this pan (makes it so easy to clean).
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Cheesy Baked Chicken Tacos
- 2 lbs. ground chicken
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion - diced
- 4 cloves garlic - minced
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes - drained very well
- 7 oz can diced green chiles - drained
- 15 oz can black beans - drained and rinsed
- 2 packages (1 oz each) taco seasoning
- 20 taco shells - Stand n Stuff shells are my recommended type
- 15 oz can refried beans - warmed slightly
- 16 oz package Mexican shredded cheese blend
- shredded lettuce
- fresh tomatoes
- minced cilantro
- sour cream
- taco sauce
- sliced green onions
- Preheat oven to 375°F and spray two 9x13 baking dishes with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- To a large skillet, add butter and olive oil and heat over MED HIGH heat. Add ground chicken and cook, breaking apart with a wooden spoon as it cooks, for 5-7 minutes, until fully cooked. Drain in a colander and return to skillet.
- Add diced onion and minced garlic and cook an additional 5 minutes until onions are tender. Add taco seasoning and cook another 30 seconds or so, stirring to combine everything well.
- Remove skillet from heat then add canned tomatoes, green chilis and black beans.
- Place 10 taco shells in each prepared baking dish. Spread approximately 2 Tbsp refried beans on the inside of each taco shell. Top refried beans with approximately ½ cup of the prepared taco meat mixture, then add about ¼ cup shredded cheese on top of each taco.
- Place casserole dishes side by side on the same rack. Bake for approximately 10 minutes until cheese is melted, tacos are heated through and shells are crisp and starting to get golden brown.
- Top with desired toppings and enjoy!
- For crispier shells, bake the shells by themselves in the baking dishes at 375°F for 5-6 minutes. Then continue with step 5 to assemble and bake tacos.