Homemade Cheesy Gordita Crunch
Inspired by my all-time favorite menu item at Taco Bell, these babies are perfect for when you can’t decide whether you want a crunchy or soft taco. Have both! The lightly charred flour tortilla wraps around the crunchy corn taco shell, held together by a delicious layer of oozy nacho cheese sauce. The shell is filled with seasoned ground beef, a homemade zesty jalapeno ranch sauce, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and shredded cheese.
The traditional cheesy gordita crunch uses melted shredded cheese between the tortilla and taco shell, but Taco Bell recently had a Double Stacked Taco on the menu that used nacho cheese instead. Mind blown. I like this version better but feel free to sub for either cheese depending on preference.
Makes six tacos.
For the tacos:
- 6 hard taco shells
- 6 6-inch flour tortillas
- 1 lb ground beef (preferably 85%/15% or 90%/10%)
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 1/2 white onion, finely diced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup store-bought nacho cheese sauce
- 2 roma tomatoes, diced
- 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
- 1 cup shredded mexican cheese
- 1/2 cup zesty jalapeno ranch
For the zesty jalapeno ranch:
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup light mayonnaise
- 1 packet ranch dressing mix
- 1 4-oz can diced jalapenos
- 1 tbsp hot sauce
- To make the zesty jalapeno ranch: add sour cream, mayonnaise, and seasonings packet to a bowl and stir to combine. Open the can of diced jalapenos and finely chop the jalapenos, reserving the liquid from the can (the diced jalapenos straight out of the can are pretty chunky; finely chopping them gives your sauce a much better consistency). Add the reserved liquid into the sour cream mixture, along with 2-3 tbsp of the finely chopped jalapenos depending on spice preference. Add hot sauce and stir everything to incorporate. Chill until ready to use, ideally at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld together.
- Preheat the oven according to hard shell taco package directions.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and stir occasionally until translucent, approx 5 minutes.
- Add the ground beef to the skillet, breaking apart with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring the ground beef often, until the meat is browned. Add taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water. Stir to coat the meat with the mixture. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce has reduced and excess water has evaporated, approx 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Optional: if you have a gas stove, lightly char the flour tortillas over a burner set on low heat, keeping them warm in a dish towel or tortilla warmer. If skipping this step, microwave the tortillas for 30 seconds on low to warm them.
- Warm the hard shell tacos according to package directions.
- To assemble the tacos, spoon a bit of the nacho cheese sauce onto the flour tortilla and spread evenly. Gently fold around the hard taco shell. Add ground beef, zesty jalapeno ranch sauce, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, and shredded lettuce. Serve immediately.