30 taco recipes for easy weeknight dinners

Why only celebrate Taco Tuesday when you can also enjoy it every night of the week? The beauty of making homemade tacos is that you can concoct them with virtually any combination of meat, vegetables, cheese and toppings, creating a meal that caters to everyone’s preferences. You can fill a taco with diced grilled chicken, seasoned ground beef, sliced skirt steak, shredded rotisserie chicken, stewed rib-eye, black beans, slow-cooked pork shoulder, black beans and sweet potatoes. On taco night, anything goes.

A DIY toppings bar is also ripe for the picking. Choose from guacamole, sour cream, assorted salsas, crunchy coleslaw, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and minced onions. For those who want something a little spicy, jalapeños and hot sauce will go a long way.

Not only are tacos a bonafide crowd pleaser, but they’re also a great, interactive activity that gets everyone involved. Kids and adults alike can pile on their favorite ingredients.

And let’s not forget how clutch tacos come in when you’re entertaining a crowd. Whether it’s a casual family gathering or a rowdy game day party with friends, tacos are an all-around winner. With minimal effort, you can whip up a feast that caters to varying tastes and dietary preferences — and probably still have leftovers at the end of the night.

Taco and Chili Seasoning Mix by Debbie Koenig

Before we talk tacos, let’s start with the basics. With this simple formula, you’ll never have to buy taco seasoning packets again. Just combine paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, salt and red pepper flakes, then store in a jar for future use. For taco and chili lovers, this big batch spice blend is a major time-saver.

Chicken Tinga Tacos by Ray Garcia

Happen to have an abundance of leftover chicken? Make these chicken tinga tacos. The magic is in the tinga sauce, which is made by blending butter, diced onion, garlic, poblano chiles, canned tomatoes and chipotle peppers in adobo. Warm the shredded chicken in a healthy amount of sauce, then pile on tortillas and melted cheese.

Fish Tacos with Tomato-Blueberry Salsa by Alejandra Ramos

Don’t let the thought of cooking fish tacos scare you away. For the patriotic topping, toss halved blueberries with diced onion, plum tomatoes, lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper, a combination that complements flaky white fish. Tangy crema and salsa can both be made a few days in advance, so all you have to do on taco night is sear the fish and assemble.

Dylan Dreyer's Steak Tacos by Dylan Dreyer

Sliced skirt steak is the star of these tacos. Adapted from a recipe by Tyler Florence, the steak is marinated with garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, orange juice, vinegar and oil. Once grilled, it’ll slice like butter, making it the perfect taco filling, simply paired with lettuce, cheese and pico.

Grilled Skirt Steak Tacos with Salsa Verde by Michael Symon

Who said skirt steak wasn’t versatile? This cut of beef gets its smoky flavor from a marinade of puréed chipotles in adobo, brown sugar, coriander, cumin and lime juice. The salsa verde is a true standout, thanks to gentle heat of a jalapeño, and briny bits like chopped capers and anchovies.

Michael Symon's Grilled Rib-eye Tacos by Michael Symon

Rib-eye is typical steakhouse fare, but as you might expect, it’s a killer taco filling, too. Season the steaks with a rub of salt, pepper chipotle powder, coriander, cumin, paprika and brown sugar, then grill. Slice the meat, tuck it into tortillas and top with bright tomatillo salsa.

Ground Beef Tacos by Ryan Scott

Ah, the nostalgic simplicity of ground beef tacos, topped with all the fixings. We’re talking full taco bar accouterments: sour cream, chopped tomatoes, scallions, jalapenos and, of course, shredded lettuce. For a leaner option, swap in ground turkey.

Tacos al Pastor by Gabriela Cámara

Transport yourself to Mexico City with chef Gabriela Cámara’s take on authentic Mexican street food. Sliced pork tenderloin, Adobo de Chiles Rojos, pineapple chunks, minced onions and freshly squeezed lime juice combine to form a sweet, smoky bite that will leave you wanting many more.

Mediterranean Chicken Salad Tacos by Kena Peay

Salad meets tacos in this protein packed, Mediterranean-style recipe. The key to these tacos is in the assembly. First, make crispy chicken tacos by pan frying a tortilla with shredded mozzarella and chicken and. Serve with a heaping pile of briny tomato-cucumber salad for a fresh crunch.

Beer-Braised Spicy Beef Tacos by Erica Blaire Roby

Beer-braised tacos up the flavor ante. Pick whatever brew you like to drink and use it as a braising liquid for your beef roast. While the meat cooks, make a big batch of coleslaw for piling on top, along with chopped red onion, cilantro and crumbled queso fresco.

Mini Chipotle Shrimp Tacos by Alejandra Ramos

Mini shrimp tacos are a delight worth devouring. Sear tiny shrimp in a smoky adobo sauce, then toss with diced red onion and peppers. To assemble, spoon cumin sour cream on 10-inch flour tortillas, cut into 3-inch rounds with a cookie cutter. Top each mini tortilla with a spoonful of shrimp and then secure with a toothpick skewer.

Sandra Lee's 20-Minute Ground Beef Tacos by Sandra Lee

Leave it to Sandra Lee to put together the ultimate old school taco night in just 20 minutes. All you need is a box of hard taco shells, ground beef, taco seasoning, jarred salsa and jalapeños. Don’t forget the toppings either: shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sliced black olives, shredded cheese and sour cream.

Te Quiero Taco by Ryan Scott

Love Taco Bell’s crave-worthy tacos? Make them yourself at home with better-for-you ingredients whenever the craving strikes. The recipe is simple: Sauté ground beef with onions, garlic, seasonings and assemble on tortillas with all of your favorite fixings.

Beer Can Chicken Tacos by Reba McEntire and Rex Linn

Using the iconic beer can chicken method, bake chicken until the meat is falling off the bone. This juicy, beer-infused chicken serves as the base for these smoky barbecue tacos with Hatch chile mayo. Load the meat on warmed tortillas and garnish with sautéed onions, mayo, barbecue sauce and guacamole.

Chipotle-Lime Steak Tacos with Quick Pickled Onions by Alejandra Ramos

Marinate skirt steak in canned chipotles in adobo, olive oil, lime zest, juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Grill the steak, then slice it and place into warm corn tortillas. Top with cumin-lime mayo, queso fresco, cilantro, avocado and quick pickled onions.

Easy Slow-Cooker Carnitas by Casey Barber

Put your slow cooker to work, so you don’t have to. Pop in a pork shoulder, then set it and forget it for easy, hands-off carnitas in a matter of hours. Use the carnitas in tacos, burritos, lettuce wraps, nachos or in grain bowls.

Crispy Salmon and Spicy Mango Salsa Tacos by Olivier Palazzo

Once you master the art of pan-frying crispy salmon, you’ll want to eat these fish tacos on repeat. The kicker? Sweet and spicy mango salsa that gets its heat from a thinly sliced Scotch bonnet pepper.

Lobster Tacos by Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac

For a decadent spin on weeknight tacos, treat yourself to some Maine lobster meat. The sweet, succulent lobster pairs perfectly with cilantro-lime taco sauce, pico de gallo, freshly squeezed lime and cabbage slaw.

Taco-Inspired Recipes

Make-Ahead Chicken Taco Salad by Kevin Curry

For those nights when you need a no-cook dinner, this make-ahead chicken taco salad fits the bill. All you need is a bag of shredded lettuce, tomatoes, canned black beans, frozen or canned corn and shredded rotisserie chicken. Make an easy dressing with store-bought enchilada sauce, vinegar, lime juice, cumin and honey.

Joy's Taco Casserole by Joy Bauer

Give tacos the casserole treatment with this loaded taco bake. Cook ground turkey with taco seasoning, salsa, black beans and corn. Layer tortilla chips with the cooked filling and shredded cheese — lasagna style — for a nacho-esque creation. Add chopped scallions, olives and jalapeños, then bake until the edges are slightly crisp.

Taco Soup by Joy Bauer

Enjoy taco Tuesday in soup form with this hearty, spiced soup. It’s got all the usual suspects: ground meat, onions, taco seasoning, black beans, corn and jalapeños. The best part? This one-pot dinner takes just 30 minutes to come together.

Vegetarian Taco Bake by Casey Barber

Individual taco bowls are great, but this giant taco rice bake is even better. Stir together pinto beans, diced tomatoes, green chiles, cooked rice, chili powder, shredded cheese and seasonings, then layer in a 9-inch baking dish.. Top the mixture with even more cheese and bake for 30 minutes.

Taco-Flavored Wings with Chipotle Glaze by Katie Stilo

With a simple taco kit, turn store-bought taco seasoning packets into a dry-brine for your favorite wings. For a clever twist, use crushed taco shells to form an extra crispy coating. Whip up a side of lime crema on the side for dipping.

Vegetarian Taco Recipes

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Taco Cups by Kathryn Hendrix and Allrecipes

A muffin tin is a great way to make a variety of grab-and-go breakfasts, and these sweet potato taco cups are no exception. Fit a tortilla into the button of each muffin cup, then top with cooked sweet potato, onion, jalapeño, garlic and beans. Sprinkle the mixture with cheese and bake until the filling is bubbling. Let the cups cool and you can enjoy them as finger food.

Joy Bauer's Black Bean Tacos by Joy Bauer

Take a trip to your pantry instead of the grocery store to make these nutritious black bean tacos. The filling is deceptively simple: warm canned black beans, jarred salsa, garlic, cumin and mustard until piping hot. Place the mixture into taco shells and dress as your heart desires.

Sweet Potato Tacos by Alana Leland

Meatless Monday marries Taco Tuesday in this easy sweet potato black bean taco recipe. Roast diced sweet potatoes until tender, then combine in a skillet with black beans, corn and cooked quinoa. To garnish, squeeze fresh lime and add a handful of crumbled feta cheese.

Slim-and-Trim Tacos by Elizabeth Heiskell

Here’s another vegetarian taco idea: Cook quinoa until fluffy, then toss with sweet potatoes, onion and bell pepper. The quinoa bulks up the filling without adding excessive carbs. For an easy crema, stir together sour cream, chopped cilantro, lime juice, chili powder, cumin and salt and serve with ripe avocado slices.

Lentil Tacos by Jenné Claiborne

Only have 30 minutes to make dinner? These lentil tacos are calling your name. Cook lentils and kale in crushed tomatoes until thickened and stewy. Meanwhile, make an easy mango guacamole with ripe avocados, red onion, cilantro, lime juice and cubed mango. It’s an unlikely but ingenious pairing.

Vegan Tacos with Crispy Potatoes by Priyanka Naik

If you’ve always wanted to try Taco Bell, but your veganism got in the way, then this vegan taco recipe is for you. With a little imagination, re-hydrated chickpea flour turns into “meat-like” crumbles, seasoned with taco seasoning, onion, garlic, chipotles in adobo and lime juice. These tacos are best served with vegan sour cream and cheddar shreds.

Vegetarian Breakfast Tacos by Casey Barber

Breakfast for dinner is easy when tacos are on the menu. First, toast the corn tortillas over the oven flame. Scramble eggs until cooked through, then set off to the side while you gather the rest of the pairings, including diced avocado, Sriracha and scallions.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com