Walking Taco Casserole

5 from 2 votes

Our Walking Taco Casserole will have you walking back into the kitchen for a second helping.

Our walking taco casserole is a great way to spice up taco Tuesday!

When it comes down to it, we don’t care what form a taco takes. If the recipe offers the classic southwest flavors we know and crave, you can count us in! There are many different ways to serve tacos: Put them in a hard shell or soft tortilla, make them large in a burrito wrap, or turn them into a quesadilla, salad, or casserole! This particular recipe comes in the form of a savory casserole, and it very well could be our new favorite way to partake in taco Tuesday! Our cheesy walking taco casserole combines all of your favorite taco ingredients to create an easy and delicious skillet dinner. 

What’s with the Name?

This casserole is great for dinner and lunch the next day!

Why is this recipe called “walking taco casserole?” The title begs for a dad joke about a casserole with legs, but allow me to explain. It’s called “walking taco” because it’s usually served in a bag of Fritos and eaten on-the-go. Serving it this way is always a hit with the kiddos, and makes it a super fun weeknight meal. That said, it can be (and often is) made in casserole form with the meat on the bottom and cheesy chips on top, as you will see here!

Cutting Fat and Calories

Try this healthier version of an oldschool favorite!

We have many methods to reduce the fat, carbohydrates, and calories for pretty much any recipe. Simple ingredient swaps can make all the difference in the world!

We made a healthier version of this classic walking taco casserole by using lean ground turkey instead of traditional ground beef. Let’s compare! One pound of lean ground turkey contains 85 grams of protein, 38 grams of fat, and 680 calories total. On the other hand, one pound of ground beef offers the same amount of protein but contains 68 grams of fat and 972 calories. Furthermore, ground turkey only contains 10 grams of saturated fat per pound, whereas the beef contains 27 grams. 

We also swapped out the unhealthy Fritos for whole-grain pita chips. Pita chips are healthier than tortilla chips, but you can use the latter to make this recipe gluten-free. If you’d like to reduce the carb content further, you can opt for bell peppers, cheese crisps, or zucchini chips instead of the pita. It won’t have the crunch factor, but it will still taste great.

Layers of Flavor in this Easy Weeknight Meal

Ground turkey, southwest seasoning, cream cheese, Mexican cheese, and pita chips create an absolutely scrumptious dinner!

A meal this delicious should take hours to make, but this one can be on the dinner table in just 35 minutes! It’s a super easy meal with several mouth-watering flavor layers.

The bottom layer is composed of perfectly seasoned ground turkey and diced onion. The slightly spicy southwest seasoning is made from a combination of chili powder, ground cumin, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and oregano.

The next layer offers plenty of flavor while also creating a creamy texture as well. The black beans, green chilies, and cream cheese meld together to create an absolutely delightful cheesy flavor with a mild earthiness. 

Next, we add on more deliciousness with the crunchy pita chips and shredded Mexican cheese. After all, we don’t believe there’s such a thing as too much cheese! With all that savory, meaty and cheesy goodness, we need something a little cold and crisp to complement the abundance of warm ingredients. Top the walking casserole off with some freshly shredded romaine lettuce and chopped tomatoes before serving. You can also add the salsa of your choosing and sour cream, if desired.

Want to Serve this Walking Taco Casserole the Classic Way?

The whole family will go wild over this tasty taco casserole!

If you have the calories to spare and would like to make taco night a little more exciting for the kids, feel free to serve this casserole up in the Frito bags. You can prepare it as instructed, but leave out the pita chips in the cooking process. Then, place a single-serving bag of Fritos on a plate and cut it open to expose the chips inside. Scoop a serving of the casserole onto the chips and dig in! The little ones always get a kick out of trading a plate for a bag of chips.

5 from 2 votes

Walking Taco Casserole

We took this classic casserole and gave it a healthy spin. This protein-packed dish makes a great easy dinner, but it's also fantastic as a snack or appetizer.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Yield 4 people
Serving Size 1.5 cups (approximately)
Course Appetizer, Dinner, Snack
Cuisine American


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 yellow onion medium, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 15 ounces black beans canned, drained and rinsed
  • 4 ounces diced green chilies canned
  • 2 ounces low-fat cream cheese
  • 2 cups whole-grain pita chips
  • 1/2 cup Mexican style cheese shredded
  • 1 cup lettuce shredded
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes chopped
  • Salsa and sour cream optional garnishes


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cook the ground turkey and diced onion in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the chili powder, ground cumin, salt, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, and water. Simmer the mixture until the water has evaporated.
  • Stir in the black beans, green chilies, and cream cheese. Simmer gently until the cream cheese is melted and remove the pan from the heat.
  • Top the seasoned turkey with the chips and cheese. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
  • Top with the shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes before serving. Garnish with salsa and sour cream, if desired.


Note that the nutritional information does not include salsa and sour cream.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1.5cups (approximately) | Calories: 320kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 585mg | Potassium: 576mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 979IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 150mg | Iron: 3mg |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 8
Keywords Budget-Friendly, Quick and Easy

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If you enjoyed this recipe, we think you might also like to try these southwest options:

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Chef Lindsay

Lindsay D. Mattison is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer. After graduating from Cascade Culinary School, Lindsay worked as the executive chef of a farm-to-table restaurant in Bend, Oregon. She is passionate about using local, organic ingredients and loves teaching home cooks how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to create beautiful meals for her family. She lives with her husband in Colorado, where she enjoys the trials and errors of gardening.

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