When Tuesday’s dinnertime rolls around, many of us turn to those meaty handheld envelopes of Mexican origin. As if we need an excuse to eat more tacos. They’re so versatile: You can stuff tacos with cauliflower, mushrooms, beans, shrimp, steak, ground beef, chicken, pork, tongue, or chorizo. You can use crunchy corn taco shells, soft flour tortillas, whole wheat tortillas, blue corn tortillas — even spinach tortillas. Practically all are available at the supermarket.
Taco Tuesday began in 1982, as a restaurant promotion for Taco John’s, a nationwide chain that started in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1968. The restaurant trademarked the phrase in 1989, but has since given up on enforcing their rights after all the bad press they received when going after a small, indie restaurant that used the phrase in 2010. We just know it as #tacotuesday on social media. The hashtag has been used more than 1 million (1,007,743 at the time of this article) times on Instagram.
So if you want to go beyond the basic beef tacos of Tex-Mex inspiration, we’ve got your Tuesday party favors all lined up.
1. Basic Fish Tacos
Unlike battered, fried fish tacos, these are actually healthy. But that doesn’t mean we compromised on taste, either. There’s a citrus marinade using fresh lime juice, garlic, cumin, and chili powder, that only takes 15 minutes in the fridge. Start with a firm white fish, such as tilapia, snapper, cod, mahi mahi, or catfish. We suggest checking SeafoodWatch.org to make sure you get a sustainably caught or raised fish that isn’t endangered. While the fish is marinating, you just make a red cabbage slaw and warm the tortillas. Done. Get our Basic Fish Tacos recipe.
2. Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
Chicken breast is a North American favorite for its ease and low-fat characteristics, compared to chicken thighs and legs. But fat equals flavor. So we infuse that missing oomph with the rich green chile flavor of poblano peppers. Plus other flavors, of course, like those perennial aromatics: garlic and onions. We toss in a habanero pepper to add some real heat, but it shouldn’t overwhelm people who don’t love to play with fire. You can cook it all in the Crock-Pot for three to four hours. Get our Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos recipe.
3. Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Corn Salsa
Now this is a summertime taco. Get some fresh corn on the cob and slice off those sunshine-filled jewels for the salsa, which is just as important as the shrimp in this concoction. Two avocados provide some healthy, belly-satisfying fat that doesn’t hurt anyone watching their weight. It just gives you a creaminess that your heart likes. There are still the traditional ingredients in this salsa: tomatoes, cilantro, lime, and a hot pepper such as the serrano chile in this case. You’ll need two pounds of large shrimp too, which could be about 45 of those little guys, depending on the size you actually find. Get our Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Avocado-Corn Salsa recipe.
4. Tacos Al Pastor
This is some real Mexican food here. If you don’t already, you’ll get to know a few more chiles when you shop and cook for this recipe: guajillo, negro, and ancho. Locate your nearest Latin grocery store because unless you’ve got a really well-stocked grocery, you might not find these varieties just anywhere. The real stars of this taco, however, are the 2 pounds of boneless pork loin and the 3-pound pineapple. Yes, you’re buying a whole pineapple for this deal. If you absolutely insist on cheating, it ends up being 1 and 1/4 pounds of fresh pineapple meat. Also, there’s Mexican oregano, which is a cousin of lemon verbena. So you might be learning a thing or two as you create these savory, sweet pork tacos that do best when pork is marinated overnight. Get our Tacos Al Pastor recipe.
5. Crispy Ground Beef Tacos
Sometimes you want a basic, classic (well, Tex-Mex classic) taco, the kind that reminds you of what you used to love at Taco Bell before you knew how much better it could be. These tacos use ground beef seasoned with a combination of spices kinda like that ready-made taco seasoning packet at the grocery store. But more delicious. If you can’t find habanero pepper powder, look for another very hot pepper powder, such as cayenne. And by all means, sprinkle on the shredded iceberg lettuce and Mexican blend shredded cheese — even sour cream if you want. Get our Crispy Ground Beef Tacos recipe.
6. Cauliflower Tacos
Cauliflower, the pale, cruciferous cousin of broccoli, like a blank canvas in their culinary possibilities. Here, those little ivory trees are coated in chili powder, smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, and garlic powder. Then they’re roasted. But what makes this taco work is the combination of cauliflower with two other elements: the lemon crema and the slaw made with red cabbage, carrots, and cilantro. Vegetarian or not, you’ll crave another one of these after one bite of your first. Get our Cauliflower Tacos recipe.
7. Chorizo and Potato Breakfast Taco
For a spicy, savory, filling taco experience with your morning coffee, you’ll get a kick out of these tacos. And it’s an unusual breakfast taco recipe in that there is one ingredient missing: eggs. But you won’t miss them. Chorizo is a Mexican red sausage that uses spicy red chiles in the mix. Originating in Spain, that chorizo incorporates a milder pimiento pepper. If encased, chorizo traditionally is wrapped into links with pig intestines. But that’s not always the case. Get our Chorizo and Potato Breakfast Tacos recipe.
8. Chipotle Beef Tacos with Caramelized Onions
With soft flour tortillas and pan-fried skirt or flank steak, plus caramelized onions, these tacos are getting mighty close to fajitas territory. Regardless, the steak is slathered in a chipotle pepper and adobo sauce, forming the foundation of the recipe’s smoky, spicy flavor profile. You can add a good, homemade salsa with this too. Please don’t muck it up with shredded cheddar … well, unless you gotta. We understand. Get our Chipotle Beef Tacos with Caramelized Onions recipe.
9. Jerk Chicken Tacos
You’ll need to do a little bit of work on Monday to infuse the jerk essence within the chicken. Jerk is a hot, spicy, uniquely Jamaican seasoning developed over centuries. Our recipe includes orange juice, garlic, cilantro, green onions, Scotch bonnet or habanefro peppers, thyme, white vinegar, ginger, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt, and pepper. Whew! You’ll puree all that and marinate the chicken in it for 24 hours. It’ll be worth the wait. With that much flavor, you don’t want accompaniments that compete, so all you add is shredded cabbage, cilantro, lime, and a fruity salsa to complement that heat. Get our Jerk Chicken Tacos recipe.
10. Quick Chicken Tacos
Maybe you didn’t decide to celebrate Taco Tuesday until around 5 p.m., when it’s quittin’ time. It’s too late to slow-cook or marinate your chicken. You’re not even at Hump Day anyway, and you don’t have the time or energy to fuss with dinner too much. Takeout is threatening to be a possibility. Instead, grab a rotisserie chicken from a grocery store or where ever it’s available. Then, with just a few other ingredients that you can hopefully grab at the same place, you can have your tacos ready in 20 minutes, from start to finish. OK, it might take 30 minutes, depending how long it takes to shred your chicken. Get our Quick Chicken Tacos recipe.