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Flank Steak with Corn Salsa

This fresh and lively spice-rubbed Flank Steak with Corn Salsa is simple to make and packed with flavor. The ultimate summer weeknight meal!

With a veggie-loaded salsa, the healthy fats in the avocado, and a protein-packed steak, this meal doesn’t require much in the way of sides. That said, if you’d like to add some more greens, this mandarin orange salad is a great pairing. Or serve alongside this refreshing peach lemonade for a meal that screams warm weather!

Overhead image of Flank Steak with Corn Salsa.

Flank Steak with Corn Salsa

Sometimes the recipes I share here need several iterations before they’re ready to be photographed and shared. This flank steak with corn salsa, however, was a total hit the first time I made it for my family. I adapted the corn salsa from this crazy-popular grilled chicken & corn salsa recipe and served it up to my husband and boys. The whole meal was gone within minutes!

A few days later, when I made it it again to photograph (at 10 am in the morning, no less), the entire thing was inhaled again by the boys and my sister who was over at my home. To say it’s been a hit is an understatement! While it might seem like a fancy dish, this recipe couldn’t be easier to make. It comes together quickly, and we keep the heat out of the kitchen by using a grill to do all the cooking.

While the steak is cooking, the corn salsa can be whipped together, and dinner will be ready on the table in about 30 minutes or less! No steak marinating time and a short cook time — about 8-10 minutes total is all that’s needed for a perfect medium-rare flank steak.

Process shots-- images of the seasoning rub being prepped; then rubbed all over the steak; then it being grilled and cut into thin slices.

Flank Steak Tips 

A few overall steak cooking tips:

  • Make sure the grill is completely heated before you add the steak. High heat sears the surface of the meat, resulting in a juicier steak with an amazing char.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure the meat is perfectly cooked to your personal preference (more on this below!)
  • Let the steak rest before cutting into it. Once the steak is grilled, it needs a bit of time to rest so the juices can re-distribute evenly throughout the meat. By letting the meat rest, you will have a juicier steak! I recommend loosely covering the steak in foil and letting it sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it.
  • Cut the cooked steak against the grain. Here’s more on that! Once it’s sliced, it’s ready to go.

Flank Steak with Corn Salsa: steak temperatures

I prefer flank steak cook to medium rare and find it loses flavor and texture when cooked beyond medium. To each their own though, cook the steak exactly how you like it!  Below are the temperatures for cooking steak to your personal preference.

Fully preheat the grill to 450 degrees F. Aim to keep the grill that consistent temperature throughout the grilling process.

  • Rare: 120-125 degrees F
  • Medium-Rare: 135 degrees F (about 4-5 minutes on one side and another 4-5 minutes on the other side)
  • Medium: 140 degrees F (about 5-7 minutes on one side and another 3-5 minutes on the other side)
  • Medium-Well: 150 degrees F (about 8-10 minutes on one side and another 3-5 minutes on the other side)
  • Well-Done: 160-175 degrees F.

**Time depends on the steak’s thickness, your grill, and actual temperature of your grill**

QUICK TIP

Pull the steaks off about 5 degrees below the desired temperature — the steaks will “cook” those last 5 degrees from carryover heat as they rest.

Process shots-- images of grilled corn; corn cut from the cob; all the salsa ingredients added to a bowl; mixing it all together; seasoning to taste; serving salsa over the steak.

Avocado Corn Salsa how-tos and tips

  • Grilling the corn adds pizzazz to this salsa and since the steak will already be on the grill, you may as well grill the corn at the same time! 
    • How to grill corn: Peel back husks and remove the silk. Rub vegetable or olive oil on all sides of the corn and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place on heated grill (400-450 degrees F) and rotate every 3-4 minutes or until charred. (This also works on a grill pan!)
  • Let the corn cool a bit before cutting it off the cob. The corn should be at room temperature for the salsa, so it doesn’t “cook” the other ingredients.
  • The ripe avocado adds so much to this flank steak with corn salsa. It gives a delicious creamy element and nice subtle flavor. For best results, use a good ripe avocado.
    • To tell if an avocado is ripe, press gently around the stem (not on the stem) and if it gives, the avocado is ripe (the “give” should feel like pressing the tip of your nose). No part of the avocado should be mushy to touch (this means its overripe).
  • Don’t forget the fresh lime. This hit of acid and flavor pulls everything together and keeps the avocado from browning too quickly.
  • Adjust the salt. Salt does amazing things for chicken and the salsa. If you feel like anything is lacking flavor, add a quick sprinkle of sea salt. It’s also important to season as you cook and taste often. Since the steak rub has salt in it, the corn is salted, and the salsa should be salted, add slowly, to personal preference, so you don’t overdo it.

Up-close overhead image of sliced Flank Steak with Corn Salsa about to be eaten.

Flank Steak with Corn Salsa tips

  • Worried about heat? Use McCormick® chili powder for the steak rub (I find it very mild) and omit the jalapeno and/or red pepper flakes from the salsa. (Overall, as the recipe is written, I would consider this is a fairly mild dish, but it does have a bit of a hit.)
  • Save some time. To save yourself some overall prep time, use pre-minced garlic and this citrus juicer to make juicing the limes a breeze!
  • When preparing the salsa, aim to cut each ingredient into similar sizes for uniformity and the best texture. 

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Flank Steak with Corn Salsa

0 from 0 votes
This fresh and lively spice-rubbed Flank Steak with Corn Salsa is simple to make and packed with flavor. The ultimate summer weeknight meal!
Print Recipe

Flank Steak with Corn Salsa

0 from 0 votes
This fresh and lively spice-rubbed Flank Steak with Corn Salsa is simple to make and packed with flavor. The ultimate summer weeknight meal!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Flank Steak with Corn Salsa
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 501kcal
Cost $20.51

Ingredients

Steak

  • 1 and 1/2 up to 2 pounds flank steak
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: garlic powder, ground coriander, ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon EACH: sweet paprika, ground chili powder (McCormick is not very spicy)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons EACH: fine sea salt and pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Corn Salsa

  • 3 ears sweet corn
  • olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • 1 very large (or 2 small) ripe avocados, peeled, seed removed, and diced
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 3/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon EACH: finely minced jalapeno and minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • Optional: additional cilantro and lime wedges, for serving

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the grill to 450 degrees F. Once heated, clean the grill grates with a wire brush. Liberally oil the grill (I do this by drenching a paper towel in canola or vegetable oil and, holding tongs, rubbing the paper towel over the grill).
  • CORN: Shuck corn and discard silk. Drizzle corn with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Rub the oil and salt/pepper into all sides of the corn. Add the corn to the heated and oiled grill over direct heat. Grill corn about 10-12 minutes total, rotating every 3-4 minutes until bright in color and lightly charred. Let grilled corn cool before cutting it off the cob.
  • STEAK: Prepare the rub by mixing together the garlic powder, ground coriander, cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Remove the flank steak from packaging and blot dry with a paper towel. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil on the top of the steak. Sprinkle half the rub on top and gently press in. Flip the steak over. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon oil on the bottom of the steak and sprinkle on the remaining rub mixture. Gently press in. Place the spiced-rubbed steak directly on the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature is 130-135 degrees F for medium rare or 145 degrees for medium. (I use a meat thermometer here. My grill takes exactly 4 minutes per side at 450 degrees F.) Remove the steak from the grill to a cutting board. Tent with foil and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes. Once the steak has rested, slice it very thinly against the grain (See Note 1).
  • SALSA: While the steak cooks, prepare the salsa. Slice the cooled corn off the cob and add to a large bowl. Dice the veggies -- the avocados, red onion, red pepper and cilantro and add to the corn. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1 teaspoon cumin, minced jalapeno, minced garlic, and, if desired, crushed red pepper flakes to the veggies. Gently toss together. Add salt and pepper to taste (I add 1/4 teaspoon of each). Toss again and serve over steak. If desired, drizzle everything with 1 more tablespoon olive oil. Serve with extra cilantro and lime wedges if desired.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Find the fibers on the steak and determine how they are running along the steak. Once you find that grain, slice perpendicular (here's a visual). This will keep the meat juicier and much more tender. It's easier to chew when cut against the grain.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 501kcal | Carbohydrates: 30.2g | Protein: 41.1g | Fat: 25.8g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 112.3mg | Fiber: 5.3g | Sugar: 12g

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BBQ Chicken Sandwich

This show-stopping, flavor-packed BBQ Chicken Sandwich is made with slow-cooked saucy chicken. Add the sweet BBQ chicken to a toasted bun with a quick guac and easy coleslaw.

Pair this barbecue favorite with a corn salad or potato salad.

Image of BBQ Chicken Sandwich, on a plate, ready to be eaten.

BBQ Chicken Sandwich

These easy sandwiches have been on major repeat at our house this summer; they’re crazy-simple to make, loaded with flavor, and everyone in my family is obsessed with them!

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that we use a slow cooker to cook the meat. No worries if you don’t have a grill or smoker, you can enjoy delicious BBQ chicken with this recipe.

Process shots-- images of the sauce ingredients being added and combined; chicken and onions being added; everything being mixed and covered; cooked until tender; then shredded.

Let’s talk sandwich buns

Our favorite way to serve these BBQ chicken sandwiches on is toasted brioche buns. (Here’s how to toast buns — on a grill, in a pan, or in the oven). Before toasting the buns, I recommend buttering both of the insides with softened butter or butter in a tub.

QUICK TIP

Toasting the buns also ensures that the sandwich toppings don’t make the bread too soggy.

The chicken on these BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

In a lot of my recipes, chicken thighs and breasts can be interchanged fairly easily. This recipe, however, does not work well with chicken breasts. The breasts dry out quickly and don’t absorb the sauce as well.

I recommend boneless, skinless chicken thighs for these sandwiches. The thighs stay juicy and succulent, shred easily, and absorb the sauce nicely.

Trim off the major fatty parts on the thighs, without worrying too much about removing all the fat; the fat will contribute lots of flavor.

Process shots-- images of the coleslaw dressing being poured over the salad; everything being mixed together to combine.

Quick “guac”

Nothing compares to a layer of guacamole underneath the saucy chicken — it adds an amazing creaminess to the BBQ Chicken Sandwich!

That said, you don’t need to spend too much time making guacamole. I usually just mash up a ripe avocado and add a pinch of salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lime juice. Easy!

You could also buy prepared guacamole for a quicker prep time.

Overhead image of the coleslaw being scooped up by the tongs for BBQ Chicken Sandwiches.

Coleslaw

Guac — BBQ chicken — and finally some coleslaw! The coleslaw adds the perfect contrasting crunchy texture to the tender chicken and creamy guacamole.

I recently shared this coleslaw recipe, so you can absolutely use that recipe to top these BBQ Chicken Sandwiches. That said, if you’re wanting a quicker prep time, grab a bag of coleslaw mix and some fresh (refrigerated) coleslaw dressing (I like Marie’s® best; not sponsored) and toss the two together until the coleslaw mix is sufficiently mixed.

Add a generous scoop of coleslaw right on top of the BBQ chicken, top with a bun, and dig in!

Image of the BBQ Chicken Sandwich on a plate with potato chips on the side.

BBQ Chicken Sandwich tips

  • I can’t recommend Heinz® ketchup enough — it’s so good in this homemade BBQ sauce (not sponsored).
  • Watch the cook time closely; not all slow cookers cook at the same rate. We’re looking for chicken that shreds easily (if it falls apart or disintegrates, it’s likely overcooked and will taste dry) or internal chicken temperatures that register 165 degrees F. 
  • Use a 6-quart slow cooker that has been generously greased with cooking spray.
  • Allow time for the sauce to thicken. When the chicken is done cooking, the sauce can be a bit thin, so allow time to thicken up a bit and coat the chicken.
  • This is a great meal to make ahead of time. The chicken gets more flavorful and the sauce continues to thicken as they stand. This dish reheats nicely — we’ll make sandwiches throughout the week with this recipe!

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BBQ Chicken Sandwich

0 from 0 votes
A show-stopping, flavor-packed BBQ Chicken Sandwich made with slow-cooked saucy chicken. Add the sweet BBQ chicken to a toasted bun with a quick guac and easy coleslaw.
Print Recipe

BBQ Chicken Sandwich

0 from 0 votes
A show-stopping, flavor-packed BBQ Chicken Sandwich made with slow-cooked saucy chicken. Add the sweet BBQ chicken to a toasted bun with a quick guac and easy coleslaw.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Sandwich
Cuisine American
Keyword BBQ Chicken Sandwich
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 25 minutes
Servings 6 -8 sandwiches
Calories 450kcal
Cost $7.12

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (153g) Heinz ketchup
  • 1/3 cup (75g) apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons (40g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (59g) tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons paprika (sweet not smoked)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: fine sea salt, freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced (or 2 small onions)
  • 3 pounds (~11-13 total) boneless skinless chicken thighs, excess fat cut off (don't use chicken breasts)
  • 6-8 hamburger buns + butter (we love Brioche buns)
  • Serve with: coleslaw (see Note 1) and 2 large avocados with lime juice

Instructions

  • SLOW COOKER: Spray slow cooker with nonstick spray. Add the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
  • CHICKEN AND ONION: Remove the fatty parts of the chicken thighs (some fat is fine; just cut out the majority of the fat). Add the chicken thighs right to the sauce. Thinly slice the onion. Add to slow cooker and stir to combine everything. Spread the mixture evenly in the slow cooker, making sure everything is generously coated with sauce.
  • COOK: Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until chicken shreds easily (this is about 4.5 to 5 hours for me). I don't recommend cooking on high; it tends to dry out the chicken.
  • FINISH CHICKEN: As soon as the chicken shreds easily with 2 forks, it's done! Shred the chicken right in the slow cooker and stir it in the sauce. The sauce is a little thin at first, but will absorb and thicken a lot, once the chicken has shredded and it cools. Leave the crockpot uncovered, turn to warm, and let stand for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to continue thickening the sauce as you prepare everything else.
  • COLESLAW: Use store-bought or make your own (See Note 1).
  • BUNS AND QUICK GUACAMOLE: Spread butter on the insides of the buns. Add to a skillet or griddle and lightly brown the buns over medium heat. Set aside. In a small bowl, add the ripe avocados and mash with a fork. Add a pinch of salt and pepper (garlic powder if you'd like) and a squeeze of lemon. Mash to make a quick guac. Spread the guacamole along the bottom of the buns.
  • ASSEMBLE: Using tongs, scoop out chicken and onions to go on top of the guac. Add a generous spoonful of coleslaw. Top with the other bun half. Enjoy immediately!

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Use a bag of coleslaw mix and Marie's® coleslaw dressing and toss to combine (add dressing gradually until mix is sufficiently dressed; you won't use all of it) or make this homemade coleslaw recipe.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 39.3g | Protein: 40.9g | Fat: 10.7g | Cholesterol: 193.1mg | Sodium: 562.9mg | Fiber: 2.3g | Sugar: 14g

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

Baked Falafel

Herb-packed and chickpea-filled Baked Falafel overflows with nutritious ingredients, tons of flavor, and baked in an irresistible herbed olive oil blend.

We love falafel! Eat them plain, serve them in a falafel bowl, in a pita sandwich, or on top of a salad; the possibilities are endless!

Overhead image of Falafel in a bowl with pita bread, tzatziki sauce, olives, onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

What is Falafel? 

Traditionally, falafel is a fried patty made from blended chickpeas, herbs, and seasonings. You can eat them plain or served in myriad ways (more on this below). Tradition says these delicious patties originated in Egypt as a meat replacement during long seasons of fasting or lent. Today, they’re popular in Egypt and throughout the Middle East. And, over the years, falafel has become one of the most popular foods worldwide.

These delicious vegetarian patties are one of my favorite menu items to order and I love making (and meal prepping) them.

Process shots of the chickpeas being prepped and soaking overnight before being used.

Baked (not fried) Falafel

High in nutrients, a great source of protein and fiber, naturally vegetarian, and loads of health benefits–what’s not to love? However, falafel are typically fried in oil, which detracts from the healthy benefits. Don’t get me wrong, I love fried food as much as the next person, but with something so naturally nutritious, I wanted to keep it that way as much as possible.
 
So, I set out to create a slightly healthier baked version of falafel that tastes just as good as the fried versions. The secret to achieving this? Baking the falafel in a mixture of olive oil, the liquid surrounding pepperoncini (the real MVP in this recipe), and a few dried herbs. Truly, I like these even better than the fried counterpart!
 
Process shot-- image of the falafel being made by adding all the ingredients into a food processor.

What’s in falafel ?

  • Dried chickpeas: For best flavor and results, we use dried chickpeas (AKA garbanzo beans) that have been soaked overnight until tender. Not only are dried chickpeas much more economical, they’re also important to get the right consistency and taste.
    • Tip: Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to the soaking water to help soften the chickpeas.
    • If the chickpeas aren’t softened enough, the falafel will end up with tough pieces of chickpea, creating an overall unpleasant texture.
  • Herbs: I like a blend of flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, and green onions — 1 cup of each. Mix and match herbs to personal preference; you can also add in dill.
  • Garlic: We like lots of garlic, so feel free to reduce (or even increase) the amount in this recipe.
  • Seasonings: Again, adjust the seasonings to personal preference. I like cumin, coriander, paprika, salt, and pepper best. If you’d like a little bit of heat, add in some cayenne pepper (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon).
  • Baking powder: It seems like a strange ingredient, but this baking agent gives falafel a more fluffy and airy texture.
  • Flour, oil, and vegetable broth: These all contribute to consistency and flavor, but feel free to swap out the vegetable broth for chicken broth (no longer a vegetarian meal) or even water. Whole wheat flour or chickpea flour can be used in place of the white all-purpose flour.

QUICK TIP

Canned chickpeas won’t work in this recipe! They’re too wet and won’t form into workable patties.

Image of all the ingredients in the food processor, blended up and ready to be baked.

Baking the falafel

This is the part of the recipe I get the most excited about! I’ve always felt that baked falafel was missing something, so when I read in a restaurant menu that they fried their falafels in pepperoncini liquid and dried herbs, I knew I had to try it.

So instead of frying the falafel in the liquid, I tried baking them in it, and it made a huge difference! Not only does it infuse the falafel with an incredible slightly tangy flavor, it also contributes to browning, giving them a great golden brown and crispy “crust” similar to what you’d get from frying.

Here’s what we bake the falafel in:

  • Olive oil
  • The liquid surrounding jarred Pepperoncinis
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried oregano
  • Pepper

Process shots-- images of the herbed oil you dip the falafel in before baking; falafel mixture packed into a measuring cup for consistent sizing; falafel being placed on a tray and baked.

How to serve Baked Falafel

There are countless delicious ways to serve Baked Falafel.  Some of our favorite ways to serve them:

  • In a bowl: Start with a base of cooked couscous, rice, veggies, or a salad. Then, add the falafel and bowl toppings like chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped Persian cucumbers, halved Kalamata olives, thinly sliced red onions, feta cheese, and toasted pita bread. Add sauces such as hummus, tzatziki, baba ganoush, or tahini. This is our favorite way to serve falafel!
  • In a wrap: Fill a large pita or tortilla with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, veggies, feta cheese, and a sauce (I’d suggest hummus and/or tzatziki.
  • In a salad: We love this Greek salad with Baked Falafel added in.
  • As an appetizer: Serve Baked Falafel with a bunch of different sauces for dipping! Use sauces such as hummus, tzatziki, baba ganoush, or tahini sauce.
  • QUICK TIP

    Are you familiar with the sauces we mention? Tzatziki is made with yogurt, cucumber and lemon;  tahini is like peanut butter, only made with toasted sesame seeds instead of peanuts; and baba ganoush is made with eggplant, tahini and sesame seeds.

Up-close image of Baked Falafel in a bowl, ready to be eaten.

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Baked Falafel

0 from 0 votes
Herb-packed and chickpea-filled Baked Falafel is loaded with nutritious ingredients, tons of flavor, and baked in an irresistible herbed olive oil blend.
Print Recipe

Baked Falafel

0 from 0 votes
Herb-packed and chickpea-filled Baked Falafel is loaded with nutritious ingredients, tons of flavor, and baked in an irresistible herbed olive oil blend.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Salad, Vegetarian
Cuisine Healthy, Mediterranean, Moroccan, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword falafel
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 20 -22 falafels
Calories 43kcal
Cost $4.12

Ingredients

Falafels

  • 1 and 1/4 cups (8 oz; 234g) dried chickpeas (don't use canned chickpeas)
  • 1 cup (28g) coarsely chopped Italian flat-leaf Parsley
  • 1 cup (26g) coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup (91g) thinly sliced green onions (only the white and light green parts)
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (we like 6 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: sweet paprika, freshly cracked pepper, ground coriander seed, baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon white all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth (or water)

On the tray

  • 1/4 cup (55g) liquid surrounding pepperoncinis
  • 1/4 cup (47g0 olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: garlic powder, oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • See Note 1 for serving suggestions

Instructions

  • SOAK CHICKPEAS OVERNIGHT: Place chickpeas in a large bowl (they will expand a lot) and add lots of cold water. Leave out to soak overnight (8-12 hours) or until tender. They can soak for longer (2 days)--just keep them covered in the fridge for longer periods of time.
  • FALAFEL: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Drain chickpeas well and add to a large food processor. Add in the loosely packed and coarsely chopped parsley, cilantro, and thinly sliced green onions. Add in the chopped garlic cloves, cumin, paprika, pepper, coriander, baking powder, salt, flour, olive oil, and broth (or water). Pulse/blend for 3-5 minutes on high speed, scraping down the sides as needed. Blend until the chickpeas are broken down and herbs are well incorporated (see picture in post).
  • PREP THE TRAY: Set out a large sheet pan. In a small bowl stir together the 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup pepperoncini liquid, garlic powder, oregano, and pepper. Whisk and then pour on the sheet pan. Tip the tray until the mixture coats the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
  • FORM PATTIES: Using a 1/8th measuring cup (2 tablespoons), scoop the dough and shape into discs about 1/2-inch thick and 2 inches wide. If the mixture is too hard to work with, refrigerate it for 20-30 minutes. Place the patties on the oiled tray. You should get about 20-22 falafel patties.
  • BAKE: Bake for 25-30 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the pan and turn all the patties to the other side (using a metal spatula). Patties should be golden brown on both sides.
  • SERVE: Serve fresh out of the oven with sauce of choice. Make falafel wraps or bowls. (See Note 1)
  • STORAGE: Baked Falafel stores well in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: There are lots of ways to enjoy Baked Falafel! Our favorite is in a falafel bowl with red pepper hummus and tzatziki sauce (my favorite tzatziki sauce is in this Greek chicken recipe and pictured in these pictures).
  • In a falafel bowl: Start with a base of cooked couscous, rice, veggies, or a salad. Add the Baked Falafel patties and any other toppings such as chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped Persian cucumbers, halved Kalamata olives, thinly sliced red onions, feta cheese, and toasted pita bread. Add sauces such as hummus, tzatziki, baba ganoush, or tahini sauce.
  • In a wrap: Fill a large pita or tortilla with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, veggies, feta cheese, and a sauce (I suggest hummus and/or tzatiziki).
  • In a salad: We love this Greek salad with a few falafel patties added in.
  • As an appetizer: Serve falafel with a variety of different sauces to dip in! Use sauces such as hummus, tzatziki, baba ganoush, or tahini sauce

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 22falafels | Calories: 43kcal | Carbohydrates: 2.5g | Protein: 0.8g | Fat: 3.5g | Sodium: 46.3mg | Fiber: 0.8g | Sugar: 0.2g

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BBQ Chicken Tacos

BBQ Chicken Tacos with charred tortillas are filled with tangy sauced chicken, a black bean-veggie mix, and the best creamy cilantro sauce.

Pair these tacos with an easy salad like this panzanella salad or this fruit salad recipe.

 

Up-close view of BBQ Chicken Tacos.

BBQ Chicken Tacos

BBQ Chicken tacos are loaded with flavor and texture. They’ve got a flavor-packed creamy cilantro sauce that serves dual purposes. First, it coats the cabbage base and then it gets drizzled over the finished tacos.

While it might seem like a lot of components go into these tacos, they’re surprisingly easy and quick to make. We rely on rotisserie chicken and packaged BBQ sauce. The veggie topping only requires chopping up two veggies (tomatoes and red onion). They get tossed with canned black beans and frozen corn (so quick!). And finally, the sauce takes a few minutes to assemble, but is fairly mindless — everything gets added to a blender and pulsed until smooth. The sauce can be made ahead of time and the veggies can be prepped in advance as well.

These tacos are also a great meal prep; store everything separately and assemble the tacos each day for lunch!

Overhead view of making the sauce for BBQ Chicken Tacos: put all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

So, let’s break down the four main components to these tacos, starting with the tortillas.

Tortillas

I like corn tortillas best, but flour tortillas work well, too. When it comes to corn tortillas, I like Mission Extra Thin Yellow Corn Tortillas® best for these tacos (not sponsored).

And as far as flour tortillas go, the unbaked ones by TortillaLand® (or similar brands; not sponsored) are our favorite. You’ll find them in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, near the cheeses.

Whatever tortillas you chose to use, I recommend charring them. It does so much for the flavor and texture of the taco as a whole.

Here’s how I quick-char the tortillas: Spray both sides of the tortillas with olive oil cooking spray and char the tortillas directly over the gas flames for a few seconds. Use tongs to flip until tortillas are lightly charred and soft. Immediately fold the tortilla in half, so it will fold into a taco nicely later. Set aside.

Cilantro-lime sauce and cabbage

The sauce is the same on these shrimp tacos, which have been one of the most popular recipes on this website! I knew it would pair well with the veggies and BBQ chicken and was blown away by how good the combo is!

I also felt that with the shredded chicken and tender black beans, these tacos needed a bit of crunch. Enter: the cabbage! We love the green cabbage tossed in the sauce, but you can also use a broccoli slaw or kale slaw. Even a finely shredded romaine lettuce will work well on these BBQ chicken tacos.

Process shots: mix BBQ sauce and rotisserie chicken; assemble black beans, corn, tomatoes and onions; toss to combine.

BBQ Chicken

There are so many ways to prepare the BBQ chicken for these tacos, but I like using rotisserie chicken to keep these tacos on the easy, week-night-dinner side. 

Alternatively, I’d recommend grilling chicken breasts or thighs. To do this, add 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 4-6 thighs to a large freezer bag with 1/3 cup BBQ sauce. Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes to 4 hours. Grill the chicken (4-6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness) until the chicken registers 160 degrees F (carryover heat will bring it to 165 degrees F). Let rest, thinly slice against the grain, and brush chicken pieces with more BBQ sauce (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup more).

As far as BBQ sauce goes, you can of course make your own, but again, I pick it up at the store, to keep these tacos simple. Use your favorite BBQ sauce; I love Stubb’s BBQ® or Baby Ray’s®.

Toppings

  • Avocado: We like a few thin slices of ripe avocado in each taco. If you’d prefer, make a quick guacamole by mashing the avocado with some salt, pepper, and lime juice. Spread this on before adding in the cabbage. Don’t love avocado or guac? Just leave it out!
  • Veggie salad: A can of drained and rinsed black beans, some frozen (and thawed) corn, chopped cherry tomatoes, and diced red onion make up this blend. If you have fresh corn on the cob, use that (simply cut it off the cob and add it in raw or grill it first). If you aren’t a fan of any of those ingredients, swap them out for a diced red bell pepper.
  • Cilantro: We love fresh cilantro and it pairs so well with the other flavors. You can finely chop some to top tacos with or leave it out if you aren’t a fan.
  • More sauce: Drizzle leftover cilantro-lime sauce over the BBQ chicken tacos and they’re ready to devour!

Close-up view of BBQ Chicken Tacos, with a bowl of barbecue sauce nearby.

QUICK TIP

If you have time, make the creamy cilantro-lime sauce in advance; it gets more and more flavorful as it sits! Plus with the sauce done, dinner assembly is a breeze!

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BBQ Chicken Tacos

5 from 1 vote
These BBQ Chicken Tacos with charred tortillas are filled with BBQ-sauced chicken, a black bean veggie mix, and the best creamy cilantro-lime sauce.
Print Recipe

BBQ Chicken Tacos

5 from 1 vote
These BBQ Chicken Tacos with charred tortillas are filled with BBQ-sauced chicken, a black bean veggie mix, and the best creamy cilantro-lime sauce.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword bbq chicken tacos
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 -15 tacos
Calories 234kcal
Cost $7.81

Ingredients

Tacos

  • 2 cups (217g) rotisserie chicken
  • 1/2 cup (118g) BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup (153g) chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup (39g) diced red onion
  • 1 can (15 oz.; 425g) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup (131g) frozen (and thawed) corn (or corn cut from a cob)
  • 12-15 small corn or flour tortillas
  • 3 cups (170g) shredded green cabbage
  • Optional: fresh cilantro, fresh limes, and 1 large avocado for serving
  • Optional: olive oil cooking spray

Cilantro Lime Sauce

  • 1 large lime (or 2 smaller ones) (3 tablespoons juice + 1/2 teaspoon zest)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of a large bunch of cilantro (~1 loosely packed cup)
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper (~1 heaping tablespoon) (or use 1 full jalapeño for a spicier dressing)
  • 1/2 cup (111g) regular full-fat mayo
  • 1/2 cup (117g) sour cream (I use fat-free)

Instructions

  • SAUCE: Zest and juice 1 lime to get 3 tablespoons juice and 1/2 teaspoon zest. Add the juice and zest to a blender or mini food processor along with the minced garlic, cilantro, 1/2 of the seeded jalapeño (add more of the jalapeño for a spicier sauce; add slowly if you're worried about the heat), mayo and sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste and blend or pulse until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • BBQ CHICKEN: Pull the chicken from the bones and shred or chop. Add the BBQ sauce and mix to combine. If the chicken is cold, warm it through in a skillet over low heat.
  • VEGGIES: In a large bowl, add in the chopped cherry tomatoes, diced red onion, drained and rinsed black beans, and corn. Toss to combine.
  • CABBAGE: Remove 1/2 a cup of the cilantro-lime sauce, and toss it with the shredded green cabbage to combine. Set aside.
  • TORTILLAS: Spray both sides of the tortillas with olive oil cooking spray and "grill" tortillas on stovetop over the open flame until slightly charred. Alternatively warm (covered with a damp paper towel) in the microwave. After tortillas have been warmed or charred, quickly fold them in half so they will fold easily when assembled.
  • ASSEMBLE: To the tortilla, add the dressed cabbage, a few spoonfuls of BBQ chicken, and a few spoonfuls of the veggies. If desired, add avocado and fresh cilantro to each taco. Drizzle with extra cilantro-lime sauce and enjoy!

Video

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1taco | Calories: 234kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 10.2g | Fat: 9.7g | Cholesterol: 19.8mg | Sodium: 497.8mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5.5g

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Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

4 ingredient ice cream sandwich cake made with ice cream sandwiches, cookies and cream ice cream, and a crushed oreo whipped cream topping!

This simple dessert takes less than 15 minutes to whip together and is a crowd pleasing treat. Serve this ice cream sandwich cake on a hot summer day for the ultimate cool down treat. Plus some fun variation ideas for this cake.

Image of the ready to eat ice cream sandwich cake

I recently made this ice cream sandwich cake for some neighborhood kids that were over at our home playing. At first there were only 2 or 3 kids, but by the end of the day, I think every single kid in the neighborhood had come by for a slice of this cake. One cute girl declared it her “favorite treat EVER!” and later I got a text from from another neighbor saying her daughter had requested this cake for her birthday (in 9 months ha!).

So while it hardly even seems like a “recipe” (we’re basically re-assembling store bought ingredients) I knew I had to share it here.

Process shot- Image of the ice cream sandwiches lined into the pan for the base layer

How to make an ice cream sandwich cake

  • Make sure to line your tray with parchment paper or foil — this is important to easily get out the bars for cutting and serving.
  • Once the pan is lined we’ll layer ingredients: first ice cream sandwiches (see photo above!), next ice cream, then one more layer of ice cream sandwiches, and another layer of ice cream.
  • Right before serving spread whipped cream over the whole cake and sprinkle crushed Oreos on top.

To make an ice cream sandwich cake in a 9×13 pan: for the larger size, you’ll need about 24 ice cream sandwiches, 1 and 1/2 containers of ice cream, and 2 containers whipped cream.

Process shot- Image of the cookies and cream ice cream with a scoop in it for this ice cream cake with ice cream sandwiches

A few tips

  • Good quality ice cream will always taste best. One of our personal favorites is Tillamook (not sponsored, just a fan!) or Ben and Jerry’s. 
  • Keep the ice cream as frozen as possible: if the ice cream thaws out too much, the consistency becomes icy as it re-freezes. Obviously super hard ice cream is impossible to spread, but you don’t want the ice cream too soft as you spread it.
  • Crushing oreos: full Oreos can be crushed in a high powered blender or food processor. Another option is to place the cookies in a plastic bag and hit them with a rolling pin until they are crushed. You can even crush the oreos in your hands right on top of the cake.

Process shot-- Image of the ice cream sandwich and ice cream layers for this easy ice cream sandwich dessert

Ice cream sandwich cake variations

  • Neapolitan: use neapolitan ice cream sandwiches with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla ice cream
  • Mint chocolate: use mint chocolate ice cream sandwiches and mint chocolate ice cream
  • Candy bar: use vanilla ice cream sandwiches with your choice of ice cream and your choice of crushed candy: toffee/skor, M&Ms, Reeses, snickers, Kit Kat, Rolos, whopper, etc. 
  • Ice cream sandwich cake with magic shell: use vanilla ice cream sandwiches with vanilla ice cream. Leave off the whipped cream and add magic shell on top right before serving. Add a spoonful of whipped cream on the side as desired.
  • Hot fudge or caramel sauce: for an even sweeter treat, add a drizzle of hot fudge or caramel sauce to your bars — homemade OR store bought.
  • Taste of home shares a variation without any additional ice cream (whipped cream in between layers).

Storing/Make Ahead

  • This cake can be stored in the freezer (without the whipped topping) for up to 3-4 days before serving. I personally think it’s best served the same day it’s made. 
  • Add whipped topping RIGHT before serving: make sure to add the whipped cream topping right before serving (after the other layers have chilled). It doesn’t freeze well on top of the cake because the consistency changes to an icy texture.
  • When storing lightly cover the cake with plastic wrap and stick back in the freezer. 

Image of the dessert with a bite out of it with a fork holding the bite

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Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

5 from 2 votes
4 ingredient ice cream sandwich cake made with ice cream sandwiches, cookies and cream ice cream, and a crushed oreo whipped cream topping!
Print Recipe

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

5 from 2 votes
4 ingredient ice cream sandwich cake made with ice cream sandwiches, cookies and cream ice cream, and a crushed oreo whipped cream topping!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword ice cream sandwich cake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 16 pieces
Calories 285kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $6.72

Ingredients

  • 18 regular vanilla ice cream sandwiches, unwrapped
  • 1 container (48 ounces or 3 pints) cookies and cream ice cream
  • 1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed to room temperature
  • 6-8 regular Oreo cookies (Note 1)

Instructions

  • Line an 9 x 9 pan with parchment paper or foil (important for bar removal and slicing into bars). Pull out the ice cream to barely soften, you don't want the ice cream to get melty or too soft.
  • Unwrap the ice cream sandwiches. Press 9 sandwiches into the bottom. You'll need to cut 2 down a little for them to fit (see pictures in post).
  • With a large spoon, spread half of the ice cream over the ice cream sandwiches.
  • Press 9 more sandwiches on top. Spread remaining ice cream over the sandwiches, pressing firmly down. Cover tightly and place in the freezer until layers are firm, about 1 hour.
  • Right before eating, spread the whipped topping over everything. Crush oreos and sprinkle on top.
  • Cut and serve.
  • Immediately return any leftovers, covered tightly, to the freezer. Best enjoyed the same day it's made (the whipped cream becomes icy as it's frozen)

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Try a crushed up candy bar (heath, skor, butterfinger) instead of the cookies if desired. 

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 285kcal

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Nutrition facts in ice cream sandwich cake

Turkey Taco Skillet

This low-carb Turkey Taco Skillet is loaded with nutritious ingredients. Robustly seasoned ground turkey with beans, corn, tomatoes, and green chiles. This taco dish is covered in melty sharp Cheddar cheese and garnished with your favorite taco toppings. Serve this meal over cauliflower rice for a low-carb and filling meal or serve it as a dip with chips!

Overhead view of Turkey Taco Skillet, garnished with avocado slices, cilantro and lime.

Turkey Taco Skillet

We can’t get enough of these turkey tacos, so today we’re channeling those flavors in a single skillet meal, loaded with delicious ingredients. The turkey is well-seasoned and combined with tender black beans, crisp corn, fire-roasted tomatoes, green chiles, and topped with lots of melty Cheddar. We love adding some thinly sliced or chopped avocados, fresh lime, and chopped cilantro on top and calling it a meal! While we typically serve this meal with a bag of chips, below are some other serving suggestions for this fun Turkey Taco Skillet meal.

QUICK TIP

Not sure about ground turkey? Read all about it here. Still not convinced? Lean ground beef works great in this recipe too!

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with chips. Add your favorite taco toppings straight to the skillet and serve it all family-style with a bag of chips. Dig in!
  • Make lettuce or taco wraps. Scoop the turkey taco filling along with your favorite taco toppings (cheese, sour cream, cilantro, onions, etc.) in some lettuce leaves or charred/warmed tortillas. 
  • Make a burrito bowl. Prepare some cilantro-lime or cauliflower rice, scoop a few spoonfuls of this turkey taco skillet mixture, add your favorite taco toppings, and enjoy!
  • Prepare a large salad. Prep a bowl of chopped romaine, add a few spoonfuls of this meal, and your favorite taco toppings. Drizzle on a cilantro lime vinaigrette or creamy cilantro dressing. Crumble up some chips, or add seasoned tortilla strips, for some added crunch.

Process shots: saute onion and garlic; combine seasonings; add to onions and garlic; saute until gragrant; add ground turkey.

Once the meat and veggies are prepared in the skillet, it’s all about picking a few of your favorite toppings. Below are some suggestions; our “must haves” are Cheddar cheese, cilantro, green onions, lime, and avocado.

Turkey Taco Skillet toppings

  • Grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Chopped cherry tomatoes or pico de gallo
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Thinly sliced green onions
  • Squeeze of fresh lime
  • Large scoop of sour cream (we use fat free to keep these on the light side); you can also use Greek yogurt.
  • Sliced avocado or scoop of guacamole
  • Pickled red onions (I share a quick pickled red onion recipe on these chicken tinga tacos)

Process shots: brown and crumble ground turkey; add diced tomatoes and green chiles; add frozen corn and black beans; mix and heat through; add Cheddar cheese; mix to melt cheese for this turkey taco skillet.

Turkey Taco Skillet tips

  • Keep the ground turkey cold and avoid over-cooking.  Store the turkey in the fridge right up until it needs to be added to the skillet. Don’t set it out or let it come to room temperature. Because of the low fat content, ground turkey isn’t too forgiving when it’s over cooked; it will become dry, crumbly, and lose flavor. Use a food thermometer and cook it until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
  • Use freshly grated Cheddar cheese. To avoid a greasier end dish, I recommend freshly grating the cheese; pre-grated cheese has a cellulose coating.
  • Opt for fire-roasted ingredients. I highly recommend using fire-roasted tomatoes and green chiles; it adds a ton of flavor to this skillet dish, with no extra effort on your end.
  • Add fresh ingredients. While you don’t necessarily need both cilantro and green onions, I would pick at least one fresh herb and some lime juice to finish Turkey Taco Skillet. Fresh herbs and lime juice bring a vibrancy to the dish and an extra dimension of flavor.
  • Use quick prep options. For the fastest-possible prep time, use frozen diced onions, pre-minced garlic, and a packet of taco seasoning in place of the seasoning mix indicated in the recipe. Keep toppings to a minimum and enjoy this meal in 20 minutes or less with these changes.

Close-up view of the finished Turkey Taco Skillet, with sliced avocado, cilantro and green onions for garnish.

Overall spice of this dish

As written, I would say this is a very mild dish. This, of course, depends on the seasonings you use. I use McCormick® chili powder which is very mild; you may want to reduce amount of chili powder if using a hotter chili powder.

To add spice: add in 1/8 up to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper and/or a diced jalapeño. 

QUICK TIP

I recommend ground turkey that is sold in a carton, rather than in a chub (the plastic tube). The chub-style ground turkey tends to be overly watery and less flavorful.

More nutritious, low carb recipes

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Turkey Taco Skillet

5 from 1 vote
This low-carb Turkey Taco Skillet is loaded with nutritious ingredients! Robustly seasoned ground turkey with beans, corn, tomatoes, and green chiles. This taco dish is covered in melty sharp Cheddar cheese and garnished with your favorite taco toppings. Serve this meal over cauliflower rice for a low-carb and filling meal or serve it as a dip with chips.
Print Recipe

Turkey Taco Skillet

5 from 1 vote
This low-carb Turkey Taco Skillet is loaded with nutritious ingredients! Robustly seasoned ground turkey with beans, corn, tomatoes, and green chiles. This taco dish is covered in melty sharp Cheddar cheese and garnished with your favorite taco toppings. Serve this meal over cauliflower rice for a low-carb and filling meal or serve it as a dip with chips.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword turkey taco skillet
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 533kcal
Cost $6.71

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup (110g) finely diced yellow onion (~1 small onion)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (~2 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin, paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon beef bouillon powder
  • 1 pound (16 oz.; 454g) lean (93/7) ground turkey (lean ground beef also works!)
  • 1 can (14.5 oz; 411g) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (4 oz; 113g) fire-roasted diced green chiles (mild), drained
  • 1 can (15 oz. 432g) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup (116g) frozen corn
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (148g) freshly grated sharp shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup green onions
  • 3-4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • Serve: with chips (See Note 1)
  • Optional toppings: chopped avocado or guacamole, pico de gallo or chopped tomatoes, lime juice, sour cream, etc.

Instructions

  • TURKEY TACO MEAT: Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the diced onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for 20-30 seconds. Add in all of the seasonings: 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 tablespoon beef bouillon powder. Cook and stir the spices until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Nothing should be burning; reduce the heat if needed.
  • TACO MEAT CONT.: Press the seasoned onion to the edges of the skillet. Add the ground turkey to the center of the pan. Crumble the meat into small pieces and cook until no longer pink (but not cooked through all the way), about 5-8 minutes. (If the ground turkey has released liquid, drain off at this time). Add in the undrained fire-roasted diced tomatoes and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits (this is where the flavor is!) Add in the diced green chiles. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until most the liquid is absorbed. Add in the frozen corn and drained and rinsed black beans and gently stir to warm through.
  • GARNISH: Reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle the cheese on top and gently stir to combine and melt. Once melted and incorporated, add green onions and cilantro. Serve immediately with chips (See Note 1). Top skillet with your choice of taco toppings such as sour cream, diced avocado, additional herbs, fresh lime juice, etc.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Not sure about serving this with chips? Here are few other serving suggestions:
  • Make lettuce or taco wraps. Scoop the turkey taco filling along with your favorite taco toppings (cheese, sour cream, cilantro, onions, etc.) in some lettuce leaves or charred/warmed tortillas. 
  • Make a burrito bowl. Prepare some cilantro-lime or cauliflower rice, scoop a few spoonfuls of this turkey taco skillet mixture, add your favorite taco toppings, and enjoy!
  • Prepare a large salad. Prep a bowl of chopped romaine, add a few spoonfuls of this meal, and your favorite taco toppings. Drizzle on a cilantro lime vinaigrette or creamy cilantro dressing. Crumble up some chips, or add seasoned tortilla strips, for some added crunch.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 4servings | Calories: 533kcal | Carbohydrates: 34.8g | Protein: 44.9g | Fat: 24.4g | Cholesterol: 116.8mg | Sodium: 967.8mg | Fiber: 9.7g | Sugar: 7.2g

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Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

Extra gooey and delicious Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats with extra marshmallows and cocoa-coated Krispies cereal are so easy to make; they’re ready in 30 minutes or less and no baking is required!

Looking for a different flavored Krispies treat? Try our fruity pebble rice krispie treats, peanut butter rice krispie treats, or the original rice krispie treats recipe!

 

Overhead image of Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats being cut and pulled apart to be eaten.

Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

Hands down, the best Rice Krispie Treats® my mom made always had a chocolate topping or chocolate drizzle on top. The more chocolate, the better!

So today, I’m channeling all the chocolate right down the chocolate-y cereal, to bring you some rich and intensely chocolate treats. In fact, Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats have three types of chocolate in them: chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and Cocoa Krispies® cereal. Because sometimes, more is more!

Process shots--images of the butter and marshmallows being melted; the cocoa powder and chocolate chips being added and melted; and the Cocoa Krispies being added and mixed together.

Chocolate Rice Krispie Treat tips

  • Line the pan. Use parchment paper (that has been sprayed with cooking spray) to make for easy removal of these bars. This is my favorite 9×9-inch pan.
  • Use low heat. When marshmallows are exposed to high heat, they harden and will make these bars hard and unenjoyable to eat. The lower the heat, the longer it takes for the marshmallows to melt, but ultimately, the better the bars will be.
  • Use fresh, soft marshmallows. The softer the marshmallows, the more enjoyable these bars taste. 
  • Don’t overcook the marshmallow mixture. Stir over low heat until the marshmallows are just melted and then immediately move them from the heat. It’s also important to stir the marshmallows nearly constantly while they are melting.

QUICK TIP

When purchasing marshmallows, gently press on the bags to feel for the softest ones. I recommend using those marshmallows within a few days of purchasing when making Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats.

Process shots-- images of the remaining marshmallows being added; the mixture being added to a prepared pan and pressed; and then the bars being cut into squares.

More tips

  • Stir constantly and briskly. Again, it’s important to stir constantly once the chocolate chips have been added in. If not, the chocolate chips can burn.
  • Don’t use Dutch-process cocoa powder. I recommend Dutch-process cocoa in a lot of my recipes; this is not one of them. Use regular, unsweetened cocoa powder for these bars.
  • Use high quality chocolate chips. Cheaper brands tend to resist melting smoothly. I love Ghirardelli® or Guittard® (not sponsored).
  • Once you’ve added the cereal, work quickly! Stir, stir, stir! To ensure all of the cereal gets generously coated in the delicious marshmallow mixture, work quickly. The bigger the pot used, the easier this is to do at a fast pace.
  • Avoid compressing. Don’t push the Krispie mixture into the pan. Instead, place them in the pan and gently press them down. The less you compact Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats, the better. When bars are heavily compressed, it makes the treats too firm and hard to chew.

Overhead image of Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats, cut into squares.

Storing Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats 

These bars are best (texture and taste-wise) within the first couple of days; we like them best on day 1. Keep the bars in an airtight container at room temperature while storing. 

Freezing and thawing these bars affects the texture, and occasionally the chocolate can thaw and be grainy. That said, here is how these bars can be frozen and thawed:

Freezing: Freeze these bars the same day they’re made. Cut into even-sized bars and wrap each treat in a square of wax paper and then plastic wrap. Place the wrapped treats in a resealable freezer bag. Store in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Thawing: Thaw the Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats by removing an individual bar from the freezer and setting it out on the counter for 15-20 minutes or until it reaches room temperature. 

QUICK TIP

To easily press these bars into the pan, quickly spritz your hands with cooking spray.

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Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

0 from 0 votes
Extra gooey and delicious Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats, with extra marshmallows and cocoa-coated krispies cereal, are so easy to make -- ready in 30 minutes or less and no bakingis required!
Print Recipe

Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

0 from 0 votes
Extra gooey and delicious Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats, with extra marshmallows and cocoa-coated krispies cereal, are so easy to make -- ready in 30 minutes or less and no bakingis required!
Course Dessert, Snack, Vegetarian
Cuisine American
Keyword Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats
Prep Time 20 minutes
Set up time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 12 -16 bars
Calories 77kcal

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons (71g) unsalted butter
  • 5 and 1/2 cups (250g) miniature marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup (16g) regular unsweetened cocoa powder (See Note 1)
  • 3/4 cup (128g) milk chocolate chips (See Note 2)
  • 6 cups (253g) Cocoa Krispies cereal (See Note 3)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • PREP: Line a 9×9-inch pan with parchment paper, including an overhang for easy removal. Spray parchment paper with cooking spray and set aside. Measure out the cereal so it is ready to add when the time comes.
  • MARSHMALLOWS: Grab your biggest nonstick pot and melt the butter over low heat. Once the butter is completely melted, add in all but 1 cup of the marshmallows. Stir constantly, keeping the heat on low, until the marshmallows are completely melted.
  • ADD CHOCOLATE: As soon as the marshmallows are melted, remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the cocoa powder, chocolate chips, salt and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Next, working quickly, stir in the Cocoa Krispies cereal very gently. Lastly, stir in the reserved 1 cup marshmallows. Stir until combined.
  • SET UP: Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Lightly spritz your hands with cooking spray and gently press (do not press hard/compact or you'll get hard bars) the mixture evenly into the pan. Allow the bars to cool and set up (about 15-20 minutes) before using the overhang to pull the bars out and cut them into squares.
  • ENJOY: Bars are best enjoyed same day they are made.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Don't use Dutch-process cocoa powder in these bars. Unsweetened regular cocoa powder works best.
Note 2: I recommend a high-quality brand of chocolate chips like Ghirardelli® or Guittard®. We love milk chocolate, but semi-sweet or dark would also work well. Use semi-sweet if you are concerned about sweetness.
Note 3: If you are concerned about sweetness, use half Cocoa Krispies and half regular krispies. We like these bars very chocolate-y, so prefer them with all Cocoa Krispies.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 16bars | Calories: 77kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.5g | Protein: 0.9g | Fat: 6.1g | Cholesterol: 11.4mg | Sodium: 7mg | Fiber: 0.8g | Sugar: 4.1g

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Chicken Tinga Tacos

Robustly flavored Chicken Tinga Tacos start with charred tortillas, and are layered with a quick guacamole, well-seasoned shredded chicken, and quick pickled red onions. These tacos are the best!

Pair Chicken Tinga Tacos with some fresh corn! We love this easy corn salad or elote.

Overhead image of Chicken Tinga Tacos.

Chicken Tinga Tacos

My family is obsessed with these rotisserie chicken tacos (seriously, my boys ask for them at least once a week). I, of course, love them too, but especially love how easy they are to whip together (thank you, rotisserie chicken)!

To please the boys with tacos, but also try a different sauce and seasoning mix on rotisserie chicken, Chicken Tinga Tacos came about.

These tacos have been a weeknight go-to for a few months now, while, of course, still alternating with our other favorite rotisserie chicken tacos. I often make a double batch of these tacos and love eating them for lunches throughout the week, They’re filling, nutritious, and the flavor just keeps getting better and better!

Process shots--images of the red onions being pickled; onions and garlic being sautéed; seasoning and tomato paste being added; and all mixed together.

What does Tinga mean?

Tinga is a Mexican dish made with shredded beef or chicken in a red chili sauce that usually contains onion, garlic, tomatoes, and chipotle peppers.
 
I claim no authenticity for this recipe. The recipe I’m sharing today actually started from this recipe. I made it a few times, loosely following the recipe and my boys loved it. As I’ve continued to make it over the past few months, I started adding in some more seasonings and changing a few other things. We’re obsessed with Chicken Tinga Tacos, so I’m sharing the recipe with you!

Is Chicken Tinga hot?

There are chipotle peppers in this recipe, but it is easy to scale the heat up or down to personal preference. I also have found when the meat is added to a tortilla with a mashed avocado and pickled red onions, the layers of flavor downplay the heat.
  • Little to no spice: Only use 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce surrounding the chipotle peppers.
  • Light spice: Use 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce surrounding the chipotle peppers and 1 tablespoon peppers.
  • Medium spicy: Use 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce surrounding the chipotle peppers and 2 tablespoons peppers.
  • Spicy: Use 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce surrounding the chipotle peppers and 3 tablespoons peppers.

Process shots: adding roasted crushed tomatoes to the onions; then adding the onion and tomato mixture to the blender; blended and poured over the chicken; and being added to the tacos.

How to serve Chicken Tinga Tacos

My personal favorite way to use chicken tinga is on corn tortillas in taco form. I delve more into the details for making a delicious taco in the next section, but below I’m sharing some alternative serving suggestions beyond tacos:

  • Chicken Tinga Tostadas: Layer a tostada shell with mashed avocado, top with the tinga chicken, add some pickled (or raw) red onions, a spoonful of crema or sour cream, a sprinkle of cotija cheese, and some fresh cilantro.
  • Baked Chicken Tinga Tacos: Use this beef taco recipe as a reference guide. Layer crispy taco shells in a casserole dish and layer with chicken tinga meat and freshly grated cheddar cheese. Bake and add pickled or raw red onions, a spoonful of crema or sour cream, a thinly sliced avocado, and some fresh cilantro.
  • Nachos: Layer chicken tinga meat on tortilla chips with a Mexican cheese blend. Top with your favorite nacho toppings or similar toppings described above.
  • Chicken Tinga Burrito Bowls (great for low carb!): Layer cauliflower rice on the base of a bowl and top with chicken tinga meat, drained and rinsed black or pinto beans, a chopped avocado, pickled or raw red onions, a spoonful of crema or sour cream, and some fresh cilantro.

Take these tacos to the next level!

While the meat on its own is pretty dang delicious, I think there are three things that really take Chicken Tinga Tacos to the next level. And the good news is that these steps don’t take all that much extra time!

  1. Using corn tortillas and charring them: While I am a big fan of flour tortillas, I do think corn is best in this recipe. And charring the tortillas does so much for the flavor of the tortillas and texture of the taco as a whole.
    1. Here’s how I quick-char the tortillas: Spray both sides of the tortillas with olive oil cooking spray and char the tortillas directly over the gas flames for a few seconds. Use tongs to flip until tortillas are lightly charred and soft. Immediately fold the tortilla in half (so it will fold into a taco nicely later) and set aside.
  2. Adding quick-pickled red onions: Making pickled red onions can be a process, so I’ve shared my “cheater” quick version which literally takes less than 5 minutes and four ingredients (pantry staples) to make.
  3. Adding guacamole: Nothing compares to a layer of guacamole underneath the chicken (I also think it helps make these tacos less spicy), but honestly, you don’t need to spend too much time making guacamole. I usually just mash up a ripe avocado and add a pinch of salt, pepper, and some lime juice. Easy!
    1. If you don’t love guacamole and would like a creamy element on these  tacos, I’d recommend sour cream or Mexican crema.

Overhead image of Chicken Tinga Tacos, stuffed with pickled red onions, guacamole, and cilantro.

Storing leftover chipotle peppers

There’s nothing worse than using only one or two peppers and not being able to use the rest of the can before it goes bad. Luckily, canned chipotle peppers freeze beautifully! Here’s how to freeze leftover chipotles after using them in Chicken Tinga Tacos:

  • Spread a sheet of parchment paper onto a large pan.
  • Spoon out peppers with sauce, 1/2 inch apart, on to the pan. Place the pan in the freezer until peppers and sauce are frozen solid, about 1 hour.
  • Once frozen, the chipotles and sauce will peel off the tray easily.
  • Add all the frozen peppers to a freezer-safe plastic bag, seal while pressing out any air, and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
  • To thaw: Take as many peppers as needed out of the bag and let stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes or until thawed through (or pop individual peppers in the microwave for 10-15 seconds).

QUICK TIP

When blending hot sauces, keep in mind that the escaping steam could pop the top off the blender if it’s filled too full. If you’re concerned about this, replace the plastic blender lid with a folded kitchen towel and hold in place while you process the steaming liquid. Because it’s not airtight, the towel will absorb the steam–and the splatters!

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Chicken Tinga Tacos

0 from 0 votes
Robustly flavored Chicken Tinga Tacos start with charred tortillas and are layered with guacamole, well-seasoned shredded chicken, and quick-pickled red onions. These tacos are the best!
Print Recipe

Chicken Tinga Tacos

0 from 0 votes
Robustly flavored Chicken Tinga Tacos start with charred tortillas and are layered with guacamole, well-seasoned shredded chicken, and quick-pickled red onions. These tacos are the best!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword chicken tinga
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 -6 servings (~12-14 tacos)
Calories 225kcal

Ingredients

Quick "Pickled" Onion

  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon white, granulated sugar

Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely minced garlic (~4 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: dried oregano, chicken bouillon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: paprika, dried coriander
  • Fine sea salt and cracked pepper
  • 1 can (14 oz.) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo (we won't use all of it!) (I love La Costena brand)
  • 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, optional
  • corn tortillas and cooking spray
  • Optional toppings: cilantro, cotija cheese (or queso fresco), large avocado, additional lime juice

Instructions

  • QUICK "PICKLED" RED ONION: In a medium-sized bowl, combine the thinly sliced red onion, red wine vinegar, salt and sugar. Toss to coat. Leave at room temperature and toss every 5 minutes or so, while preparing the rest of the meal.
  • SAUCE: Heat the oil in a large skillet. Once oil is warm, add in the thinly sliced sweet onion and garlic. Sauté for 4-6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally (nothing should be burning/browning; lower the heat if it is). Add in the tomato paste and all the seasonings: the ground cumin, dried oregano, chicken bouillon powder, paprika, dried coriander, and salt and pepper to taste. (I add 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper.) Toast seasonings for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Again, lower the heat if anything is burning. Add in the crushed tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Lastly, add in chipotle peppers and sauce (See Note 1). Stir and heat for 30 more seconds. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 6-8 minutes.
  • CHICKEN: Transfer the sauce mixture to a large blender and process until completely smooth (See Note 2). Pour the mixture back into the skillet. Add in the 4 cups rotisserie chicken and gently stir to coat the chicken and warm it through. If desired, stir in the fresh lime juice.
  • QUICK "GUAC": While sauce is simmering, I like to whip this up: Place a large, ripe avocado in a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper and a few squeezes of lime juice. Mash together and set aside.
  • CHAR TORTILLAS: Spray both sides of the tortillas with olive oil cooking spray and char the tortillas directly over the gas flames for a few seconds. Use tongs to flip until tortillas are lightly charred and soft. Immediately fold the tortilla in half (so it will fold into a taco nicely later) and set aside.
  • ASSEMBLE: Spread the guac in the center of the charred tortillas. Top with a scoop of the chicken, and some pickled red onions. Add your other favorite taco toppings such as some queso or cotija cheese, some fresh cilantro, and another squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Here's a general guideline for how much of the chipotles to add:
  • Little to no spice: Use 1 tablespoon sauce surrounding the chipotle peppers.
  • Light spice: Use 1 tablespoon sauce surrounding the chipotle peppers and 1 tablespoon peppers.
  • Medium spicy: Use 1 tablespoon sauce surrounding the chipotle peppers and 2 tablespoon peppers.
  • Spicy: Use 1 tablespoon sauce surrounding the chipotle peppers and 3 tablespoons peppers.
  • (If all the peppers are large (or larger than a tablespoon measuring spoon), chop the peppers to fill the measuring spoon).
  • See blogpost for how to store leftover chipotle peppers so the rest of the can doesn't go to waste.
Note 2: When blending hot sauces, keep in mind that the escaping steam could pop the top off the blender if it's filled too full. If you're concerned about this, replace the plastic blender lid with a folded kitchen towel. Because it's not airtight, the towel will absorb the steam--and the splatters!

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 6servings | Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 10.5g | Protein: 24.7g | Fat: 8.7g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 150.7mg | Fiber: 1.6g | Sugar: 6.6g

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Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Chicken Enchilada Casserole is saucy and delicious! Enchilada-sauced corn tortillas are layered with a flavorful chicken-and-bean filling and topped with plenty of cheese. The casserole is baked to bubbly cheesy perfection and topped with your favorite enchilada toppings.

Pair Chicken Enchilada Casserole with some roasted vegetables or this mandarin orange salad.

Overhead image of Chicken Enchilada Casserole.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Chicken enchiladas are one of my favorite meals and honestly, I like this casserole even better. There is the perfect ratio of tortilla to filling to cheese and there is so much flavor in every single bite.

It’s a meal I could probably eat every night and never be sick of it (I mean, if chicken gyros didn’t also exist). 

This casserole is a great meal to bring to a family in need or a friend that’s recently had a baby. It’s pure comfort food and very filling. It also freezes and thaws well (more on that later).

Process shots-- images of the filling of the casserole being mixed together and made.

How to make Chicken Enchilada Casserole

The step-by-step photos in the collage beneath this text correlate to the numbered descriptions below.

  1. Start by adding oil, the diced onion, and diced pepper to a large skillet.
  2. Stir until quite tender — these veggies don’t get much of a chance to become tender later on, so take your time here. We’ll also add in some seasonings and garlic to get this filling extra fragrant.
  3. While the veggies are sauteing, work on chopping up a rotisserie chicken (makes this recipe so fast). Add the chopped chicken, chili beans, black beans, diced green chilies, and frozen corn to the skillet.
  4. Pour enchilada sauce over everything to get it nice and saucy.
  5. Stir the enchilada sauce into everything gently — we don’t want to mash up the beans or disintegrate the chicken.
  6. The filling is done! Season this filling to taste with salt and pepper.

Once the filling is finished, it’s all about layering tortillas, filling, and cheese. The layering is fun and goes quickly and then this casserole is ready to bake!

Up-close image of the filling showing all the components.

Variations

  • Vegetarian enchilada casserole: Swap out the chicken for an extra can of black beans.
  • Hot and spicy: For more heat, add a diced jalapeño into the filling. You could also add a few teaspoons of chipotle sauce (from a can of chipotles) into the filling for a smokier heat.
  • Your own sauce: Make homemade enchilada sauce instead of store-bought.
  • Swap the cheeses: For a spicier Chicken Enchilada Casserole, use pepper-jack cheese instead of Monterrey jack.

Toppings

Whatever you typically like on chicken enchiladas will go great on this casserole. Below are some ideas for how to top your casserole:

  • Fresh lime juice: This adds so much freshness to the casserole!
  • Cilantro: Finely dice or just pull off a few pieces to top the casserole.
  • Sour cream: fat-free or light sour cream is also a great option
  • Avocado: Thinly sliced ripe avocado is my favorite topping! Guacamole is also delicious.
  • Cherry tomatoes: Dice up a few ripe cherry tomatoes or add a spoonful of pico de gallo on top for some freshness.

Process shots-- images of the sauce and tortillas being layered with filling in Chicken Enchilada Casserole.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole notes

  • The heat in chili powder varies greatly from brand to brand. I use McCormick’s® chili powder (not sponsored) in this recipe and don’t find it to be spicy.
  • Enchilada sauces also vary greatly in spice intensities. (Trader Joe’s® enchilada sauce is too hot for my kids even though I love it!) For this chicken enchilada casserole, I use Old El Paso® (again, not sponsored). I use their mild red enchilada sauce which no one in my family finds too hot. 
  • If you make homemade enchilada sauce for this recipe, taste and adjust other seasonings so this casserole isn’t overly spicy, if that is a concern.
  • I recommend freshly grated cheese for this recipe. Packaged grated cheese has a cellulose coating (so it doesn’t stick together in the package) that keeps it from melting as nicely into this casserole.
  • I love using chili beans in this recipe because they’re slow simmered in a sauce which adds even more flavor to the filling. Chili beans are typically with other beans in the grocery store. I use Bush’s® pinto beans in a mild chili sauce (not sponsored), but feel free to substitute regular (drained and rinsed) pinto beans instead.

Overhead images of Chicken Enchilada Casserole being baked; then toppings added; and a piece being cut out and put on a plate to be eaten.

Freezing Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Prepare according to the directions below and either bake immediately or freeze unbaked.

To freeze: Prepare in a freezer-to-oven container and cover tightly. I usually cover with plastic wrap and then foil. Make sure the container is safe to put in the oven without cracking.

Baking from frozen: Remove from freezer, remove plastic and foil, and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 and 1/2 hours (or until cheese is melted and center of the dish is warm).

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Chicken Enchilada Casserole

5 from 3 votes
This Chicken enchilada casserole is saucy and delicious! Enchilada-sauced corn tortillas are layered with a flavorful chicken-and-bean filling and topped with plenty of cheese. The casserole is baked to bubbly cheesy perfection and topped with your favorite enchilada toppings.
Print Recipe

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

5 from 3 votes
This Chicken enchilada casserole is saucy and delicious! Enchilada-sauced corn tortillas are layered with a flavorful chicken-and-bean filling and topped with plenty of cheese. The casserole is baked to bubbly cheesy perfection and topped with your favorite enchilada toppings.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword chicken enchilada casserole
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Resting Time 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings
Calories 625kcal
Cost $8.97

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup EACH: diced yellow onion, diced red bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: ground chili powder, ground cumin
  • 1 can (4 ounces) fire-roasted diced green chiles
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chili beans (pinto beans in mild sauce) (or plain pinto beans that have been drained and rinsed) (See Note 1)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
  • 3 cups red mild enchilada sauce, separated (I use Old El Paso mild)
  • 16 corn tortillas halved
  • 2 cups freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups freshly grated Monterrey jack cheese
  • toppings: chopped fresh cilantro diced red onion, thinly-sliced green onion and/or diced avocado
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • CHICKEN FILLING: Add 1 tablespoon oil to a large pan and heat to medium high. Once oil is shimmering, add in the 1 cup diced yellow onion and 1 cup diced red pepper. Stir for 5-6 minutes or until softened. Add in the garlic and stir for 30 seconds; reduce the heat if it starts to burn. Add in the 1 teaspoon of chili powder and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Stir for another 30 seconds to a minute or until fragrant. Reduce the heat to low. Add in the can of diced green chilies (undrained), 1 can drained and rinsed black beans, 1 can undrained chili beans (or drained pinto beans), 1 cup frozen corn, 3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken, and 2 cups mild enchilada sauce. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Stir gently until combined and warmed through and then remove from the heat.
  • ASSEMBLE: Pour 1/2 cup of the remaining enchilada sauce in the prepared 9x13-inch pan. Add 8 tortilla halves to cover the bottom of the pan. Spoon 1/3 of the chicken sauce on top. Add 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup Monterrey jack cheese. Add another 8 tortilla halves on top. Another 1/3 of the chicken mixture, 1/2 cup more cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup more Monterrey jack cheese. Add another layer of 8 tortilla halves, remaining 1/3 of chicken mixture, another 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, another 1/2 cup Monterrey jack cheese. Finish by adding one more layer of tortilla halves and the final remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup Monterrey jack cheese.
  • BAKE: Lightly spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and secure over dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 more minutes or until cheese is melty and gooey on top.
  • SERVE: While the casserole is finishing baking, prep the toppings. Thinly slice an avocado and some cherry tomatoes, dice some cilantro, slice some limes, or prep whatever toppings you prefer. Remove casserole from the oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it. Serve casserole with toppings of choice; we like a squirt or two of fresh lime, sprinkle of cilantro, fresh sliced avocado, a few cherry tomatoes, and some sour cream. Enjoy hot.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: I love using chili beans in this recipe because they're slow simmered in a sauce and add even more flavor to the filling. Chili beans are typically with other beans in the grocery store. I use Bush's pinto beans in a mild chili sauce (not sponsored), but feel free to substitute regular (drained and rinsed) pinto beans instead.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 8servings | Calories: 625kcal | Carbohydrates: 55.8g | Protein: 36.5g | Fat: 33.2g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 710.4mg | Fiber: 15.4g | Sugar: 7g

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

Unstuffed Peppers

If you like stuffed peppers, you’ll love this 30-minute version! We’ve got all the comforting and delicious flavors of stuffed peppers but prepared quickly in one skillet. Low-carb and nutritious Unstuffed Peppers skillet meal is sure to be a family favorite. 

This meal is hearty and filling so it’s a good idea to pair it with something light and crunchy like this cucumber saladroasted broccoli or some grilled corn on the cob.

Overhead image of the unstuffed peppers

Unstuffed Peppers

I don’t personally follow a low-carb diet (I can’t help making (and eating) this honey whole wheat bread on a weekly — sometimes bi-weekly — basis), but so many of you have asked for more low-carb meals and I have loved hearing the feedback on those dishes!

Unstuffed Peppers is a great low-carb skillet dinner, and honestly, you won’t miss the carbs! This dish is packed with flavor, extremely filling, high in protein, and loaded with nutritious ingredients. It’s also a pretty easy meal to make, especially when it’s paired with frozen cauliflower rice; you don’t even need to whip together a base for sopping up the delicious saucy ground turkey.

Process shots-- images of the veggies, meat, seasoning, marinara, and cheese being added to the skillet.

What to serve Unstuffed Peppers over

Low-carb options

If you’re looking for a low-carb option, these two are my favorites:

  • Buttered spaghetti squash “noodles.” Here’s how to prep spaghetti squash noodles.
  • Riced cauliflower. This is my personal favorite way to serve Unstuffed Peppers; I simply purchase two bags of frozen cauliflower rice. I add both bags, straight from the freezer, to a very large nonstick skillet and cook, stirring every once in a while, until tender and slightly charred.

Carb-filled options

For all the carbs, add Unstuffed Peppers on top of one of these options:

  • Basmati rice
  • Buttered noodles

Overhead image of Unstuffed Peppers on a plate with cauliflower rice alongside.

Unstuffed Pepper tips

  • Don’t forget the parsley (or a similar fresh herb); it cuts through the richness of the dish and adds a burst of freshness.
  • For the marinara sauce, I recommend Rao’s® marinara sauce: (not sponsored). This marinara has a deeply intense flavor and tastes homemade.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container; Unstuffed Peppers dish only gets better as it sits! I like to meal prep with this recipe; it stores well for 3-5 days in airtight containers in the fridge. Because of the dairy in this recipe I don’t recommend freezing it. 

QUICK TIP

To avoid tomato sauce stains on reusable plastic containers, put any leftover Unstuffed Peppers in glass containers, disposable plastic, or dark-colored reusable plasticware that won’t show the red.

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Unstuffed Peppers

0 from 0 votes
If you like stuffed peppers, you'll love this 30-minute skillet meal version. We've got all the comforting and delicious flavors of stuffed peppers, but prepared quickly and with fewer carbohydrates! Nutritious Unstuffed Peppers is sure to be a family favorite. 
Print Recipe

Unstuffed Peppers

0 from 0 votes
If you like stuffed peppers, you'll love this 30-minute skillet meal version. We've got all the comforting and delicious flavors of stuffed peppers, but prepared quickly and with fewer carbohydrates! Nutritious Unstuffed Peppers is sure to be a family favorite. 
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Unstuffed Peppers
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 173kcal
Cost $6.12

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (200g) finely diced yellow onion (1 large onion)
  • 2 cups (260g) chopped sweet bell peppers (2 large peppers; I use 1 red and 1 orange)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin, Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: onion powder, roasted garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 pound (16 oz.) lean (93/7) ground turkey (See Note 1)
  • 1 large beef bouillon cube (See Note 2)
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup (140g) marinara sauce (we love Rao's)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup (93g) freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 3-4 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley for garnish
  • Serve over: cooked rice or cauliflower rice (See Note 3)

Instructions

  • PEPPERS AND ONIONS: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in an oven-safe 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in the finely diced onions, and chopped bell peppers. Saute for 6-8 minutes or until softened. Add in garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste and the seasonings: the chili powder, cumin, Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, and optional red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste; I add 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • GROUND TURKEY: Move veggies to the sides of the pan. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the center of the pan and add ground turkey. Let cook without stirring, until golden brown on bottom, about 1-2 minutes and then break up into chunks. Continue to cook and crumble the ground turkey until browned, incorporating veggies as you cook through the ground turkey, about 5 more minutes.
  • TOMATOES: Add in the fire-roasted diced tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, and crumbled beef bouillon cube. Stir to incorporate and cook off most of the liquid from the tomatoes. Add in the marinara sauce and stir to heat through.
  • CHEESE: Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese and immediately transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for 4-8 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with fresh parsley (If this dish wasn't cooked in an oven-safe skillet, cover the skillet, remove from heat, and allow the residual heat to cook the cheese while it stands.).
  • ENJOY: Serve over cooked cauliflower rice or regular rice.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: I recommend ground turkey that is sold in a carton, rather than in a chub (the plastic tube). The chub ground turkey tends to be overly watery and less flavorful.
Note 2: Here are the exact beef bouillon cubes I use.
Note 3: Riced cauliflower is my favorite way to serve Unstuffed Peppers; I simply purchase two bags of frozen cauliflower rice and add both bags, straight from the freezer, to a very large nonstick skillet and cook, stirring every once in a while, until tender and slightly charred.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 4servings | Calories: 173kcal | Carbohydrates: 17.2g | Protein: 2.6g | Fat: 11.4g | Cholesterol: 0.7mg | Sodium: 290.8mg | Fiber: 3.9g | Sugar: 9.6g

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Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork

The absolute BEST honey BBQ pulled pork sandwiches made simple in the CROCKPOT! Recipe via chelseasmessyarpon.com

Serve these spice-rubbed Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches with a delicious sweet honey chipotle sauce and a simple coleslaw. Add a toasted bun with a side of this corn salad for the ultimate summer meal!

Image of Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich on a plate, ready to be eaten.

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork

There’s nothing that compares to a good smoked pork butt, but if you don’t have a smoker or you just don’t want to babysit it for the greater part of 15-20 hours, this is your recipe!

You’ll still get succulent, tender pork, worthy of any summer barbecue, and in a fraction of the time with minimal effort. The entire pork butt fits nicely into a crockpot* and slow cooks all day requiring no extra effort as it cooks (like spritzing pork in a smoker every few hours or wrapping and unwrapping it in butcher paper). It also makes your home smell incredible while allowing you to stay in the air conditioning all day long!

(*Crock pot is the trademarked brand of slow cooker made by  Sunbeam Products, but it’s often used generically in the English-speaking world when referring to any slow cooker appliance.) 

And just as the pork is simple to make, the sauce is equally easy. While you can skip a step and grab some store-bought BBQ sauce, this homemade chipotle barbecue sauce is one of our favorites! It’s so flavorful, sweet, a little smoky, and a bit spicy. And before you stray away from the spicy aspect of this BBQ sauce, it can easily be tailored to your personal spice tolerance. So, let’s talk about the sauce first!

Process shot-- image of the chipotle bbq sauce ingredients being assembled in a blender; blending ingredients together to create the sauce.

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork sauce

  • Ketchup: I recommend Heinz® ketchup — it’s our favorite in this sauce (not sponsored).
  • Brown sugar: Light or dark brown sugar work great; we typically use light brown sugar
  • Honey: Between the honey and brown sugar — these two ingredients really sweeten the sauce– the sweetness is offset a bit with the chipotles, but the sauce is intended to be a bit sweet. If you’d prefer to have it more on the spicy side, either increase the chipotles (see below) or decrease the amount of honey and/or brown sugar.
  • Chipotle chilies in adobo: These chilies are what give the sauce its spice. Since we’re only using a bit of the can, be sure to read this chicken tinga tacos post for how to save and store leftover chipotles. Also, make sure to check out the quick tip below on adjusting spice levels.
  • Apple cider vinegar: The vinegar helps to balance the sweet and spicy blend of this sauce.
  • Worcestershire sauce: We use this ingredient to add to the depth of flavor.
  • Garlic: Either pre-minced garlic or a coarsely chopped clove work well.
  • Salt and pepper: Add to personal preference, remembering that the pork can be fairly salty!

QUICK TIP

Taste and adjust the sauce to personal preference; the chipotles are important to balancing the sauce (so it isn’t too sweet), but add slowly and taste as you go, so you don’t end up with an overly spicy sauce. Remember also that the bun and coleslaw tame the spiciness of the sauce.

How much chipotle?

  • Little to no spice: Use 1-2 tablespoons of the sauce surrounding the canned chipotle peppers.
  • Light spice: Use 2 tablespoons of the chipotle sauce and 1 tablespoon peppers.
  • Medium spicy: Use 2 tablespoons chipotle sauce and 2 tablespoon peppers.
  • Spicy: Use 2 tablespoons chipotle sauce and 3 tablespoons peppers.

Note that if you do make this sauce in advance (and put it in the fridge), it gets spicier as it sits. I love making the sauce in the morning, along with starting the pork in the crockpot, because come dinner time, there is literally nothing to do but assemble the sandwich (unless you’re also making coleslaw).

Process shots-- images of the seasoning rub for the pork; onions and apple juice added to the bottom of the crock pot; seasoned pork going into the crockpot; cooking all day; shredded and covered in the BBQ sauce.

Let’s talk pork

I’ve tried all kinds of pork and all different weights in my slow cooker. I’ve gotten the best results from using a 5 to 5.5-pound bone-in pork shoulder or butt roast. Some of the different labels you might see: butt roast, Boston butt, shoulder roast, picnic shoulder, or a pork shoulder butt blade roast. (There is a difference between butt and shoulder pork roasts, but sometimes the names are confused or misleadingly named; check out the differences here). My personal favorite is a Boston Butt, but without going to a butcher, I typically can only find a pork shoulder butt roast in regular grocery stores. And just in case you were wondering, butt refers to the butt-end of the shoulder roast, not the location on the pig!

A few notes on the pork:

  • I recommend bone-in: The bone adds loads of flavor and once cooked, it pulls out easily. Bones add flavor and juiciness to the Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork. 
  • Fat cap: A fat cap is the white layer of fat on the top of the meat. Most pork butts will have this fat cap; don’t cut it off! Instead, put it facing upwards in the slow cooker. As the pork cooks, this fat will render and drip down making the pork more flavorful and more tender. Also, once the pork is cooked, it pulls off super easily and can then be discarded.
  • Cook the pork on low heat. I don’t recommend cooking the pork on high; it tends to dry it out and won’t end up as tender or juicy and does not shred as easily.
  • Don’t over-work the pork when shredding: There are few things worse than mushy meat after spending money and time on it! Use two forks to gently pull the meat apart. Don’t throw it in a food processor or stand mixers; that will disintegrate or make it mushy.

Process shots-- images of the coleslaw dressing being made and poured over the shredded veggies.

Brioche buns

Our absolute favorite way to serve this Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork is on toasted brioche buns. (Here’s how to toast buns — on a grill, in a pan, or in the oven). Before toasting the buns, I recommend buttering both of the insides (use softened butter or butter in a tub).

Coleslaw

Toasted brioche buns, succulent BBQ pulled pork, and finally some coleslaw! The coleslaw adds the perfect contrasting crunchy texture to the tender pork and toasted buns; it’s no wonder they’re paired together so often!

I recently shared this coleslaw recipe, so you can use that recipe to top this crockpot BBQ pulled pork. That said, if you’re wanting a quicker prep time, grab a bag of coleslaw mix and some fresh (refrigerated) coleslaw dressing (I like Marie’s® best; not sponsored) and toss the two together until the coleslaw mix is sufficiently mixed.

Add a generous scoop of coleslaw right on top of the Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork, top with a bun, and dig in!

Up-close image of Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich showing off the pork and coleslaw layers.

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork side dish suggestions

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Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork

5 from 2 votes
Spice-rubbed Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches with a delicious sweet honey-chipotle sauce and a simple coleslaw.
Print Recipe

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork

5 from 2 votes
Spice-rubbed Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches with a delicious sweet honey-chipotle sauce and a simple coleslaw.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Sandwich
Cuisine American
Keyword crockpot BBQ pulled pork
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 9 hours
Total Time 9 hours 30 minutes
Servings 10 -12 sandwiches
Calories 651kcal
Cost $11.12

Ingredients

Pork in the crockpot

  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup 100% apple juice (or chicken broth works)
  • 4.5-6.5 pounds bone-in pork butt shoulder roast (or Boston butt) (See Note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon EACH: chili powder, paprika (sweet), garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons EACH: onion powder, dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper

Chipotle Honey Sauce

  • 1 cup (263g) ketchup
  • 1/2 cup (95g) brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (232g) honey
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons canned chipotle chilies and surrounding adobo sauce (+ 2 tablespoons sauce surrounding chipotles) (See Note 2)
  • salt and pepper

For Serving

  • brioche buns and softened butter
  • coleslaw for serving, (See Note 3)

Instructions

Into the Slow Cooker

  • Coat a large 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick spray. Line the bottom with the thinly sliced onions (2 medium or 1 very large). Pour in the apple juice and minced garlic.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, ground cumin, salt, and pepper (I add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 heaping teaspoon cracked pepper). Remove pork from packaging and dab all over with a paper towel. Rub the spices into the pork -- all sides.
  • Place the pork on top of the onions; if there is a white layer of fat, place that facing up (the fat will render down and make the pork more tender).
  • Cover, and cook for 8-11 hours on low setting (a 5.5 pound pork is always done around 9 hours for me); I don't recommend cooking on high.
  • Once the meat is completely cooked through and shreds really easily, drain the liquid. Pull off the layer of fat on top (it should just easily pull off), and pull out the bone and discard both (or save the bone and the drained liquid to make homemade stock!)
  • Using two forks, shred the pork.

Sauce

  • In a blender, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, honey, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a 1/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste).
  • Add in 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce surrounding the chipotle chilis and then 1 tablespoon of an actual chipotle chili (cut chili if needed). If concerned about heat, add chilies and sauce gradually tasting after additions. (Add VERY slowly because it's always easy to increase if you want more heat. If you are very sensitive to heat just add the sauce around the chilies in small quantities.) Blend sauce until smooth.
  • Pour the sauce over the pork (you may not use it all if using a smaller pork roast) and gently mix until pork is well coated and saucy.

Coleslaw And Buns

  • Spread butter on the insides of the buns. Add to a skillet or griddle and lightly brown the buns over medium heat.
  • Top the bottom bun with a generous amount of the BBQ pulled pork and a big spoonful of coleslaw (See Note 2). Add top bun and serve right away.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: I've tried all kinds of pork and all different weights in my slow cooker. I've gotten the best results from using a 5-5.5 pound bone-in pork shoulder or butt roast. Some of the different labels you might see: butt roast, Boston butt, shoulder roast, picnic shoulder, or a pork shoulder butt blade roast. (There is a difference between butt and shoulder pork roasts, but sometimes the names are confused or misleadingly named; check out the differences here). My personal favorite is a Boston Butt, but without going to a butcher, I typically can only find a pork shoulder butt roast in regular grocery stores.
Note 2: Chipotle peppers can vary, but below is generally what I'd add to the BBQ sauce depending on how spicy (or not spicy) I'd like it to be. If not adding a lot of spice, you'll want to reduce the honey.
  • Little to no spice: Use 1-2 tablespoons  adobo sauce surrounding the chipotle peppers.
  • Light spice: Use 2 tablespoons adobo sauce  and 1 tablespoon peppers.
  • Medium spicy: Use 2 tablespoons adobo sauce and 2 tablespoon peppers.
  • Spicy: Use 2 tablespoons adobo sauce and 3 tablespoons peppers.
Note 3: Here's a homemade coleslaw recipe. For a quicker coleslaw, grab a bag of coleslaw mix and some fresh (refrigerated) coleslaw dressing (I like Marie’s® best) and toss the two together until the coleslaw mix is sufficiently mixed.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 651kcal | Carbohydrates: 63.1g | Protein: 57.1g | Fat: 18.3g | Cholesterol: 159.9mg | Sodium: 656.8mg | Fiber: 1.9g | Sugar: 33.4g

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Taco Pasta Salad

This easy Taco Pasta Salad combines pasta, taco-seasoned meat, iceberg lettuce, black beans, and veggies. A homemade creamy chili-lime dressing is the perfect complement to this salad.

Overhead image of Taco Pasta Salad

Taco Pasta Salad

It’s no secret my obsession for tacos runs deep; from these meatless healthy tacos to shrimp tacos to this chicken taco salad to taco bowls and about 30 other taco recipes in between, there are a lot of taco recipes on this website. So, of course there was a need to combine tacos with a pasta salad.

Enter: Taco Pasta Salad.

I’ll say it right now: this is not your typical taco salad, loaded with store-bought Catalina or French dressing, crushed up Doritos, and packaged Cheddar. While I’m all for using shortcuts and purchased dressings when it makes sense, I’ve just never been a fan of those types of taco salads in the past. To be fair, it’s most likely because I’m not a huge fan of commercial Catalina or French dressings, and always find myself craving a more “homemade” taco salad. 

So this salad came to be. It has taco-seasoned ground beef, thinly sliced iceberg lettuce, black beans, veggies, fresh herbs, and the most crave-worthy creamy chili-lime dressing.

Process shots-- images of the ground beef being cooked; the lettuce being chopped and washed; pasta being cooked and drained; and everything being combined.

Taco Pasta Salad tips

  • Use textured pasta. Choose pasta that has plenty of nooks and crannies to hold that delicious chili-lime dressing. If you can’t find bowtie pasta, I recommend miniature shells, rotini, or fusilli. 
  • Don’t use all the pasta. Most pasta salads call for an entire box of pasta, so it’s easy to go on auto pilot and fix an entire box. However, this recipe calls for only 3 cups, so make sure to measure that out before boiling the pasta.
  • Salt the pasta water. Since this pasta is eaten cold, the flavors tend to get muted. Make sure the pasta is well-salted as it cooks, since salting is the only chance you have to season the actual pasta. Don’t be afraid to add more salt to the finished dish if it needs it. Read about how to properly salt your pasta water here. As a general rule of thumb, I add 1 teaspoon salt to 4 cups of water.
  • If you have time, make the dressing in advance. This dressing improves if it’s made in advance and chilling in the fridge; the flavors meld together and intensify, plus, it’s just better chilled! 
  • Assemble this salad right before eating. This is not a pasta salad that sits well with the dressing. The dressing wilts the lettuce quickly, giving it an unpleasant texture. If making in advance, store salad separately from dressing and combine the two right before eating. Only dress what will get eaten the same day. 

Process shots-- images of the dressing being made and being tossed with all the salad ingredients.

Homemade taco seasoning

Since Taco Pasta Salad is a bit more involved than similar recipes (we’re making a homemade dressing), I call for a packet of taco seasoning in the recipe. That said, if you’ve got extra time or would prefer homemade, I have a go-to recipe to replace a taco seasoning packet.

Here’s the recipe to make your taco seasoning from scratch:

  • 1 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon each: ground cumin, ground paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: onion powdergarlic powder, dried oreganosalt, and pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon beef bouillon powder (optional)

Stir the seasonings together and use in place of the taco seasoning packet when cooking the ground beef.

Up-close overhead image of Taco Pasta Salad.

Recipe notes

  • Corn. If you’re using frozen corn, I’d recommend letting it thaw and then cook in a dry skillet to slightly char it. For fresh corn, cut the corn off the cob and add straightaway to the salad, or you can grill it first. To see grilling directions, follow the directions in this Elote recipe.
  • Lettuce. I use iceberg lettuce in this salad, since it’s a typical lettuce found in tacos; feel free to swap it with romaine lettuce if you prefer. If this pasta salad is going to sit in the dressing for a bit, I’d recommend leaving out the lettuce entirely. It wilts very quickly with the dressing. One other note with the lettuce: make sure it is 100% dried before adding it in; otherwise, it makes the dressing watery. I love using a salad spinner to thoroughly dry lettuce.
  • Make this recipe healthier. With a few swaps, you can ramp up the nutrition in Taco Pasta Salad. I recommend making the homemade taco seasoning mix listed above, swapping lean ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef, and using fat-free sour cream in the dressing.
  • Add some crunch. If you’re craving something crunchy or a tortilla texture in your salad, feel free to add in some crunchy tortilla strips — either homemade or from the store. 

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Taco Pasta Salad

5 from 2 votes
This easy Taco Pasta Salad combines pasta, taco-seasoned meat, iceberg lettuce, black beans, and veggies. A homemade creamy chili-lime dressing is the perfect complement to this salad.
Print Recipe

Taco Pasta Salad

5 from 2 votes
This easy Taco Pasta Salad combines pasta, taco-seasoned meat, iceberg lettuce, black beans, and veggies. A homemade creamy chili-lime dressing is the perfect complement to this salad.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword Chicken Taco Pasta Salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8 -10 as a side (4-6 as a meal)
Calories 242kcal
Cost $5.54

Ingredients

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup (65g) full-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup (75g) sour cream (can use lite or fat free)
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) freshly squeezed lime juice + 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin and garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH ground chili powder, paprika
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce or Sriracha
  • 1/4 teach each: fine sea salt and pepper

Salad

  • 3 cups (170g) farfalle/bowtie pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound (16 oz.) lean ground beef
  • 1 package (1 oz.; 28g) taco seasoning mix
  • 3 cups (150g) iceberg lettuce
  • 1 small red bell pepper, (~3/4 cup; 90g) chopped into small pieces
  • 2 cups (305g) cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/3 cup (20g) thinly sliced green onions (~3 onions)
  • 1/3 cup (15g) finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup (145g) frozen or fresh corn, thawed or cut off the cob (See Note 1)

Instructions

  • DRESSING: Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • PASTA: Prepare the pasta according to package directions (don't cook all the pasta; only use 3 cups!). Make sure to generously salt the water (I add 1 teaspoon to every 4 cups of water). Don't forget to salt the pasta water or the whole salad will taste under-seasoned. Drain pasta, rinse under cold water, let cool and allow to dry.
  • GROUND BEEF: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add in the beef and cook, crumbling as you go, until browned and cooked through. Drain off any fat as needed. Add in the taco seasoning and stir until coated. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • SALAD ASSEMBLY: Stir together the cooled pasta and cooled beef mixture, lettuce, chopped peppers, quartered cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced green onions, finely chopped cilantro, drained and rinsed black beans, and corn (See Note 1). Gently toss to combine.
  • DRESSING: Give the dressing another quick stir and then pour over the salad. Gently toss to combine. Taste and adjust any seasonings to personal preference, adding more salt and/or pepper as needed. Enjoy immediately!
  • STORAGE: Salad is best enjoyed soon after being dressed; it does not sit well with the dressing.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: If using frozen corn, I recommend letting it thaw and then cooking in a dry skillet to slightly char it. For fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and add straightaway to the salad, or it can be grilled first. To see grilling directions, follow the directions in this Elote recipe.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 10servings | Calories: 242kcal | Carbohydrates: 33.6g | Protein: 18.5g | Fat: 3.8g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Fiber: 4.9g | Sugar: 3.6g

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