It's easy to make low carb keto tacos with crispy cheddar cheese shells that you "bake" in the microwave. And they're just as good as traditional tacos!
When my husband and I started eating a low carb diet, I was on a mission to find low carb substitutions for all our high-carb favorites. The first year was especially difficult. We really missed many of our old favorites, such as grilled cheese and donuts. But tastes evolve, and after several years of low carb eating, I don't miss the old stuff anymore. I am very content with a juicy steak!
Still, once in a while it's nice to vary our menu and make something special. And after some experimentation, I am very happy to say that there's no need to give up yummy tacos when you eat keto or low carb!
Simply replace the tortilla shell with a crispy cheddar cheese shell. The cheesy shell is delicious, making these tacos at least as good as traditional ones. Of course, another great low carb option is to make a tasty and filling taco salad.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make these tasty tacos. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Taco seasoning: I use a homemade mix, but it's fine to use store-bought. Just make sure the spices you use are fresh. A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Shredded cheddar: You can shred it by yourself or buy it pre-shredded. I like to use extra-sharp cheddar because it's so very flavorful.
Lean ground beef: I like to use 85% lean beef, but it's OK to go even leaner.
Chopped onion: Chop it finely so that it mixes well with the beef.
Minced garlic: Mince it yourself or use the stuff that comes in a jar. Both work.
Tomato paste: Adds great flavor and not too many carbs to the beef mixture.
Taco toppings: Whatever you like! Sour cream, guacamole, and salsa are all great.
How to make keto tacos? It's so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Make the shells. Form taco shells from microwaved cheddar cheese. The photo collage below shows you how to shape them.
Cook the filling. Cook the ground beef with onion, garlic, tomato paste, and taco seasoning.
Assemble the tacos. Divide the meat between the cheddar shells, top with your favorite toppings, and serve.
Variations and substitutions
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- You can use ground chicken or turkey instead of ground beef, but make sure to use ground dark meat. White meat could be too dry.
- It's OK to skip the tomato paste if you don't like to use it on the keto diet.
- You can use regular paprika instead of smoked paprika, although the smoked paprika does add a very nice flavor.
Frequently asked questions
Yes! You simply need to replace the traditional shells, typically made with corn tortillas, with a low-carb alternative. Baked cheese shells are perfect, and this is what we use here.
The filling is identical to a traditional taco - ground beef cooked with onion and lots of spices. The difference is in the shell you use. You use a crispy cheese shell instead of a corn tortilla shell.
Not really. You can make them an hour or so in advance, but not much more than that. They lose their crunch fairly quickly. But they are so easy to make, and they are ready so fast, that I don't really see it as an issue.
As you can see in the photos, I like to top them with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. I don't really like to sprinkle them with cheddar since they already have quite a bit of cheese in the shells!
Here are a few more Mexican-style recipes that I like to make:
- Taco salad is a flavorful main-dish salad. It's a great alternative to traditional tacos.
- Keto nachos make it possible to enjoy tasty nachos on a low carb diet. Simply replace the high carb tortilla chips with crunchy pork rinds!
- Homemade pork rinds are salty, crunchy and savory. They are the perfect low-carb solution for a snack attack!
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Keto Tacos with Cheese Shells
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups shredded cheddar
- 1 lb. lean ground beef, 85/15
- 1 onion, chopped (6 oz)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- Your choice of toppings
- In a small bowl, mix together the taco seasoning ingredients. Set aside.
- Wrap a ruler in foil, and hang it between two mugs, to create a tool for shaping the taco shells.
- Place ½ cup shredded cheddar on a piece of parchment paper. Spread thinly into a 6-inch circle. Microwave on high until browned and crisp, about 2 minutes. Microwave ovens vary, so start checking after 1:30 minutes.
- Allow the cheddar to cool no more than a couple of seconds, just until you can bear touching it. You want it to remain pliable. Gently peel it off the parchment paper, and fold it over the ruler (as illustrated in the photos above). This will shape the cheddar crisp into a taco shell.
- Repeat three more times with the remaining cheese. Place the formed cheddar taco shells on plates.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and the onion (you don't really need to add any fat, the meat will quickly render its fat). Cook, stirring to break up the meat, until the meat is no longer raw, about 5 minutes. Drain well.
- Add the taco seasoning, the garlic, and the tomato paste. Continue to cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, scoop up the meat from the skillet, dividing it evenly among the cheddar taco shells. Add your choice of toppings (I used sour cream, guacamole and salsa) and serve.