A Healthier Walking Taco

best walking taco recipe that are healthier

Every Halloween for years we would invite a few families over for an early supper before heading out for the annual wonder of following children around to collect candy from neighbors and strangers. Usually I made a big pot of soup, chili, or the like. But one year I was looking for something different and found inspiration at the Texas State Fair, of all places. That’s where I was introduced to my first walking taco, a Tex-Mex mashup of chips, taco meat, and salsa. I developed my own spin on the subject, which resulted in a healthier walking taco. It’s become a party favorite, not just for Halloween, but birthday parties, game-day gatherings, and beyond.

overhead shot of two walking tacos w lime garnishes

A Healthier Walking Taco

A traditional  walking taco involves filling single-serving bags of Doritos with all the ordinary fixings for a taco, along with sour cream and salsa. You eat it straight from the bag. It’s kinda junkie and completely tasty.  My version has plenty of crunch and flavor, just with three healthier swaps.

  1. Instead of Doritos, use single-serve bags of salted tortilla chips, mini bags of Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips (which don’t have the artificial colors and flavors of Doritos), or Siete tortilla chips. If you can’t find single-serve bags in the grocery store, look for them online. Alternatively, make your own bags by piling tortilla chips into wax paper bags).
  2. Instead of ground beef, use a combination of ground turkey and cooked beans, and cut the amount of taco seasoning mix in half to minimize sodium.
  3. Instead of the nacho cheese sauce in some walking tacos, use shredded Sharp cheddar cheese.

Can I Make a Vegetarian Walking Taco?

Yes! This is entirely adaptable for vegetarian diets. Here are two options:

  • Double the amount of beans and simmer them with the water and taco seasoning mix until warm and saucy.
  • Swap out the turkey and use Beyond burger or Impossible burger instead.

The end result looks and tastes like the Texas State Fair. Most importantly, it’s very fun and super tasty. It always gets a unanimous thumbs up from my most important critics, my kids.

 the best walking taco recipe with forks and garnishes

For more healthier Tex Mex favorites, check out:

Sweet Potato Nachos

Oven-Baked Chicken Taquitos

Vegan Queso

Loaded Lentil Nachos

Best (and healthier) Walking Taco

A savory, crunchy party food favorite inspired by the Texas State Fair. Assemble these for guests, or set it up as a buffet and let them do up their own. If you can't find single-serve bags of tortilla chips in your local market, you can find them online.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Tex Mex
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6
Author Katie Morford


  • 3/4 pound ground turkey
  • 1 cup cooked pinto beans
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning mix (see note)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 6 one-ounce bags tortilla chips, Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips, Siete brand tortilla chips, or wax paper bags with 1 big handful of tortilla chips
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce (crunchiest leaves)
  • 1 medium chopped tomato
  • Any of the following garishes: taco sauce, Mexican salsa, diced avocado, thinly sliced scallions, pickled jalapeños, sour cream, plain yogurt


  1. In a medium saute pan, brown the turkey meat over medium heat until cooked through. Add the pinto beans to the pan and sprinkle the 1/2 packet of taco seasoning mix over the top. Add the water and stir. Turn heat to low and simmer until the liquid absorbs into the mix and the flavors develop, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Use you hands to lightly crush the bags of chips to break them into bite size pieces. Use scissors to the top off of the mini bags of tortilla chips or Sun Chips .

  3. To assemble, add a few big spoonfuls of the turkey/bean mixture to each bag. Divide the cheese among the 6 bags, followed by the lettuce and tomatoes. Add any of the garnishes (I'm partial to taco sauce, pickled jalapeños, and light sour cream). Use of a fork to give everything a good stir. Eat straight from the bag.

Recipe Notes

Read the ingredients on the label or buy at a natural foods market since some brands are made with MSG and other additives you may not want to eat.


10.25.2011 at8:29 AM #

Hayley T.

Deep fried bubble gum? You have to be kidding me! So do you chew and swallow the outer fried layer and then chew/make bubbles from the gum? Sounds like it’s about one chemical away from floor polish!

10.25.2011 at8:29 AM #

Katie Morford

I think only 2 in our group braved the fried bubblegum. You’ll note in the picture that it was accompanied by a beer. What a combo.

10.25.2011 at10:47 AM #

Pamela Prime

What a great idea…can’t wait for Halloween!

10.25.2011 at8:49 PM #


Still entirely fancy for Halloween dinner -I’m impressed. Growing up, our standard was Spaghetti’o’s, and I can’t remember anything green to accompany them.

Your recipe sounds as healthy as you could possibly make for a taco in a bag of chips, and absolutely worth the novelty!

10.26.2011 at6:34 AM #


Cute idea. I like it!

10.30.2011 at8:33 AM #


I love this idea! I live in SF, any idea where to find 6oz bags?

10.30.2011 at8:33 AM #

Katie Morford

I’ve found the 1 ounce bags sold in bulk at Safeway. The Garden Salsa, Plain, and Harvest Cheddar flavors will all work for this.

10.25.2012 at4:06 AM #


I love walking tacos. I think I may have posted this previously, but iceberg lettuce isn’t a nutritional lightweight. While it’s not as nutrient dense as Romaine, it’s not far behind it. I still use Romaine more often, but I’m not concerned about being shortchanged nutritionally when I choose to use iceberg.


10.25.2012 at4:06 AM #

Katie Morford

Thanks for the link, Sally.

10.29.2015 at1:51 PM #

Anne Mullen

I’m so pleased you came away from the Texas State Fair with something usable, not an easy task. In years past, the deep fried stars have been Coke or butter. Crazy stuff. These walking tacos sound great; thanks.

10.29.2015 at1:51 PM #

Katie Morford

I know! It’s crazy what they come up with. Fried bubblegum? Ick.

10.30.2015 at6:26 AM #

Elizabeth Shaw

Brilliant Idea!! This seriously is perfect for those who want to indulge but in a healthier way! Plus, I love the concept of knocking that Uploaded Lunchable out of the running- this is a win win! Nice work!

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