I’ve got a copycat Taco Bell recipe today, a homemade Cheesy Gordita Crunch. For those who have never tried it, a gordita crunch is a Taco Bell menu item. What’s special about this taco is that it has two layers of taco shells: a regular hard shell taco wrapped in tortilla flatbread.
The word gordita means “chubby” in Spanish. In Mexican cuisine, a gordita would refer to a thick tortilla or flatbread, made of masa corn flour and filled with beans, meat, cheese, sour cream, and other fillings. In this recipe, we use the gordita as an outer layer for our taco.
Now, I hope you’re hungry because this recipe is going to be loaded with all the good stuff: oozing melted cheese, juicy ground beef, and fresh crispy lettuce tucked in a crunchy taco shell and soft, pillowy Gordita flatbread. Drizzled on the taco are a creamy, spicy ranch sauce and a homemade cheese sauce.
If you love the sound of this cheesy gordita crunch then you’d love my copycat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme Recipe that has the same cheese sauce.
To say this is delicious would be an understatement!
Let’s start with the ingredients needed for a lip smacking cheesy gordita crunch. This isn’t just your regular fast food menu item. It’s much more elevated, and much more loaded.
For the homemade cheese sauce:
- Super sharp yellow cheddar cheese – Cheddar has an incredible savory flavor to it. Taco Bell uses the same but we’ll pack more flavor with super sharp cheddar!
- Evaporated milk – These are usually sold in cans, and give our cheese sauce the perfect in-between point of milk and cream.
- Diced green chilis – You can get these from a can.
For the ranch dressing:
- Ranch dressing – I use Hidden Valley’s Buttermilk packet, but you can use any other bottle of ranch you have.
- Taco seasoning – For all the yummy flavor!
- Cholula hot sauce – Hot sauce brings tanginess and heat to the ranch. I use Cholula, but Sriracha or Tabasco also works if you can’t find Cholula.
Ingredients for the cheesy gordita crunch tacos:
- Hard shell tacos – Store-bought is fine.
- Gordita shell – You can also use flour tortillas. These should be slightly larger or just about the size of a taco.
- Small onion
- Romaine lettuce
- Ground beef – I use ground chuck. This is a fattier cut that is more tender and flavorful. Cheesy Gordita Crunch and this Dorito Taco Salad recipe are some of my favorite ground beef recipes.
- Super sharp cheddar cheese – Get the pre-shredded bags, or shred your own block of high-quality cheddar.
- Kosher salt and taco seasoning
- Optional toppings – Jalapeno, lime wedges, and cilantro
How To Make A Cheesy Gordita Crunch
Step One: Make the cheese sauce. Add all the ingredients to a medium saucepan and warm over low-medium heat, whisking frequently until melted and smooth. Set aside.
Step Two: Make the spicy taco ranch. Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl until combined.
Step Three: Cook the ground beef. Heat a large skillet over medium heat until the pan starts to become hot. Add a drizzle of olive oil, onions, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions have softened.
Step Four: Add the ground beef, breaking them up while cooking. Once the beef is fully cooked, sprinkle the taco seasoning and stir until fully combined. Turn off the heat and drain any grease.
Step Five: Prepare the Gordita shells. Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Lay soft Gordita shells out on the parchment-lined pan. Smear cheese sauce over them and sprinkle half the cheddar cheese over the tops of all shells. Reserve the other half for topping.
Step Six: Bake the soft shells for 3 minutes until the cheese is melted. Place the hard shells in the middle of each soft shell and fold the sides up around the hard shell. Don’t take too long for each, as the melty cheese acts as the glue. Bake again for 2 minutes.
Step Seven: Assemble the tacos. Fill each shell with the remaining cheese sauce, spicy ranch, ground beef, cheddar cheese, and romaine lettuce. Top with additional optional toppings if desired.
Cheesy Gordita Crunch is in regular rotation for taco Tuesday at my house, along with Tacos de Camaron (Shrimp Tacos) that are packed with seared shrimp inside warm corn tortillas and so so good!
Variations & Optional Toppings
This cheesy gordita crunch recipe can be a fun get-together activity for Taco Tuesday or any other day of the week. You just have to lay out all the taco toppings on the table. Once the taco shells have been baked, everyone at the table can fill their own taco shells with the ingredients and dig in!
Aside from cooked ground beef, lettuce, cheese sauce, and ranch, these taco toppings are amazing and will 100% fit the bill:
- Chorizo – If you love chorizo like I do then you can substitute it for the beef in this recipe or try my favorite chorizo taco with homemade roasted salsa verde.
- Ground chicken
- Pulled pork
- Ground turkey
- Refried beans
- Pickled onions
- Salsa or pico de gallo
Expert Tips & Tricks
If you want to elevate your very own Taco Bell cheesy gordita crunch, follow these expert tips:
- Cook the ground beef for a longer time, if you can afford it. With more heat over a long time in the pan, the beef will practically marry the seasoning. Can you imagine what will happen if you simmer the beef in bone broth and reduce it on low heat?
- Before you assemble the gordita shells with the taco shells, you’ll need to first broil the cheese on the gordita shells. If you prefer not to use your oven at all, simply sprinkle the cheese on top and torch it with a cooking torch.
- If you enjoy copycat recipes then Big Mac Tacos may be right up your alley with all the flavors of juicy ground beef, American cheese, onions and special sauce BUT on a tortilla!
To store unassembled tacos: Seal each ingredient separately in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. When ready to serve, microwave or fry the ground beef. Follow the instructions from Step Five to prepare the cheesy gordita crunch.
To store assembled tacos: Place each leftover taco in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week. Microwave to serve warm.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe!
Frequently Asked Questions
A Cheesy Gordita Crunch is a menu item created by Taco Bell. It consists of a hard shell taco and a soft gordita shell held together by melted cheese, taco ground beef, lettuce, spicy ranch and cheese. This copycat recipe is the homemade version, which is even tastier!
A gordita shell is soft and fluffy. The chalupa shell is that same shell, but deep fried. A chalupa is crunchier than a gordita.
If you can’t find a gordita shell then you can use a flour tortilla. I used regular soft flour tortillas that are normally used for tacos. You can also use a pita or naan bread.
I would not recommend making this recipe ahead of time. It is best eaten fresh. If you need to re-heat later on, I would suggest removing the lettuce before heating then adding it back on afterwards.
Cheesy Gordita Crunch
- 1 large skillet
- 1 medium sauce pot
- 1 cutting board
- 1 sharp chef's knife
- 1 medium bowl
- 1 whisk
- 7 oz super sharp yellow cheddar
- 4 oz evaporated milk
- 2 oz diced green chilis in a can
- 1 cup ranch dressing I make my own with Hidden Valley Buttermilk packet
- 1 tsp taco seasoning
- 1 tbsp Cholula hot sauce
- 1 small onion small dice
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1 lb ground chuck
- 2 tbsp taco seasoning
- 8 flour tortilla or gordita shells taco size
- 8 hard shell tacos
- 4 oz super sharp cheddar cheese shredded, divided
- 1½ cups romaine lettuce shredded
- ½ cup pickled jalapenos
- 4 lime wedges
- ½ cup cilantro rough chop, measure before chopping
Making Cheese Sauce
- Add all ingredients to a medium sauce pot and warm over low-medium heat, whisking frequently until melted and smooth. Set aside
Making Taco Ranch
- Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl until combined
Making Cheesy Gordita Crunch
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line a sheet tray with parchment paper
- Heat large skillet over medium heat until pan starts to become hot. Add a drizzle of olive oil, onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until softened
- Add ground beef, breaking up while cooking. Once beef is fully cooked, add taco seasoning. Stir until fully combined. Turn off heat and drain grease
- Lay soft shells out on parchment lined pan, smear cheese sauce over them and sprinkle half the cheddar cheese over the tops of all shells reserving other half for topping
- Bake 3 minutes until cheese is melted then add the hard shells to the middle of each soft shell and fold sides up around the hard shell. Bake a gain for 2 mintues
- Fill each shell with remaining cheese sauce, spicy ranch, ground beef, cheddar cheese and romaine lettuce. Top with additional optional toppings if desired
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