10 Ways to Recycle Leftover Taco Meat Filling


Like sleeping-in and free Netflix, having leftover taco meat filling in the fridge is a bonus.

It can instantly UP the flavor of whatever EATS you happen to be making – with less prep – and, if reused in a certain way, can convince a friend to help you move a sofa bed up a flight of stairs.

Wait, what? Read on…


#1 Evil Genius Way To Top Your Nachos

Here at the Cafe we know eating nachos is horrible for you, and eating too many is irresponsible. We even understand the addictive evil behind the melted cheese and salty tortilla chips. Now sprinkle delicious leftover taco meat on top – it’s evil genius!

Nachos with cheese salsa and leftover taco meat filling

#2 Make Sloppy Joe’s To Move a Sofa Bed

Everyone knows that if you want a friend to help you move, you have to bribe them with food. Now, if that certain friend happens to be a hungry-male-meatatarian, use your leftover taco meat to make 5-Ingredient Sloppy Joe’s (see image below). Just the site of this delicious sandwich will be enough to convince him that the agony, cursing and sore back is worth the delicious reward!

5 ingredient sloppy joes. Leftover taco meat, 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 4 oz canned green chilies, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

#3 Flavor Your Carb-Cravings

To satisfy a carb craving – and do so with extra flavor – you need to be strategic. Like playing a game of tic-tac-toe. Which basically means it is the low-intensity kind of strategic-thinking (my favorite).

The first strategic move: Make mac and cheese.

Next: Mix in leftover taco meat filling.

Final move (for the win): grab a fork. You did it! Enjoy your Tic-Tac-Taco Mac and Cheese!

Tic-Tac-Taco Mac and Cheese

#4 Flavor Your Carb-Free Cravings

Eating more-carbs eventually leads to wanting to eat less carbs. When this happens we reach the same conclusion when Taco Tuesday arrives.

“Why should I stop eating tacos?

When I could simply wrap the taco meat (or leftover taco meat) in a leaf of lettuce.

Okay, maybe just a few crushed tortilla chips on top won’t hurt.”

Lettuce Wrap Taco Verde: lettuce leaf, leftover taco meat, salsa verde, red bell pepper, pineapple, green onion

#5 Create Edible Food Art

Want to tap into your artistic side? If so, here ya go. Spread the leftover taco meat on a large plate and heat in the microwave. Scatter shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, jalapenos, crushed tortilla chips and cheese on top. Then go all abstract art on it by splashing on your favorite salsa and hot sauces. It’s a work of art and it’s delicious!

Flavor Canvas: sauce, leftover taco meat, something sour, savory or salty, something red, something green on a plate.

#6 Tex-Mex Your McMuffin

When McDonalds gets wind of how good your home-version Tex-Mex Egg McMuffin tastes, they will probably want to buy the recipe formula from you (you’ll find it in the tiny print in the image below). You’ll make a killing (if you can read it). You’re welcome.

Tex Mex McMuffin: 2 Eggs, 2 Tbsp milk, leftover taco meat, salsa, green onion, shredded cheese, English muffin

#7 Meat-Up The Marinara

The worst part of adding ground meat to pasta sauce isn’t that ground meat is terrible for you. It is having to thaw the ground meat from the freezer, cook it (using an extra skillet you’ll have to clean later), and wonder if the myth about pouring the excess grease down the drain is in fact true. With leftover taco meat; problem solved.

5 Minute Meat Sauce: leftover taco meat, tomato sauce, dried oregano, salt and pepper.

#8 Make Your “Other” Chili

Considering everyone seems to believe they make “the best chili”, it would be silly to suggest you mess with your secret chili recipe. But if you’re interested in a time-saving back-up version, then look no further than your stash of leftover taco meat to make it happen!

Mexicana Chili: leftover taco meat, black beans, frozen corn, canned diced tomatoes, green onions, salsa, cilantro, chili powder, lime juice

#9 Grilled Cheese

Don’t the words “Grilled Cheese” make you want a grilled cheese? Now imagine it stuffed with leftover taco meat, 2 tablespoons of chili sauce and of course – melted cheese. Okay, that doesn’t sound so appetizing written that way, but it’s “Grilled Cheese”, it has to be delicious!

*If you don’t have chili sauce, make your own by mixing 2 tablespoons of ketchup with 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. 

Taco Grilled Cheese: 2 slices bread, cheese, chili sauce, leftover taco meat

#10 Make More Tacos!!!

A top ten list inevitably means that there will be ten items on the list. But sometimes the person creating the list (in this case, me) comes up short on ideas. So, in an attempt to wiggle out of the dilemma, they (aka me) provides some lame, obvious item on the list – like I have done here in number 10. Then again, having leftover taco meat will in fact make it easier to make more tacos.

I’ll try harder next time. Promise.


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