November 28, 2022

Canadiannpizza

Cooking Is My World

Tortilla Pie – Chelsea’s Messy Apron

This simple Tortilla Pie layers creamy refried beans, taco-seasoned beef, saucy salsa, and plenty of melty cheese between tortillas. Layer this pie like a lasagna, bake it, and add all your favorite taco toppings! 

Image of Tortilla Pie on a plate

This Tortilla Pie is part of our Back-To-School Lifesavers — a series of recipes that are intended to have little (or no) veggie chopping, minimal prep time, around 10 ingredients or less (not including pantry staples), and use kid-friendly ingredients. Click here to see all the recipes in the series! 

Taco Tortilla Pie

This Tortilla Pie recipe was hands-down the most frequently made meal in my home growing up. My mom was known for this recipe! And with a lot of mouths to feed (nine!), she’d usually whip together two or three of these pies at once– and there would never be a bite leftover.

While I don’t believe she created this recipe, she put her own spin on it and was always changing it up. Sometimes she’d make it with chicken, other times vegetarian, and sometimes with beef (my personal favorite).

A few reasons she’d make this recipe for taco pie with tortillas so often: 

  1. Everyone in the family loved it. (With 9 people that isn’t always the case, as she’ll attest!)
  2. Minimal ingredients (less than 10).
  3. Very quick prep time. Once you’ve got everything out and prepped, assembling the pies takes mere minutes. Also, it’s something to easily involve the kids in — I can’t tell you how many tortilla pies I assembled growing up!
  4. Easy to jazz up or dress down. It’s so easy to make this pie a little fancier based on the way you top it — the more toppings, the more unique and flavorful everything becomes. But, if you don’t have time/ingredients, the base of this recipe (with minimal or no toppings) is plenty flavorful!

Ingredient shot-- image of all the ingredients used in this dish

Tortilla Pie Ingredients

Below are the main ingredients in this layered taco-flavored Tortilla Pie:

  • Tortillas. We love these unbaked tortillas by TortillaLand® (not sponsored). They are generally found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store near shredded cheeses.
  • Lean ground beef. We like to use the 93/7 blend. Ground turkey also works great.
  • Taco seasoning. Taco seasoning packets can vary in the level of spiciness and in overall flavor. We love Old El Paso’s seasoning mix best (not sponsored).
  • Enchilada sauce or tomato sauce. Either of these sauces adds some moisture to the meat and a nice flavor. We like enchilada sauce best in this recipe, but both work well.
  • Cheese. We have tried just about every type of cheese in this pie over the years and Queso Quesadilla® wins by a landslide! It’s also one of the few pre-grated cheeses that doesn’t get clumpy in the pie. A Mexican cheese blend is a good alternative if you aren’t able to find this specific cheese.
  • Salsa. Use your favorite salsa in this Tortilla Pie recipe — one you know you love! Mild for less heat, or hot if you’d like some kick to it.
  • Refried beans. Use a brand you like. You can also sometimes buy freshly made (not canned) refried beans in some grocery stores– typically in the cheese or produce section.

Process shots of Tortilla Pie-- images of the beef being browned and then garlic and seasonings being added and it all being cooked together

SHORTCUTS

  • Garlic. We love Dorot’s® cubes which have crushed garlic that you can keep handy in the freezer and pop into this (and other) recipes when needed. (Check if your local store carries them; they’re usually found with frozen veggies in the grocery store.) Another option is to use refrigerated minced garlic. 
  • Pre-grated cheese: I will often advocate for freshly grating cheese as it usually turns out best, but this is one recipe where the already grated cheese works great — lifesaver recipe lovers, rejoice!
  • Microwaving: My mom would microwave the tortilla pie and then broil it at the end; I like to do a combination of this too! Because even though a recipe comes together quickly, who has time to wait for 30-45 minutes of baking?!

 

Process shots-- images of the tortilla, refried beans, and ground beef layers going on the pie

How To Make a taco pie With Tortillas

Once the beef is browned and seasoned, and the tortillas are quickly cooked on the stovetop, it’s all about the assembly:

  • Tortilla
  • Refried beans
  • Taco-seasoned beef
  • Salsa
  • Cheese
  • And repeat!

A few quick tips:

  • Let beef sear (brown) for a few minutes before crumbling with a wooden spoon and browning all the way through. The sear/char is where you’ll get the flavor!
  • If using unbaked tortillas, be sure to cook them in a skillet before layering (they won’t cook through in this recipe). Otherwise, use already cooked tortillas. The vast majority of tortillas are already baked. Unbaked ones will be in the refrigerated section of the store.
  • Gently compress the pie every time you put down a new tortilla.

Process shots of Tortilla Pie-- images of the salsa and cheese being layered in and then the layers being repeated

Toppings To Choose From

Once the Tortilla Pie is baked, slice it out (like a pie) and serve with some creamy additions. We think a ripe avocado or guacamole and sour cream are the “must-have” additions!

  • Chopped cherry tomatoes, salsa, or pico de gallo
  • Mango salsa or a similar fruity salsa (my mom’s favorite addition!)
  • Freshly chopped cilantro
  • Fresh lime wedges
  • Avocado or guacamole
  • Taco sauce or hot sauce
  • Sour cream (fat-free or low-fat works great!)
  • Sliced black olives

Image of the dish fresh out of the oven with the optional toppings

VARIATIONS

Different Ways To Make Tortilla Pie

  • Vegetarian: When my mom really wanted to make this quick, she’d simply leave off the beef and just alternate layers of refried beans, salsa, and cheese. Sometimes she’d add in drained and rinsed black beans with about 1/2 cup frozen corn in layers atop the refried beans.
  • Chicken: To replace the beef with chicken, prepare the chicken from this Rotisserie Chicken Tacos recipe (feel free to replace all the individual spices with a packet of taco seasoning) and layer this saucy chicken in place of the beef.
  • Use homemade ingredients: If you prefer to make your own seasoning mixes (and have a few extra minutes), try this homemade Taco Seasoning recipe; it’s our favorite! Or you if you happen to have some leftover homemade Salsa, use that in place of store-bought.
  • Jazz it up some more: If you aren’t in a hurry, you can add more flavor to this pie by sautéing 1 cup of diced yellow onion with the beef. You could also add in 1-2 tablespoons diced jalapeños or fire-roasted green chiles. 
  • Spice levels: For a lightly seasoned dish, use a mild salsa (one you know is mild, or taste it first to ensure mildness), mild enchilada sauce (or tomato sauce), and a mild taco seasoning packet. For a spicier Tortilla Pie, use medium or hot salsa, medium or hot enchilada sauce, and a medium or hot taco seasoning packet. You could also add 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper to the beef mixture.

Image of the Tortilla Pie on a plate, ready to be served

QUICK TIP

Do you get confused by the various levels of ground beef? What do 80/20 and 93/7 mean? These numbers are a ratio, comparing the protein to fat in the meat. 80/20, for instance, means this particular blend is 80% protein and 20% fat. Fat is an important element of meat, providing texture, flavor, and performance. 99/1 beef is ultra lean, but can also be a bit tough. It’s a good choice for a casserole where there are lots of flavors mixing together and the meat is crumbled.  80/20 ground beef is a great choice for grilling, where the extra fat content provides a robustly flavored burger that doesn’t stick to the grill as easily.

More Mexican-Inspired Favorites

Tortilla Pie

This simple Tortilla Pie layers tortillas with creamy refried beans, taco-seasoned beef, saucy salsa, and plenty of melty cheese. Layer this pie like a lasagna, bake it, and add all your favorite taco toppings!

Tortilla Pie

This simple Tortilla Pie layers tortillas with creamy refried beans, taco-seasoned beef, saucy salsa, and plenty of melty cheese. Layer this pie like a lasagna, bake it, and add all your favorite taco toppings!

Instructions

  • PREP: Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a pie pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

  • TACO MEAT: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the beef. Let the beef sear (brown), about 1 minute per side, before crumbling with a wooden spoon and browning all the way through. Drain off any grease (if needed) and then reduce the heat to medium. Add in the taco seasoning mix and garlic. Mix through until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Finally, add tomato sauce or enchilada sauce. Scrape the bottom of the pan and cook, stirring constantly until nicely thickened, about 2-3 more minutes. Remove and set aside.

  • ASSEMBLE PIE: Place a tortilla into the pan; spread with 1/3 can of refried beans, 1/3 of the taco meat, 1/2 cup salsa (135g), and 1/3 of the cheese (just eyeball all these additions). Repeat these layers 3 times, finishing with a tortilla on top. Microwave for 2 minutes and then transfer to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is gooey and melted.

  • GARNISH: Remove from the oven and cut into wedges. Serve with desired toppings.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Tortillas: We love these unbaked tortillas by TortillaLand® (not sponsored). They are generally found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store near shredded cheeses. You’ll need to quickly cook them up in a skillet before layering them in the casserole dish. Otherwise use already cooked tortillas.
Note 2: Cheese. We have tried just about every single cheese in this pie over the years and Queso Quesadilla® wins by a landslide! It’s also one of the few pre-grated cheeses that doesn’t get clumpy in the pie. A Mexican cheese blend is a good alternative if you aren’t able to find this specific cheese.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 378kcal | Carbohydrates: 24.6g | Protein: 28.4g | Fat: 18.4g | Cholesterol: 83.1mg | Sodium: 1494.3mg | Fiber: 1.6g | Sugar: 3.1g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.