These crunchy Air Fryer Beef Taquitos are a healthier alternative to the classic Mexican dish. They're made with seasoned ground beef, a generous amount of shredded cheese, and crispy corn tortillas. This is the perfect recipe for when you’re in need of some major comfort food!
What Are Mexican Taquitos?
Taquitos are an amazing dish that's crunchy on the outside and bursting with flavor on the inside. They’re made by stuffing a corn tortilla with a spice-laden filling (often beef or chicken) before rolling it up as tightly as possible. They’re then deep-fried until golden brown and crispy.
This recipe for homemade beef taquitos uses an air fryer instead of a deep fat fryer. We brush them with just a touch of oil before they’re air fried. This helps develop that wonderful crunch without the excess fat and calories that can come with deep frying.
While the filling can vary, this recipe has a traditional blend of spiced ground beef and cheese. The combination of warm, fragrant spices give them their iconic Mexican flavor, while the ooey-gooey cheese makes them even more rich and comforting. And air frying taquitos makes for a fuss-free, crunchy result!
Why You'll Love it
- Making beef taquitos in the air fryer is easier and lighter than deep frying them! It's also faster than baking them. And you still get that all that amazing flavor and crunch.
- They’re incredibly cheesy and beefy will satisfy any comfort food cravings.
- These ground beef taquitos are super-versatile — you can serve them on their own as an appetizer or alongside a side dish for a full meal. They’re also great with a dipping sauce as a snack.
- Corn tortillas: The traditional choice for taquitos. But feel free to sub with flour, whole wheat, gluten-free, or your favorite tortilla.
- Cooking oil: I prefer avocado oil to cook, fry, and sauté with because it has a really high smoke point (500°F).
- Ground beef: My favorite type of ground beef is an 88/12% blend. With this type of beef, you get plenty of flavor in the dish with only a little excess fat to drain off.
- Onion and garlic: Two classic ingredients that complement every dish.
- Jalapeno: A tiny pepper that packs a punch. Feel free to leave it out if you'd like.
- Chili powder, cumin, and paprika: A fantastic trio that embodies the smoky, earthy, and robust flavors of Mexican cuisine.
- Hot sauce: Just a touch to add flavor without too much heat. My favorite is Siete Traditional Hot Sauce. You can always leave it out if preferred.
- Shredded cheese: The creaminess of the cheese provides a smooth contrast to the spice-packed ground beef. I recommend cheddar, oaxaca, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack cheese.
- Sliced cabbage, salsa, lime, cilantro: Optional toppings.
How To Air Fry Taquitos
- Warm the tortillas. Heat tortillas directly over a gas range or in a dry skillet until warm and pliable, about 1 minute per side. Cover with foil to keep warm and set aside.
- Cook the beef. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Then add ground beef, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, paprika, onion, and jalapeno. Crumble beef and stir constantly to soften veggies. When the beef is no longer pink, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Then turn off the heat.
- Finish the filling. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef mixture to a heat-proof bowl, leaving as much fat behind as possible. Excess fat or oil will prevent the taquitos from crisping up properly. Add the cheese and hot sauce, then stir thoroughly. Take a little taste and season to your preferred taste.
- Assemble the taquitos. To make assembly easy, separate the tortillas and spread them out on your working space. Place 1-2 tablespoon of the filling on top of each tortilla.
- Roll up the taquitos. Tightly roll up the taquitos and secure with 1-2 toothpicks through the sides so they can lay flat.
- Air fry the taquitos. Preheat your air fryer to 380°F, then spray the basket with oil. Add taquitos in a single layer, making sure not to overcrowd the basket, and fry or 8-10 minutes or until golden and crispy. Each air fryer is different so play around with the timing. Once crispy, remove from the air fryer and let cool slightly before removing the toothpicks. Then repeat with remaining taquitos.
- Serve. Air fryer beef taquitos are great on their own as a snack! But if you'd like to serve it as a full meal, I recommend topping with a generous serving of shredded cabbage, salsa, sour cream/Greek yogurt, and fresh cilantro and lime juice. You can also try adding sliced avocado, green onion, or pico de gallo.
- Heat the tortillas up to prevent cracks. It’s tempting to skip the first step in this ground beef taquitos recipe but you really shouldn’t. Warming the tortillas up and then wrapping them in foil seal in the heat. This helps to prevent cracks when it’s time to roll them up.
- Discard the excess fat. After cooking the beef and other ingredients in a skillet, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan. This way, the excess fat stays in the skillet and won’t make your taquitos soggy.
- Roll the taquitos as tight as possible. To make authentic beef and cheese taquitos, you need to roll them up as tight as possible. Spoon the filling in a line about ⅓ of the way from the edge of the tortilla. Fold the shortest end over the filling and carry on rolling until you’ve got a flute-like shape. I always find it helpful to secure each taquito with 1-2 toothpicks in the side to keep them from unraveling. Don’t forget to remove the toothpicks before serving!
- Be generous with the oil. For really crispy taquitos, you need to spray or brush the taquitos with oil, as well as the air fryer basket. Doing this helps make sure they come out a gorgeous golden brown and they have that delicious crunch that’s so addictive.
- Make baked beef taquitos. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can bake these taquitos at 400°F for 25-30 minutes in the oven. They’ll still turn out golden and crispy and will be much better for you than regular deep-fried taquitos.
Substitutions & Variations
- If you don’t have any corn tortillas, you can use regular wheat or flour tortillas. They tend to be larger, so you’ll need to add more filling into each one.
- Substitute ground beef for ground chicken, turkey, or pork. You could even use chorizo or ground tofu!
- To make air fryer beef taquitos spicier, add more jalapeno, chili powder, or hot sauce. It’s easy to add spice — but it’s difficult to take it away. So only add a little bit of your chosen heat first and then add more to taste.
- On the other hand, if you don’t like spicy food, omit the jalapeno, chili powder, and hot sauce.
- If you’ve got some vegetables in the fridge that are starting to turn, you can cook them with the beef for extra healthy taquitos. Shredded or finely diced carrot, celery, or peppers would work really well and you’ll hardly know they’re there!
- You can make dairy-free beef taquitos in the air fryer by substituting the cheese for a vegan cheese alternative.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: If you have leftover air fryer beef taquitos, allow them to cool completely. Then place them inside an air-tight container and store them in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezing: To freeze your air fryer taquitos, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet after they’ve cooled and freeze until they’re completely solid. Freezing should take around 2 hours. Once frozen, place them into freezer bags and remove as much air as possible. Store them in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Reheating: To reheat the air fryer taquitos, preheat your air fryer to 350°F. When hot, add the taquitos and cook until crispy and hot again. This should take 1-2 minutes from chilled and 2-3 minutes from frozen. Remember to remove the toothpicks before serving.
Taquitos and flautas look similar and some people use the terms interchangeably. However, flautas are usually made with flour tortillas, while taquitos traditionally use corn tortillas. Flautas are also typically longer and thinner (resembling a flute), while taquitos are shorter and fatter.
Taquitos may seem like an authentic Mexican dish, but they’re actually Mexican-American. Most people believe that taquitos were invented in San Diego by tortilla factory owner Ralph Pesqueria Jr. Despite their uncertain origins, taquitos can be found throughout Mexico today, in restaurants as well as from street carts.
There are so many amazing sauces that go well with taquitos! Guacamole, sour cream, and chipotle hot sauce are the first three that come to mind. They provide a smooth creaminess that perfectly contrasts the crunchy, spicy taquitos.
Looking For More?
The air fryer is one of my favorite kitchen tools! If you're looking for more delicious air fryer recipes, try these:
- Air Fryer Frozen Potstickers
- Air Fryer Crab Rangoons
- Mexican Meatballs
- Air Fryer Frozen Sweet Potato Fries
- Air Fryer Parmesan Potato Wedges
Air Fryer Beef Taquitos
- 12 corn tortillas
- ½ tablespoon cooking oil
- ¾ lb ground beef
- ¼ onion diced; about ¼ cup
- 1 jalapeno diced; about ¼ cup
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoon hot sauce (optional)
- 1½ cup shredded cheese I recommend cheddar, oaxaca, mozzarella, and/oor Monterey Jack cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sliced cabbage, salsa, lime, cilantro optional toppings
- Warm 2-3 tortillas in a dry skillet or directly over an open flame on medium heat. Heat for 30-60 seconds on each side until pliable, then wrap in foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining tortillas, then set aside.
- High oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, onion, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, paprika, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook and stir, crumbling beef, for about 2-3 minutes until beef is no longer pink. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and use slotted spoon to transfer to a heat-proof bowl, discarding as much fat as possible.
- To the bowl, add hot sauce and cheese. Stir to combine and season to taste.
- Spoon 2-3 tablespoon of the filling about ⅓ of the way from the edge of a tortilla. Fold the shortest end over the filling and keep rolling as tightly as possible. Secure with a toothpick through the sides.
- Preheat air fryer to 380°F. If your air fryer doesn't have a preheat function, simply turn it on at 380°F and let warm up for 3-4 minutes.
- When hot, spray or brush basket with oil. Add taquitos in a single layer, making sure there's space in between each one. Spray taquitos with oil and air fry for 8-10 minutes or until golden and crispy. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining taquitos. Each air fryer is different and your temperature and time settings may be different. I recommend testing out a single taquito first.
- Remove toothpicks. Option to top taquitos with shredded cabbage, salsa or pico de gallo, fresh lime, cilantro, green onion, sour cream, and/or avocado.
- To Bake Taquitos: Line a baking sheet with foil or a silicone mat for easy clean-up. Place a wire rack inside the baking sheet and place taquitos in a single layer on top. Bake at 400°F for 25-30 minutes until crispy.
- Storing Leftovers: Cool completely, then place into an air-tight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Freezing: Let cool completely, then place in a single layer on a baking sheet with space between each taquito. Freeze for 2 hours, then place into freezer-safe zip-top bags or air-tight containers. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- Reheating: Warm up in the microwave or in the air fryer at 350°F until heated through.
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