Tiny Tacos

Southern Living Tiny Tacos on plates to serve

Active Time:

1 hr 30 mins

Total Time:

1 hr 30 mins



What’s better than a taco? Dozens of tiny tacos! These bite-sized mini tacos are the ultimate eat-with-your-eyes appetizers, and at just one bite a piece, they’ll fly off the table in seconds. (Good thing they’re so easy to make.)

Our Test Kitchen lit up with pure joy when they developed and tested this recipe. “You’d have thought there was a baby or a puppy in the house,” wrote one Test Kitchen pro about the squeals of glee.

The filling for tiny tacos is fairly traditional (ground beef, onion, and spices), but the crisped cheese taco shell is where this appetizer really shines. It’s salty, crisp, and cheesy, perfectly contrasting with the tender ground beef mixture at the center of each taco. Lastly, the tiny tacos are served with a very simple lime-and-herb sour cream mixture for dipping or drizzling. It adds some brightness that the tacos need. 

Learn how to make tiny tacos, and prepare yourself for your own round of squeals and shouts when you put these appetizers on the party spread.

Ingredients for Tiny Tacos

The ingredients for tiny tacos are similar to your favorite tacos or enchiladas, but with a few clever tweaks to make them into these bite-sized appetizers. Here’s what you’ll need from the supermarket:

  • Sour cream, fresh cilantro, lime zest, water, and cumin: These ingredients are used in the quick-and-easy crema-style sauce that will be served for dipping or drizzling. Make it before you make the tacos so the flavors have a chance to meld nicely.
  • Ground round: Ground beef is the perfect, tender meat for these tacos, but you could use a leaner cut of beef or ground chicken. Even rotisserie chicken will work if you dice it.
  • Yellow onion and garlic: Adds savory flavor to the beef mixture.
  • Chili powder, coriander, and cumin: A simple seasoning trio for the ground beef. You could also use a homemade taco seasoning.
  • Diced hot green chiles: Provides a subtle heat throughout the mixture without overwhelming the whole appetizer.
  • Flour tortillas: It’s easy to cut out smaller tortillas from larger ones with a pastry cutter. We’ve measured with 8-inch tortillas, but use whatever size you buy. Corn tortillas didn’t get as crisp in our tests, so stick with flour. (Use the leftovers for chilaquiles, or crisp them in the air fryer for chips.)
  • Cheddar cheese: Part of the secret step that makes these tiny tacos so unforgettable—and entirely unlike anything you can get from Trader Joe’s or a fast-food restaurant. The cheese is melted and fried until it forms a crisp crust on the tortilla shell.
Southern Living Tiny Tacos ingredients

How To Make Tiny Tacos

Once you make the ground beef mixture, assembling and cooking these tiny tacos is a matter of step and repeat. Here’s a brief outline of the process; the full recipe is further below:

  • Make the sour cream mixture. Combine sour cream, cilantro, lime, cumin, and water in a bowl. Set aside until ready to serve.
  • Cook the ground beef mixture. In a large skillet, cook the ground round until browned and no longer pink. Then, add the garlic and onions, and cook until tender. Add seasonings (chili powder, coriander, cumin, and salt); cook until fragrant. Add the diced hot chiles and water, and simmer until the mixture is saucy.
  • Cut mini taco shells. With a 2 1/4-inch round cookie or pastry cutter, cut mini taco shells out of larger flour tortillas. You’ll get about 7 circles from one large 8-inch tortilla. Reserve 65 tortilla circles for the tacos.
  • Melt Cheddar. In a warm skillet, mound the cheese in 1-teaspoon piles. As the cheese melts, gently press a tortilla round into the cheese.
  • Assemble tacos. Top each tortilla circle with some of the ground round mixture and more cheese. Cook until the cheese on the skillet is browning and sizzling.
  • Finish tacos. Remove each taco from the skillet, and place on a platter. Gently fold the tacos in half; don’t press out the filling. Hold your finger on the tacos until the cheese sets and the tacos remain closed. Serve immediately with the sour cream mixture. Then repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas.

Go Bigger

Cooking tiny tacos in a large skillet is an efficient way to make these, but it still requires several rounds of cooking. An electric griddle would make quick work of these.

How To Store Tiny Tacos

If you actually have leftover tiny tacos (and we really doubt you will), store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven, and let tacos cool for a few minutes so they crisp back up. Store the dipping sauce separately in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Test Kitchen Tips for the Best Tiny Tacos

The Test Kitchen made dozens of these miniature tacos when developing the recipe, so we have a few ideas to help you along when you make your first batch:

  • You can probably eyeball the taco meat and cheese when cooking the tacos to save time. It doesn’t need to be that fussy. If anything, measure the ingredients for your first batch to get a feel for the amount of filling needed, and then eyeball it after that. Just don’t overfill.
  • If you have a large 14-inch nonstick skillet or an electric griddle, this would be the time to use it to make as many tacos in a batch as possible. However, the cheese does harden quickly, so if you were making a lot of tacos at once, you’d need help shaping them.

Substitutions and Variations for Tiny Tacos

This tiny tacos recipe is all about having fun, so you can feel free to mix things up when you try this recipe yourself. A few ideas:

  • Substitute ground chicken (white and dark meat) or Beyond Meat for ground beef.
  • Serve with all the usual taco toppings: salsa, guacamole, sour cream, shredded lettuce, and cheese sauce, like a mini taco bar.
  • Make it into a weeknight meal by serving it on a bed of lettuce with a great salsa dressing.
Southern Living Tiny Tacos on a plate to serve with dipping sauce


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. grated lime zest plus 1 tsp. fresh juice (from 1 lime)
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 1/2 Tbsp. tap water, divided
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 lb. ground round
  • 1 small (6 oz.) yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped (1 1/2 Tbsp.)
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 (4-oz.) can diced hot green chiles
  • 1 (16-oz.) pkg. (8-in.) flour tortillas 
  • 9 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 1/4 cups)


  1. Make dipping sauce:Stir together sour cream, cilantro, lime zest and juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the water, and 1/2 teaspoon each of the cumin and salt in a small bowl until blended. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.Southern Living Tiny Tacos stirring together the dipping sauceFRED HARDY, FOOD STYLIST: EMILY NABORS HALL, PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINA DALEY
  2. Cook beef:Heat oil in a large skillet nonstick over medium-high, swirling to coat. Add ground round, and break into medium-sized clumps. Cook, undisturbed, until bottom sides are deeply browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Cook over medium-high, stirring and breaking up ground round into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 2 minutes.Southern Living Tiny Tacos browning the ground beef FRED HARDY, FOOD STYLIST: EMILY NABORS HALL, PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINA DALEY
  3. Add onion and garlic:Add onion and garlic, and cook over medium-high, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes.Southern Living Tiny Tacos adding the onion and garlic to the ground beefFRED HARDY, FOOD STYLIST: EMILY NABORS HALL, PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINA DALEY
  4. Add spices:Add chili powder, coriander, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until spices are fragrant and toasted, about 2 minutes.Southern Living Tiny Tacos adding the spices to the ground beef FRED HARDY, FOOD STYLIST: EMILY NABORS HALL, PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINA DALEY
  5. Finish ground beef filling:Add chiles and remaining 1/4 cup water; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is saucy, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and transfer to a medium bowl. Wipe skillet clean.Southern Living Tiny Tacos cooking the ground beef mixture until saucyFRED HARDY, FOOD STYLIST: EMILY NABORS HALL, PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINA DALEY
  6. Cut tortilla circles:Make 2 stacks of tortillas (5 tortillas per stack). Using a (2 1/4-inch) round pastry cutter, cut 7 circles from each stack, making 35 circles per stack. Set aside 65 circles for tacos, and discard or reserve remaining 5 circles for another use.Southern Living Tiny Tacos cutting circles out of the tortillas FRED HARDY, FOOD STYLIST: EMILY NABORS HALL, PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINA DALEY
  7. Melt Cheddar piles:With skillet on medium and working in batches, mound (1-teaspoon) piles of Cheddar (6 to 8 each) in skillet.Southern Living Tiny Tacos melting the cheese FRED HARDY, FOOD STYLIST: EMILY NABORS HALL, PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINA DALEY
  8. Top with tortilla circles and ground beef mixture:Place skillet over medium heat, and cook, gently pressing a tortilla circle onto each pile of Cheddar with a spatula to spread Cheddar.Southern Living Tiny Tacos placing the tortilla circles on the cheese in the skilletFRED HARDY, FOOD STYLIST: EMILY NABORS HALL, PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINA DALEYTop each tortilla circle with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the ground round mixture and about 1/2 teaspoon of the Cheddar. Cook until cheese on bottom side of tortillas is sizzling and looks mostly dry and lacy, 2 minutes to 2 minutes, 30 seconds. (The first batch may take a little longer.) Remove from heat.Southern Living Tiny Tacos adding the ground beef mixture to the tacosFRED HARDY, FOOD STYLIST: EMILY NABORS HALL, PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINA DALEY
  9. Fold cooked tacos:Working with 1 taco at a time, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate, and carefully fold each tortilla circle in half, being careful not to press out filling. Keep gently pressing on tortilla until shell is set, 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat process with remaining tortilla circles, ground round mixture, and Cheddar.Southern Living Tiny Tacos pressing the shells into a taco shapeFRED HARDY, FOOD STYLIST: EMILY NABORS HALL, PROP STYLIST: CHRISTINA DALEYTransfer to a plate, and serve immediately.