Tacos are a traditional Mexican dish and there are many different types to choose from. The dish consists of a small wheat or corn tortilla which can be topped with a variety of fillings from pork to beef to chicken or seafood.
If you are new to the world of tacos and taco fillings, you may be curious as to which toppings are the most popular and where they originate from.
Below, we have listed 25 delicious taco fillings that are not only popular in Mexico but many other countries too.
These fusion-style tacos come from the city of Puebla in Mexico and they are also known as pork shawarma tacos.
They combine flavors from Mexico with cooking techniques from the Middle East. Traditionally, they were made using marinated slices of pork that were cooked via a spit roast, but nowadays a variety of meats are used.
The meat is cooked and seasoned with herbs and spices. It is then stuffed into a flour tortilla that is very similar to pita bread.
Al Pastor tacos, also referred to as Tacos Al Pastor, were introduced to Pueblo, Mexico by Lebanese immigrants, however, their popularity has since spread to the United States.
Translated, Tacos Al Pastor means Shepherd-style pork. This dish combines the smoky flavors of the pork with the sweet flavors of the pineapple.
Typically, the meat is marinated in spices and chilies before being cooked on a spit where it is topped with the pineapple. Once cooked it is then topped with cilantro and served on a small corn tortilla.
Buche is the word used to describe the stomach of a pig. As the meat cooks, it breaks down so it is tender but not too chewy.
After setting it aside to stew for a few hours they can then be seasoned with an array of spices and chilies. These tacos can also be topped with salsa verde, soy sauce, and Mexican Sour cream.
Barbacoa refers to the way that the meat has been cooked. These tacos can be made using beef or lamb which has been slow-roasted over an open fire or in a pit. Now it is a name given to a style of taco.
The way that these tacos are made can differ depending on the location. For example, in America, they are made from the cheeks of cattle but in northern Mexico, they are usually made from goat meat.
As the meat is slow-cooked, these tacos can take some time to prepare and because of this they are typically served and eaten on occasions, rather than weekly. Once the meat is cooked, it can be used as a filling for tacos and burritos.
Birria is a Mexican dish that originates from the state of Jalisco. In Spanish, Birria is a word that is given to immaterial objects that do not have a lot of value, however, this is not reflective of the quality of the dish.
These are addictive tacos that combine sweet, sour, and slightly spicy flavors. Traditionally, Birria is a meat stew that is made from goat’s meat, however, beef, lamb, or pork will work just as well.
Nowadays, this slow-roasted meat is stuffed in a taco shell and then fried. Tomatoes, onions, and spices are used to enhance the flavor of these tacos. Just like a few other types of tacos, Birria tacos are usually served on special occasions rather than eaten daily.
Carne Asada translates to grilled meat. The cut can either be a sirloin steak, a tenderloin steak, a rib steak, or a skirt steak. The thin slices of meat are marinated and then either grilled or seared.
Cooking them in either one of these ways is going to give the meat more of a charred flavor. Citrus juice, cumin, and a selection of other spices can be used to marinate the steak. Once cooked, you can then cut the meat into smaller bite-sized pieces.
Whilst the meat can be served on its own, it can also be enjoyed stuffed in tortillas.
The meat used to make Cabeza tacos is taken from the head of an animal, thus traditionally being a cow. Typically, the meat is steamed or grilled until it is soft and tender. It is then served as a taco or burrito filling.
Some restaurants may only use the cheeks but others may use the whole head. If you are feeling adventurous you may request to try Ojo (eyes) or the lengua (tongue). Cabeza’s are one of the most popular types of street food that is enjoyed in Mexico.
Campechano tacos are a favorite amongst meat lovers. They are composed of several layers of different meats, thus typically being spicy pork sausage, sliced beef, or chorizo. Whilst some restaurants may only use two types of meat, others may use a medley.
After the meat is cooked it can then be seasoned and marinated in salt and some spices, these ingredients will help to balance out the different flavors. This meat is then wrapped in a corn tortilla.
The term carnitas means little meats. This dish originated from the State of Michoacan and is made using braised or simmered pork. It is slow-cooked in oil or lard for several hours until it is tender and falls apart easily.
Slow cooking the meat really brings out the flavors and also gives the meat a slightly crispy exterior.
Traditionally, pork shoulder is used to make these tacos because the higher fat content makes the meat more tender as it cooks, however, other cuts of meat can be used. Surtido refers to a mixture of different parts of the pig.
These tacos are particularly tasty when paired with cilantro, lime, and onion with some spicy salsa on top.
Cecina refers to meat that has been salted and pounded until it is thin. Beef or pork are the meats that are typically used. Before it is cooked, the meat is air-dried or dried in sheets.
If you decide to use beef in your tacos, we recommend that you marinate it in some chili peppers. This will then give the meat a smoky coating, it will work well with pork too. It can then be folded into a tortilla and served.
Chapulines are commonly consumed in certain parts of Mexico. They are a form of Sphenarium Genus Grasshopper and are believed to be a sustainable food source. The flavor is mild with underlying smoky tones and some might suggest that it is quite similar to that of light shrimp.
After they have been collected, they are usually toasted on a comal and paired with a traditional Mexican sauce or flavoring. Lime juice and garlic work very well. To enhance the flavor you could even add in some chilis.
There are thought to be several health benefits associated with eating chapulines. They contain lots of protein and are also high in Vitamins A, B, and C. Although they make a delicious taco filling, they can also be eaten alone or used as a topping for a pizza.
As implied these tacos are made from chorizo. Whilst Spanish Chorizo is normally cured, Mexican Chorizo is made from fresh ground pork which is seasoned with spicy chili peppers. Before cooking, the raw meat is removed from its casing.
It is then cooked until it is crispy. If desired, you can add some onions and peppers or even some jalapenos if you would like something with more of a kick.
Chicharron tacos are a popular Latin snack food that is either made from pork rinds, pork belly, or pork skins. The meat is usually seasoned and deep-fried before being marinated in some salsa verde.
This gives it more of a spicy kick. Although the meat is fried it is soft rather than crispy and whilst they can be eaten alone, they make an excellent taco filling.
Cueritos are pig skins and they are a staple within Mexican cuisine. They are also popular in Spanish and Venezuelan Recipes. Sometimes they are confused with chicharrones, however, they are noticeably different in shape.
Moreover, they are also cooked in different ways. Rather than deep-frying the skins, thin strips are pickled in vinegar and then seasoned. A combination of peppers, chilis oregano, and other seasonings and spices will intensify the flavor.
Cochinita Pibil refers to a traditional Mexican dish that consists of marinated, slow-roasted pork. This dish originates from the Yucatan in Mexico and is known for its great taste and tenderness.
The pork is coated in an achiote paste and marinated in citric juices. It is then seasoned with cinnamon and annatto seed and slow roasted. If you would like, you could wrap the meat in a banana leaf before cooking it. This meat goes particularly well with salsa and red onions.
De Canasta/ al vapor
Tacos de Canasta and Tacos al vapor are used interchangeably to describe the style of a taco.
Unlike the majority of other tacos which are eaten shortly after being cooked, these tacos are often made in advance and then presented in a basket which they will sit in for several hours. It is thought that allowing them to sit for a while will make them taste even better.
Fill some fried tortillas with whatever ingredients you like and then steam them before putting them into the basket. It is recommended that you wrap the basket until they are likely to be eaten as this will keep them warmer for longer.
There is a selection of fillings that will taste delicious in these tacos, this includes tinga, refried beans, or potatoes.
Huitlacoche is mainly found in Mexico and its origins date back to the Aztec era. It is a naturally occurring fungus that grows on corn and it is considered to be a Mexican delicacy. It has a few different names and is often referred to as corn mushroom, Mexican truffle, and corn smut.
It is commonly used in soups and also as a filling for quesadillas and tacos. Following exposure to heat, Huitlacoche turns black and has a smokey mushroom-like taste. It is worth noting that it is extremely rare and therefore may be difficult to come by.
In Spanish, Lengua translates to beef tongue. It has a mild flavor and tastes very similar to many other types of red meat. This meat can be chewy but if it is cooked correctly it should be nice and tender.
You will need to slow cook the meat for a couple of hours before chopping it into small chunks and layering it onto some warmed tortillas. Top the meat with a few delicious toppings such as cilantro, salsa, and chopped onion.
Pollo means chicken in Spanish and it is a popular choice for tacos. The meat is usually marinated and then cut into smaller chunks. Some people may choose to shred the chicken before adding it to the tortillas. Many restaurants cook the chicken Southern style for a slightly different taste.
Pescado tacos also known as ‘fish tacos’ come from Baja California in Mexico, however, you will now find them listed on menus in many restaurants.
The flaky white fish filet can either be fried or grilled. Shredded lettuce and cabbage go particularly well with this cooked fish and it can be topped with salsa and some sour cream or citrus mayo.
There are many tasty choices when it comes to fish for tacos, they include snapper, halibut, flounder, and cod.
Res is the name given to beef or livestock. If you visit a restaurant and res tacos are listed on the menu be prepared to receive a dish that is cow-related. The beef goes well with onions and a touch of cilantro.
Suadero de Res
Suadero refers to a thin cut of beef that is taken from the section between the ribs and the skin, it’s essentially a flank steak. Cook the meat in lard until it becomes crispy and then top with some chopped onions, salsa, and cilantro.
Sesos are brains that are either taken from a goat or a cow. It is a popular taco filling that is enjoyed by those who prefer soft, smooth meat that contrasts well against the crunchiness of the onions and other toppings.
The meat is boiled until it breaks away from the bone. It is then seasoned and grilled or braised.
Tripas typically refers to the small intensities of a cow (or another small farm animal) which has been cleaned, boiled, and then cooked. Grilling the meat usually helps to get rid of the rubbery texture.
They can be seasoned with chili sauce and cilantro and mixed with chopped onions. Tripas has a mild taste which is quite similar to beef.
Last but not least we have tinga tacos. If you do not like lamb, goat, pork, or beef you will likely enjoy these tacos as they are made using chicken.
Traditionally in Mexican cuisine, the meat is stewed and cooked in a sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, onions, oregano, and chipotle peppers. The result is a smoky flavored chicken filling that is packed full of flavor.