The Siren Song of Party Food: Walking (Turkey) Tacos

When my oldest boy was in second grade, he went to a birthday party for his (then) Very-Best-Friend-in-the-Entire-World.  He was exceptionally excited to attend, because among other reasons, Alli’s dad was known for creating fantastic birthday cakes and had promised to recreate Hogwarts Castle for the occasion.

When Son #1 came home from the party, rather than being hopped-up on sugar and describing the birthday cake in minute detail as we expected, he came home raving about the Walking Tacos that were served for lunch. He proclaimed them the best tacos ever and he wanted to eat them every day of his whole life.  He may have even called them The World’s Most Perfect Food. Perfection comes easily to a seven year old.

Bacon Slayer’s first response was Where were the tacos walking to? and Why were they leaving the party?  Yep, it’s true. Which just goes to reinforce the reality that  all of those cheesy, ridiculous things that our parents said to us as kids were probably out of sheer sport.

Childhood nostalgia aside…I had more pressing issues in need of my attention. My boy had just mentioned a food that I had never heard of and requested that I make it for him every day for the rest of his whole life. Obviously, I needed to know more.  So after raking him over the coals for answers politely asking him to explain the mystery of walking tacos, he happily the necessary details.

I’m going to assume that I am not the last person on the planet to have never heard of walking tacos.  Being that this is a full-service blog, allow me to decode the mystery:

Walking Tacos = Bag of Fritos + Taco Meat + Taco Fixin’s

Directions are as follows:

  1. Open bag of Fritos.
  2. Spoon in taco meat and fixin’s.
  3. Eat with a fork.

Mystery solved!  I make Walking Tacos periodically for the kiddos, mostly as an legitimate excuse to for me to eat Fritos for dinner. Just being honest, here.

I heart Fritos. I almost never buy them because an open bag is an empty bag at my hands. But I want to buy them.  Often. Their siren song calls to me from the salty snacks aisle on a regular basis.

So the other night when my boys were begging for Walking Tacos, I used the request as a brilliant excuse to buy some Fritos.  Besides, walking tacos are fun to make and even more fun to eat, making them perfect party food!

I ran into a snag at the store when I discovered that I could only buy lunch-sized bags of Fritos (4 of them) if I also bought 12 other bags of various snack chips at the same time. Since I have absolutely no will power when it comes to anything chips, I didn’t think it wise to purchase 24 little bags of them in order to get enough bags of Fritos to make walking tacos.  I shudder to think what would happen to me if I had 18 little bags of chips calling to me from the pantry.

To make a short story even longer–I bought a big bag of Fritos, and improvised with these:

Canning jars!  I stash empty jars of the my favorite salsa for occasions such as these.

Ssshhh! Can you hear the siren song of Walking Tacos?  Heed that call. You’ll need: a pound of ground turkey, one recipe for Sweet & Spicy Seasoning (below,) Fritos, fixin’s, and enough canning jars with lids for everyone.

I should probably start by saying that I have 2 distinct camps in my house when it comes to spicy food: 2 boys that love spice, and 2 that can’t take the heat. I came up with this particular spice mix as a compromise between the two camps so that we could all enjoy tacos without offending anyone’s taste buds. Those of us that like a little more heat add a pinch of red pepper flakes to our tacos when we are dressing them.  The spice mix is great for turkey tacos, and also makes a good rub for other dishes.

To make my Sweet & Spicy Seasoning Mix, combine granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, white pepper, kosher salt, and oregano.

Stir the spices together, and put it into an airtight container. If you’re like me and impulse-bought a label maker in a fit of longing-for-more-organization-in-your-life, then whip up a label for the lid. We’ve all been there, right?

No? Just me then? Huh.

Really get your money’s worth out of that label maker by making a label for the container with directions for tacos. Or use a sharpie and some masking tape, if that’s what ya’ve got. I’m good either way.

Drizzle a touch of olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat.  Brown the turkey along with some chopped onions,  breaking the turkey into small pieces as it cooks. I find that with lean turkey, there really isn’t any fat to drain once the meat is cooked. However if you end up with fat in the pan, drain it off before seasoning the meat.

Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of Sweet & Spicy Seasoning over the meat mixture; stirring well to coat.

Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, give it all a good stir before reducing the heat to low. Simmer the taco filling over low heat for 10 minutes.

While the filling is simmering, get your toppings and jars ready for serving.

Invite your guests to layer their taco jars however they like, but being sure to leave 1/2-inch of head-space at the top of the jar.  Cap the jars and shake to combine the tacos.

Uncap the jars, and eat with a fork or large spoon! Since these are called Walking Tacos, your guests can walk and mingle while eating them. Since my “guests” were boys that seem to drop half of their meals on the floor while sitting in one place, I invited them to walk their tacos to the table, and eat them sitting on a chair. 😉

Walking (Turkey) Tacos

Serves 6


1 lb. lean ground turkey

2 tsp. olive oil

½ C. chopped onion

1/3 C. water

2-3 Tbs. Sweet & Spicy Seasoning Mix (see ingredients below)

For the Sweet & Spicy Seasoning Mix:

6 Tbs. granulated sugar

1 Tbs. ground cinnamon

¾ tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. smoked paprika

¾ tsp. ground cumin

½ tsp. ground white pepper

½ tsp. garlic powder

¾ tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. ancho chili powder (or more, to taste)

1 tsp. dried oregano

Optional: Cayenne pepper and/or red pepper flakes (to taste)

For Serving:

1 10 oz. bag of Fritos

1 pint-sized canning jar with lid, per person

A variety of your favorite taco toppings; our favorite toppings include:  shredded romaine lettuce, chopped fresh spinach, shredded cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, diced avocado, sour cream (or plain yogurt,) and salsa.

For the seasoned meat filling:

  1. Combine sugar, cinnamon, ginger, smoked paprika, cumin, white pepper, garlic powder, salt, chili powder, oregano in a small bowl until blended. This is the Sweet & Spicy Seasoning Mix for use in the recipe. Store the mix in an air-tight container.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until hot.
  3. Brown the ground turkey with chopped onions in the skillet, breaking meat into small pieces as it cooks.
  4. Once cooked through, sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of the Sweet & Spicy Seasoning Mix over the browned turkey mixture, stirring to coat.
  5. Pour 1/3 cup of water over the seasoned turkey and stir. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, or until some of the water has evaporated; stirring occasionally.

To assemble Walking Tacos:

  1. Layer a canning jar with Fritos, taco meat, and other desired toppings. (We like to do 2 layers of everything.) Leave ½ inch headspace at the top of the jar.
  2. Place the lid on the jar, and shake to distribute all of the taco ingredients.
  3. Remove the lid, and eat with a fork.
  4. Repeat.

Notes: Walking Tacos make fun party food! Recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a crowd.  One recipe for the Sweet & Spicy Seasoning Mix makes enough for 3 batches of Walking Tacos. Store leftover mix in an airtight container in the pantry for later use—it also makes a great ru

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  1. says

    Well my goodness, isn’t this the neatest idea! First time I’ve heard of walking turkey tacos. No wonder it is such a big hit with the kids. Such a novelty to eat your dinner out of a jar. I’m going to have to make this for the grandkids someday. Great tutorial on how-to.

  2. says

    When I saw the walking tacos and that you had put them in a JAR, I was like…Obviously. Because why wouldn’t you? I’m sure it eliminates a ton of messy hands and it looks MUCH prettier. I’m thinking you could even pass these off as shower food presented in this method.

  3. says

    Yes, yes, and more yes. I am a HUGE fan of the pre-made taco seasoning. Why pay $1.29 for taco seasoning, when I have all of the ingredients at home? Once again, you amaze me with your creative genius.

  4. says

    looks like a boy’s dream food! What a brilliant idea. And yet made ever-so-much better with the jars! :)
    Cute to see your boys in the kitchen too! I bet our kitchen’s could share stories…

    • says

      Boys seem to like just about anything served in Bar form so they can Build Their Own _________. Now the thought of our 8 (!!) boys together in the kitchen sounds a little frightening. Unless of course we were elsewhere. 😉

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