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The Best Taco Bake

The Best Taco Bake recipe is a simple recipe for busy weeknights with layers of refried beans, seasoned ground beef, salsa, corn, crunchy tortillas chips, romaine lettuce, and all your favorite taco toppings. Serve with a dollop of dairy free sour cream for the ultimate dinner meal.

And everyone needs another delicious gluten and dairy free dinner recipe to keep on hand for busy nights. 

This has become one of our favorite family meals.

A baking dish filled with a layer of refried beans, taco meat sauce, crunched up chips, shredded romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and black olives. Several scoops have been taken out.

This gluten and dairy free Taco Bake is full of cozy and comforting flavor and very filling.  So be prepared to have your taste buds dazzled!

First, the refried beans add a creamy component to this dish making you quickly forget it’s dairy free.

And the festive flavors of the ground beef and salsa are rich in flavor and spice. 

This combination is  Okay, who am I kidding? Salsa, bell peppers, and ground beef combined is delectable.

Then add the crunchiness of the salty tortilla chips… oh my, it’s just so good.

Top this dish with shredded romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, green onions, sliced jalapeno peppers, and olives.  Garnish with a dollop of guacamole or dairy free sour cream. This dinner dish has it all.

And the Taco Bake toppings are really endless and effortless to make, too.

A white bowl holding a big helping of refried beans, seasoned ground beef, diced tomatoes and olives topped with dairy free sour cream and jalapenos.

the best taco bake ingredient list

  • oil— we use grapeseed oil
  • onion
  • ground beef— ground turkey works too
  • chili powder— always double check your spice brands are gluten and dairy free
  • cumin
  • corn— frozen, canned, or fresh this is an optional ingredient
  • bell pepper— green is our favorite in this dish, use what you have on hand
  • salsa— use your preference of heat. We love using this brand here.
  • refried beans— 16oz can works great. We use this brand here.
  • tortilla chips— we use the Mission brand, here is their gluten and dairy statement. We like the Certified Gluten Free Round Tortilla Chips or the Triangle Chips.
  • romaine lettuce— iceberg will work too
  • fresh tomato
  • optional toppings— sliced black olives, green onions, sliced jalapeno peppers
  • garnishes— fresh cilantro, guacamole or dairy free sour cream, The sour cream brand we use in this dish is WayFare.
  • 9×13-inch baking pan

recipe instructions

Start to finish in under an hour makes this dish a soon to be favorite.

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, begin to sauté the diced onion in a large skillet on medium heat.

Once the onion is translucent, add 1 pound of ground beef to the skillet. While the meat browns, ready the other ingredients.

Evenly spread the refried beans in the bottom of a 9×13-inch dish and set aside.

Then, dice the bell pepper. 

Next, shred the lettuce into bite-size pieces. Dice 1/2 a tomato, or more if it’s your family’s favorite.  Drain and rinse the olives and set aside.  Lastly, thinly cut the green onions and any other toppings.  Set all aside.

A baking dish will with a layer of refried beans.

After the beef is browned, drain fat from the skillet.  Then, add in the chili powder and cumin followed by the corn, black beans, and diced bell pepper. 

Stir well and place a lid on the skillet.  Let it simmer for a few minutes until the bell pepper is softened.

When the bell pepper is softened, add the jar of salsa.  After you’ve stirred the salsa well into the ground beef mixture, place it on top of the refried beans.

A baking dish filled with a layer of refried beans and taco meat sauce.

Then, bake for 15-18 minutes so it’s heated through.

Now starts the most enjoyable part.  Or at least it’s the best part for this foodie. ♥

Start with a handful of tortilla chips in your hands. Crush them between your fingers and drop the pieces onto the best taco bake. 

Note, take note to not completely destroy the chips.  We prefer larger chunky tortilla pieces. 

We use about a regular size bag.

A baking dish filled with a layer of refried beans and taco meat sauce and crunched tortilla chips.

Now load your taco bake with your favorite taco toppings.  Layer shredded lettuce all over your taco bake.  Then add handfuls of diced tomatoes, olives jalapeno peppers– whatever you enjoy best. 

Lastly, top it off with sliced green onions and fresh cilantro.  Oh, we love the taste green onions and cilantro bring to any dish, especially this taco bake.


After you’ve dished up, serve with a dollop of sour cream or guacamole.  Tada! Dinner is served. 

A baking dish filled with a layer of refried beans, taco meat sauce, crunched up chips, shredded romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and black olives.

frequently asked questions

why is my taco bake runny?

Bummer, if you see that your taco bake is looking a little runny, it could be from the juices from the salsa, lettuce or any other fresh vegetables that you added. But, it’s okay! It’s best to serve this delicious dish within an hour or so of making it so it doesn’t become too runny. 

can you make this dish ahead of time? 

While we looove this recipe, we don’t recommend fully assembling this ahead of time or it can become runny and the chips on top could get soggy. 

However, you can make the meat ahead of time. When it’s time to enjoy this dish and you want to assemble it, you can warm your meat up in the microwave or reheat it on the stovetop. 

how long is taco bake good for in the fridge?

This recipe is best served when freshly made. If made or stored for a period of time, the chips may get soggy.

If you do want to store leftovers in the fridge, wait to add chips to dish so this dish doesn’t become runny and your chips soggy.

what tortilla chips are safe to use on this?

Unfortunately some brands may deep fry their chips with other products that contain gluten.

We use the Mission brand, here is their gluten and dairy statement for your comfort. We recommend you check your brand and allergen statement as well for safety.

A baking dish filled with a layer of refried beans, taco meat sauce, crunched up chips, shredded romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and black olives with some of it removed.

more delicious homemade meal recipes

  • easy skillet lasagna— one of my favorite recipes I can never get over how fun it is to prepare this meal in a skillet. No boiling water to mess with and the taste is delicious. You won’t guess this is gluten and dairy free.
  • taco tater tot skillet— this is a reader favorite. Everyone loves this flavorful dish. You can prepare it in a skillet or baking dish.
  • oven roasted salmon— this healthy and quick meal is full of flavor. Serve along side your favorite veggies for a filling meal.
  • grilled teriyaki chicken with pineapple and mini sweet peppers— this delicious marinated meal served over a warm bed of jasmine rice and served with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and fresh cilantro is amazing
  • oriental chicken salad— this copycat Applebee’s salad recipe is our favorite. It’s is loaded with fresh crunchy greens, carrots, grilled chicken and more. And the oriental dressing is a must.

reader favorite desserts

  • oh henry bars— these chocolate, peanut butter cereal bars are an easy grab and go from the dessert table. Everyone loves them.
  • fruit pizza— here’s your recipe for a gorgeous and delicious sugar cookie crust pizza with a cream cheese spread topped with your favorite fruits. This dessert is a show stopper everyone wants a piece of.
  • chocolate peanut butter layer brownies–our copycat Joanna Gaines recipe from her Magnolia Table cookbook. This chocolate and peanut butter combo is absolutely mouthwatering in this must-try recipe.
  • softest chocolate chip cookies— we can’t get enough of these soft cookies and eat them right off the cookie sheet
A dinner bowl filled with refried beans, taco meat sauce, crunched up chips, shredded romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and black olives. Then topped with a dollop of dairy free sour cream,


Enjoy a straightforward and easily done dinner that will dazzle your taste buds

You’ll love the creaminess of the refried beans paired with the spice of the salsa and ground beef topped off with crunchy tortilla chips and fresh toppings in this Best Taco Bake recipe.

This gluten and dairy free meal can be customized to include your family’s favorite toppings. Make it your way.

We have so many more quick meal ideas on the blog. Have you checked those out? With three young kids, gluten and dairy free dinners need to be quick and easy. However we won’t skimp on taste or quality.

And you’ll find more recipes on my website for every occasion including holidays, birthday cakes, buttercream frosting, an allergen food camping guide, TSA approved carry on food from home, and even food travel guides for your next trip.

So get comfortable and explore– pinning recipes for your upcoming meal and the holiday needs.

Please leave comments below on your best-loved gluten and dairy free Taco Bake toppings!

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Eat well and feel well,


The Best Taco Bake

Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 8 people
Author: Eating Gluten and Dairy Free


  • 1 tbsp oil we use grapeseed
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 lb ground beef ground turkey works too
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • ½ c corn frozen, canned, or fresh
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 16 oz jar salsa a 15 oz jar works too
  • 1 16 oz can refried beans
  • bag of tortilla chips suggestion in post
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce shredded
  • 1/2 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 2.25 oz. can sliced black olives drained and rinsed
  • optional– 1 can black beans and sliced jalapeno peppers
  • optional garnishes– cut green onions, fresh cilantro, guacamole, dairy free sour cream


  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Saute diced onion in large skillet with oil on medium heat.
  • Once onion is translucent add ground beef to skillet. While beef browns place refried beans in bottom of 9×13-inch baking dish. Spread evenly. Cut and dice toppings, set aside. 
  • When ground beef is browned, drain fat.
  • Add in chili powder, cumin, corn, black beans and diced bell pepper. Mix well. Place lid on skillet and simmer until bell pepper is softened.
  • Add salsa to ground beef mixture and stir well. Place on top of refried beans.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes until heated well throughout.
  • Take handfuls of tortilla chips and loosely crunch in hand. Place on top of the ground beef mixture. 
  • Layer with shredded lettuce, tomato, green onions, jalapeno peppers, and black olives to taste. 
  • Serve immediately with a fresh cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream or guacamole. 
  • Cover and refrigerate leftovers. This is best the day of.

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Recipe Rating


Saturday 10th of April 2021

I see corn in your hamburger! What a great idea. I’m trying it this week and I’ll add corn and maybe some black beans, too. Thanks


Monday 12th of April 2021

Thanks for the comment. We just had this again a few nights ago. And yes-- corn and black beans are requested by our kids. We hope this is a new favorite for you. Jill


Wednesday 12th of August 2020

Loved this meal!!! Great for leftovers as well. Could you provide nutrition information?


Thursday 13th of August 2020

Thank you so much for lovin' this meal! We do too. I am currently working on providing this for my recipes. Thank you. Jil