This copycat Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch recipe tastes just like the real thing – only better! We use fresh ingredients for the best flavor.Jump to Recipe
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I’ve never been big on fast food, but there’s one spot that holds a special place in my heart: Taco Bell. As an avid lover of tacos, nachos, and melty cheese, I used to spend as much time as possible at that place, savoring every last bite until it was time to go home. Alex, on the other hand, does not love Taco Bell. He likes the idea of Taco Bell (meaning their fun, creative twists on Mexican food), but he’s always been pretty disgusted by the quality of ingredients. That means I can never convince him to actually go to Taco Bell with me. So we compromised with a homemade recipe for a signature Taco Bell item: the Cheesy Gordita Crunch.
If you aren’t familiar with the cheesy gordita crunch, Taco Bell describes it as “a warm flatbread layered with three-cheese blend and wrapped around a crunchy taco filled with seasoned beef, spicy ranch sauce, crispy lettuce and shredded cheddar cheese.” It’s a deliciously decadent taco with a soft, gooey outside and a crispy crunch on the inside. Basically two tacos in one! What could be better than that?
In my opinion, the cheesy gordita crunch is a great idea that has so much potential – but Taco Bell seems to fall short on the execution every time. The last time I had one, there wasn’t enough cheese on the tortilla, the crunchy taco shell was soggy, the spicy ranch was unevenly distributed, and there was way too much lettuce. So I convinced Alex to try one (for research), he agreed we could do better, and we set out to make a new and improved, homemade version of this Taco Bell classic.
The result is a surprisingly easy recipe made with fresh, high quality ingredients that tastes just like a Taco Bell cheesy gordita crunch – only better. Not quite as greasy and more of a balanced flavor from using the right proportions of all the toppings. That perfectly soft, gooey, yet crunchy shell with savory taco beef, spicy ranch, and refreshing lettuce is just so irresistibly delicious. And the craziest part is that Alex actually loves this homemade version, even though he’ll never eat one from Taco Bell again!
Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch Recipe Ingredients
To make a perfect copycat cheesy gordita crunch from Taco Bell at home, you’ll need to recreate their ground beef taco meat and beloved spicy ranch sauce. Don’t worry, these two ingredients are surprisingly simple! And once they’re ready, all you need is shredded cheese, lettuce, and the signature cheesy flour-tortilla-wrapped crunchy taco shell.
Here’s a quick summary of all the ingredients you’ll need to make a Taco Bell cheesy gordita crunch:
- Taco meat: Ground beef, taco seasoning, water
- Spicy ranch sauce: Light ranch dressing, jalapeno, chipotles in adobo, ground red cayenne pepper
- Other toppings: Shredded sharp cheddar cheese, shredded romaine lettuce
- Cheesy gordita crunch shell: 6-inch flour tortillas, yellow corn taco shells, shredded Mexican blend cheese
The recipe below includes directions for making our go-to homemade taco seasoning, but you can substitute with something store-bought like Old El Paso taco seasoning. Our taco seasoning was inspired by Old El Paso, so they’ll yield similar results – plus it tastes just like Taco Bell’s signature taco beef! We swear they’re just using Old El Paso behind that fast food counter…
Last time we ate a Taco Bell cheesy gordita crunch, we wondered how to make the spicy ranch sauce taste even better. Our answer? Make it spicier! While we absolutely think this spicy ranch needs jalapeno to mimic the original flavor of Taco Bell’s sauce, we added a chipotle pepper plus a sprinkle of ground cayenne pepper to amp up the flavors – and the heat. If you’re wary of too much spice, skip the chipotle pepper and ground cayenne, or use a bit less and see how you like it.
Finally, freshly shredded cheese and lettuce make a huge difference in how fresh these homemade tacos taste. We recommend buying a block of cheddar and a head of romaine lettuce to shred yourself, rather than buying the bagged stuff. You’ll taste the difference! And it truly takes these copycat Taco Bell gordita crunch tacos to a whole new level of homemade deliciousness.
How To Make Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch With Spicy Ranch Sauce
So how do you make a delicious and fresh cheesy gordita crunch at home? Start by preparing the taco fillings first and save the cheesy tortilla shells for last so you have everything ready to assemble while the tortillas are still warm and gooey. We recommend preparing your taco components in this order:
- Spicy ranch sauce – Char the jalapeno on the stove, then blend all your ingredients until smooth and store in the fridge until you need it.
- Shredded lettuce and cheddar cheese – If you’re shredding your own lettuce and cheese, you can prepare this now or while the ground beef cooks. Store in the fridge until you need it.
- Taco beef – Brown the ground beef in a skillet, then drain excess grease and stir in taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil then simmer for a few minutes to thicken and set aside.
- Cheesy gordita crunch shells – Melt shredded cheese over flour tortillas in the oven, then wrap the flour tortillas around the corn taco shells, gently pressing to seal the tortillas together with the melty cheese.
As you wrap the tortillas, we recommend placing the shells in taco holders like these for easy assembly. If the flour tortillas start to separate from the corn shells, gently press them together again and hold for a few seconds longer. Be careful – the flour tortillas may be hot to the touch since they were in the oven!
To assemble your homemade cheesy gordita crunch tacos:
- Fill each shell with a layer of ground beef
- Top with a generous layer of spicy ranch sauce
- Add a small handful of shredded lettuce
- Then sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese on top!
Serve these tasty tacos with a few packets of Taco Bell hot sauce to tie everything together. (Did you know you can buy Taco Bell hot sauce in a bottle now? We’re big fans of the Hot and Fire sauces!). All in all, this cheesy gordita crunch tastes just like the real deal – only better.
Side note: If you’ve never had a cheesy gordita crunch before, be warned – this is not a typical taco! The double tortilla makes these tacos extra filling, so one or two tacos will be plenty for one person to eat.
Why Make Our Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch Recipe
There are so many reasons why we love this homemade Taco Bell cheesy gordita crunch!
For starters, a homemade version of this fast food favorite means you control the quality of ingredients – which directly impacts flavor. Fast food joints don’t often have the freshest ingredients available, so the food mostly tastes salty and greasy (which isn’t always a bad thing!). But when you make this recipe at home, you can use high quality, fresh ingredients to pack so much more flavor into your cheesy gordita crunch.
Second, making your own Taco Bell tacos at home allows you to customize ingredients to your tastes. For instance, our version of the spicy ranch sauce on this cheesy gordita crunch has a little extra kick compared to Taco Bell’s sauce (since we love spicy food so much). In Alex’s opinion, this made our homemade cheesy gordita crunch way better than Taco Bell’s. So if you’re a Taco Bell lover trying to convince your friends and family to hop on the bandwagon, this recipe is perfect for customizing to their tastes! And maybe, just maybe, they’ll actually go to Taco Bell with you one day.
Finally, it’s pretty rewarding to replicate your favorite restaurant meals at home. Sure, the bar may be low when it comes to recreating fast food dishes in your own kitchen. But that just means there’s more room for you to improve upon a meal you already love! And with a recipe like this signature Taco Bell cheesy gordita crunch, you can shake up taco night with minimal effort. As soon as you take a bite of your homemade cheesy gordita crunch, you’ll be wondering why you never tried making it yourself before!
Try the recipe below and let us know if you agree with us – does it taste just like Taco Bell’s? We can’t wait to hear what you think!
Love this recipe? You may enjoy these recipes, too:
- Southwest Chili Lime Salad with Chicken (Panera Copycat)
- Carne Asada Tacos
- Shredded Chicken Tacos
- Cheesy Chicken Jalapeno & Onion Quesadilla
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Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch
- Taco holders optional
Spicy Ranch Sauce
- 1 medium jalapeno whole
- ¾ cup light ranch dressing
- 1 chipotle in adobo
- ¼ tsp ground red cayenne pepper
- ⅔ lb ground beef
- 2 tsp chili powder
- ¾ tsp paprika
- ¾ tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp ground red cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 pinch salt
- ½ cup water
Cheesy Gordita Crunch Shells
- 6 6-inch flour tortillas
- 6 yellow corn taco shells
- 2 cups Mexican-blend cheese shredded
- 1 to 2 oz sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- Romaine lettuce shredded
- Taco Bell hot sauce optional
Spicy Ranch Sauce
- First, char the jalapeno on a hot cast iron skillet or grill (we did this on our cast iron pan over medium-high heat). Using metal tongs, hold the pepper against the pan for a few minutes until charred. Rotate, then hold it against the pan again and char. Repeat until all sides of the pepper are slightly charred.
- Next, add the jalapeno to a blender along with the ranch dressing, chipotle in adobo, and cayenne pepper. Blend on high speed until smooth, then transfer to a small dish and refrigerate until it's time to assemble the tacos.
- Next, brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- While the beef cooks, combine chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt in a small bowl to make your taco seasoning.
- Once the beef is cooked through, drain any excess grease and return to heat. Sprinkle with taco seasoning, then add the water and stir until combined.
- Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until sauce is thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.
Cheesy Gordita Crunch Shells
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two large baking sheets with foil.
- Lay flour tortillas flat on the baking sheets (3 on each pan). Top each tortilla with an even layer of shredded Mexican-blend cheese, about 1/3 cup per tortilla.
- Bake until cheese is melted but tortillas are still soft, about 5 minutes (keep an eye on these so they don't get crispy!). Remove from the oven and then carefully wrap corn taco shells in cheesy flour tortillas, working quickly to use the hot cheese as "glue." Here's the best way to do this: start by placing the corn taco shells down flat on the cheesy tortillas while they're still on the baking sheets, lining up the edges. Gently press down on the inside of the taco shell to get it to stick to the flour tortilla. Then, carefully flip the taco shell (with the flour tortilla) over to the other side and press on the inside of the taco shell again to complete the seal. Transfer completed shells to taco holders for easy assembly.
- First, fill each taco shell with a layer of ground beef, then top with a generous layer of spicy ranch sauce.
- Next, top with a small handful of shredded lettuce, then finish with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese.
- Serve immediately with Taco Bell hot sauce!
If you have any questions regarding the information presented in this post, please refer to our Nutrition Disclaimer here.
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This recipe is amazing!
Thank you! Glad you like it!