We’re sharing all our tips and tricks for how to make tiny tacos, served with a mouth-watering dipping trio of Jalapeno Avocado Aioli, Habanero Hot Sauce, and Spicy Queso!Jump to Recipe
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We’ve decided that from now on, we’re only going to make tiny food. It’s so much cuter when food is tiny, plus it can really help with portion control!
…April Fool’s 🙂
In all seriousness though, tiny food is super cute. So when we saw a TV commercial a few weeks ago for tiny tacos we instantly wanted to make tiny everything. But we refrained, and instead made the practical decision to create our own tiny tacos!
We’ve never had the tiny tacos we saw on TV, but the mini chicken tacos from Trader Joe’s have always been one of our favorite midnight snacks. Their tiny size makes them perfectly snackable: they’re easily devoured in two or three bites, and you can dip them in anything, like they’re just extra flavorful tortilla chips. So with some inspiration from TJ’s, we created a simple taco filling of:
- Refried beans
- Green chiles
And with the desire to dip our own tiny tacos to our heart’s content, we crafted the ultimate dipping trio:
- Jalapeno Avocado Aioli
- Habanero Hot Sauce
- Spicy Queso
We’ll walk you through how to make our tiny tacos and each one of these three unique dips, and provide tips on how to most effectively prepare and serve them. (Hint: these make a great party snack, especially for game days and potlucks!)
How To Make Tiny Tacos
- Prepare the chicken: Boil chicken tenders for about 10 minutes or until cooked through, then shred or chop into small pieces.
- Prepare the filling: Add chopped chicken, refried beans, cream cheese, Monterey jack cheese, cheddar cheese, diced green chiles, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper to a bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined, then set aside.
- Prepare the taco shells: Cut out circles from burrito-size flour tortillas using a 3-inch diameter round. You can use a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter if you have one; we used the small inner round of our burger press as a stencil and cut around it with a knife (you can also use the bottom of a glass or a small bowl for this – get creative!). Then, gently fold them in half and snug them into a baking dish where they can support each other to hold their shape while they bake. We used our mini loaf pan for this, but you can also use a regular loaf pan, casserole dish, or brownie pan. Bake them for about 10 minutes so they crisp just a bit, then let them cool for at least 10 minutes or until you can safely handle them.
- Fill and bake the tacos: Spread a small amount of filling into each taco shell (this is much easier with a knife than a spoon, since some of the shells may have closed up on themselves). Place the tiny tacos back in the loaf pan or baking dish, stacked side-by-side again so they are standing upright, and bake for 8-10 minutes or until warmed through. Serve immediately with our dipping trio!
We found the easiest way to time everything was to prepare the taco filling and shells first, then make the Jalapeno Avocado Aioli and Habanero Hot Sauce while letting the taco shells cool. Then, start melting the cheese for the Spicy Queso, fill the tiny tacos while the cheese melts, and then finish up the queso while the tacos bake. Then everything will be ready to serve at the perfect temperature, at the same time!
(You can also partially make these tiny tacos ahead of time, in case you’re prepping for a party. The crisped taco shells can sit out on the counter for a few hours, and you can refrigerate the filling all day if needed. Just make sure to take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes to an hour before you need it to let it warm back up to room temperature.)
How To Make Jalapeno Avocado Aioli
- Remove the stems from the jalapenos, then core and de-seed them. The easiest way to do this is to cut the jalapeno lengthwise into halves or thirds, then slice out the core. Add the jalapeno slices to a blender.*
- Slice an avocado in half and remove the pit. Then scoop the flesh into the blender.
- Add garlic, light mayo, a few pinches of salt, and some lime juice to the blender.
- Blend until smooth, adding more lime juice as needed to adjust the consistency to your liking.
- Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
*You’ll want to thoroughly wash your hands after handling the jalapenos. Trust me, it’s not fun when you forget to do this step and then accidentally touch your eye.
Here’s a tip: if you’re preparing all three dips, make this aioli first. It can sit in the fridge while you finish up the rest of the cooking. Plus, you’ll need to use the blender for both this aioli and the Habanero Hot Sauce – and if you make the hot sauce first, you may end up with some spicy habanero residue in your aioli! This way, you can just give the blender a quick wash by hand between dips and then throw it in the dishwasher for a deep clean after the habaneros spice it up.
How To Make Habanero Hot Sauce
- Remove the stems from the habaneros, then core and de-seed them. Like the jalapenos, the easiest way to do this is to cut the habaneros lengthwise into two or three pieces, then slice out the core (this is good practice for any type of pepper).*
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the habaneros with some sugar and garlic and sauté until softened.**
- Transfer the cooked habaneros to a blender. Then add water, vinegar, tomato paste, and salt and blend until liquified.
- Transfer to a bowl and set aside until ready to serve.
*WASH YOUR HANDS after cutting the habaneros!!! This gets all caps and extra exclamation points because habaneros are A LOT hotter than jalapenos, and will therefore sting a lot more if you accidentally touch your eyes with habanero on your hands. For reference, jalapenos score a very mild 5,000 Scoville Heat Units, while habaneros score 150,000. That’s 30 times more heat!
**Here’s another helpful warning: if you’re sensitive to spicy things, you may want to seriously put on safety glasses or a respirator while making this hot sauce. Or at the very least, open a few windows and turn on your range hood. Case in point: a few minutes after Alex started cooking the habaneros, I started coughing uncontrollably, my eyes started to water, and I felt like my throat was burning. (And I wasn’t even standing right over the peppers; I was at least a few feet away. And yes, I am a weenie when it comes to spice). So be warned.
How To Make Spicy Queso
- Cube Velveeta and add it to a small saucepan. Melt over medium-low heat until creamy.
- Slowly add in milk, stirring constantly to fully incorporate.
- Season with paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Stir to combine and cook until consistency is smooth and cheese is heated through.
- Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately.
This queso is about as easy as it gets! Using a highly processed cheese like Velveeta gives you that nacho cheese creaminess every time. Add a little milk to thin it out and season with spices to give it some kick. Don’t let the name Spicy Queso fool you, though – this cheese dip is nowhere near as spicy as the habanero hot sauce 🙂
Plating and Serving Tiny Tacos With Spicy Dipping Trio
If you’re hosting a gathering, serve these tiny tacos like we did and display them on a large platter! Fan them out in a circle for a fun and festive look with the dipping trio in the center. Or, you can line them up on a serving tray for a quick grab-and-go or buffet-style feel, with the dipping trio easily accessible nearby. Here are two of our go-to serving platters if you need some inspiration:
- CB2 Blackened Teak Root Round Server. This funky wood slice is big enough for plating tiny tacos for a crowd, and looks beautiful too! It’s heavy and solid, and comes in a variety of natural shapes and tones. You can pick out your preferred look if you buy it in-store, or order online and be surprised (we opted for online and love the unique shapes we received). This is what we plated our tiny tacos on in the images in this post.
- Bamboo Cheese Board with Ceramic Bowls. Anytime we serve something with dips or spreads, we pull out this set. The three ceramic bowls are perfect for serving something like our dipping trio, and they even come with little bamboo spoons so guests can easily scoop some of each onto their plates. The bamboo tray is also great if you’re going for a simple and natural look. For serving our tiny tacos, we opted to use just the bowls for the dipping trio and arranged them in the center of our teak root server.
This recipe was a ton of fun to make (and eat), so we hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we did! Although these tiny tacos are great for parties, you don’t need a special occasion to make them. Make an activity out of it and gather up the whole family to mix the filling, shape the shells, assemble the tacos, and build the dips. Then gather around the table, or the TV, and gobble them all up. We can attest to the fact that these tiny tacos make a great movie night snack!
Tiny Tacos With Spicy Dipping Trio
- ⅓ lb chicken tenders raw
- 1 cup refried beans warmed slightly
- 2 oz cream cheese softened
- ⅔ cup monterey jack cheese* shredded
- ⅔ cup sharp cheddar cheese* shredded
- 4 oz canned diced green chiles chopped finely
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp ground red cayenne pepper
- 6 burrito-size flour tortillas
- Scallions sliced thin (optional garnish)
Jalapeno Avocado Aioli
- 2 jalapenos
- 1 avocado
- ½ tsp minced garlic
- ½ cup light mayo
- 3 pinches sea salt
- 4 to 5 tbsp lime juice
Habanero Hot Sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 5 habanero peppers
- ¼ tsp sugar
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 pinches sea salt
- 8 oz Velveeta cubed
- ½ cup milk
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp ground red cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- Pinch sea salt
How To Make Tiny Tacos
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the chicken tenders and boil until cooked through, about 10 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board and chop finely.
- Add chopped chicken, refried beans, cream cheese, monterey jack cheese, cheddar cheese, diced green chiles, salt, cumin, and ground red cayenne pepper to a large bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined, then set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then make the taco shells. Using a 3-inch diameter biscuit/cookie cutter (or stencil), cut out small rounds from the flour tortillas. You should be able to get 8 or 9 tiny tortillas from each burrito-size tortilla. Set aside.*
- Fold the tiny tortillas gently in half to form a taco shell shape, then position them upright in a loaf pan or brownie pan (something with edges). Fit them in closely together so that they support each other and hold their shape. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly crisped.
- Remove tiny taco shells from the oven and let them cool for at least 10 minutes, or until you can safely handle them. Then spread the filling into each tiny taco shell, being careful not to over-fill them.
- Bake tiny tacos for 8-10 minutes, or until warmed through.
- Let cool at least 2 minutes before serving with dipping trio. Optionally garnish with sliced scallions.
How To Make Jalapeno Avocado Aioli
- Slice the avocado in half, discard the pit, and scoop out the flesh into a blender. Remove the jalapeno stems, then core and de-seed.
- Add jalapenos, minced garlic, light mayo, salt, and lime juice to the blender. Blend until smooth, adding more lime juice if needed to adjust the consistency.
- Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
How To Make Habanero Hot Sauce
- Remove habanero stems, then core and de-seed.
- Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add habanero peppers, sugar, and minced garlic and sauté until peppers soften, about 5 minutes.*
- Transfer peppers to a blender. Add water, vinegar, tomato paste, and salt and blend until liquified. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside until ready to serve.
How To Make Spicy Queso
- Add cubed Velveeta to a small saucepan and melt over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly until fully incorporated.
- Season with paprika, ground red cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Stir to combine and let cook for 5-10 minutes or until warmed through, stirring occasionally.
- Transfer to a small bowl and serve immediately.