Family dinner: Kid-friendly tacos

Crunchy or soft, corn or flour, regular- or street-sized, tacos are a delicious meal to serve to the family. With so many toppings to add on a taco, kids can pick and choose the things they love and create their own fun-filled dinner. And, be sure to involve them in the prep.

Tortillas come in all shapes and sizes. I love the blue corn tortillas and old-school, hard-shell crunchy tacos.

Try a taco bar
Enticing kids to try new things can be challenging. A taco bar gives kids the power to make their own dinner. There are many variations of fillings with which to build a taco.

For shrimp or fish tacos, batter dip the protein and lightly fry in a bit of oil. Who doesn’t like fried and crispy in their taco?

Ground beef, steak, chicken, fish, shrimp, rice and beans are some of the delicious foundations for a taco bar dinner. Most kids like simple flavors. Include shredded cheese, salsa or Pico de Gallo, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, limes and shredded lettuce.

Add the sauce
Some kids like a bit of spice, a mild hot sauce or diced jalapeño or serrano. They can experiment with them. For me, sauces make the tacos: creamy aioli with cumin, lime and cilantro; a sriracha mayonnaise or yogurt sauce, thinned with a touch of water; or my favorite, herbed avocado and cilantro sauce. Each sauce will give a unique flavor to the taco creation.

Shrimp or fish
For shrimp or fish tacos, batter dip the protein and lightly fry in a bit of oil. Who doesn’t like fried and crispy in their taco? Add a little cabbage slaw and a creamy Baja fish taco sauce. A Baja-style sauce includes Mexican crema, mayonnaise, fresh chopped cilantro, cumin, granulated garlic, lime juice and ground chili. 

Beef, pork or chicken
Ground beef on crunchy tacos with are a fun and easy dinner. Seasoned ground beef, melted cheese and warm crunchy tacos make this dinner a hit. Maybe entice the young folks with carnitas, slow-cooked pork seasoned with spices. Once it’s cooked, put it in a taco with pickled red onions and queso and add a sauce.

Grilled chicken tacos can be made by simply grilling chicken with lime, garlic and cumin. This is a big hit with kids.

Beans and veggies
Beans are another excellent filling for tacos. Refried, seasoned whole pinto or black beans, rice and cheese are simple to make and healthy to eat.

Adding vegetables is another way to experience a taco with red onions, red peppers, garlic and zucchini. If your kids like broccoli, add it to the taco. A straight-up veggie taco with cilantro pesto and melted cheese is a delightful way to get kids to eat their vegetables.

I like radishes with a dash of salt in my tacos. It offers a nice crunch and is great for a taco bar.

Easy Kid-Friendly Tacos
From the kitchen of Priya Hutner

Serves 4

8 corn tortillas
1 T oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 t salt
1 t fresh ground pepper
1 t granulated garlic
1½ t chili powder
Cilantro, fresh
Avocado, cheese & salsa

Heat oil in a large pan. Sauté onions until translucent and add ground beef, salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder and fresh cilantro. Cook beef and set aside.

Warm tortillas in a pan or oven. Add cheese, top with ground beef and desired toppings.