The Taco Bell Santa Fe Chalupa existed! Thats a fact. It was also the best Chalupa they’ve ever offered. That may sound like opinion but I’m fairly certain it’s also a fact. The downside of this story is that it was discontinued in the late 90’s. Which is exactly why I HAD to make a Taco Bell Santa Fe Chalupa Copycat Recipe.
For those of you that were teenagers during that time I’m sure this brings back many great memories. Taco Bell was the weekend spot back in ’96-’97. The parking lot was flooded with teens from all different schools and clicks. Friends and enemies were made, first kisses were had, and fights occasionally broke out. But regardless of teenage drama and security inevitably telling us to leave there was the Santa Fe Chalupa combo meal. Which was just as unforgettable as all those other memories made.
How to Make Taco Bell Copycat Chalupas
Taco Bell Copycat Meat
When I set out to make a copycat version of Taco Bell’s meat I knew I had two options. The first option was to make my own. Which I’ll share here in a moment. The second option was to use the store bought Taco Bell taco seasoning. Either are fantastic but if you just want a super easy Taco Bell Copycat Meat recipe you can certainly go the store bought route.
Before I go into my own recipe for the seasoning I have to give Taco Bell a ton of props. While searching the grocery store for pre-made Taco Bell branded ingredients I noticed something. Their prices are so much less than others. The seasonings are less than a dollar, taco shells are a couple dollars for twelve, and the pre-made sauces are around $1.50 a bottle. This makes homemade Taco Bell recipes much less than it would cost to go to their establishment. Plus, those prices are way lower than the other in store options. Thank you Taco Bell for making your products affordable for everyone!
Now, when making copycat Taco Bell meat each and every ingredient is very important to get the right flavor. However, even more important is the texture. You know, that finely cooked down meat texture where it all sticks together so nicely. Yeah, thats the one!
Taco Bell Copycat Seasoning
You’ll need lean ground beef, all purpose flour, Ac’cent, chili powder, kosher salt, dried minced onion, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, sugar, and water.
Start by browning the ground beef and then strain it once its fully cooked. Return the ground beef to the skillet or pan, add all of the seasonings stirring to fully combine, and then pour in the water. Allow the mixture to thicken by simmering on low and occasionally stirring and mashing with a meat masher/separator.
Taco Bell Copycat Sauce
Again, for Taco Bell Sauces there is always the store bought options with the exception of one very important sauce. The Santa Fe!
In the photos that I’ve shared there are three copycat chalupas. You have the Chalupa Supreme, The Baja Chalupa, and The Santa Fe Chalupa. The sauce that I used on the Baja is store bought and absolutely delicious. The Chalupa Supreme doesn’t have a special sauce, it’s sour cream with all the regular toppings. So, lets take a look at the Copycat Taco Bell Santa Fe Sauce.
You’ll need Mayonnaise, Sriracha, fresh Lemon Juice, and Vinegar. For a thicker consistency use more mayonnaise and for thinner use less.
This sauce is as simple as whisking all of those ingredients in a bowl, covering or bottling, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Chalupa shells are thick, crunchy, and sturdy shells similar to Indian Fry Bread. While not the same as a traditional Mexican chalupa these are pretty close to Taco Bell’s Chalupas.
You’ll need all purpose flour, baking powder, kosher salt, whole milk, and crisco. I personally fried my shells in melted crisco as well but you can also use vegetable oil for frying.
This dough can certainly be made by hand but if you have a stand mixer then I highly recommend going that route.
Start by combining the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and make a well in the center. Next, pour in the crisco, vinegar, and milk. Using the dough hook on your stand mixer knead the dough until a tight ball has formed. Remove the dough to a bakers mat and using a bakers third hand slice into 10-12 equal parts.
Begin by pressing them down with the palm of your hand creating a circle. Now, using a rolling pin, roll the pieces into 8 inch tortillas. Now just set them aside and heat up your oil.
Once the oil is heated, simply drop a tortilla into the oil and let it fry for about 30-45 seconds, flip it over and gently bend it half to fry half of the other side for the same out of time. Flip it one more time to fry the other side and remove it to a drying rack. Repeat these steps until all of the chalupa shells have been fried.
Additional Chalupa Toppings
Corn and Bean ‘Salsa’
The Santa Fe Chalupa had corn and beans on top, which I absolutely LOVED! The added texture plus the sweetness of the corn worked perfectly together.
For this I simply drained a can of fire roasted corn and a can of black beans. I added a little fresh cilantro, mixed it all up and set it in the fridge until it was time to serve.
Pico de Gallo
In this Pico de Gallo recipe I kept things pretty simple. Normally I would use fresh jalapeño and cilantro. I left them out for the copycat taco bell chalupas for two reasons. First, I wanted the kids to enjoy them. My daughter won’t touch a jalapeño with a 40ft pole! I left out the cilantro because I already used that in the corn and bean mix.
With that being said, you’ll need an onion, about 2 ripe red tomatoes, lime juice, salt and pepper.
Quarter the onion and halve the tomatoes. Add them to a Salsa Master and give them a few good spins. Add in the salt and pepper and using a handheld juicer squeeze in the juice of one lime. Give it a few more spins and you’re good to go. Stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
There you have, Copycat Taco Bell Chalupas that the whole family can enjoy. No matter which direction you go, store bought seasonings and sauces or making your own, you’ll be very happy you made these! You’ll have left over meat as well so I highly recommend grabbing some of their shells and having tacos along with your chalupas. Now everyone can have their own combo! All thats left is a giant cup of of your favorite soda and a party in the driveway!
Let us know how your chalupas and tacos turned out in the comments. We also love to hear your stories and memories of good times at Taco Bell!
I hope to hear from you soon and as usual….