No amount of bad press and fake taco meat could keep me away from Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza. I was first introduced to this wonderful thing back in high school when my cousin and I were on yearbook staff together. Taco Bell was cheap and it was close so we would often get food from there before going back to the yearbook office and work long hours. I’ve been thinking about recreating this for a long time so I decided to do a little research. There were a lot of copycat recipes available online, some were spot on, others used strange toppings like sliced black olives and salsa (c’mon, black olives? What kind of Taco Bell were YOU eating at?). So using some of the knowledge I acquired from other recipes, I divulged my own.
Flour vs. Corn and Toasting vs. Frying
The tortillas Taco Bell uses for their Mexican Pizzas were thin, light, and crispy. So corn tostadas were out. They were too crunchy. It had to be a flour tortilla. Obviously there was some additional cooking involved in preparing the flour tortilla. I’ve toasted them different ways in a pan, varying from dry to lightly oiled. Both options yielded crispy tortillas, but neither offered the same mouthfeel or lightness as Taco Bell’s. That’s when I came across this recipe that says to fry the flour tortillas in oil. Fry them? The idea of frying a tortilla in oil is about as appealing as frying a piece of toast in oil. I was afraid the resulting product would be oily and unappetizing. I decided to give it a shot. I poured some peanut oil into a lightweight, shallow frying pan (about 1/2″ in depth) and turned the heat up to medium high. I recommend using a lightweight pan because it heats up hotter, faster than a heavy pan and you’re literally only cooking these for mere seconds on both sides. While your oil is heating, prick each tortilla several times with a fork. This will make it easier to alleviate steam from the tortilla as it’s cooking. Once the oil is hot (you’ll see it shimmering slightly), gently place your tortilla in the oil. If your oil is hot enough, it’ll instantly start sizzling in the oil and will probably puff up within a few seconds. Try your best to keep the tortilla as flat as possible by pressing down on the bubbles and pushing some of the steam out. You want the tortilla to be lightly browned on one side and crispy before turning it over and doing the same thing. The result should be a slightly puffed, lightly toasted, crispy flour tortilla–exactly like the ones at Taco Bell. Now of course, obviously these won’t be as low-fat as if you’d toasted them in a dry pan with only a little oil, but still, if you want to get as close to the original product, I’d recommend going this route. Drain these well on paper towels before building your pizza.
Recipe: Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza
Summary: Adapted from Copykat.com
- 4 flour tortilla shells
- 6 oz. ground sirloin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon powdered onion
- 1/4 teaspoon powdered garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 c refried beans, divided
- 4 tbs Ortega Medium Taco Sauce, divided
- 2 stalks of green onion, thinly sliced
- In a pre-heated saute pan over medium high heat, add ground sirloin and spices. Saute meat until thoroughly cooked. Remove from pan and set aside.
- In a shallow frying pan, pour in some cooking oil, about 3/4″. Bring up to medium high eat or until shimmering. Pierce flour tortillas with a fork. Place gently in the oil and it should begin to sizzle. Turn frequently and press out any air. Cook until light and crispy. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat this step for remaining tortillas.
- Turn on your oven to the “broil” setting.
- On a shallow pan or cookie sheet, place 2 of the fried tortillas down. Spread 1/4 cup of refried beans on each tortilla.
- Sprinkle ground sirloin misture on top of refried bean mixture. Top with remaining tortillas.
- Spread taco sauce on top of each pizza.
- Sprinkle with cheese. Place pizzas in the oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
- Sprinkle each pizza with green onions. Cut into fourths and serve.
Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 2