Tacos are all the rage these days, and for good reason. You can even find t-shirts that express your love of tacos to the world. And while the American tradition of boxed taco kits featuring a crunchy hard corn tortilla shell lives on, these days the taco bar has been raised. That means you've got plenty of healthy options while getting your taco on. In other words, it's easier than ever to get a healthy taco makeover.

First things first: let's take a look at that tortilla shell.

Non-fried is the better option and if it doesn't have white flour you're ahead of the game. Pick up a plain corn tortilla for your taco. Compared to the wheat ones they may smell a little funny it's true. But if you brush with a bit of olive oil for that good fat and pop in the toaster oven for a few minutes, you will soon have a much-improved corn taco which counts as whole grain.

If you really want to go low carb, replace your taco shell with a big lettuce bowl made from a couple of leaves of crunchy iceberg lettuce. Granted, there really is no nutritional value to iceberg lettuce. But it makes a nice edible holder for your taco ingredients, and you can mix in some spring greens for a burst of good vitamins.

Looking to reduce fat?

Then make your taco meal something other than ground beef or shredded pork. These are meats that are higher in saturated fat. If you're striving for improved heart health and weight loss, look for some nutritious alternatives.

You still have plenty of options to fill that taco shell. Some include black beans, vegetarian refried beans, lean shredded chicken, or fresh fish such as salmon, tilapia, or shrimp.

Another way to ensure that your taco is as healthy as possible is to avoid any fried ingredients. Keep in mind that if a crispy tortilla is your jam, there's always the air fryer option for those who love a little crunch.

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Choose fish that has been gently broiled in the oven or on the stove top rather than coated with breading and fried.

Swap out half the meat!

If you love meat on your taco and would feel sad without it, try this healthy work around. Cut down your portion of meat that you plan to serve with your taco. Add in a half a can or so of organic black beans to complete your portion serving while still managing to reduce the amount of meat that you're eating.

Go crazy with the fixings. There's plenty to get happy about when making a healthy taco and that includes tomatoes, onions, peppers, and green, leafy lettuce.

You get your choice of fresh or jarred salsa — either will work and both will be healthfully delicious. But fresh is superior because the vitamin C will still be available. (See recipe below for delicious homemade salsa).

You can also be generous with your serving of jalapenos if you're into extra spicy tacos. Olives get the nod of approval for being a healthy fat, so slice up a few black or green ones. While you're at it, top your taco with a few sprinkles of chopped fresh cilantro for a burst of color and vitamin C.

Fun fact about hot sauces: some actually contain butter as part of the recipe.

If your hot sauce is more light orange in color, then likely there has been butter mixed in to create a savory smoothness. Tabasco sauce is a basic recipe that does not include added fat. Our favorite, Cholula, comes with a little garlic. When in doubt, check labels.

For your taco cheese, this is considered a saturated fat. But if plan to enjoy a black bean taco, then it's okay to add a modest serving of cheddar or other aged cheese which will balance out your protein along with the beans.

Add in a healthy fat in the form of fresh avocado.

Chop it up or mash into a quick guacamole seasoned with some finely chopped onion, fresh cilantro bits and a squirt of lime if you have it.

To replace the saturated fat laden sour cream, choose Greek yogurt which will balance out any spiciness from the hot sauce or jalapeno peppers if you eat those on your taco.

A final way to ensure that you won't be veering into the unhealthy fattening taco territory is to watch your portions.

You can get your fill of a single taco, going lighter on the protein and cheese and going heavier on the fresh veggie fix ins. Make sure to eat your taco mindfully to get the full enjoyment while managing to avoid going on a wild taco eating binge.

And don't forget to try our own delicious taco recipe here. We eat this almost weekly!


Healthy Taco Makeover

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Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword chicken, quick and easy, tacos
Servings 4 servings
Calories 491kcal
Author Deborah Hanyon, MPH, RDN, ACE-CHC


  • 1 Pound Cooked Chicken Shredded we use leftover Costco chicken
  • ½ Cup Onion chopped
  • 1 14 ½ Ounce Can No Salt Added Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning*
  • 8 ounces Reduced fat cheddar cheese optional
  • 8 Corn Tortillas


  • Cook onion in oil until tender
  • Add shredded chicken, tomatoes, salt, Taco Seasoning
  • Heat through and serve corn tortillas with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, salsa, and other preferred condiments – makes 6-8 tacos


*For Taco Seasoning Mix• 3 Tablespoons arrowroot or corn starch• 2 Tablespoons chili powder• 1 Tablespoon paprika• 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon 1/2 teaspoon cumin• 1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon onion powder• 1 teaspoon 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Mix all ingredients together and store in airtight container


Serving: 2tacos | Calories: 491kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 663mg | Potassium: 630mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 352IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 330mg | Iron: 3mg
Foods That Increase Iron Absorption
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Homemade Salsa

This homemade salsa is made with fresh tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro, and is rich in Vitamin C. Combining this recipe with bean burritos (or other meat burritos or tacos) will increase the iron in the foods served with (beans, tortillas, chicken).
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword easy, healthy
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 8kcal
Author Deborah Hanyon, MPH, RDN, ACE-CHC


  • 1 cup Roma Tomatoes about 2 large, diced
  • 1/4 cup Onions diced
  • 2 tbsp Cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 whole Jalapeno or Anaheim Jalapeno (Medium Heat); Anaheim (Mild Heat)
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt To taste


  • Chop all vegetables to desired size (remove seeds from pepper)
     2) Add lemon juice and salt
     3) Mix all ingredients together
    4) Chill 2 hours and Serve
    Foods That Increase Iron Absorption


Serving: 1Tbsp | Calories: 8kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 148mg | Potassium: 80mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 253IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg

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