Sweet and Spicy Tacos

These tacos are always a big hit. I use three different kinds of meat in my taco mix, and the sausage really adds zing. And it’s easy to throw together.–Lulu Powers

LC Zing! Note

Yup. As author Lulu Powers—no relation to Austin—asserts above, there’s zing in these here tacos. It’s not just the intriguing interplay of citrus and spice that makes these tacos compelling, though that has quite a lot to do with it. What else entices us is the sassy and savvy nature of how she sets up all the requisite fixings. Each taco is completely customizable by each guest, with no two exactly alike. It couldn’t be simpler to make a seemingly sophomoric supper from childhood take on spectacularness. Talk about zing!

Sweet and Spicy Taco Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients

  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage (or substitute more turkey or beef and a little more oil or butter)
  • 2 bunches scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt or fine sea salt, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups orange juice
  • One 4 1/2 ounce package 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped, or cherry tomatoes of assorted colors, halved
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped or thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • Guacamole or avocado slices
  • One 12-ounce package shredded cheese
  • One 16-ounce carton sour cream

Directions

  • 1. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil or butter, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • 2. Add the ground turkey, beef, and sausage and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to crumble any large chunks, until the meat begins to brown but isn’t cooked through.
  • 3. Add the scallions, half the cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, Tabasco, cayenne, jalapeño, and orange juice and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  • 4. Set out the meat, tortillas, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, and remaining cilantro and let guests assemble their own tacos.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Anna Scott

Jan 28, 2013

Taco night! Growing up, I remember having tacos at least a couple times per month. However, you know which tacos I mean. We bought a pound of ground beef and a spice envelope to mix into the cooked beef and voila. This recipe for sweet and spicy tacos was original and very tasty. I loved the use of turkey, beef, and Italian sausage—what a delicious mixture that really lent itself to all those wonderful spices. The reason I was intrigued to make this recipe was the last-minute addition of orange juice. That sweet taste really played well with the overall spiciness of the dish. I halved this recipe, seeing that the original feeds 10 to 12 people, and my husband I are looking forward to the leftovers. I used olive oil instead of butter to sauté the onion and garlic and we used soft tacos instead of hard shells. Lastly, we ended up just slicing avocado for each plate instead of making guacamole. As a delicious side dish we did a fennel and sliced radish salad. A wonderful meal. This great recipe may have started a new taco night tradition in our house! Yum!

Testers Choice
Helen Doberstein

Jan 28, 2013

An unusual and very tasty recipe for tacos. Despite a daunting list of ingredients, I found that this came together quickly and with ease. I used just under 2 cups of the orange juice. I was surprised to see OJ in the ingredient list, but it was just a sweet background note in the overall taste. I would definitely make this again, perhaps adding some fresh chilies for a little more heat and fresh chili taste. I did add the cilantro just before serving to keep the taste fresh. I served this with a fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, shredded Montery Jack, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Delish!

Testers Choice
Lisa O.

Jan 28, 2013

This is a really nice recipe for old-fashioned tacos, which is what most people would remember as their first experience with “Mexican” food. I was a little skeptical with the orange juice thing, but essentially the tacos are made from things you have around the house and is nicely spiced with a little sweetness. After completing it as written, I did add some things—2 tablespoons tomato paste, a little water, and more chili powder. In trying to be healthful, I left out the sausage and I didn’t really miss it, but I did have to increase the olive oil to 3 tablespoons since I was using just lean ground meat and ground turkey breast. Next time I will leave out the seasoned salt, substitute chili powder for it, and add my own salt so I can control the sodium. My husband LOVED it, and will make it again. And we loved the sweetness that the orange juice added—surprise surprise! I actually ended up needing to add more OJ to make the taco mixture less dry.

Testers Choice
Chiyo Ueyama

Jan 28, 2013

This is a great assemble-your-own-meal for a crowd. We liked the use of Italian sausage—a unique twist. Prefer hot Italian sausage? Go for it. We’re talking about tacos here, so there’s definitely room for flexibility. The orange juice was yet another unusual ingredient, and to my pleasant surprise it didn’t make the meat taste fruity. It evaporated, leaving just a subtle sweetness behind. One thing I did differently was instead of adding the cilantro to the meat while it was cooking, I topped the finished meat with the fresh herb. It was prettier and more fragrant that way.

Testers Choice
Sita Krishnaswamy

Jan 28, 2013

This is a crowd pleaser. It’s easy to do and feed a bunch of hungry teens or for a quick summer neighborhood get together. I used four sausage links and a blend of Monterey Jack and aged Cheddar cheeses. I added the cilantro after I took the dish of the heat. The dish turned out very flavorful with the blend of meats. I used both soft and hard shell tacos and both worked well.

Comments
Comments
  1. Love Sweet and Spicy Tacos! A favorite any day! Thanks!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Amanda, this is sooo swell to hear! You are so very welcome. Love it. Can’t wait to hear what recipe you try next….

  2. Birgit K. says:

    These tacos were a hit! I will definitely make them again. The taco mixture freezes beautifully so it’s an easy make-ahead dinner. Great for entertaining or a family weeknight dinner.

  3. ott chip says:

    I used mild breakfast sausage and ground venison. My “next time” comment for my taste buds are “more heat” and onion. My taco shell search brought up many recipes and this one I chose as the best.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Sounds swell, ott chip. Yes, the slight sweetness sorta detracts from the spiciness, so can understand the desire for more heat. We’ll be waiting to hear what you think….

  4. Christie Thomas says:

    This was a really nice recipe my family loved it. I used fresh corn tortillias and made a roasted corn/ poblano salsa to go with. Love your web site :)

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