Cheesy Gordita Crunch


Everyone has a favorite fast food restaurant. That guilty pleasure that keeps us coming back for more greasy, horrible-for-you-food that’s normally consumed at midnight or later. Mine is Taco Bell and while I don’t eat it as frequently as I did in high school (I was a Taco Bell addict), my husband and I did enjoy some fourth meal this past weekend after celebrating our future SIL’s birthday. No shame in this game.


My all-time favorite item to get on T-Bell’s menu is their cheesy gordita crunch. It’s a hard shell ground beef taco wrapped in a thick flour tortilla, topped with cheese, lettuce and their famous, oh-so-delicious baja sauce (now known as their pepper jack sauce?). I’m so obsessed with this sauce that I just tried to find a way to order it online or buy it in a store to find that Taco Bell has discontinued it. Wait, why???? My life is ruined.


Anyways, because the CGC is one of fast food’s greatest creations, I decided to recreate it at home a couple of years ago. Some may call me crazy because T-Bell is super cheap and there are locations everywhere, but I call myself genius. Not only do I get the joy of cooking this T-Bell favorite, I also know exactly what I’m putting in my taco. It’s a win-win for me. They are super easy to make and assemble, and while I admit I haven’t quite mastered the baja sauce, I use a pretty darn good alternative (see ingredients and directions below). There are plenty of baja sauce recipes online if you want to give one of those a try. I haven’t had any luck with anything out there.


It doesn’t get better than a double shell taco, does it? If you love T-Bell as much as I do, you have to give this a try. If you do, don’t forget to tag your photo with #marinamakeseats!!


Cheesy Gordita Crunches

Serves 4

  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • 2 tbsp of cumin
  • 2 tbsp of paprika
  • 1 tbsp of oregano
  • 1/2 tsp of chili powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 4-5 tablespoons of chicken broth, beef broth or water
  • 8 thick, soft flour tortillas
  • 8 corn hard taco shells
  • 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of shredded romaine lettuce
  • Marina Makes Baja Sauce (see below)

Marina Makes Baja Sauce

  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 3-4 tablespoons of chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons of cumin


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

First, make the baja sauce. In a medium size bowl, whisk all ingredients together. Set aside in the fridge until the tacos are ready to be assembled.

Heat a large skillet over medium high-heat. Place meat in the skillet and sprinkle with all of the spices and stir to coat. When the meat is about halfway done cooking (after about 6-8 minutes), splash meat with chicken broth, beef broth or water to add moisture to the meat. Stir to combine. Cook for another five minutes, or until meat is completely done cooking. Taste the meat before serving, you may need more seasoning. I sprinkled everything listed above again before serving.

While the meat is cooking, start to assemble the taco shells. Depending on the size of your hard taco shells and soft flour tortillas, you may need to use kitchen scissors to cut the soft shell to the size of the hard -hell tacos. Place the hard-shell on the tortilla and trace your scissors around to cut a circle. Please make sure you cut the tortillas a little bit larger than the taco shells because they may not make it to the top of the hard shell. Set the hard shell tacos aside and lay the pitas on a baking sheet. Sprinkle each with a generous handful of cheese, covering every inch of the pita. The cheese will act as an adhesive and will allow the two shells to stick together. Place in the oven and allow the cheese to melt for about five minutes. Once the cheese is melted, take the tortillas out of the oven and wrap them around the hard shells immediately.

To assemble the tacos, place meat in the double shell and top with baja sauce, then cheese and then lettuce.

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