An Air Fryer is such an amazing cooking method. I have used it for lots of side dishes but I also wanted to try something that could be an appetizer or light meal. I have to tell you, the minute I tried Air Fryer Taquitos, after one bite I said: “I might need a bigger Air Fryer”. They are just that good.
- Corn tortillas (5-6 inch size)
- Taco meat
- Cream cheese
- Shredded cheese (Mexican blend)
- Canola oil
Making taquito filling from taco meat
To keep it simple, I make my filling with ground beef taco meat. It’s a great option for leftover meat. To this I add shredded cheese and a little cream cheese to ensure I have deliciously cheesy goodness in every bite.
Just place the taco meat and cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30-60 seconds to warm the meat and soften the cream cheese. Stir to distribute the cream cheese throughout the meat. Then add the shredded cheese, mix well, and set aside.
Preparing the taquitos for air frying
The one step that basically makes or breaks this recipe is prepping the corn tortillas. You wouldn’t think it would be that hard. I mean, they are basically round discs meant to wrap around stuff. But if you simply take a corn tortilla out of the package and try to roll it around some filling, I guarantee it will shred or split and just generally refuse to cooperate, leaving you with a mess.
The tortillas are easier to work with if they are warm. The two most common ways to warm the tortillas are in the microwave or on the stovetop. Although the microwave seems like it would be easier, I like using the stovetop for reasons I will explain below.
To start, warm a small skillet on medium heat. Once the skillet is warm, place a corn tortilla in the skillet and wait 30-45 seconds. Then, turn the tortilla over. Immediately dab or brush the tortilla with cooking oil (I use canola oil) while the tortilla warms for an additional 30-45 seconds.
Remove the warm/oiled tortilla and flip it oil side down on a plate. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the filling onto the tortilla. Then roll the warm tortilla around the filling. The oiled side should be on the outside. Secure with a couple toothpicks and place on a plate while you assemble a few more.
Usually, taquitos will require a spray or brush of cooking oil before placing in the air fryer. By adding the oil while the tortilla is in the skillet, the oil is already coated on the outside of the taquito, making it ready for air frying. Plus, I just feel like the oil works with the heat to soften the tortillas which makes them very easy to roll.
Air Fry the Taquitos
My goal for these taquitos is to produce an extra-crunchy shell. If you like a softer, more chewy shell, use a shorter cooking time.
My Instant Pot Air Fryer lid has a default temperature of 400F for Air Frying, and that is what I use for these taquitos. Make a single layer of taquitos in the basket, use a 10-minute cycle, and when the device beeps (at around the 6-minute mark) to turn the food, do so.
I can usually fit about 5 taquitos in the basket, depending upon how thick the filling is. Once the first taquitos are done, put them on a plate in a warm oven while cooking the next batch.
You can certainly use other fillings to make taquitos. Instead of the ground beef taco meat, try something else:
- Salsa chicken – drain it so it’s not too wet, and add the cheese and sour cream to help make it cheesy and have the right texture
- Black beans – I like to make a black bean and salsa mixture to use for a vegetarian filling. Simple directions are included in my Burrito Pie recipe. Used as-is it will make a vegan taquito. I think I’d still have to add some cheese to the mix, but that's just me. 😀
Oh yes, let's have some sauce! Here are a few of my favorites:
- Cilantro Lime Sauce
- Quesadilla sauce
- Or simply mix some salsa and sour cream (about 50/50) and use that to dip!
These Air Fryer Taquitos will quickly become a favorite!
Air Fryer Taquitos
- 2 cups taco meat cooked, seasoned
- 1 cup shredded cheese Mexican blend
- 1-2 ounces cream cheese
- 14-15 corn tortillas 5-6 inch size
- Place taco meat and cream cheese in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 30-60 seconds, until meat is slightly warm and cream cheese is soft. Stir the cream cheese with the meat to coat. Add shredded cheese and stir to mix.
- Heat a small skillet on medium heat. Add one corn tortilla and heat it for 30-45 seconds. Flip the tortilla, then brush the warm surface with cooking oil while the tortilla continues to warm for 30-45 seconds more.
- Remove the tortilla and immediately flip it onto a plate, oil side down. While the tortilla is still warm, place about 2-3 Tablespoons of the filling in a line in the center of the tortilla. Roll the tortilla around the filling and secure with 1 or 2 toothpicks. Repeat with more tortillas until the filling is gone.
- Spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray. Place as many taquitos as you can fit in a single layer in the basket.
- Air fry for 10 minutes at 400F. Turn the taquitos about halfway through the cooking cycle. (or when your air fryer signals you to do so) Remove toothpicks. If making multiple batches, place the cooked taquitos on a plate into a warm oven while continuing to cook.
Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.