Lawnmower Taco is super easy and freezer-friendly. It’s perfect comfort food, rich in flavor, ground beef, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and spices.
Years ago FishPapa and I lived in a 200-square foot studio apartment. The studio was actually the guest house of a larger property. Our landlords became our good friends, helping us welcome our first baby and encouraging us both over the years. Whenever I was bored, I’d just walk ten feet over to Karen’s kitchen. Inevitably, she had something yummy cooking.
One night she made a casserole that smelled divine. It was a taco chip casserole bake thingy from one of those branded cookbooks. You know, the ones that tell you exactly what brand of chips to buy. I looked at the recipe and gave it a try. We loved it.
However, it called for some ingredients, like commercial taco seasoning, sour cream, and chopped green chiles, that were too pricey for our budget. It also had a prep method that lent itself to lumpy gravy.
So, I did some tweaking, and then some more tweaking. In the end I landed on a casserole that was significantly different from the original, but cheaper and easier to make. Imagine my surprise when one of my sweet children turned up his nose at my masterpiece.
FishPapa cajoled him into taking a bite, “What do you mean you don’t like it? You love tacos. This is what happens when I run over tacos with the lawnmower.”
Lawnmower Taco Casserole
Needless to say, the kid scarfed it down, and a family favorite moniker was born: Lawnmower Taco.
I shared this recipe over on Life as Mom years ago, and it continues to be a huge favorite at our house as well as in the homes of readers and friends. I haven’t made it in awhile, so I better get it back in rotation. My kids think I’m the best ever when I make this Lawnmower Taco recipe.
This is an ideal quick dinner idea. It really takes about fifteen minutes to assemble and then another fifteen to bake in the oven. It’s quick, delicious, and warm all the cockles of your heart. Seriously. I haven’t met a soul who doesn’t love it.
As I mentioned earlier this week, I planned several freezer meals using ground beef and turkey. Ground meats lend themselves so well to freezer cooking. Whether precooked or not, meals made with ground meat do really well.
Inexpensive Sources of Ground Beef
Note: These are price points from the day of posting in 2010. Prices of ground beef have increased over the last five years.
My target price for ground beef or turkey is $2 or less per pound. This is generally not possible to find in my area unless I find the meat on sale or marked down. Costco sells lean ground beef regularly for $2.99/pound, ground turkey for $2.29/pound. A good sale in these here parts runs about $1.99 per pound. This past week there was no good sale, so I bought a combination of turkey and beef at Costco. With that ten pounds, I prepared Round One of my June Freezer Cooking Plan.
I knew that I wanted to make a few more beef items later in the week, but unfortunately, Wednesday’s sales weren’t very promising. However, a trip to the grocery store on Wednesday night revealed a sweet deal. I found ten pounds of ground beef for $1.49! Whoo hoo!
Note: My current target price is $3.99/pound for organic ground beef which I typically buy at Costco. Bulk buying is an excellent way to get a good price and it motivates me to cook it all up at home.
my original photo of Lawnmower Taco
So, once I found my beef for a good deal, I got to cooking. I did two rounds of freezer cooking.
Meat Sauce – I made a variation on my red sauce by adding cooked, ground turkey. This simmered on the stove while I prepared the other items. Then, I divided it into quart containers, cooled them, and froze it.
Hamburgers – I used three pounds of ground beef and seasoned them with salt and pepper. Then I divided the meat into 12 portions and flattened them into patties. I flash froze them just until they wouldn’t stick together in the freezer. Then I stored them in a gallon-size freezer bag.
Chimichangas – These are actually frozen burritos that we can microwave or crisp on the griddle at serving time. I used seasoned taco meat, homecooked pinto beans, and grated cheese. I soften the flour tortillas by warming them on the griddle so that they don’t crack when they roll them. And I’ve found Steamy Kitchen’s way of rolling eggrolls to be an excellent way to roll burritos. (Just imagine that her egg roll wrapper is round, not square. Watch my video here.) I stored these in freezer bags.
What the heck is Lawnmower Taco Casserole?
Lawnmower Taco – This is a simple casserole my kids love. We called it Lawnmower Taco since it, well, looks like a taco that got stuck in a lawnmower. It’s a recipe that many of you have requested. How could I resist?
Lawnmower Taco is a favorite recipe in our family. It’s a simple yet delicious taco casserole that my family gobbles down. That wasn’t always the case. One young man in his picky phase refused to eat it.
FishPapa says, “What? It’s just tacos I ran over with the lawnmower.”
And the kid just gobbled it down! He’s also really proud that he’s responsible for the name.
Head here to watch the video tutorial of how to make Lawnmower Taco.
- 1 lb ground beef (turkey can also be used)
- 2 tbsp Taco Seasoning Mix
- 1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2 cup chicken stock beef broth can also be used
- 1 9-ounce package tortilla chips crushed
- 8 oz cheddar cheese (shredded) (2 cups), can also use jack or pepper jack
- taco toppings for serving: shredded lettuce, salsa, sour cream, black olives
- In large skillet, brown ground beef. Stir in taco seasoning. Sprinkle flour over top. Stir to combine.
- Stir in broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer until sauce thickens.
- Grease 9×13 inch baking pan. Place 1/2 of crushed chips across bottom of dish. Layer with half the meat sauce and then half the cheese. Repeat layers: chips, meat, cheese.
- If cooking right away, place in 325° oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until bubbly.
- If making as a freezer meal, do not bake. Instead, cover with foil, label, cool, and freeze. On serving day, thaw casserole and follow baking directions, adding up to 10 to 15 minutes baking time, depending on how cold or frozen the casserole is at the start.
- Serve with toppings.
To make in the slow cooker:
- Prepare the meat sauce as directed above. Grease the crock of a casserole slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Assemble the casserole as directed. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Serve with toppings.
Originally published June 5, 2010. Updated May 6, 2017.