Lawnmower Taco Recipe – Perfect for Freezer Cooking

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Lawnmower Taco is super easy and freezer-friendly. It’s perfect comfort food, rich in flavor, ground beef, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and spices.

Lawnmower Taco | Life as Mom

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

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.

Good Cooking

Lawnmower Taco | Life as MOM

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.

Round One

Meat SauceI 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?

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.

5 from 1 vote
Lawnmower Taco
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
Lawnmower Taco is super easy, freezer-friendly, and totally delicious. Rich in flavor, it contains ground beef or turkey, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and taco spices.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Calories: 432 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 16 ounces ground beef (turkey can also be used)
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 16 ounces chicken broth (2 cups, beef broth can also be used)
  • 9 ounces tortilla chips crushed
  • 8 ounces cheese: shredded (2 cups, can be cheddar, jack, or mix)
  • For serving: shredded lettuce, salsa, sour cream, black olives
  1. In large skillet, brown ground beef. Stir in taco seasoning. Sprinkle flour over top. Stir to combine.
  2. Stir in broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer until sauce thickens.
  3. 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.
  4. If cooking right away, place in 325° oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until bubbly.
  5. 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.
  6. Serve with toppings.
Recipe Notes

Promptly store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.

Nutritional values are approximate and based on 1/8 the casserole.

Nutrition Facts
Lawnmower Taco
Amount Per Serving
Calories 432 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 11g69%
Cholesterol 70mg23%
Sodium 588mg26%
Potassium 296mg8%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 20g40%
Vitamin A 312IU6%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 273mg27%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Originally published June 5, 2010. Updated May 6, 2017.

Lawnmower Taco | Life as Mom

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Deanna says

    What a great deal on the hamburger meat! We always get extra lean and/or lean and it can get pretty pricey so finding it on sale is very exciting. 😀

  2. Leslie says

    Thanks for the recipe! Can’t wait to try this!!!!

  3. Lori Hurley says

    I accidently joined your freezer challenge this morning. I was making your basic pancakes and thought, “I have a big family; I’ll double it.” lol!!! I guess I should have read the bottom for the number of pancakes it makes. 50 pancakes later, the kids (all five) had them for breakfast AND lunch and I have 30 left in the freezer for next Saturday or sometime during the week. My daughter said I should have made 50 more. HA!

    The pancakes were GREAT! I can’t wait to try the lawnmower casserole. I think my kids will really love that!

  4. jamie says

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I actually made it tonight and both my 15 month old and 3 year old liked it plus a pregnant friend (who is not liking much food lately!) all enjoyed it. I love kid friendly meals!

  5. Tess says

    I just made this tonight and we all loved it! The kids ate their entire dinner with no complaints and in under 5 minutes. a MIRACLE in our household! Thanks!!

  6. Candace says

    Thanks for the lawnmower casserole recipe! Sounds yummy…and a great way to use up the accumlated tortilla chip bits at the end of the bag I’ve been collecting for a while now!

  7. I’m making this tomorrow – sounds great! I have one question though, does the chip layer get soggy when making this recipe to freeze for later?

    • Jessica Fisher says

      Well, I’m not sure. We like it both ways.

  8. Keli says

    I was wondering the same thing, do the chips get soggy after you bake? We tried something similar to this a few years ago and didnt like it because the chips turned to mush.

    • Jessica Fisher says

      @Keli, quite honestly, I think I prefer it when the chips get soggy. LOL

  9. Thanks for sharing this recipe! We just tried it tonight as part of our Pantry Challenge (I got tortilla chips for $.25 last week so I have a good stockpile, plus a freezer of beef). Everyone liked it, one boy even said it is now his favorite meal!

  10. Love the lawnmower taco idea! I’m going to have to give that a try– (I’m totally hooked on your enchiladas by the way- and I use the recipe for enchilada sauce that one of your commenters left!)

  11. Susan says

    For those of you who are concerned about the chips getting mushy – whenever we make taco meat we cook and season a double batch and freeze the leftover. It freezes beautifully and once you have the meat cooked & seasoned making the casserole when you want it would hardly take any time.

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I like the mushy chips. hehe. 😉

  12. Stacey K says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it last night for my son’s first birthday party, hosting both sides of the family. It was a big hit! My husband told me not once or twice, but three times that he liked it. 🙂 It is definitely going on our favorite meals list!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      Yeah! I made it the other night and for some reason, one child wasn’t around when we dished up. It was all gone! You should have seen his face! Clearly I need to make it more often.

  13. Kathleen says

    Made this for the first time tonight–perfection! Got boys home from school at 4, browned beef while oldest did his homework, steamed some edamame, sliced some tomatoes, and had the kids seated eating dinner by 5:15–plenty of time to finish and get the oldest to his Little League game at 6. Not only was the casserole tasty–it was FAST, too, and a great way to use up those tortilla chips that had been hanging around. Thank you! Look fwd to trying more of your recipes. 🙂

  14. Summer says

    I made Lawnmower tacos last week during my freezer meal frenzy!! We ate them last night and they were delicious! My kids 9, 7, & 4 said Momma you have to make these again! Thanks so much for the recipe!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      Making many batches tonight. My kids love that!

  15. Stacy says

    I substitute turkey for hamburger fairly often. If I season the meat more with things like garlic and Italian seasoning, I think it usually tastes almost as good. I never really thought of just mixing them up though. I’ve also found some good ground turkey recipes, particularly this one, which I love:

    Thanks for the recipe. I’ll try that soon since I have all the ingredients. I make a similar dish, in concept anyway, with chicken and a white sauce with tomatoes, layering with meat, cheese, and chips.

  16. Tricia says

    I see your sale ground beef came from Albertsons. I buy it there all the time. They have to sell off the freshly ground beef every night or the next morning depending on the particular store site. You can call ahead and ask if they have any ground beef they are marking down and what time they are putting it out on the floor. Most times when I call ahead and ask, they will hold some for me. I have bought up to 30 lbs at a time to cook up for tacos, spaghetti, lasagna, make meatballs and meatloaf, hamburger patties, etc. I’ve been doing this for about 10 years, when it would be marked down to 99 cents/lb, now it has creeped up to $1.69/lb, but still the best deal in town.

    • Jessica Fisher says

      Thanks for the tip!

  17. Kelly says

    Sounds like a recipe my kids will like – looking forward to trying it- question since it sounds like the chips get soggy (love the different comments about that!) has anyone tried using ones that are a bit stale? I’m not sure it would make a difference if they aren’t going to be crispy anyway??
    BTW – love the idea of saving the ends of the bags of chips, my kids like them with hummus & salsa so we have tried a couple different “flavors” & I bet a mix of similar flavors would add a little “zip” too…

    • Jessica Fisher says

      Yes, it’s a great way to use stale chips. That’s what I do with that bag that went blah.

  18. Brandi says

    Loved it. We added Spanish rice and black beans to the meat after it simmered. Yum

  19. destiney says

    I love the idea of ground turkey i might have to try that. my pickiest eater is most defiantly my husband but just like my kids if i don’t tell him whats in it he will never know! lol when he went in for a check up 6 mos ago the doc told him he was getting high blood pressure so i cut out most of his salt, started cutting down on red meat, and just meat period in things he will never know like chili and such, and added kale into everything and he never knew until he went is for another check up and it was down! lower than it had been 4 years ago! Then i told him ha!

  20. Here it is hard to find good deals on ground beef. I can rarely find it for less than $4/lb. However I got lucky this week and found super lean (93% & 96%) ground beef marked for quick sale, and was able to get 11 lbs for around $2.85/lb. I am a ground beef snob, and rarely buy less than 93% lean, I’ll drop to 90% if I’m desperate. But I read once that the reason they know the percentage of fat in ground beef is not because they take more fat off the leaner packs, but because they ADD LESS FAT to the leaner packs. I was a meat snob before, but after I read that and realized I have no idea where that “extra” fat is coming from, I can’t force myself to go with the “bargain” packages.

  21. Shirlene says

    I made these today and they were great, my 5 yo said they are awesome! He is so picky too. I had enough for two meal , eat one and freeze one. Thanks for the recipe!!

  22. Lisa says

    Thanks so much for this recipe! There are very few things that I can make that a) the whole family likes or b) I can make more than once a month and not hear, “but we just had thaaaat”. Lol! The first time I made it, my family of two adults and four teenagers, had eaten all of it and were clamoring for more before I had even had any! So now the recipe always gets doubled and made in a shallow roasting pan!

  23. Summer K says

    I want to make this tonight but its in my freezer – can I just increase the cooking time, or does it need to be thawed first?

    • You can usually increase the cooking time, but it’s a little unpredictable. Leave yourself enough extra time and you should be fine. 🙂

  24. Carie says

    I LOVED lawnmower tacos. This is a keeper.

  25. Nicole says

    Made this last night everyone loved it! I got the chip layers to stay mostly crunchy, because I add more chip layers in big chunks. It’s been asked for again tonight. I’ve got the stuff so why not?! 😀

  26. Krissi says

    Do the chips get soggy if you make this a freezer meal? Thank you.l

    • The chips naturally absorb some of the liquid, which makes it more like tortilla in some places. That’s something I like about it. I wouldn’t say soggy, but definitely soft.

  27. Elaine says

    Just a tip about the chips…you can refresh stale chips in the oven and they are good as new!

  28. Jen L. says

    I have followed you for a number of years. During that time, I have passed over the recipe for Lawnmower Tacos at least a dozen times. I just didn’t think I could get away with it. Can I feed my husband a dinner where one of the primary ingredients is crushed up tortilla chips? And would the non taco loving girls go for it? But this past month has been rainy in Indiana and we haven’t been able to grill much (my lifeline during the summer). I’ve been making the same stuff over and over and needed a change. So I made Lawnmower Tacos last night. The result: Double thumbs up all around the table. And so quick and easy. Why didn’t I make this long.ago?! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • I love it when that happens! Thanks for letting me know we won some converts at your house. I tell ya, it’s perfect Comfort Food.

  29. Regina says

    I have been following you for years and keep passing the recipe up because of the flour – seems silly but we try to avoid it around here. do you think it would make a huge difference if I left it out? I assume the meat sauce would be just a bit more runnier? thoughts? thank you!

    • Did you get the follow up comment from Polly? She says she used cup for cup and it worked great!

  30. Polly says

    Reporting from the gluten free side of the tracks that we made this tonight with a GF cup-for-cup flour and it received rave reviews from our gluten free-ers and non gluten free-ers alike. Thank you for a new freezer recipe!

  31. Elizabeth says

    I made this for the first time tonight after seeing it referenced on your blog for years. We don’t have a good source for affordable, good quality beef around here, so I cook with mostly chicken. I subbed in shredded chicken instead of beef, went ahead and made the sauce as directed, and I think it worked fine with chicken. My family loved it. My sister called it great party food for New Years tonight. Thanks from one more of your readers for a great recipe!

  32. Hélène says

    I think cooked rice would work instead of chips (we keep chips for rare treats). I’ll let you know hopefully!

  33. Hélène says

    But I’m also thinking torn nonGMO corn tortillas would work too. Just dont make the layer to thick.

    • Yes, we’ve used corn tortillas before. Just add more salt since you won’t have the salt from the chips.

  34. Jeanenne says

    This Lawnmower Taco was absolutely delicious!!!! I made it gluten free with gf flour and gf tostitoes. My gf granddaughter loved it!! So easy to make. Think I will put one in the freezer for a quick emergency meal. I made Mexican rice to go with it, and what a hit!! Ty

  35. Loren Kaplan says

    I think this could be great for take-to-work lunch. Do you think I could cook it, and then cut the leftovers into pieces, and then freeze the (already cooked) pieces? Ever tried doing it that way?


    • We rarely have leftovers. I think you could do that. Just know that the chips soften a lot in baking, so you chips would be really soft after freezing. Not a bad thing, but some people are surprised that the chips aren’t super crisp. So FYI. Let me know how it goes.

  36. Amanda says

    I found your website through Pinterest and I gotta say…I love this recipe. I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this recipe. I figured it would taste like taco meat over tortilla chips with cheese…essentially the same as a taco. Except that it isn’t. It is a different level of tacoliciousness. I made a double batch of this tonight, thinking it would be plenty of leftovers for the 3 of us. Haha. There is maybe enough for 1 lunch tomorrow. Thanks for the great recipe.

    • Yay! I’m so glad you found me! More importantly, I’m glad you found Lawnmower Taco. It always surprises people! Now… who gets the leftovers? 😉

  37. I buy my ground chuck on sale in 10 pound bags. I divide it into 12 quart freezer bags (a little less and a pound is really not noticeable). Mash them flat to remove the air and freeze. I have just lowered my sale price by an additional 20%. $2.39 a pound now becomes $2 a pound.

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