Taco Skillet

taco skillet topped with lettuce and avocados, wooden spoon on side


Why restrict such delicious Mexican cuisine to only one day of the week?!  I say heck with Taco Tuesday, let’s make this awesome Taco Skillet any day of the week! 

I experimented with this recipe recently, and it has easily become a weekly favorite.  I love anything that can be baked or cooked out of one dish, and especially when you can cook quinoa right into it!  (I don’t know anything better than dumping uncooked quinoa into your skillet, and letting it cook hands free…i know it sounds ridiculous, but it makes me so happy!)


taco skillet on white table with wooden spoon


This meal is a healthy spin on a traditional taco recipe, and involves a giant skillet so there is plenty for everyone (or for leftovers)!  Instead of using tortillas or rice, I replaced the wheat component with quinoa, to act as a nutritious and gluten free carb replacement. 


ground beef and quinoa in a black skillet
Step 1: bake uncooked quinoa, ground beef, broth and spices for 30 min.


The quinoa and seasoned lean ground beef, which can be substituted for turkey or chicken if you prefer, is baked directly in the skillet before topping with veggies.  Feel free to get crazy with your veggies, too!  Add as much as you’d like and of whatever you’d like…have fun with it 🙂  

Note, all of the quinoa may not be fully cooked after the first round in the oven, but will cook all the way through after round two in the oven!


baked ground beef, quinoa, and veggies, in a black skillet
Step 2: mix in chopped veggies and bake for another 20 min. Stir half way through.


Cheese is totally optional, but since I’m a cheese-lover at heart, I can’t help but sprinkle a little love in some of my meals.  I use feta cheese, instead of shredded mexican or pepper jack cheese, since goat’s milk cheese is better for your gut and causes less inflammation than cheese made from cow’s milk.


baked taco skillet with spicy sauce and bowl of lettuce on the side
Baked Taco skillet before adding cheese, spicy sauce, and lettuce.


baked taco skillet topped with feta cheese, bowl of lettuce on side
Step 3: add feta cheese and spicy sauce.


Once everything is baked together, I drizzle some special spicy sauce on everything and top with lettuce and sliced avocados before serving!  Serve directly from your bakeware or scoop servings into individual bowls!


taco skillet topped with avocados

Can I meal prep this recipe?

Absolutely!  Make the full recipe, and then portion it out for the week in separate containers.  It will last for up to one week in the fridge. 

Can I use a different protein?

Yes, I’ve used chicken, ground turkey, and ground beef (always organic).  Cook it the same way, for the same amount of time. If using chicken, cut into small pieces so it cooks all the way through.

How can I make this vegetarian friendly?

Instead of cooking in protein, just add some extra veggies!  You will still bake the uncooked quinoa and broth together (just omit the step where you would add protein) for 30 min in the oven.  Then mix in your veggies and cook for another 20 min.


taco skillet on table, hand holding individual bowl of taco skillet


Taco Skillet

A healthy taco skillet recipe, packed with protein, veggies, and gluten free!  Cooked entirely out of one skillet, and topped with lettuce, avocado, and a special spicy sauce!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: bake, ground beef, healthy, skillet, spicy sauce, taco
Author: Lulu's Table


  • 1-1.5 lb organic ground beef
  • 1 cup quinoa uncooked
  • 2 1/4 cups bone broth
  • 1 bell pepper chopped
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 1 tbsp EVOO or avocado oil
  • 1 lime (1/2 for veggies, 1/2 for sauce) juice
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 2-3 cups iceberg lettuce chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1 avocado sliced

Seasoning Mix

  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and red crushed peppers each
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Spicy Sauce

  • 1/4 cup Chipotle Tabasco
  • 1/2 lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt, pepper, and garlic powder each
  • 2 tbsp plain greek yogurt


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a large skillet or baking dish, mix together uncooked quinoa and broth. Using your hands, pull apart ground beef into small chunks and lay on top of quinoa and broth. Sprinkle seasoning mix over ground beef. 
  • Bake for 30 min.
  • While skillet is baking, prep veggies and spicy sauce.  Take chopped veggies and add to mixing bowl.  Mix with oil and lime juice and set aside.
  • For spicy sauce, mix together all ingredients in a small bowl, then set aside.
  • When skillet is done baking, stir in veggies.  Bake again for 20 min, stir halfway through.
  • When skillet is done baking, top with half of the spicy sauce, cheese, lettuce, and avocado.  Add additional spicy sauce on top, and save some on the side for individual use. 

Spicy Harissa Chicken Bake

pasta and chicken thighs baked in spicy harissa coconut sauce in skillet

Something about the cold weather in January makes me feel cooped up, and like clock work, my nostalgia kicks in.  This is how it goes…

The Holidays are over and it takes about a week to decompress and become a working human again.  During that time I’m content, but then my mind starts to wander.  I start thinking about the trips I took last year and begin thumbing through past vacation pics.  That’s when the nostalgia kicks in, and alas…the planning of my next big trip ensues, all thanks to my ever-so-productive weekends as a result of “dry January”.

Well maybe thats just me, but either way, my mind was all over central Europe for the better half of last week.  David and I have been lucky enough to explore Italy and Greece over the past two summers, and parts of our trip that stick out the most…THE FOOD.  

spicy harissa chicken bake in skillet with penne

There’s a reason the Mediterranean diet continues to be the best diet year after year.  It’s because its DELICIOUS…or is it healthy?  Either way, I was busy day dreaming of my endless greek salads, hummus, kebabs, unadulterated olive oil, and the wonderful wonderful pasta dishes, when I decided to experiment with my own version of mediterranean cuisine.

Nostalgia…you are officially considered CURED thanks to this Harissa chicken dish.  Which by the way, reminds me of a mediterranean style baked ziti (only better for you than the original version)!  Albeit Harissa isn’t an every day household condiment, it has become widely available here in the US. Harissa is a chili based paste that is used throughout North Africa, originating in Tunisia.  It has a nice kick to it and a wonderful naturally occurring red color that gives its dishes some PIZZAZZ.

spicy harissa chicken in skillet with penne

I combined the Harissa with coconut cream to give it a rich and creamy consistency, before mixing in gluten free Banza penne pasta, then topping with chicken thighs, and popping it all in the oven to bake!  Once it’s done cooking, you can garnish with cilantro and limes before you lay that pretty little thing out on the table for everyone to dig into.

coconut cream and harissa paste in mixing bowl

coconut cream and harissa paste whisked together to form cream sauce

And don’t be afraid to sneak yourself a second serving since its filled with protein, healthy fats, and fiber to keep you full and satisfied!  Serve with a traditional greek salad, which can easily be thrown together while this is baking, and you have yourself a meal that originated almost 5,000 miles away! 

spicy harissa chicken baked with penne and plated


Spicy Harissa Chicken Bake

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: bake, chicken, gluten free, harissa, healthy, skillet, spicy
Author: Lulu's Table


  • 2 tbsp organic grass fed butter
  • 2 tbsp almond flour
  • 1 13 oz can coconut cream
  • 2 tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 8 oz bag Banza chickpea penne or other gluten free pasta alternative
  • 1-1.5 lbs organic chicken thigh
  • 1 tbsp EVOO or avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, garlic, and turmeric each
  • 1 lime juice
  • 2 tbsp cilantro chopped


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Boil a pot of water and partially cook penne so that it is al dente. Drain, rinse under cool water, and set aside.
  • In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. 
  • While butter is melting, pour coconut cream into a mixing bowl and whisk in harissa paste until blended together.
  • Add almond flour to melted butter in the skillet and whisk ingredients together until buttery clumps are formed.
  • Slowly pour in coconut and harissa mixture in stages, and make sure to constantly whisk.  This will thicken your sauce.
  • Once all of your coconut mixture is whisked into the skillet, pour penne into skillet and stir so that it is evenly coated by sauce.
  • Take chicken thighs and lay them on top of the penne.  In a small bowl, mix together oil and spices.  Brush oil and spice mixture over top of the chicken thighs. 
  • Take 1/2 of a lime and squeeze juice over top of chicken thighs.  Bake in oven for 30 min.
  • When finished cooking, garnish with cilantro and lime wedges from other 1/2 of lime before serving.  Squeeze fresh lime juice over cooked harissa chicken if desired.