Those that know me know that I LOVE a good local restaurant. In fact, I created a whole post series to hype up local Louisville businesses because I think our food scene deserves all the love in the world. But sometimes it’s late, and you’re broke, and you don’t have the energy, and you just need some fuel in your body. As a vegetarian, most fast food places are closed to me unless I want a limp salad with a dressing that has 8,000 calories. So in those times I turn to Taco Bell. But they did the inexcusable to me this year, and unceremoniously ripped potatoes off their menu. So I decided instead of taking it lying down, I was going to make a better version of my favorite spicy potato soft taco. And, dear reader, I succeeded.
The key to the deliciousness of the spicy potato soft taco is the sauce. Taco Bell’s chipotle sauce is the bomb, and yes I’ll give them those props even if I’m pissed at them for making 2020 even worse than it already is. But it’s also dead simple to recreate. All you need is a can of chipotles in adobo, some mayonnaise, some Greek yogurt, and some lime juice. Whizz it up in a food processor or blender and boom – a magic condiment that elevates anything you put it on. AND it’s probably healthier, because I guarantee none of the suits at Taco Bell have thought about using Greek yogurt to cut calories or add protein. I’m not a doctor or a TB insider so don’t quote me on that. Now that I’ve discovered it’s this easy to recreate fast food favorites, I might as well make it my mission to do some more. Leave a comment below if you’d want to see that!
Now let’s talk for a second about mayonnaise. Whether you love it or hate it, the fact remains that there is a good way to make it and a bad way to make it. As a Southerner, there is only ONE true mayo, and that is Duke’s. Am I sponsored by Duke’s? No (but please pass them my number if you know anyone there). I am just so passionate about this being the best product on the market. You CAN use Hellman’s or Kraft if you live in the North or outside the US and have not been blessed with the beauty of Duke’s, but DO NOT, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, let Miracle Whip near this recipe. Your spicy potato soft taco will not appreciate being doused in that sweetened, fake gloopy mess. I mean yes we’re recreating a fast food item, but have some respect please. If you just can’t bear to let go of your precious Miracle Whip, just throw the recipe out the window and use my Shishito and Avocado Salsa instead.
After the sauce, it’s important to get the potatoes nice and crispy. I do this with the air fryer, which is my favorite way to fry up anything these days. It’s easy, healthier, and there’s no splattering from the stovetop or heating the house from the oven. Just spray or toss lightly with about a tablespoon of oil and pop them in! Unfortunately, my air fryer died in the middle of my testing for this recipe. So if you’re like me and your air fryer is Gourmia brand and therefore unreliable, you may have to fry up your potatoes on the stovetop or roast them up nice and crispy in the oven! No matter how you prepare your papas, seasoning is key. Hit them with some salt, some pepper, some paprika or chili powder, garlic powder, and a little oregano. Yes, Taco Bell sells a seasoning blend that they probably used on their potatoes, but we’re mad at them remember? This is about taking back the power and making our own favs!
Once you’ve got the sauce and potatoes down, the rest is simple: use better toppings than they ever could. A nice quality cheddar that you shred yourself. A flavorful green that isn’t watery shredded iceberg lettuce. Once I discovered how easy it was to make my own spicy potato soft taco at home, the possibilities to improve it were endless. I don’t want some sad poorly wrapped taco with 3 potato nuggets and a metric ton of D-grade cheese anymore – I want something I lovingly crafted myself, stuffed to the brim with potatoes and sauce, just the way I like it. So the moral of the story is to not trust a corporation to do something halfway when you can do it a hundred times better yourself.
I hope you have fun making your own spicy potato soft taco and sticking it to the man! What other fast food items should I make better? Healthier, more tasty, vegetarian, bringing them back from the dead? Is this blog turning into Gourmet Makes? Is this my Claire Saffitz moment? Should I dye a grey streak in my hair? Let me know in the comments below! Until then, here’s to good drinking, great eating, and even better living!
Spicy Potato Soft Taco
- Air Fryer
For the tacos
- 4 small potatoes (diced into 1/2" pieces)
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil (may need more if frying on the stovetop or roasting in the oven)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp paprika or chili powder
- 4 oz shredded cheddar
- handful of greens of your choice (arugula, kale, lettuce, etc)
- 6 soft taco-sized tortillas
For the chipotle sauce
- 1 7 oz can chipotles in adobo
- 3/4 cup Duke's mayonnaise
- 3/4 cup whole fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 lime (about 1 Tbsp of juice)
- Soak the diced potatoes in water for at least 30 minutes to remove as much starch as possible (this is to get them as crispy as possible – if you're in a hurry, skip this step). Dry on a kitchen towel and place in a bowl.
- Pour over the oil and seasonings, then toss well to make sure all potatoes are coated. Fry in the basket of an air fryer for 20 minutes at 400°F, tossing once halfway through. Make sure not to crowd the basket, as that will prevent crisping!
- While the potatoes are frying, make the chipotle sauce by combining all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Pulse a few times, making sure everything is well combined and scraping down the bowl as needed. Pour into an airtight jar and store in the fridge after for more spicy potato goodness down the road.
- Lightly toast tortillas in a dry skillet over medium heat for about a minute on each side. You're looking for some lovely black marks without scorching the whole thing or making it brittle. This totally improves the taste and mouthfeel of the taco, would recommend not skipping this step!
- When the potatoes and sauce are done, assemble the tacos by spreading a thin layer of sauce on each tortilla, topping with potatoes, cheese, and greens, and drizzling more sauce over top. Enjoy your favorite menu item that you once thought was dead, and never rely on a fast food giant to keep your best interests at heart again!