Growing up in Texas, I love the flavors of TexMex cooking. And, I’ve made many basic dishes, from street tacos to enchiladas. But, I thought it would be fun to do a little different take on the traditional taco. I made homemade tart shell, a tangy beef filling, and aa spicy pico de gallo, and combined them all in these “Taco Tarts”. These are great as an appetizer, first course, or just a snack. And, you can freeze the shells and use them later if you like. There are a few steps…but the final dish is well worth it.

Taco Tart In Homemade Tart Shells
makes six 4 1/2” tarts



1 1/4 cu All Purpose Flour
6 tbl cold Unsalted Butter, diced
3 oz Cream Cheese, pulled into marble size pieces
1 cu shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese

6 Fluted Tart Pans with removable bottoms, 4 1/2” size

Pico de Gallo

3 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cu diced White Onion
1 clove Garlic, peeled and minced
1 sm Jalapeño, seeded and diced
1/2 cu Cilantro leaves, loosely packed, then chopped
1 tsp Salt
1 Lime, juiced
1/2 tsp Louisiana Hot Sauce (optional)


1 lb Ground Chuck, 85% lean
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
2 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1 cu diced White Onion
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 tsp Chili Powder
1 1/2 tsp Cumin
8 oz Tomato Sauce


1 Avocado, peeled and sliced
2 cu shredded lettuce
1 cu shredded Jack Cheese
1 Lime, cut into 6 wedges
Cilantro leaves


Prepare the tart shells by placing the flour, butter and cream cheese into a food processor. Process the ingredients until the mixture comes together and forms a ball. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Flatten each to about a 4” circle and stack them with a small sheet of parchment paper separating them. Place the dough in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

After the dough has chilled, roll out each piece on a lightly floured board to about a 6” circle. Press it into the sides and bottom of the tart pan. Poke the bottom multiple times with a fork. Place the pans in the freezer for 30 minutes. This helps the crusts keep their shape when baking. Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Place the tart pans on a baking sheet and bake for 20-22 minutes or until the crusts just show a bit of color. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool.

Prepare the pico de gallo by placing the all the ingredients above into a bowl and stirring to combine. Sample the mixture for seasoning and adjust to your taste. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Prepare the filling by sautéing the beef over medium high heat until it just starts to brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic, white onion, cayenne pepper, chili powder and cumin and stir. Sauté for about 5 minute until the meat is full cooked and onions have softened and are translucent. Add the tomato sauce and sauté for an additional 3-5 minutes until most of the moisture has been absorbed. Transfer filling to a bowl and set aside.

When you are ready to serve, remove the tart shells from their pans and slide off the bottom. Place them on a baking sheet. Divide 1 cup of jack cheese into 6 equal portions and sprinkle on top of the shells. Bake at 350˚F for about 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

To assemble each tart, place the tart on an individual serving plate. Add the meat filling and then top with avocado, pico de gallo, shredded lettuce and cheese (the actual order of ingredients is totally up to what suits your tastes). Garnish the plate with a lime wedge and a bit of cilantro and serve.