No one describes the beautiful creation of Mexican pizza better than Taco Bell: The "delicious love child of Mexican and Italian cuisine." It contains everything you love about Mexican food — boldly seasoned ground beef, spicy tomato-chili sauce, and smooth and savory refried beans. But, instead of being presented as a taco or burrito, it’s served up flat on a crispy tortilla shell and topped with melted cheese, just like your favorite Italian pizza. It might come from a fast-food restaurant, but the Mexican pizza is an example of fusion food at its finest.
When we got to thinking about the components that make up Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza, we realized it should be simple enough to whip up at home. We knew the sauce and beef could account for dozens of ingredients, so we challenged ourselves to only use items we had on-hand in the pantry. Would it be possible to make a 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell Mexican pizza recipe at home? Could it possibly taste as good as the original? Read on to find out!
Gather the ingredients for this 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell Mexican pizza recipe
According to their website, Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza has five basic components: The Mexican pizza shell, refried beans, seasoned beef, three-cheese blend, and the Mexican pizza sauce. You can certainly make all of these components from scratch, but we figured out a way to get pretty darn close to the original using store-bought ingredients.
For starters, the pizza shell is really nothing more than a flour tortilla "prepared in canola oil." We were able to skip the oil ingredient and toast the tortillas in a dry skillet with good results, but we’ve included the oil as an optional ingredient if you want to keep things authentic. The refried beans were pretty easy to source in a can, as was the Mexican pizza sauce (which we determined was just enchilada sauce after examining the ingredients). The three-cheese blend was easy to find pre-shredded, so the only questionable component here was the seasoned beef.
For simplicity’s sake, we’re not going to go through the exercise of seasoning the beef. That would definitely take us over the five-ingredient limit! Instead, we’ll assume you’re starting with seasoned ground beef and go from there. Don’t worry; we’ll offer some suggestions for adding flavor to the beef if you don’t know where to get started.
You’ll find a full list of ingredients, including the step-by-step instructions, at the end of this article.
Does Taco Bell Mexican pizza actually taste like pizza?
Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza is a pretty brilliant creation. It has all the basic components of a burrito — flour tortillas, refried beans, beef, and cheese — and it’s layered a little bit like a quesadilla. But the way they build it makes it taste like a Mexican twist on a pizza. It all starts with the treatment of the flour tortilla. Unlike tostada, which uses fried corn tortillas, Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza uses a crisped-up flour tortilla as its base. The resulting toasty flavor is completely reminiscent of pizza dough.
Then there are the refried beans and ground beef, two ingredients you don’t typically find on a pizza. The way they’re sandwiched between the crisp tortillas creates a chewy texture that builds on the tortilla’s flavor to almost perfectly mimic pizza dough. Finally, the layered pizza is finished with a spiced tomato sauce. Although the flavor is not at all similar to marinara sauce used on pizza, it completely works here to round out the fusion pizza vibes. Finish it off with melted cheese, and you’ve created the Mexican version of pizza.
How much taco seasoning should you use to make this 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell Mexican pizza recipe?
According to Taco Bell’s website, their Mexican pizza beef contains "seasoning," which they further define as including chili pepper, spices, tomato powder, onion powder, salt, sugar, cocoa, oats, yeast, corn starch, and natural flavors (including smoke flavor). If we were to make this recipe from scratch, the beef alone would take us over the five-ingredient limit. So we’re going to start this recipe with cooked, seasoned beef instead.
What do we mean by that? Well, you can get as creative as you like. You could keep things traditional and pick up a packet of taco seasoning at the grocery store, or simplify the recipe and season the ground beef with salt and pepper. Alternatively, mix paprika, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder to make a simple, homemade seasoning. A good rule of thumb is to use two tablespoons of taco seasoning per pound of ground beef. If you’re having trouble getting the seasonings to stick to the meat, you can mix two tablespoons of cornstarch with one cup of water and add it to the cooked beef. Let the mixture simmer for two to three minutes until it’s nice and thick.
Or, you can take the really easy way out and buy pre-seasoned taco-flavored ground beef, staying true to our 5-ingredient mission.
Can you make a gluten-free version of this 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell Mexican pizza recipe?
If you’re following a gluten-free diet, you definitely can’t make this recipe with flour tortillas. You could use any brand of gluten-free tortillas you can find, or you could use corn tortillas. The resulting Mexican pizza won’t be quite the same as it will be crunchy like chips instead of chewy, but it will definitely still taste delicious.
No matter what type of tortillas you’re using, we’ll start the process the same way. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the tortillas one at a time. Cook the tortilla about one minute a side, flipping it over until it’s golden brown on both sides. You can do this in a dry skillet, or you can add a tablespoon of neutral cooking oil (like canola oil) to the pan to speed up the crisping process. When the tortilla is finished, remove it to a plate and continue cooking the remaining tortillas.
Build the layers for your 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell Mexican pizza recipe
Before you layer your 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell Mexican pizza, you’ll want to heat up the fillings. We’re only going to cook the pizza in the oven long enough to melt the cheese on top, so starting with cold fillings would result in a lukewarm eating experience. You have a few choices here. You can either grab a couple of saucepans and reheat the ground beef and refried beans separately on the stovetop, or plop them in microwave-safe bowls and nuke them until they’re warmed through. Either way, be sure to stir the items frequently to help them warm evenly.
Once everything is ready, you can begin building your pizzas. Spread about a quarter cup of the refried beans on one tortilla shell. Top the beans with a quarter of the seasoned ground beef and lightly press the second tortilla shell into the mixture. Spoon two tablespoons of the enchilada sauce onto the top tortilla and sprinkle it with two tablespoons of the shredded cheese. If you’re adding diced tomatoes to your Mexican pizza, add a couple tablespoons on top of the cheese.
Melt the cheese to complete this 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell Mexican pizza recipe
Meanwhile, turn on your oven broiler to high. If you don’t have a broiler, you could preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The broiler provides more direct heat, so the cheese will melt faster, but a hot oven will work just fine in a pinch. You can also use the stove top if you don’t want to use the oven. You’ll have to cook the pizzas one at a time, but you can slide the pizza into a large skillet and cook it over medium heat. Be sure to place the lid on the skillet to trap the heat inside and melt the cheese.
If you’re using the broiler or oven method, slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake the pizzas until the cheese is melted. It should only take about a minute under the broiler, or up to 10 minutes in the hot oven. When the cheese is melted, remove the pizzas from the oven and top them with chopped green onions and sour cream, if using. Cut the pizza into four pieces and serve hot.
How close did our 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell Mexican pizza recipe get to the original?
Considering that we had so few ingredients to work with, we were pretty pleased with the results. Our copycat recipe didn’t taste exactly the same as the original, but it was pretty dang close. The tortilla shell had a toasty flavor, and the combination of meat, beans, cheese, and sauce hit the right notes. Where we missed was the exact flavor of each component.
Taco Bell’s beef is actually only 88 percent meat — the rest is filler, like oats and seasonings. So it’s not surprising that our beef filling tasted beefier than the original. We made a second batch and used the beef recipe from our Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos copycat recipe, and the beef was spot-on. We also played around with the Mexican pizza sauce and found that the addition of sugar, garlic powder, and a few diced green chilies got us closer to Taco Bell’s actual sauce.
That said, we had no complaints about this 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell Mexican pizza recipe. It might not be a 100 percent replica, but it’s close enough to satisfy our taste buds. In the end, we awarded it bonus points considering that we didn’t have to make an extra trip to the grocery store (or spend hours in the kitchen) to make this Mexican pizza a reality.