Leftover Potato Skins Are The Crispy Taco Filling You Didn't Know You Needed

Everybody loves taco night, probably because there are tons of ways to customize tacos to your preferences. With so many different types of tacos and unique preparations, there is something for everyone. From the soft and steamy tacos al vapor of Mexican street food vendors to the Americanized hard-shell tacos sold in fast food restaurants, you have chewy and crunchy choices. Tacos de pescado (fish tacos), tacos de chorizo (spicy sausage tacos), and tacos al pastor (pork shoulder tacos) all boast meaty fillings as their defining quality, but what about vegetarian and vegan taco recipes?

While tasty and packed with protein, bean tacos aren't the only options for vegetarians and vegans looking to satisfy a Mexican food craving. You might even have the perfect ingredient sitting in your pantry. Next time you peel potatoes for mashed potatoes, potatoes au gratin, or potato soup, save the skins and fry them up for a cheap, yummy, and meatless taco night. 

Americans love virtually any kind of fried potato skins — potato skin nachos, loaded potato skins, potato skins with pork belly and kimchi — the list goes on. So why not pair them with fantastic flavors from Mexican cuisine? Fried potato skin tacos are an adaptation of the money-saving Mexican street food tacos de pobre, or poor tacos, named so because people often ate them if they couldn't afford more expensive ingredients. This twist on a cost-effective Mexican meal brings big flavor on a small budget and just might be your new favorite dinner.

Crispy and cost-effective potato skin tacos

Tacos de pobre are corn tortillas stuffed with mashed potatoes, cheese, and salsa, then either deep-fried or steamed. Mexican food vendors and home cooks often make the soft, creamy filling to utilize leftover mashed potatoes. However, there's a recipe for a crispier version of the dish focused on potato skins. Whether you're a fan of leftover makeovers in taco form or trying meatless recipes like charred asparagus tacos, this rendition of tacos de pobre will win you over.

Developed by Margarita Carrillo Arronte and featured in The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook, potato skin tacos elevate the flavors and textures of traditional tacos de pobre with aromatic vegetables and sizzling oil. For the best result, fry your potato skins until lightly golden brown and crisp, then add onions and peppers to boost flavor. After a little more time in the skillet, as the veggies soften, your meatless taco filling might be more mouth-watering than its meat alternatives.

Using leftover potato skins as a filling is cheaper than splurging on meat, but if you want to add a little more pizzazz to the dish, look to other common Mexican ingredients for inspiration. You can customize the versatile filling with melty cheese, spicy sauces, chunky salsa, or avocado slices. And if you want to keep the dinner vegan, try a dairy-free cheese option or add extra veggies and sauces. With this recipe, you don't have to spend lots of money to enjoy a delicious meal, so save those potato skins for a terrific taco night.