A taco is nothing without the perfect toppings or sauce to go with it. Whether you love fish tacos or carne asada, a taco is nothing without the perfect toppings or sauce to go with it. No one knows this better than professional foodies, whose innovative recipes will inspire you to get a little more creative in the kitchen. Sure, you can buy taco sauce from the store, but customizing your own at home will create just the right flavors (and make your meal a little bit healthier).
We looked to our favorite food bloggers to share the stories behind toppings they created to match their unique taco recipes. Below are 20 ideas to try at home on your next taco night.
Keep scrolling to see our favorite taco sauce (and toppings!) recipes to try next Taco Tuesday.
Blackened Fish Tacos With Creamy Avocado Sauce
The Tacos: Foodie Crush recommends making these flavorful fish tacos with tilapia, a mild-tasting fish with just a hint of sweetness. All you need to spice it up is a bit of Cajun seasoning before placing the fish on a preheated sheet pan in the oven to make it extra crispy without frying.
The Sauce: This sauce could not be any simpler to make at home. You can use store-bought tartar sauce and combine with avocado, cilantro, and lime juice for a creamy avocado tartar mash. The cool, flavorful sauce pairs perfectly with the blackened tilapia.
The Story: “I love avocado, and I love tartar, so blending the two together for a creamy avo-tartar is the perfect healthy-ish recipe mashup. Literally,” says Heidi Larsen.
Roasted King Oyster Mushroom Tacos With Chipotle Cacao Sauce
The Tacos: These vegetarian tacos from The First Mess are not your typical taco Tuesday fare, but they are as delicious as they are unique. Instead of chicken, steak, or beef, the tacos are stuffed with sliced king oyster mushrooms baked to perfection in sunflower oil.
The Sauce: Top your mushrooms with a chipotle cacao sauce comprised of an onion and tomato paste mixture, dates, almond butter, cacao powder, and tamari. This rich sauce is easily the hero of this recipe with a bold flavor to match its rich ingredients. Garnish with thinly sliced radishes, avocado, and fresh cilantro leaves.
The Story: “I was using raw cacao powder for another savory dish when I noticed that it had a bit of a smoky aroma as I scooped it from the bag. Then I thought about mole and the depth that cacao/chocolate adds to that. I wasn’t trying to make a fast mole or anything because you just can’t do that. This sauce is very, very lightly inspired by those smoky and well-rounded flavors,” says Laura Wright.
Shrimp Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Sauce
The Tacos: These might be the quickest, easiest, most flavorful tacos you've ever made, thanks to A Couple Cooks. Picture meaty, juicy shrimp spiced with cumin and Old Bay, topped with crunchy and tangy cabbage. Simply saute the shrimp on the stove with minced garlic for 2-4 minutes, whip up the sauce in five minutes (no blender required!), and make some quick slaw using thinly sliced cabbage and red onion spritzed with a lime wedge.
The Sauce: The creamy cilantro sauce honestly ties all the flavors together: it’s basically ranch dressing with cilantro. So good you could drink it. Don't say I didn't warn you.
The Story: Sonja Overhiser says, "For this one, Alex and I wanted to create the quickest way to get from 0 to shrimp tacos. So it turned out to be a triple threat: quick and easy to make, delicious, and healthy!"
Crispy Cauliflower Tacos with Yum Yum Sauce
The Tacos: Cauliflower has been all the rage lately as pretty much the new superfood, given its many amazing health benefits. By now you've probably heard about cauliflower-crusted pizza, but these crispy cauliflower tacos by A Couple Cooks are even better. Roasted, then covered in crunchy, sweet, and slightly spicy breading, these pair beautifully with refried black beans, cabbage slaw, and cilantro.
The Sauce: I haven't even gotten to the unbelievably delicious yum yum sauce that's appropriately named. It's served in traditional Japanese steakhouses. The lightly sweet and creamy sauce is mayo-based with a helping of butter and tomato paste that is finger-licking good. Feel free to smother the cauliflowers in it.
The Story: "Most of the time, Alex and I eat a whole food plant based diet, so we’re always looking for creative ways to use veggies. And the taco is the perfect canvas for creating some insane veggie flavors and textures! And this one is our new favorite," says Sonja Overhiser.
Refried Black Bean Tacos with Chipotle Tahini Cream
The Tacos: A Couple Cooks comes up with this healthy, plant-based option that's incredibly filling and full of flavor. To complement the rich beans with some light crunch, make a quick slaw by tossing multi-colored bell peppers and green cabbage with some lime.
The Sauce: This creamy and spicy vegan sauce is based on cashew cream and will be your new favorite condiment to pair with anything.
The Story: Alex Overhiser says, "These humble refried bean tacos are all about simple, quality ingredients thrown together in a new-to-us way...our interest in vegan recipes steered us toward creating a chipotle cream, a smooth sauce based on cashew cream that brings it all together."
Chickpea and Veggie Tacos with Cilantro Yogurt
The Tacos: You've never had tacos like these before. A Couple Cooks brings us this unique recipe via Love and Lemons for hearty, satisfying tacos full of complex flavors that really sing together. Featuring spiced garlic and cumin chickpeas, carrot ribbons, sweet mango, and a tangy and savory cilantro sauce, you definitely won't miss the meat.
The Sauce: This isn't your basic cilantro sauce. This is a creamy cilantro yogurt doused with sriracha, which is genius. There's even a vegan version available.
The Story: Sonja Overhiser shares, "This veggie tacos recipe is from the Love and Lemons Cookbook, a gorgeous compilation of veggie forward recipes. These two not only hit it out of the park on this book, but they are two of the most genuinely kind souls you’ve ever met."
Grilled Mango Tacos with Dream Sauce
The Tacos: Whoever said mangos can't be the main event of a meal hasn't tried these grilled mango tacos by A Couple Cooks. Paired with hearty, nutritious refried black beans and doused in creamy cilantro lime sauce, these are a winner.
The Sauce: Deemed the "dream sauce", this heavenly green taco sauce uses more mango instead of dairy (surprise!) pureed with cilantro and lime to create a creamy texture and a tangy, zesty flavor that's irresistible.
The Story: "This recipe came from a crazy idea: what if mangos were at the front and center of a taco? Instead of diced for salsa, what if they were cut into strips and grilled? Turns out, grilled mangos are incredibly delicious," says Alex Overhiser.
BBQ Bean Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
The Tacos: If you need a quick and easy weeknight dinner in just 20 minutes, A Couple Cooks has you covered. These savory and filling tacos consist of BBQ pinto beans paired with light cabbage and radishes, topped with a sweet and tangy pineapple salsa that'll hit the spot. If you want to take it to the next level, you can even char the tortillas.
The Sauce: Salsa counts as a sauce, right? For this one, canned pineapples seem to work better than fresh ones. Chop them up, then mix with minced red onions, cilantro, and kosher salt.
The Story: "These BBQ bean tacos with pineapple salsa are pretty close to our perfect meal. They’re a fast and easy dinner recipe that’s a weeknight win.," shares Alex Overhiser.
Baked Fish Tacos with Fish Taco Sauce
The Tacos: For this healthy version of fish tacos from A Couple Cooks, start by baking your pick of white fish until it's flaky with a dry rub of spices. The magic is in the the dry rub seasoning made of five spices that form the perfect crust: chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder.
The Sauce: A creamy combo of tangy lime, zesty garlic, and fiery hot sauce is the perfect complement for fish tacos. Simply mix mayo with sour cream or greek yogurt, throw in Cholula or your favorite hot sauce, salt, garlic powder, and some lime juice.
The Story: "This fish taco sauce is easy because let’s face it: if you’re making tacos, you want to focus your energy on the main event! All you have to do is mix them together in a bowl: no chopping or blending required! That’s our idea of an easy sauce," states Sonja Overhiser.
Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Creamy Dill Sauce
The Tacos: Bowl of Delicious shares the perfect, healthy 15-minute dinner. These Cajun-style shrimp tacos on toasty corn tortillas are coated with a mixture of spices, then cooked in a skillet with melted butter. If you're not drooling yet, picture drizzling some cool, creamy dill sauce on top and devouring.
The Sauce: This super easy dill sauce is packed with fresh herbs, like dill, green onions, and cilantro and uses greek yogurt as a healthy base. To complete, simply squeeze some lime juice to add a little zest.
The Story: "These tacos are, simply put, the perfect quick and easy dinner. They’re light and healthy (especially since the base of the sauce is Greek yogurt, but you can use sour cream if you prefer), and they take only 15 minutes to make," shares Elizabeth Lindemann.
Chicken Banh Mi Tacos with Spicy Mayo
The Tacos: A banh mi is a traditional Vietnamese sandwich, typically made with pork and served on a baguette. It is pure crispy, delicious goodness, and we are thankful Bowl of Delicious decided to make this tasty, gluten-free taco version. Chicken is marinated in sugar, fish sauce, lime, and garlic, then topped with crisp pickled vegetables and spicy mayo.
The Sauce: Spicy mayo is a classic that's great on just about anything. Simply combine mayonnaise with chili garlic sauce and rice vinegar to thin it out and add a subtle zesty tang.
The Story: Elizabeth Lindemann shares, "When I lived in New Orleans, they [banh mis] were often called 'Vietnamese Po’ Boys.' I’d get them at least once a week for lunch."
Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery and Bell Pepper Salsa
The Tacos: Bowl of Delicious recommends this healthy recipe for sweet and tangy buffalo chicken breast tacos. In addition to the buffalo sauce, you can also incorporate a fresh celery and bell pepper salsa and your choice of creamy ranch or blue cheese dressing that really complete the dish. The best part is you can whip these up in a mere 20 minutes.
The Sauce: Add a cool crunchiness to this meal with a bright and healthy salsa. All you need is celery, bell pepper, cilantro, lime juice, and diced red onion. You may also sub parsley, lemon or green onion.
The Story: "I find myself craving buffalo chicken constantly, but take-out buffalo wings come at a high price (especially in terms of calories!). So I LOVE making alternative buffalo recipes that are much healthier than traditional wings. All the flavor and none of the guilt," exclaims Elizabeth Lindemann.
Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas Tacos with Homemade Crema
The Tacos: The Charming Detroiter shares a recipe that has all the tasty Mexican flavors you'll be itching to sink your teeth into. Imagine warm tortillas filled with juicy, spiced crockpot chicken carnitas, cherry tomatoes, red onions, rich cotija cheese, and fresh homemade crema. Tossing it all into the slow cooker makes things quick and easy.
The Sauce: This might be the easiest sauce you've ever made. Mix half a cup of sour cream with half a cup of heavy whipping cream, and add one large pinch of kosher salt, and you're done. Secret tip: this crema is also delicious on crisp pork belly tacos.
The Story: Sarah DeLeon says, "I’m kind of obsessed with this crockpot of ours. We received it as a wedding gift, and it makes life so easy and tasty! For this recipe, I added chicken breast to the crockpot along with broth, tomatoes, taco seasoning, brown sugar, garlic, and chipotle chilis in adobo. The brown sugar adds a sweet note, and the taco seasoning adds all those tasty Mexican flavors we all love!"
Spicy Chicken Keto Tacos with Citrus Ceviche
The Tacos: Tacos are a time to get creative, and Darling Down South does just that with this uniquely flavorful (and colorful!) spicy chicken taco on radicchio leaves instead of tortillas. These may be low carb, but are definitely not low on flavor with a spicy chicken marinade containing basil, cilantro, jalapenos, garlic, and onions.
The Sauce: Then there's the bright and beautiful citrus ceviche made with avocado, oranges, grapefruits, shallots, and lime. It adds a perfect, refreshing zest to the dish.
The Story: Cynthia Ruff says, "This chicken recipe is one of my favorites because of its subtle heat. You can use the marinade as a chicken marinade and increase the heat if you can tolerate it. Subbing in a habanero pepper will yield a spicier dish while using a jalapeno was palatable for children. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, sub the chicken out for a large portobello mushroom!"
Shrimp Tacos with Tomatillo Guacamole and Cilantro Lime Dressing
The Tacos: These grilled garlicky, buttery shrimp tacos come courtesy of Flavour and Savour. Pair it with a crisp veggie slaw, rich and chunky tomatillo guacamole, and a zesty cilantro lime dressing, and you'll be in taco heaven.
The Sauce: You've probably never had guac like this before. Add the usual suspects of cilantro, lime, garlic, and salt to some mashed avocados. Then throw in some finely chopped tomatillos for added crunch and kick. For the cilantro lime dressing, feel free to add a little honey to balance the tartness.
The Story: Elaine Nessman shares, "I usually add a few tomatoes to my tried-and-true Quick Chunky Guacamole recipe, but adding tomatillos instead is nothing short of brilliant, if I do say so myself!"
Shredded Chicken Tacos with Balsamic Strawberry Salsa
The Tacos: This isn't just any chicken taco. Food Faith Fitness ups the ante with creamy goat cheese, pistachios, and a tangy balsamic strawberry salsa. It's even healthier than the average taco as a whole wheat, high-protein option.
The Sauce: This salsa is not only delicious, it's easy as pie to make. Combine finely chopped strawberries with fresh basil, red onion and a just a pinch of salt and pepper.
The Story: "These Shredded Chicken Tacos are paired with goat cheese and a balsamic strawberry salsa for a quick and easy meal that is healthy, unique and delicious," states Taylor Kiser.
Crispy Cauliflower Chimichurri Tacos
The Tacos: Cauliflower is the new superfood. The Full Helping shows us how to make a mouthwatering taco version with roasted and spiced cauliflower that strikes the perfect balance of complex textures, flavors, garlic, and herbs.
The Sauce: There is nothing I won't eat if it's smothered in chimichurri. This version contains almonds to thicken it up even more.
The Story: "I’ve come to rely heavily on cauliflower when I’m sharing vegan food with family and friends. It’s a crowd pleaser: plant based, a gluten-free option for all, and surprisingly satisfying," shares Gena Hamshaw.
Pulled Jackfruit Tacos with Spinach Pesto
The Tacos: Get ready for a hearty vegan and gluten-free taco that will blow your mind, thanks to Green Evi. Spicy pulled jackfruit, kale, and creamy avocado are topped with pine nuts and a scrumptious spinach pesto you just can't go wrong with.
The Sauce: This special pesto combines spinach with zucchini, garlic, basil, tahini, lemon juice, and pine nuts for a burst of flavor.
The Story: Evi Oravecz confesses, "I don't really like tacos. I have to admit I have still no idea how to eat them...I still struggle eating these babies, but I won't give up, tacos are on our menu more and more often."
Crispy Chipotle Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Lime Ranch
The Tacos: Get a load of these loaded tacos by Half Baked Harvest. This is one of the few hard taco shell recipes that contain crispy, cheesy baked chipotle chicken. They've got the perfect crunch on the outside and the perfect cheesy, spicy kick on the inside. Drizzle some cool cilantro lime ranch sauce on top and throw on your other favorite toppings. The more, the merrier.
The Sauce: This creamy cilantro lime ranch sauce is so much better than boring sour cream. A generous portion of cilantro and limes are mixed in with jalapenos for a sauce you'll dream about putting on everything from now on.
The Story: Tieghan Gerard shares, "As a kid, tacos were a weeknight staple in our house. Tacos are still on the menu every couple of weeks. But my absolute go-to taco? It’s these. They’re classic, so simple, cheesy, crunchy, and SO GOOD."
Mushroom Al Pastor Tacos with Garlic Lime Special Sauce
The Tacos: Half Baked Harvest shares this totally addictive, meat-free taco featuring juicy cremini and shiitake mushrooms and sesame chipotle pineapple sauce on charred tortillas, then topped with an irresistible lime and garlic concoction that happens to be healthy. Best of all, you can throw it all together in just 30 minutes.
The Sauce: This dish has not one, but two, flavorful sauces. First is a chipotle pineapple sauce. Simply combine chipotle peppers, garlic, pineapple, spices and sesame seeds. Now for the special sauce that we're certain you won't be able to get enough of. Tieghan Gerard describes it as, "creamy, heavy on the lime, a touch garlicky, and a little salty. It’s a simple mix of plain yogurt, lime juice, and garlic, and a little sea salt to finish it off."
The Story: "When it comes to a vegetarian taco, I’ve always enjoyed using mushrooms. I know cauliflower is very popular right now, but in an effort to sweeten things up I thought I’d share this easy mushroom al pastor taco recipe. It’s one of my current favorite recipes," shares Tieghan.