These Loco Taco Meatball Poppers are perfect for Super Bowl, football, sports, or any party occasion. They look like little corn muffins, but inside hides a spicy taco meatball. I’ve called them “poppers” because they are bite-sized, perfect to pop into the mouth. The tortilla chips give that flavor similar to the popular Doritos® Loco Tacos that are so popular at Taco Bell® these days. You can adjust the amount of spicy fire flavor to suit your own tastes. They may be made partially in advance to suit your schedule. Your guests are certain to go loco for these meatball popper appetizers!
Loco Taco Meatball Poppers Recipe
For the Meatballs:
1 pound chuck ground beef (80/20 blend)
1 (3 ounces) snack bag of nacho-flavored tortilla chips, crushed (about 3/4 cup measured after crushing)
1 cup fine-shredded pepperjack, Monterey Jack, or Mexican blend cheese, divided use
1/2 cup prepared chunky salsa, mild, medium, or hot to suit your tastes (homemade or store-bought)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 (4 ounces) can chopped canned mild green chiles, divided use
1/2 cup sliced green onions (scallions), divided use
1/8 cup minced fresh cilantro, plus additional for garnish, divided use
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed between your palms
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon ground chili powder, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin powder
For the Cornbread Base:
1 box cornbread mix (enough to make 6 muffins), prepared according to package directions
Additional prepared salsa for dipping, optional
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a shallow, rimmed baking tray with non-stick foil.
Combine ground beef, crushed tortilla chips, 1/2 cup of the cheese, salsa, beaten eggs, 1/2 of the mild green chiles, 1/2 of the sliced green onions, 1/2 of the cilantro, oregano, salt, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and cumin using a large dinner fork. Mix until combined, but do not overmix.
Form the beef mixture into small meatballs about 1-1/2-inches in diameter, a little larger than the diameter of a quarter. (Keep in mind that the meatballs will need to fit in the mini-muffin tins, along with the cornbread base, so don’t make them too large.) Place on prepared baking tray, sides not touching. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
(At this point, you may refrigerate or freeze the cooked meatballs. Let meatballs come to room temperature before you proceed to the next step.)
Prepare the cornbread mix according to package directions, stirring with a large fork. The batter should be lumpy. Stir in the remaining chopped green chiles and green onions. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Grease mini-muffin tins liberally with vegetable spray. Fill each space 1/3 full with the cornbread mix. Press 1 meatball into the center. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and top with minced cilantro.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm with optional salsa on the side for dipping.
Yield: About 48 pieces
• Use your favorite flavor of tortilla chips, such as plain, ranch, or nacho, extra-spicy, etc.
• I know that some people do not like the taste of cilantro. However, it is a prime ingredient here, and you won’t get the true taco flavor if you don’t use it. The flavor does mellow tremendously during cooking, so please don’t skip it.
• The meatballs are delicious, without the cornbread, as an appetizer served with salsa.
• They are also great to pop into soups, for a take-off on Albondigas Soup.
Loco Taco Meatball Poppers Recipe Photo ©2018 Peggy Filippone