10 Toppings You Never Thought to Add to Tacos (But Should)

Take your Taco Tuesday up a notch with these surprising (and surprisingly delicious) taco toppings.

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microwave popcorn, on traditional tablecloth
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You’ve probably had corn on your taco before (if not, get on that!). Take your game up a notch and add a handful of popcorn to your taco. Its flavor compliments traditional Mexican ingredients like black beans and chiles. Plus, it adds a crunchy texture, perfect for soft tacos. (Love the microwave kind? We taste-tested popular brands to find the best popcorn brand.)

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Just as pineapple pairs well with a savory pizza topped with ham, mango is a great back-pocket taco topper. It adds a sweetness and acidity that balances out spicy or fatty flavors. Mango is especially delicious on pulled pork tacos. Try it out with our recipe for Gingered Mango Salsa.

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pickled red onion
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Pickled Veggies

Americans are totally used to enjoying burgers with pickles. Why not tacos? Acidic, tangy pickles cut right through richer ingredients like ground beef, pulled pork and even avocado. Pepperoncini are a fun one to use, but pickled onions, carrots or chiles are also great choices. (We’re not so sure about dill pickles, but you never know!) Would you try pickle ice cream?

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Lemon oregano potatoes
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Roasted potatoes, boiled and sliced potatoes, even mashed potatoes: all are good options for your taco! Why? The starch in the potato tames the spiciness. Bonus: if you’re feeding a hungry family, adding potatoes will fill your crew up quicker, meaning you won’t need as much meat. They’re also great on vegetarian tacos as a rice alternative. Get more flavor-packed taco recipe ideas here.

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Kimchi cabbage in a bowl on wooden background


Kimchi, a traditional spicy vegetable side dish from Korea, has had a surge in popularity recently. Its super-healthy, thanks to the powers of fermentation, and can range from mild to eye-wateringly hot. Kimchi adds crunch to tacos, and can add a kick of spice: perfect for mild taco fillings like beans or chicken.

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Black and green olives in wooden bowls.


Incredibly savory, olives contribute their own flavor to tacos, and their saltiness enhances the flavors of your other toppings, whether meat, cheese or veggies. Even cheap canned black olives are tasty on tacos, though of course, you can use any kind of olive—just make sure to ditch the pits. Here are more ways to use up that leftover jar of olives.

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Grilled vegetable platter
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Grilled Vegetables

It’s all too easy to get into a taco rut and just eat ground meat-and-rice every time. Snap out of it by adding grilled vegetables. Grilling imparts a smoky flavor, and most vegetables add subtle sweetness. Literally any vegetable is good, from red peppers to corn to asparagus to zucchini. Here’s how to grill any vegetable.

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Close-up view of raw chicken eggs in egg box on white wooden background
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Just about any dinner benefits from a fried egg on top, so why not tacos? Fried eggs add richness and moisture to plainer tacos (think vegetarian bean tacos, or just-using-up-the-rotisserie-chicken-tacos). Don’t love fried? Poached also work well, and chopped hard-boiled eggs can be sprinkled on alá chef salad.

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Sliced carrots of cabbage and onions on a board.
Sergii Tverdokhlibov/Shutterstock

Raw Shredded Vegetables

My family always set out a big bowl of shredded iceberg lettuce on taco night. Nothing wrong with lettuce, but it doesn’t have much flavor…or nutrition for that matter. Shred or mince a healthier, heartier vegetable to add oomph. Think greens like cabbage or kale, spicy radishes or sweet carrots. Try it out with these recipes to make for Taco Tuesday.

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Greek yogurt in a ceramic bowl with spoons on wooden background


Creamy and tangy, yogurt has much in common with sour cream, the traditional dairy taco topper. However, yogurt’s a winner for a few reasons. You’re probably more likely to have it on hand, for one. Plus, non-dairy yogurts are widely available, from coconut to cashew, making them a good choice for families with dietary concerns. (Did we taste-test yogurt? You bet we did. Find the best yogurt brands here.)

Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes, cooks and travels from her home base of Chicago. After going gluten-free over a decade ago, Kelsey turned to home cooking and baking as a way to recreate her favorite foods. Her specialties include gluten-free sourdough bread, pizza and pastry. When not wrangling her toddler, she enjoys reading, watching old movies and writing. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, was published by William Morrow in 2019, and her second is forthcoming.