Taco Bell hit the nail right on the head when it launched its now-legendary Crunchwrap in 2006. Their ingenious idea was to combine three concepts into one handheld wrap: cheese sauce from nachos, pretty much every yummy part from a crispy ground beef taco, and a soft flour tortilla to wrap it all up. The whole thing is then griddled like a quesadilla.
Crunchwrap Cheesy Beef
Let’s start with the beef filling: All you need is lean ground beef and some taco seasoning. I find that Taco Bell’s Crunchwraps don’t have enough beef in them, so pick up a full pound to make sure there’s beef in every bite. Brown up the beef, cook it with the taco seasoning and some water, and you’re good to go. That being said, feel free to sub in ground turkey or chicken instead, or even some soyrizo if you’re vegetarian (but skip the taco seasoning if you’re using soyrizo, which is already seasoned).
How to Deal with Small Tortillas
Taco Bell uses really large flour tortillas for crunchwraps, and if you can find these 12-inch big guys, grab them. But since most stores only carry 10-inch tortillas that are too small to completely cover the filling, use this easy fix: Tear an extra tortilla into four wedges and use each one as a patch on each crunchwrap. Once the crunchwrap is folded and griddled, you won’t even notice the difference.
- Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Meanwhile, cut 1/4 head iceberg lettuce into fine shreds. Dice 1 tomato.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 pound ground beef and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large chunks with a wooden spoon, until the beef is cooked through and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the tortillas and crisp up the tostada shells.
- Stack 5 tortillas and wrap completely in aluminum foil. Place the tortillas in the oven, place 4 tostada shells directly on the oven rack in a single layer, and heat until the tostadas are crisp and the tortillas are warmed through, about 3 minutes. Set the tostadas and tortillas aside.
- Sprinkle the beef with 2 tablespoons taco seasoning and stir to combine. Stir in 1/2 cup water and simmer on medium heat until mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup nacho cheese sauce or queso dip.
- Fill the crunchwraps: Place 4 of the tortillas on a work surface. Divide and dollop the cheesy beef onto the center of the tortillas, then spread the beef out on each one to create a 5-inch round. Spread 1 tablespoon sour cream on each of the tostada shells. Place a tostada sour cream-side up on each round of cheesy beef. Sprinkle the lettuce and tomatoes onto the sour cream. Tear the remaining tortilla into 4 pieces and place a piece on the top of each crunchwrap to cover the center.
- Wrap the crunchwraps: Fold the top of a tortilla down over the filling to the center. Holding that piece down and working clockwise, continue folding the rest of the tortilla towards the middle until the filling is completely covered (you will have 5 to 6 folds). Flip the crunchwrap over and repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Place 2 frying pans or a griddle over medium heat. Place the crunchwraps, folded-side down, in the heated pans or griddle, as many as will fit in a single layer. Cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Repeat as needed until all the crunchwraps are cooked.
Tortillas: If you can find them, use 4 (12-inch) extra-large flour tortillas and they’ll be big enough to fold over the filling.
Make ahead: Crunchwraps are best assembled and cooked immediately. The beef can be cooked, combined with the nacho cheese, and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead.