Healthy Cheesy Gordita Crunch Recipe: High Protein, Low Calorie Edition

Healthy Cheesy Gordita Crunch Recipe: High Protein, Low Calorie Edition

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You might be surprised to hear that Taco Bell actually has one of the healthiest fast food menus. Yep, in my Ultimate Guide to Macro Friendly Fast Food, I covered a handful of healthy options to get you started. But overall, they have a ton of options and room for customization. That being said, I was inspired to make this healthy Cheesy Gordita Crunch remix because it’s one of the more difficult menu items to improve nutritionally.

lower calorie options at taco bell

Taco Bell even has a nifty nutrition calculator on their site if you decide to check out my guide and add a few quick fixes to your food arsenal. Plan ahead! 

If you’ve never had the original, it’s essentially a hard shell taco with a spicy ranch drizzle that’s been wrapped in a chalupa-style soft tortilla with cheese melted in between the shells. My mouth is watering just typing that.

But as you can imagine, the calories add up fast in the original version. So, I’ve done my best to keep all the deliciousness of the original Cheesy Gordita Crunch while removing a ton of calories, increasing the protein, and decreasing the fat. I think I’ve done it, but I’ll let you be the judge.

Here’s a look at how this healthy Cheesy Gordita Crunch stacks up to the original cheesy Gordita Crunch from Taco Bell in terms of nutrition facts.

You could eat two of these healthy Cheesy Gordita Crunch remixes, which this recipe makes, without consuming half the fat in one original. Woo!

Healthy Cheesy Gordita Crunch Recipe Modifications

You actually have a lot of customization with your own healthy Cheesy Gordita Crunch remix. I’ll briefly touch on a few potential ingredient swaps and things to consider for macros and nutrition facts.

Taco Meat

The world is your oyster when it comes to meat selection for your cheesy gordita crunch. As you might be able to tell from the photos, I added black beans to my taco meat out of habit. It’s just my go-to for adding a bit more volume to taco meat. One pound of 93/7 ground beef, one packet of taco seasoning, and one drained can of black beans is perfection.

Alas, I’ve only listed the ground beef and taco seasoning in the recipe’s ingredients since most probably don’t want the extra carbs from black beans. But feel free to add them (and join the cool kids).

If you’re tracking your intake closely, this section can be a bit tricky. The recipe calls for six ounces of cooked, seasoned ground beef. That means if you use a different cut of ground beef, drain the fat, use a different taco seasoning, or change any other variable, your weight and macros may change. So, I recommend weighing and tracking your meat on an individual basis if accuracy is important to you.

One thing I’ll add here is that you could reduce the fat content even further or balance out the use of full-fat cheddar (more on that in a second) by using a leaner cut of ground beef. Instead of 93/7 ground beef, you could use a leaner cut of beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken.

Shell Options

I’m in love with Joseph’s pita and lavash bread. They’re unbelievably soft and full of flavor for 60 and 100 calories per serving, respectively. In the case of this cheesy gordita crunch remix, we’ll be using a pita bread as the outer shell.

You know, that kind of chalupa soft shell? Yum.

As for the crunchy shell, you have a ton of options. The recipe calls for extra thin corn tortillas from Mission like I use for the low calorie tortilla chips.

The recipe only calls for three tortillas, which will net you 120 calories. Alternative options include tostadas (Charras Baked Tostadas have similar macros), taco shells, or really any type of crispy inside that will melt to the pita bread via cheddar cheese magic.

You’ll find the recipe has instructions for making the shell in the oven but if you’re in a hurry, check out the microwave guide below.

taco bell cheesy gordita crunch recipe

Toppings 

Speaking of cheddar, the recipe calls for fat-free. The more cheddar you use in a recipe, the more significant the calorie difference becomes when using full-fat versus lower fat options. If you can’t find fat-free or don’t like the melti-ness (that’s not a word) of fat-free, you could use a reduced fat cheese, use a combination, or just go with full-fat. Calories don’t count unless you count them, right?

If you use full-fat cheddar, your nutrition facts should look something like 429 Calories, 33 grams of protein, 28 grams of carbs, and 20 grams of fat per Cheesy Gordita Crunch.

Okay, let’s talk spicy sauces. The original cheesy gordita crunch has a spicy ranch sauce. As you’d expect, it is not macro friendly.

So, we’ll be using plain Greek yogurt mixed with a blend of spices and salsa. Or, if you have a great tasting salsa with some kick, you may be able to get away with simply mixing Greek yogurt and salsa. Taste as you go and don’t worry about messing it up. Pro tips:

  1. Adding a sweetener will balance out spiciness if you add too much cayenne or have a hot salsa.
  2. A tiny bit of lime in Greek yogurt is amazing.

All right, I think that’s about all you need to know in terms of ingredients. Let’s get to the recipe.

Taco Bell's classic remixed in this Healthy Cheesy Gordita Crunch recipe. You'll save 175 calories and add 16 grams of protein per serving without losing the greatness of the original.
4.86 from 7 votes
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Healthy Cheesy Gordita Crunch

A lower calorie, higher protein spin on Taco Bell's classic Cheesy Gordita Crunch. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword cheesy gordita crunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2 cheesy gordita crunches
Calories 325 kcal
Author Mason Woodruff

Ingredients

  • 2 Joseph's Pita Bread
  • 3 Extra Thin Corn Tortillas
  • 3/4 C (84g) Fat-Free Shredded Cheddar
  • 6 oz Lean Ground Beef cooked with taco seasoning (macros with 93/7)

Spicy Sauce (stop at Greek yogurt and salsa if you're satisfied)

  • 1/4 C (56g) Fat-Free Greek Yogurt plain
  • 1/4 C (60g) Rotel or Salsa if you're using a well-seasoned salsa, skip the remaining ingredients
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp Stevia or 0-Cal Sweetener
  • 1/2 tsp Lime Juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.

  2. Place the thin corn tortillas directly on the rack while the oven preheats. Keep an eye out and be sure not to burn them. They should be golden and slightly crispy before you remove them from the oven. If you can't break one in half like a chip, leave it in the oven a bit longer. (If you're using tostadas or taco shells, skip this step.)

  3. While the corn tortillas get crispy, mix the Greek yogurt and salsa or Rotel and seasonings in a small bowl. Set aside.

  4. Place the pita bread on a baking sheet and top with 1/4 C (28g) cheddar on each. Save 1/4 C cheddar for a topping.  

  5. Break two corn tortillas in half and one into four pieces. If you're using larger corn tortillas, you may be able to cover a pita with one tortilla. Cover the pita to its edges with the corn tortillas, leaving a gap in the center of the pita bread for folding. 

  6. Add cooked ground beef to the center of each pita bread and top with the spicy sauce and remaining cheddar. If you want to add jalapeño peppers or other vegetable toppings, add them here.

  7. Place the finished pitas back in the oven for an additional 8-10 minutes until the cheese has melted and the pita is slightly crispy on the bottom.

Recipe Notes

  • If you use full-fat cheddar, your nutrition facts should look something like 429 Calories, 33 grams of protein, 28 grams of carbs, and 20 grams of fat per Cheesy Gordita Crunch. 

  • Using an even leaner cut of meat can make up for using full-fat cheddar or a mix of fat-free and full-fat. 

  • If you'd like to add black beans or other ingredients and would like to see an easy way to modify macros, check out this infographic.
  • This recipe would be even more amazing with my homemade chorizo inside.
Nutrition Facts
Healthy Cheesy Gordita Crunch
Amount Per Serving (1 Cheesy Gordita Crunch)
Calories 325 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 11%
Total Carbohydrates 30g 10%
Protein 36g 72%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Ya know, as I was putting this recipe write up together, I thought about putting a low carb Doritos twist on things like in my Low Carb Doritos Pie recipe. Check it out and if you decide to replace the inner shell for some low carb fauxritos, be sure to tag me on my Instagram.

And if you’re curious about what’s for dessert, you should download my free high protein cookbook for chocolate lovers. I’ve recently updated it to now include 20 of my most popular chocolate-packed high protein recipes. Check it out here or just enter your info below to have a copy sent directly to your email. Thanks for reading!

Taco Bell's classic remixed in this Healthy Cheesy Gordita Crunch recipe. You'll save 175 calories and add 16 grams of protein per serving without losing the greatness of the original.

Taco Bell's classic remixed in this Healthy Cheesy Gordita Crunch recipe. You'll save 175 calories and add 16 grams of protein per serving without losing the greatness of the original.


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