Street tacos are a favorite indulgence to order up from our local food trucks here in Southern California as a tasty on-the-go meal. My mouthwatering street taco recipe brings this delicious south-of-the-border treat into your home kitchen to enjoy anytime the craving hits, brimming with seasoned and seared sirloin, sweet-tangy pickled red onions, plus a mildly spicy chipotle-lime sauce as a zesty topper!
No Food Truck Needed For These Tasty Tacos
Brightly painted, big, bold, and beautiful food trucks are a major part of the street scenery here in Southern California. If you're out and about during lunch hour or dinner time, you'll see a plethora of them parked on the the sides of our boulevards and avenues with lines of people forming on the sidewalks.
The quality of the food that these food trucks produce is phenomenal, so it's no wonder why they're wildly popular as a place to grab a bold and zesty plate of street tacos prepared with any variety of fillings and flavorful toppings.
What makes street tacos such a fantastic meal is that they're easy to eat on-the-go, because they're prepared with small corn tortillas so that one can enjoy them in just a few, satisfying bites.
My street taco recipe is my little homage to one of my favorite street foods, and meant to be a tasty, fun, and easy recipe to whip up in the comfort of one's own kitchen when a craving for something zesty and bold hits.
Prepared with marinated, finely shaved sirloin, pickled red onions, cilantro, Cotija cheese, plus a creamy and spicy chipotle-lime sauce, these street tacos are a treat to indulge in anytime, no trip to the food truck needed!
How to Make Street Tacos with All the Fixings
To pack as much flavor into this street taco recipe as possible, I like to marinate my thinly sliced or shaved sirloin in a combination of spices, garlic, and lime juice for at least 1 to 2 hours, or ideally, overnight.
This creates tender, juicy, and delicious results once the meat is quickly seared off in a hot skillet (I love my cast iron skillet for this!), with a touch of smoky flavor.
There's a couple of other components that I find essential when creating the authentic, earthy, and bold flavor that street tacos are known for...
Sweet-tangy pickled red onions and the creamy and slightly spicy chipotle-lime sauce take this street taco recipe over the top!
The pickled red onions require only a fairly quick pickle, about 1 to 2 hours in the fridge, and are prepared with a simple combination of thinly sliced red onion brined in red wine vinegar, sugar, and salt.
My chipotle-lime sauce is a cool and creamy sauce with a terrifically garlicky flavor. The chipotle pepper and adobo sauce I add to the mix give the sauce a bit of a kick, along with some brightness from a hit of lime, both the juice and the zest.
And when all of these ingredients are tucked into small, warm corn tortillas, along with a sprinkle of Cotija cheese and fresh cilantro, what you have is an out-of-this-world-delicious treat, perfect to satisfy that street taco hankering!
Here's a glance at my street taco recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I marinate my sirloin for a couple of hours (up to overnight) to impart lots of flavor.
- Next, I prepare my pickled red onions, and keep those cold in the fridge.
- I prepare my chipotle-lime sauce next, by adding all of my zippy ingredients to the bowl of my food processor and processing until completely smooth and creamy. I then pour the sauce into a squeeze bottle, or keep it in a covered container, keeping it cold in the fridge.
- Next, I quickly sear off my sirloin for a few minutes in a very hot skillet (cast iron works great for this).
- And finally, to prepare my street tacos, I spoon some of the meat into warm corn tortillas, top with pickled red onion, cilantro, Cotija cheese, and a generous drizzle of my chipotle-lime sauce.
by Ingrid Beer
These street tacos with marinated sirloin, tangy pickled red onions, and zesty chipotle-lime sauce are packed with lots of bold flavor!
Yield: 8 street tacos
Nutrition Info: 383 calories (per taco)
Prep Time: 1 hour (does not include marination)
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Street Tacos Ingredients:
- 1 ½ pounds very thinly sliced beef sirloin
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon lime zest
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Avocado oil
- 8 corn tortillas, warmed
- Cilantro leaves, for garnish
- Cotija cheese, crumbled for garnish
Pickled Red Onions Ingredients:
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 medium red onion, skin peeled, and sliced into very thin rings/circles
Chipotle-Lime Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 chipotle pepper (from a can with adobo sauce)
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your street tacos ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Place the beef sirloin into a large bowl, and add in the garlic, plus all of the ingredients up to and including the black pepper, and toss to coat the meat. Allow the meat to marinate for at least 1-2 hours, or even overnight, preferably.
- While the sirloin marinates, gather and prep all of the pickled red onion ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare the pickled red onions, add the red wine vinegar, the sugar, and the salt to a mason jar with a lid (or a bowl), and stir the mixture to dissolve. Add in the red onion slices, and press them down to submerge them in the vinegar mixture. Cover and allow the onion slices to pickle in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours, or overnight.
- Next, gather and prep all of your chipotle-lime sauce ingredients according to the ingredients list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare you chipotle-lime sauce, place all of the ingredients into a food processor, and blend until smooth and creamy. Keep in a covered container (or squeeze bottle) in fridge until ready to use, and for storage of any leftovers.
- Once you're ready to cook the meat, allow it to come to room temp for a few minutes. To sear the sirloin, place a heavy bottom skillet such as a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, and add enough oil to cover the bottom.
- Once the oil is very hot, add about half, or a third, of the meat in. Allow the meat to sear/crisp in the oil for a few moments, undisturbed, then stir to sear on the other sides for a few more moments (take care not to over-cook the sirloin, you only need a few minutes of searing, total). Remove the batch with a slotted spoon, and repeat until all meat is seared.
- To build your street tacos, spoon some of the meat into the warmed corn tortillas, then drizzle with some of the chipotle-lime sauce, add a few rings of the pickled red onion, and sprinkle over a few cilantro leaves and Cotija cheese, and serve.
Tips & Tidbits for my Street Taco recipe:
- Thinly shaved or sliced sirloin, or other cuts: If you can find pre-shaved sirloin, this makes your job quicker and easier. Otherwise, you can shave or thinly slice the sirloin yourself, using a very sharp knife to create small, thin slices that will take on the marinade well and sear up quickly in your hot pan. Other tasty cuts that are great for street tacos are skirt steak, flank steak, or ribeye steak.
- Pickled red onions, or even fresh: While the pickled red onions offer a nice, sharp tangy note to these rich street tacos, you can certainly skip the pickling if you prefer, and use fresh, thinly sliced red onions to add to the tacos. The fresh red onion is bright and milder, the pickled onion is more pungent and sharp.
- Small corn tortillas: When purchasing tortillas, opt for the small, street taco size corn tortillas. They can easily be eaten in a few bites, and are a classic serving size for street tacos.
- Other tasty toppings for authentic flavor: Sprinkling in a good pinch of fresh cilantro and some Cotija cheese creates more flavor for these tasty tacos. You could also add thinly sliced radishes, fresh minced onion, or fresh jalapeno slices for kick!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2015, and has been updated with even more love!