4 authentic breakfast taco recipes to help you elevate your early morning routine

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen

Few things rival the breakfast taco for satisfying simplicity. Some say they're best when kept to a few ingredients: fluffy eggs, some dairy, perhaps some smoky meat or beans, and a wash of citrusy salsa. But what's "best" is subjective. 

Austin has laid claim to the breakfast taco. Vice says they belong to all of Texas. Texas Monthly said the beloved grab-and-go meal is the product of a marriage of the Mexican workingman's breakfast and the ingredients of a standard American morning. At this point, the humble breakfast taco is ubiquitous from Los Angeles to New York.

You can even bring it home with these recipes, which all, coincidentally, hail from Austin.

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PAPALOTE'S BREAKFAST TACO:Papalote Taco House’s Nopales, Mushroom and Tomato Breakfast Taco

Tamale House’s Classic Breakfast Taco

In the 1980s, late Tamale House founder Robert Vasquez noticed that, while Austin was mainly populated with sit-down Mexican restaurants, Southern California was full of small roadside stands selling tacos. Suitably inspired, he launched his now-famous taco house. Here's how to create the flavors of the Austin staple at home.

Serves: 6

Hands On Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

6 large eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)

8 ounces hickory-smoked bacon, diced

2 russet potatoes, diced

1/2 small yellow onion, diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 flour tortillas

8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

Instructions

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a hand mixer (and, if desired, add pat of butter or 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream for richer eggs).

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. In rendered fat left in the pan, add the potatoes and onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are tender and the onions are translucent.

Drain off all but about 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan, reduce the heat to low, and add the eggs. Cook slowly until fluffy and just cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat the tortillas in a cast iron skillet. Serve the egg mixture in the hot tortillas, sprinkled with cheese.

Migas tacos

Austin-style Migas breakfast tacos

There are many different versions of Migas, but the best allow the tomatoes to cook down into a pulp into which the eggs are stirred into soft curds. Cheese comes in at the end. The result is a saucy scramble that begs to fill up a soft flour tortilla.

In this recipe, you can substitute high-quality tortilla chips or store-bought tostadas instead of frying them yourself, but the texture and toastiness of the homemade version are unparalleled.

Serves: 4

Hands On Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 (6-inch) corn tortillas

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 small white onion, finely diced

1 jalapeño pepper, half of the seeds removed, diced

2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 clove garlic, minced

6 large eggs, beaten

1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 (6-inch) flour tortillas

Fresh cilantro, for serving

Lime wedges, for serving

Instructions

In a medium skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the tortillas, one at a time, and cook until lightly browned and crisp. Flip and cook for 1 minute longer. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Immediately season with salt. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, then break them into large pieces.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and peppers, and cook until the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have given off their juice and turned into a loose pulp.

Stir in the eggs and continue to cook, still stirring constantly, until soft curds have formed, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cheese and fried tortillas, and continue cooking until the cheese has melted and eggs are fully cooked. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the migas between the flour tortillas and serve with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

Papalote Taco House’s Nopales, Mushroom and Tomato Breakfast Taco

Papalote Taco House’s Nopales breakfast taco

Papalote has three Austin locations, all of which serve authentic tacos with plenty of vegetarian options, like these nopales-studded breakfast tacos.

Nopales, or cactus pads, can be found at any Latin market or well-stocked grocery store. If the nopales you purchase have spines, make sure to scrape them off with a knife and remove the edges of the pad.

Serve this with limes and plenty of hot sauce.

Hands On Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

4 ounces nopales (see note)

1 ounce mushrooms, diced

1 ounce tomatoes, diced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 large eggs

4 corn tortillas

Salt and pepper to taste

Lime wedges and hot sauce to serve

Instructions

Before making the tacos, boil the nopales in water with a little bit of salt for about 3 minutes. Once soft, place the nopales under cool water and drain, then cut into small pieces.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and season them with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggs, followed by the vegetables and nopales and cook just until the eggs have formed soft curds. Meanwhile, heat the tortillas on a griddle until soft and warm. Fill and serve immediately with lime wedges and hot sauce.

Torchy’s Fried Avocado Breakfast Tacos

Torchy’s Fried Avocado Breakfast Tacos

An early icon of Austin’s food-truck culture, Torchy’s Tacos opened its first trailer in 2006, serving heaping tacos that bend under the weight of green chili pork, barbecued brisket, ahi tuna and more. But be warned: With the number of toppings Torchy’s throws on, that warm flour tortilla may not be enough to hold everything together. Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

Serves: 4

Hands On Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

Poblano Ranch Dressing

1 poblano pepper

2 scallions, chopped

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Tacos

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 avocado, halved, pitted, cut into 8 wedges

Kosher salt

Vegetable oil, for frying (about 4 cups)

1 (15-ounce) can refried beans, warmed

8 corn tortillas

2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

1 cup prepared pico de gallo

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Instructions

To make the Poblano Ranch Dressing: Char the poblano over a gas flame, turning occasionally, until skin is blackened; transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let steam 15 minutes. Peel, seed and finely chop the pepper. Then whisk together the scallions, buttermilk, sour cream, lemon juice and diced poblano in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the tacos: Place eggs, panko and flour in three separate shallow medium bowls. Season the avocado with salt. Working in batches, dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Coat with egg, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Coat with panko, pressing to adhere. Place on a large plate.

Pour the oil into a large, deep skillet to a depth of 1 1/2 inches and heat until bubbles form on the surface or a thermometer registers 350 degrees. Working in batches, fry the avocado, turning occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Spread the beans on warmed tortillas and top with fried avocado, lettuce, pico de gallo and cheese. Serve with the poblano dressing.

Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen.

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Reach me: mlunsford@southernkitchen.com