It’s taco time! You don’t have to wait for Tuesday, especially with this guide to building the perfect low sodium taco! They are a quick food, fast food, fresh food, and typically a very affordable meal choice. It was a staple in our household growing up. Taco Night was something my brothers and I looked forward to. Taco shells, meat, beans, cheese, and so much more. It was perfect as a kid to be able to actually choose your own fixings and pile on as much as your shell could hold, or even overload the shells and basically just have a loose open face taco pile on your plate.
Man those were the days. The problem with taco night is that in the past it also meant foods and toppings filled with salt. I didn’t want to lose tacos just because I was going low sodium to protect my heart, so I had to go into the kitchen and hack out the salt. The result is the the following guide to building the perfect low sodium taco.
Let’s start with the foundation – The Shell:
Store made Tortillas are typically laden with salt and preservatives, especially those touted as being “healthier options.” For instance, wheat and flour tortillas can run from 220-400 mg of sodium per tort. We need to hack this:
- Scratch Option – Making tortillas from scratch is a fun family project, but also time consuming. It might not be a great solution for a weekday night dinner. The benefit of cooking from scratch is that you can add your own personal seasonings and add flavors beyond the corn, like lime juice and zest, jalapeno, or sun dried tomato. I have a killer recipe to make your own sodium free tortillas here. A tortilla press is an awesome tool to press out your tortillas and may be a wise investment if you plan to do them a lot. Otherwise a rolling pin works for this same purpose.
- Corn Tortillas – Most corn tortillas are very low sodium (less than 25 mg each) and I have found many brands that are completely sodium free. Corn tortillas can be fried, baked, or grilled. Many stores will even sell forms or racks, so you can bake the shells in a pre folded form ready for filling!
- Taco Bowls – Many stores sell corn tortilla bowls, or you can skip the tortillas and just put your fixings in a bowl. You could do it with rice or lettuce and make a taco salad.
The protein filling:
The great thing about tacos is that you can fill them with all sorts of things. Beef, Turkey, Chicken, and Pork are obvious, but fish and other seafood, and vegetarian choices are outstanding and can really turn your tacos into works of art. Here is a breakdown of how much sodium is in each protein choice:
- Beef – ground, 85% lean meat / 15% fat has 56 mg per 3 oz serving.
- Turkey – ground, 85% lean meat has 61 mg per 4 oz serving.
- Pork – Pork, ground, 96% lean / 4% fat has 64 mg per 4 oz serving.
- Chorizo – I have a recipe to make low sodium chorizo sausage and you can make a 4 oz patty for 64 mg.
- Buffalo – ground, has 75 mg per 3 oz serving.
- Lamb – ground, has 67 mg per a 4 oz. serving.
- Salmon – Canned salmon my vary, but fresh salmon is 115 mg per 3 oz.
- Tilapia – 49 mg per fillet
- Sweet Potato – 55 mg per 3/4 cup per taco
- Yucca – 14 mg per 3/4 cup per taco
The Taco Seasoning:
Store bought packets are extremely high in sodium. Many brands now have a “reduced sodium option” which, hey, is better than nothing. I make my own which I will list below. It takes some time to make, I make big batches, especially during the summer because I use the seasoning on so many things, but I know sometimes you just want to grab a packet from the store so I am including those here too.
- Here is the link to my low sodium taco seasoning.
- Mrs. Dash Taco Seasoning has 0 mg of sodium. It does use Potassium Chloride as a salt replacement, so Most Heart and Kidney patients must avoid.
- Taco Bell Reduced Sodium Taco seasoning is 220 mg per packet. Figuring you can get 6 tacos per lb of beef, divide by six for serving.
- Ortega 40% reduced sodium Taco Seasoning is 260 mg per packet.
- Old El Paso Reduced Sodium Taco Seasoning is 270 mg per packet
- Dak’s Blackening Spice (Especially good on Turkey, Chicken, or Fish) – 0 mg (You can always use the code HACKING SALT on their website for discounts and free shipping!)
The Taco Sauce:
The sauces are another area where salt is hidden in large quantities. I have a low sodium sauce recipe I will post, but honestly, there are actually a couple store bought options that are really low as well.
- Taco Bell Taco Sauce – 25 mg. per serving. They have 3 levels of heat.
- There are too many great low sodium hot sauces to go through. Here is my guide to the best low sodium hot sauces.
- Cheese – The best option for a low sodium is to go with a shredded Swiss. Most brands come in at 15 mg per oz. Make sure you check the label. Jalapenos in the cheese can emulate a pepper jack without the sodium.
- Lettuce – Romaine (7 mg per 85 g), Bibb (5 mg per 85g), or Butter Lettuce (5 mg per 85g).
- Tomatoes – 1 mg per 1/4″ slice
- Onions – 2 mg per 1/4″ slice
- Pineapple – (great on turkey, chicken, or fish tacos) 1 mg per 3/4″ thick ring
- Olives – There are various low sodium black olives in stores. Check the labels. Same with some reduced sodium green olive options.
- Black or Pinto Beans – Can be a side as well. Either use dry, or go with no salt added if in cans.
- Rotel – Perfect is the no salt added can
- Spanish Rice – Here is my recipe.
- You can get many low sodium tortilla chips including no salt added.
- Pineapple Salsa – Here is my recipe.
- Tomatillo Salsa – Here is my recipe.
Cocktails and drinks:
Perfect for Taco night (all my recipes):
Let me know what I am missing from the list in the comments below!