The possibilities are truly endless once you’ve learned the folding process. 

By Tiffany Stevens
September 25, 2019
Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Cat Steele

Of all of Taco Bell’s many menu items, the Crunchwrap Supreme is definitely among the most comforting. The soft tortilla pocket, stuffed with meat, cheese, and tomatoes, has been a staple for me on days when I need to grab a quick bite of dinner or simply have a craving for the fast food chain’s fire sauce. Eating out all the time gets expensive, however, and Taco Bell isn’t exactly known as the height of nutrition. Which is why you should know that you can make your own cheaper, possibly healthier, and definitely more delicious crunchwraps at home, using the same sort of ingredients you’d buy for a taco night: ground beef, nacho cheese, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and tortillas. 

The main feature that makes the crunchwrap seem unapproachable is its shape. Crunchwrap Supremes are folded into discs that usually have six sides, although there might be five or seven, depending on the person constructing the food. This makes crunchwraps look difficult to put together, until you realize that it’s simply a matter of learning how to fold warm tortilla toward the center. If you’ve made pierogies, samosas, or potstickers before, you will already know how to make a food parcel. Crunchwraps are no different, in that the process is far easier than it looks, and can be mastered at any age with a little effort. 

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To make a classic DIY crunchwrap, start by browning some ground beef in a pan. Add taco seasoning as you're cooking, and drain the oil from your beef once you're done. 

Next, grab a large flour tortilla—the kind used to make huge burritos—and cover it with a damp paper towel. Pop it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. You’re looking to warm it up so it’s more pliable and easier to manipulate. Take the tortilla out and place a small amount of ground beef in the center. If you wish, you can next add nacho cheese sauce. Store-bought is fine, but if you don’t have any or don’t particularly like it, just stick with a shredded cheese of your choice. Top with a crunchy corn tostada round (alternatively, you can top the beef with corn tortilla chips), and then add in your tomato, lettuce, and more cheese if you’d like. Personally, I skip the lettuce step because I have no love lost for iceberg, and because it’s the most likely part of the Crunchwrap to get soggy and unpleasant. But to each their own.

Now comes the folding. For this step, you’ll be using the hard, crunchy corn tostada to guide your process. Take the bottom of your flour tortilla, and fold it up toward the corn tostada. Once that’s done, take the next section, and fold toward the center. Keep going all the way around until you’ve closed up the tortilla. Don’t worry so much if there’s a small hole in the center. Not much, if anything, should leak out, especially if you added more cheese in with the tomatoes. 

While you’re folding, heat up a nonstick skillet with a small amount of oil or butter. Once the pan is warm, place the crunchwrap face-down in the pan and wait a couple of minutes. The goal here is to seal the folds you made earlier, so the crunchwrap can be more easily eaten hot, or stored for later consumption. After two or three minutes on each side, the crunchwrap should be sufficiently toasted and delicious. 

Tiffany Stevens

For a breakfast variety, follow the same construction steps, but sub out beef for either sausage or bacon, use hash browns in place of the crunchy corn tortilla layer, and make fluffy scrambled eggs to go on top of the hash browns. You can still add tomatoes and lettuce here, if you like, or plop down some guac to make an at-home version of the California Crunchwrap. Taco Bell uses a hash brown disc to keep structure in its breakfast offering; if you can find hash brown patties in the freezer section of your favorite supermarket, they may be a good substitute, but plain shredded hash browns are easy to manipulate. As long as you fold toward the center, you should have no problems. 

Once you master the basic process of creating crunchwraps, you can play around a bit with the formula. For example, you can make these delicious roast beef crunchwraps with a lime crema sauce, or you can simply sub in or add ingredients that would take the fast food staple up a notch. I like to caramelize onions and add that to the beef. Lamb in place of beef wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Saute some mushrooms, and you have a vegetarian version. The possibilities are truly endless once you’ve learned the right folding process. 

If you’re truly ambitious, you can make up a bunch of ingredients at once, construct the crunchwraps, and freeze them for a quick grab and go meal. Pop them in the microwave for two minutes, or into a 350 degree oven for about 10, and breakfast or dinner is served. But crunchwraps are simple enough that they can, and should, be made on a whim. The delicious at-home tortilla parcels are a fantastic defense on days when Taco Bell cravings are overwhelming. Soon, you’ll vastly prefer your custom crunchwraps to the classic combination, even if you still sometimes find yourself in the drive-thru lane.

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