The Best Ground Beef Taco Recipe

5 from 14 votes
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The BEST ground beef tacos! Made with a perfectly seasoned tender and juicy beef filling in crunchy corn tortillas and loaded up with all your favorite toppings. They’re a quick 20-minute, crowd-pleasing meal for taco Tuesdays and lazy weeknights!

Ground beef tacos topped with melted cheese

If you’re struggling to find low-effort, quick, and easy weeknight meal ideas, you have to try these 20-minute Tex-Mex ground beef tacos! They’re as quick and easy as can be (enough to get the kids involved), easy to customize, and a firm family and crowd-favorite (meat-free eaters, try these vegan tacos instead)!

Getting dinner made from scratch and on the table in under 20 minutes is always a win, especially when it’s loaded with flavor. As classic Tex-Mex ground beef tacos, these combine seasoned tomatoey ground beef with toppings like shredded lettuce, cheese, cilantro, and sour cream in a crunchy taco shell.

Even better, I used homemade taco seasoning for this taco meat recipe, which tastes amazing, takes just a minute to throw together, and allows you to tweak the sodium content, spice, and flavors exactly to your family’s taste buds. You’ll never go back to taco seasoning packets if you’re anything like me.

Ground beef tacos topped with sour cream and cheese

Best of all, you can even prep the ground beef mixture in advance and store it in the fridge or freezer, and use any of the taco leftovers to make other quick and delicious meals like burritos, rice bowls, and salads!

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Ingredients for Tacos

The best taco recipe with ground beef doesn’t need a million different ingredients. This taco meat recipe and resulting homemade tacos are made with just a few simple and inexpensive pantry and kitchen staples.

The Taco Ground Beef Filling

  • Ground beef: I prefer lean ground beef between 80-95% lean for the best taco meat recipe. However, you could also use ground chicken or ground turkey.
  • Oil: Use a neutral cooking oil, like vegetable oil, etc.
  • Crushed tomatoes: Use high-quality canned tomatoes or tomato passata. Alternatively, a medium jarred salsa would work in this taco beef mixture.
  • Taco seasoning: You can use store-bought or homemade taco seasoning, though I highly recommend the latter.
Ingredients for beef tacos

What Is in Taco Seasoning?

I love using homemade taco seasoning made of a blend of chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper.

The Other Ingredients

  • Taco shells: I used hard taco shells for this ground beef taco recipe, but you could also use soft corn tortillas (or even flour tortillas if preferred).

If you’re making soft tacos recipe, heat them in a skillet (1-2 mins per side) or for a few seconds per side over a flame. This makes them soft, and pliable, and even improves their taste.

  • Toppings: You can use any of your favorite taco toppings for this Mexican taco recipe:
    • Shredded Iceberg lettuce (or romaine lettuce or shredded cabbage),
    • Cilantro (or flat-leaf parsley or green onions),
    • Lime wedges (for the lime juice),
    • Salsa (tomato salsa, Pico de Gallo, roasted red salsa, or jarred salsa),
    • Sour cream (or Greek yogurt),
    • Cheese (Monterey jack, Tex-Mex blend, cheddar cheese, or crumbly cotija).
Tortillas and toppings for beef tacos

Best Meat for Tacos

When making ground beef tacos, it’s best to use beef between 80-90% lean, but between 80-85% is best. Using beef that contains more fat will provide extra flavor and moisture.
As we’re draining the excess grease, you won’t end up with a ton more fat in the final ground beef taco filling. However, if it’s too lean, I’ve found it doesn’t crisp enough or make deliciously juicy tacos.

How to Make This Ground Beef Taco Recipe

This easy beef tacos recipe can be ready in just 20 minutes with minimal effort – ready to impress everyone at your next taco night!

First, mix the taco seasoning spices.

Steps for mixing spices for tacos

How To Cook Ground Beef for Tacos

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Once hot, add the beef and cook it for 4-5 minutes, or until it’s completely browned, using a spatula or spoon to break it down into crumbles.

Drain the excess grease.

Steps for cooking ground beef

Then lower the heat to low and add the taco seasoning and tomato passata/chopped tomatoes. Stir well and simmer for a couple of minutes. This is how to season ground beef.

While the beef cooks, prepare your chosen toppings. Wash and shred the lettuce (by hand or with a mandoline/food processor slicing disk), slice the lime, and shred the cheese.

Steps for cooking beef with tomato sauce and spices

Assemble the Ground Beef Tacos

First, if wanted, gently heat the tortillas. You can do this for 20-30 seconds per side in a dry skillet, or a few seconds per side over an open flame (this will slightly char them and add smoky flavor). Or stack and wrap them in foil and then heat them in the oven at 350ºF/175ºC for 10-15 minutes.

Then, divide the ground beef mixture between the tortillas and add your favorite toppings, then enjoy!

Assembling ground beef tacos with toppings

You can also heat the tacos (only filled with the meat and cheese) in order to melt the cheese and crisp up the taco shells. You can do so in the oven at 350ºF/175ºC for about 5 minutes. I also love using my Air Fryer to do this – just a few minutes at 350ºF/175ºC. Once the cheese is melted, fill the tacos with your favorite toppings.

Steps for heating tacos to melt the cheese

How to Store Leftover Tacos

Once assembled, enjoy the juicy tacos quickly to avoid them becoming soggy. Store leftover fillings in containers in the fridge for 3-4 days.

You can freeze the cooked ground beef in a freezer-safe Ziplock bag/container for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating it in a skillet or the microwave. Add a little beef broth or chicken broth or tomato sauce if it’s a little dry.

What To Serve with Tacos

Enjoy the ground beef tacos alone, or make more of a feast with sides like:

You can also save any leftovers (including the taco meat and the toppings) to add to other meals, like a ground beef burrito or burrito bowl, a leafy green taco salad, nachos, taco pasta salad, etc.

Three ground beef tacos topped with cheese and sour cream

FAQs

How much meat do I need per taco?

To use about 2-3 tablespoons of ground beef filling per taco, I recommend using about 1lb of meat per four people (8-12 tacos).

How to Make Crispy Taco Shells at home?

Preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC. Meanwhile, microwave the tortillas for 15-20 seconds to make them more pliable, then spray both sides with cooking spray/oil and drape each one over two bars of an oven rack. Return the rack to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden and crispy.

Can I make the ground beef taco meat in a crock pot?

Place the beef, seasoning, and tomato passata in the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours or LOW for 4-5 hours. Then break up the meat with a spoon and discard any excess liquid/grease.

More Taco Recipe Ideas

If you try this easy ground beef tacos recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

The Best Ground Beef Taco Recipe

5 from 14 votes
By: Samira
The BEST ground beef tacos! Made with a perfectly seasoned tender and juicy beef filling in crunchy corn tortillas and loaded up with all your favorite toppings. They're a quick 20-minute, crowd-pleasing meal for taco Tuesdays and lazy weeknights!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 
 

The Ground Beef Mixture

  • 16 oz ground beef I recommend using between 80-95% lean; ground chicken or turkey would also work
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or another neutral oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder adjust the amount to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes or tomato passata

Other Taco Ingredients (Optional Toppings)

  • 12 taco shells use hard taco shells, or soft corn tortillas or even flour tortillas
  • lettuce shredded, Iceberg or Romaine lettuce
  • lime wedges
  • homemade salsa thick and chunky or Pico de Gallo or a Jarred salsa
  • sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • cheese Monterey jack, Tex-Mex blend, Cheddar, or cotija

Instructions 

  • Mix the taco seasoning spices.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Once hot, add the beef and cook it for 4-5 minutes, or until it's completely browned, using a spatula or spoon to break it down into crumbles.
  • Drain the excess grease before lowering the heat to low and adding the taco seasoning and crushed tomatoes/tomato passata. Stir well and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • While the beef cooks, prepare your chosen toppings. Wash and shred the lettuce (by hand or with a mandoline/food processor slicing disk), slice the lime, and shred the cheese.
  • Optionally, heat the tortillas. You can do this for 20-30 seconds per side in a dry skillet, or a few seconds per side over an open flame (this will slightly char them and add smoky flavor). Or stack and wrap them in foil and then heat them in the oven at 350ºF/175ºC for 10-15 minutes.
  • Divide the ground beef mixture between the tortillas and add your favorite toppings, then enjoy!
    You can also heat the tacos (only filled with the meat and cheese) in order to melt the cheese and crisp up the taco shells. You can do so in the oven at 350ºF/175ºC for about 5 minutes. I also love using my Air Fryer to do this – just a few minutes at 350ºF/175ºC. Once the cheese is melted, fill the tacos with your favorite toppings. 

Storage Instructions

  • Make ahead: You can prepare and store the cooked ground beef 3 days in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Fresh toppings, like lettuce, can be shredded a day in advance and stored in a paper-towel-lined airtight container.
    Store: Once assembled, enjoy the juicy tacos quickly to avoid them becoming soggy. Store leftover fillings in containers in the fridge for 3-4 days.
    Freeze: You can freeze the cooked ground beef in a freezer-safe Ziplock bag/container for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating it in a skillet or in the microwave until heated. Add a little beef broth or chicken broth or tomato sauce if it’s a little dry.

Notes

  • Adjust the spice: After cooking the taco recipe beef, taste and adjust the seasonings. i.e., add more taco seasoning or some extra chili/cayenne pepper for heat, salt, etc.
  • Drain the meat grease: Otherwise, the filling may be overly greasy/watery.
  • For lower-carb tacos: Swap out the tortillas for lettuce cups.
  • For a “dry” meat filling: Omit the tomato passata and add just a couple of spoonfuls of water or stock instead, for a juicy but not saucy beef filling.
  • When serving a crowd: Setting up a “taco table” with dishes of all the different toppings  – this will allow everyone to assemble the best tacos with all their favorite toppings.
  • Add veggies: You could also use a thinly sliced onion for an extra aromatic flavor. Sauté it for 2-3 minutes to soften before adding the ground beef to the pan. To sneak more veggies into the taco meat filling, add some shredded carrot, diced zucchini, and/or bell pepper.
Other Toppings for Ground Beef Tacos
  • Avocado (sliced or diced),
  • Guacamole,
  • Jalapeno slices (fresh or pickled),
  • Green onions (scallions),
  • Pickled veggies (like pickled red onions),
  • Hot sauce (like sriracha),
  • Sliced radish,
  • Diced tomatoes (instead of salsa),
  • Sweetcorn (canned, frozen and thawed, or grilled for smokiness),
  • Beans (black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, or even refried beans),
  • Black olives.
Check the blog post for more tips, serving recommendations, and answers to top FAQs!
Course: Appetizer, Main
Cuisine: Mexican, Tex Mex
Freezer friendly: 3 Months
Shelf life: 3-4 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 608kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 45g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g, Monounsaturated Fat: 16g, Trans Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 586mg, Potassium: 605mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 447IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 89mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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