Best Beef For Taco Meat

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Why is the best beef for taco meat chuck roast? Why not something else? Someone might start asking these questions if they read this blog post title. So that means you have to supply them with answers. And I think it’s better if you supply them with good ones.

Ground beef is fairly inexpensive and can be quite versatile, especially if you are looking to save money. However, using ground beef for taco meat isn’t an ideal choice. If you’re making large amounts of this Mexican dish, it’s best to use separate cuts of beef for the best results.

THE BEST TACO MEAT RECIPE

The absolute BEST Taco Meat! Made with a homemade blend of taco seasonings and tomato sauce, this makes the most flavorful and juiciest taco meat EVER! This easy recipe comes together in just 15 minutes and is the perfect base for Tacos. 

TACOS

One family meal that never disappoints is Tacos. My family loves just about every version of tacos I can think up to serve–Buffalo Chicken Tacos, Lentil Tacos, Honey Lime Chicken Tacos, and the list goes on….

However, our absolute favorite version of tacos have to be classic tacos made with ground beef. There is just something about taco meat piled on a taco shell and then loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. It is a simple meal that never disappoints!

In order to have the BEST tacos, you need to start out with a really good taco meat. And this is the BEST recipe for taco meat–PERIOD!

Ground meat is coated with a perfectly spiced tomato sauce that tastes just like taco meat you get from your favorite taco place. Just this recipe for taco meat has no added MSG, gluten, and is MUCH lower in sodium.

Bottom line–this recipe needs to be a staple at your house. It is inexpensive, simple, kid-friendly, and while this taco meat taste amazing on tacos, it can be used in numerous ways so you will never tire of it!

INGREDIENTS FOR TACO MEAT

  • Ground meat–Use any ground meat you like for homemade tacos. Beef, turkey, chicken, or pork all work well.
  • Tomato Sauce–Really good tacos have a saucy tomato base, and by adding in a little bit of canned tomato sauce, you can easily replicate the taste of authentic tacos and keeps this taco meat super moist.
  • Taco Seasoning–I use my homemade taco seasoning that I prepare in bulk which I love having on hand. But you can simply use the spices listed in the recipe card instead of using the homemade blend.

HOW TO COOK TACO MEAT

Homemade taco meat is one of the first things my mom had me make when I was learning to cook, because it is so SIMPLE. But let me share a few tips to make this truly the best taco meat.

  • Heat a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. If using a stainless steel skillet, add in ½ tablespoon oil to prevent meat from sticking. 
  • Add in ground meat and begin to break up in small chunks as the meat browns, stirring frequently to evenly brown the meat.
  • Once the meat is browned, drain off excess grease, if you have any. You can even blot with a paper towel to absorb more grease, if desired.

Pro Tip: If you want to prepare taco meat like Mexican Restaurants, get out your food processor and pulse the browned up up meat until very small crumbles form. Be careful to not over process. you simply want to pulse a few times to break the meat down. Return the skillet and proceed with the recipe. 

  • Return drained meat to skillet and add in tomato sauce, ¼ cup water, and the seasonings.
  • Simmer over medium heat until liquid from tomatoes has been absorbed, about 5-7 minutes.

WAYS TO USE TACO MEAT

Of course it is traditional to serve this taco meat on soft or hard taco shells and top with your favorite toppings like cheese, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and sour cream. BUT, there are so many more creative ways to use taco meat.

  • Taco Salad –Make a simple taco salad by starting with a base of lettuce then topping with taco meat, diced tomatoes, olives, onions, corn, cheese and of course some tortilla chips.
  • Nachos–Spread out tortilla chips (or homemade sweet potato chips) and top with this recipe for taco meat and cheese. Melt for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven and then top with all the fresh toppings.
  • Taco Pizza–Top homemade pizza dough with refried beans, taco meat, and cheese. Bake and top with all the taco toppings.
  • Taco Pasta: Taco meat is used as the base of this super easy, one-pot pasta meal.
  • Wonton Taco Cups–wontons are baked and served as mini taco shells.
  • Stuffed Potatoes–I love to use perfectly baked sweet potatoes or russet baked potatoes as a healthy option for serving my taco meat. Simple, hearty, and always a winner at my house!

USING FROZEN MEAT

A lot of people ask me how to make taco meat using frozen ground beef or frozen ground chicken or turkey. I do not recommend trying to cook frozen meat in a skillet or defrost in a microwave. However, you can cook frozen meat in your instant pot for Instant Pot Taco Meat. 

Once you have followed my directions for Instant Pot Frozen Ground Meat, release pressure, drain fat and then turn Instant Pot to saute function. Add in seasonings and tomatoes, water, and saute for 5 minutes or until warmed through. Serve as desired.

HOW TO FREEZE TACO MEAT

Let me give you some advice–double, better yet triple, this recipe and freeze for the base for an easy dinner ready and waiting for you! If you follow these tips, you can have frozen taco meat ready to pull out of the freezer for busy nights–and these tips will help you prevent freezer burn on your meat!

  • Double or triple recipe for taco meat.
  • Allow meat to cool completely.
  • Portion taco meat out into 1 pound or ½ pound servings.
  • Place each portion into a freezer safe storage bag. Squeeze out excess air from bag and seal until only a small opening remains.
  • Place a straw into the small opening, being sure the bag is sealed around the straw. Suck air out of bag through the straw and watch the bag collapse around meat mixture.
  • Remove straw and seal quickly.
  • Don’t forget to label the bag!
  • Store in the freezer for 3 months.
  • To Thaw, place in refrigerator night before needed and reheat in microwave safe dish. You can also thaw in the microwave, but a slow thaw is better.

The Best Taco Meat You’ve Ever Tasted

Ground beef seasoned generously with Mexican spices is tossed with black beans and corn to create what we consider the best taco meat recipe – it is perfect for tacos, salads, burritos, quesadillas, and nachos.

This taco meat is also my saving grace every year as we get back into the routine of school and other activities. This is likely to be our lunch and/or our dinner at least once a week.

There are so many ways to serve it that my family never gets bored of having the same dish over and over again. It’s an easy recipe that you can enjoy in tons of different ways making.

Best Taco Meat

This recipe is so simple that I almost didn’t post it. Then I realized that simple recipes are what most of us need as we try to balance all of our responsibilities while feeding our families. What better to share than the easy recipes I make from day to day?

Taco Meat isn’t just a simple meal starter; it’s also delicious! I’ve had several friends ask for the taco meat recipe after sharing a taco salad with them. So, I’m sharing it here today for easy reference.

Taco Meat Recipe

I’ve been making tacos, salads, and burritos with this combination of ingredients for so long, it’s my go-to dinner when I’m short on time.

Once you learn how to make taco meat, you’ll find yourself relying on it too.

My recipe for the BEST taco meat starts with crumbled ground beef or turkey. Beef is the traditional meat of choice for tacos but ground turkey is just as delicious. I often alternate between the two.

You can use whichever ground meat is available and convenient or try it both ways to find out which one you prefer in this recipe.

After starting to brown the meat in a skillet, sprinkle in your favorite taco seasoning or Mexican spice blend. I use my Homemade Taco Seasoning which includes chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and a dash of cayenne pepper.

To make this recipe even easier, you can mix together a big batch of taco seasoning in advance. Keep it in a mason jar in your spice cabinet so you’re ready to make tasty tacos at a moment’s notice. 

Once the meat is nice and browned, add a can of black beans and a can of corn and cook everything together until it’s all warmed up. Then you’re ready to scoop the meat into tacos, layer it on taco salad, stuff it into burritos or roll it in enchiladas.

There’s no limit to the number of delicious ways to enjoy this taco meat!

Leftovers keep well in the fridge for a couple of days and this meat freezes beautifully too.

I keep this taco meat in the freezer pretty much all the time, portioned into 1/2 cup servings. I can have lunch or dinner on the table with only a few minutes time to warm the taco meat from the freezer.

Taco Meat Recipes

The kids often use the pre-cooked taco meat to make Nachos for lunch.

This recipe is a basic foundation that’s delicious just as written or with whatever variations, add-ins or modifications you like. Feel free to play around with adding different veggies or spices.

I sometimes toss chopped onions in with the ground beef while it’s browning. Chopped roasted green chiles are another great add-in, especially if you like spice. Simply add them along with the beans and corn.

A handful of spinach tossed into the meat at the end of cooking is a fantastic way to get some more greens into your meal. This Beef, Black Bean, and Spinach Taco Meat is kid-approved as well!

How To Use Taco Meat

This Taco Meat Recipe is really the only one you need to cook some of the best tacos you’ve ever had. It tastes great in flour tortillas, corn tortillas, and crispy taco shells.

You can top this meat with whatever taco toppings and fillings your family enjoys. You can’t go wrong with a little shredded cheese, lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and salsa. Pico de Gallo, a simple homemade Mexican salsa, is another must-try topping for this taco meat.

Sour cream, Spicy Guacamole and some finely chopped cilantro are also delicious toppings.

Have you ever had tacos the way they’re served in many parts of Mexico? Spiced meat is placed on an open face corn tortilla and served with an array of garnishes on the side, including chopped raw onion, fresh lime wedges, cilantro, and plenty of varieties of salsa so that you can customize each taco to your liking.

One of my favorite taco meat meals is a big bowl of Taco Salad. (This Bacon and Egg Taco Salad is pretty amazing, but for a lightning-fast dinner, nothing beats swapping the eggs and bacon for a pan of this easy taco meat!)

It’s so satisfying to dig into a gigantic salad of spiced meat, veggies, cheese, and tortilla chips and a super fast and easy meal, especially if the meat is already made.

This Carnitas Salad is another awesome salad where you can simply swap in this spicy ground beef mixture for a FAST dinner that everyone will love.

This meat would be excellent scooped on top of this Crock-Pot Mac and Cheese that my friend Amanda makes. And so much tastier than your average chili mac!

A Taco Bowl is another fun idea for a quick dinner. It’s just like what it sounds: all the fillings of a taco served in a big bowl instead of inside shells or tortillas.

This taco meat is incredible in a bowl on top of Spanish Rice or Cilantro Lime Rice. I recommend skipping the fork altogether and scooping up the contents with tortilla chips!

Kitchen Tip: I use this skillet and this spatula to cook this recipe.

Taco Meat Recipe

  1. In a large, deep-sided skillet, cook and crumble the ground beef, sprinkling with the spices as it begins to brown.
  2. Drain any excess grease and add the beans and corn. Stir to combine.
  3. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, just to warm everything.
  4. Taste and adjust spices as needed.
  5. Serve immediately or let cool and portion into freezer-safe containers.

Ground Beef Tacos

This is how I make our favorite seasoned ground beef tacos with homemade taco seasoning on a weeknight in less than 15 minutes. This flavorful, easy, best ground beef taco meat is an quick dinner recipe for busy weeknights, and always a hit with the family!

An image of a pan of seasoned ground beef filling for ground beef tacos, surrounded by toppings.

Easy Weeknight Ground Beef Taco Meat

Ground beef tacos have always been one of my favorite dinners.

They aren’t impressive or fancy, but they are so satisfying and everybody loves them. I find that I never get tired of tacos!

We like to serve them with lots of thinly sliced iceberg lettuce and freshly shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole, maybe chopped red or green onions, and hard shell and soft shell flour tortillas. Sometimes pico de gallo and cilantro.

Basic, I know, but honestly, sometimes basic is just the best. Besides, it gives the deliciously seasoned ground beef taco meat a chance to really shine. Tacos are a go-to menu item for weeknights when I don’t really want to cook or didn’t plan ahead. I almost always have hamburger in the freezer that can be defrosted and turned into tacos in less than 15 minutes.

Perfect for weeknight tacos, taco salad, or on super nachos.

What ground beef is best for tacos?

I don’t like to use ground beef that is too lean for tacos. I think the best ground beef for taco meat is 80/20 lean, maybe 85/15 max.

The higher fat content gives much better flavor to the taco meat and helps it stay juicy. And you will drain the grease off the ground beef prior to adding the spices in the homemade taco seasoning.

You can use 90/10 ground beef, but I don’t find the taco meat to be as flavorful and good.

How much taco meat do you need per person?

If you are thinking about making taco meat for a crowd, this recipe can easily be multiplied for large groups. One batch makes enough for 8 tacos, as written, which is perfect for our family of four.

What spices are in taco seasoning?

  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • oregano
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • smoked paprika
  • crushed red pepper
  • chipotle chili powder
  • salt
  • black pepper
An image of the spices used to make homemade taco seasoning.
An image of homemade taco seasoning spice blend.

How to make taco meat for ground beef tacos

  1. Cook the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently and breaking up the meat until it is browned. Drain the grease.
  2. Add the spices, tomato paste, and water, stirring to combine. Decrease the heat to low and cover with a lid, then simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Serve with tortillas and your favorite taco fixings.
An image of a pound of ground beef next to homemade taco seasoning, tomato paste and water.
An image of a pan of browned ground beef with homemade taco seasoning and tomato paste.
An image of browned ground beef with homemade taco spice blend and tomato paste.

Another nice thing about this weeknight taco meat is that it is actually a dish that is easy for your kids to help with, as long as they are old enough to be safe around the stove.

My girls LOVE measuring things for me and that’s basically what goes into preparing taco meat. And I remember being tasked with browning hamburger meat for tacos many, many times as a kid since I was the oldest girl in a family of seven.

Clara can make these if I’m standing next to her prepping tomatoes and cheese and other taco fixings. She stirs and watches the meat turn from pink to brown and adds in the seasonings. It gives us time to work together side-by-side, which is always a good thing.

An image of ground beef seasoned taco filling with taco fixings next to it.

Basic Ground Beef Taco Meat Variations

  • Add half of a diced onion, a clove or two of minced garlic, or a chopped bell pepper to the pan with the ground beef before browning and saute them together.
  • Mix in a can of drained black beans to stretch the taco meat a little farther.
  • Add ½ teaspoon of cornstarch with the taco seasoning for a slightly saucier taco meat.
  • You can switch out the ground beef for ground turkey if you are looking for a healthier option.

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