How To Brown Ground Beef For Tacos


What is the best method on how to brown ground beef for tacos? Some people make the assumption that when cooking beef for tacos, you should only put the freezer bag on high heat and let it sit. While this will certainly cook your tacos, it won’t render the oils from the meat evenly throughout your taco meat. The key to getting even browning on your ground beef is patience.

How To Brown Hamburger For Tacos?

Brown the Meat

  1. In a pan (ideally nonstick), brown the ground beef over medium-high heat until it is no longer pink in the center.
  2. Cooking oil should be added.
  3. Browning ground beef on a stovetop should take around 7 to 10 minutes per pound of meat, depending on the stovetop.
  4. The next step is to drain the fat from the ground beef once it has been properly browned.

How to make ground beef tacos?

Tacos de carne de res (ground beef tacos) Cook the ground beef as follows: Cook the ground beef in a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat, breaking it up as it cooks, until it is browned. Combine the following ingredients: Combine the ingredients for the homemade taco seasoning, tomato paste, and water in a large mixing bowl.

What is the best meat to use to make tacos?

1 pound ground beef: For these tacos, lean ground beef is preferred since it has less fat and more tender meat. 2 Homemade Taco Seasoning: This is a simple recipe that may be stored in an airtight jar for up to several weeks. 3 Tomato Paste: A thick and rich sauce that enhances the flavor and texture of the beef flesh tremendously. There are more items.

How do you brown ground beef on the stove?

An astounding 506,408 people have read this article! Start by coating a frying pan with nonstick cooking spray and heating it over medium high heat until the ground beef is browned on the stovetop. Place the beef in a skillet and brown it for 3 minutes before flipping it over with a spatula to finish cooking it.

What does it mean to brown ground beef?

  1. Browning ground beef is a method of cooking the meat and removing the fat before using the meat in meals such as tacos or chili, among other things.
  2. The most usual method of cooking beef is on the stovetop, although it is also possible to cook it quickly in the microwave.
  3. Browning ground beef is straightforward, and it may result in ground beef that is crisp and tasty no matter which method you choose.

Air Fryer Taco Meat (Air Fryer Ground Beef Recipe + VIDEO!)

Can you air fry taco meat? Yes indeed! You can brown meat in an air fryer, and the process is more hands off than using a skillet. This air fryer ground beef recipe cooks in only 5 minutes! Use your air fryer taco meat to make the best taco bowls, or try it in air fryer ground beef tacos. You’re going to love how quick, easy, and versatile making air fried beef mince is.

air fryer ground beef bowls

Getting bored of burgers but have some ground beef (AKA beef mince) on hand? Let’s make air fryer taco beef! It’s packed with protein and is perfect for making beef and black bean taco bowls.

I’m going to give you a recipe for a homemade taco seasoning mix. It’s a lower sodium option than what’s in most taco seasoning packets from the store. That said, you’re welcome to use a store-bought pack of taco seasoning if you need that shortcut.

We’re using lean ground beef in this recipe, an option that even mainstream organizations like the AHA approve. There’s generally no reason to fear or completely avoid nutrient-rich whole foods like beef.

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That’s GREAT news, IMVHO. You know I’m all about living an overall healthy lifestyle while continuing to enjoy delicious foods. Beefy taco bowls and tacos definitely count as not-to-be-missed in my book.

The air fryer is a nice little shortcut that’s going to help you cook the beef quicker than using a skillet. However, I’m still going to provide skillet directions for the folks who don’t have an air fryer. (And I hope you can get an air fryer soon, because it’s seriously one of my favorite kitchen appliances ever. Love it.)Jump to:

📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein

One serving of Air Fryer Taco Meat has 209 calories, 0.7-gram net carbs, and 22.4 grams protein. This is for the ground beef with homemade taco seasoning only, and does not include other taco toppings.


Why make ground beef in the air fryer? Here are some reasons I think you’ll love this recipe:

  • Easy to customize: You can flavor up this air fried ground beef any way you’d like if you don’t want taco meat. Add BBQ seasoning, steak seasoning, liquid smoke, Cajun spice, or anything else that sounds good.
  • Enjoy beef with no oven: This is a great recipe for summer, as you don’t need to heat the house with the oven. Plus, it’s quick- the ground beef air fries in only 5 minutes!
  • Lower fat: When you air fry ground beef, fat drips away as it cooks. In a skillet, the beef sits in the fat and isn’t drained off (unless you make the effort to do so).
  • Keto, low carb: A serving of air fryer taco meat has less than 1 gram net carb per serving. It’s a great fit for very low carb diets.
  • Gluten free: This air fryer ground beef recipe is gluten free. Those with celiac disease, NCGS, and wheat allergy can enjoy this one.
  • Nutritious: Beef is a rich natural food source of bioavailable heme iron. It also offers a range of other essential nutrients that result in serious consequences when under-consumed, such as zinc.
  • Delicious: This air fryer recipe is an easy way to add protein to a variety of tasty meals. Burritos, tacos, salads, soups, stews, and casseroles can all be made more delicious with this air fryer beef.

🥘 Ingredients

You need three main ingredients to make air fryer taco meat:

  • Lean ground beef (I used 90/10 ground beef)
  • Taco seasoning
  • Water
air fryer taco meat ingredients

I make my own taco seasoning with chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. It’s a good way to control the sodium if you are on a low-sodium diet. (It’s also tastier to make your own, but that’s just IMHO.)

If you’d like to join me in creating yummy taco salad bowls with the beef, you’ll also need the following:

ground beef taco bowls ingredients
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Black beans
  • Chopped tomato
  • Roasted corn (thawed from frozen)
  • Chopped avocado
  • Lime juice
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Pickled jalapeno
  • Sliced scallions
  • Salsa

To cook the beef in a skillet, you’ll also need cooking oil spray. If you’ll be air frying beef, no cooking spray is needed.

🍽 Equipment

To make ground beef in an air fryer, you’ll need an air fryer and a metal spatula. If you’re doing the stovetop method, you’ll need a cast-iron skillet.

I use a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven to develop my air fryer recipes. If you’re using a Ninja Foodi, Cosori, Pampered Chef Air Fryer, Actifry, Nuwave, Instant Vortex, Cuisinart, Philips, Power Air Fryer, or other air fryer, you may need to make slight adjustments to the cooking time.

My air fryer oven has two baking trays, and I only needed to use one for this recipe. If your air fryer basket has larger holes than my air fryer rack, the meat crumbles may fall through. If you’re having this issue, you may want to cook the beef in an air fryer-safe pan instead of directly in the basket.

🔪 How to Make Air Fryer Taco Meat

Let’s air fry ground beef! Start by preheating your air fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190C) for 5 minutes.

Crumble the raw ground beef and put it on a hot air fryer tray. Carefully put the tray back in the air fryer (top rack for air fryer ovens).

️⏲ Cooking Time and Temperature

How long to cook ground beef in an air fryer? What temp to cook ground beef in air fryer? It took a total of 5 minutes in an air fryer preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190C) to air fry ground beef.

Start by air frying the beef for 4 minutes. This will make mostly brown hamburger meat.

Chop the beef crumbles up even smaller with a metal spatula (or use clean hands), and put the beef back in the air fryer. Air fry for 1 more minute at 375F (190C).

The safe internal temp for ground beef is 160F (71C). To be honest, I never use a meat thermometer for taco meat, I just make sure it is cooked until well-browned.

You can stop at this point in the recipe and use your air fryer ground beef however you’d like. To make air fryer taco meat, put the beef in a medium-sized bowl.

Add ¼ cup water and taco seasoning to the cooked ground beef. Stir, and it’s ready to use. To make taco bowls, follow the directions provided in the recipe card below!

Stovetop directions: Brown the beef over medium heat in a skillet that has been lightly misted with cooking spray. As it cooks, add the taco seasoning. Break the beef up with the spatula to form crumbles and fully incorporate the spices.

As the beef begins to dry out, add ½ cup water. Keep cooking until the water has mostly evaporated. Take the skillet off of the heat.

🌡️ Leftovers

You can keep leftover cooked taco meat in the fridge in a covered container for 3-4 days. Leftover ground beef also freezes well (vacuum seal it or put it in a freezer bag with the air pressed out). When reheated, it can be used in air fryer tacos, burritos, salads, soups, stews, and casseroles.

💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian

This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Air fryer taco beef is a lean beef option to add protein to your meals. If you make the taco bowl salad recipe, you’ll have a light and filling meal that’s under 550 calories.

If you have higher energy needs, add whole grain crackers or croutons to your taco salad. You’ll add some additional B vitamins, fiber, and have all of your food groups covered. Alternatively, serve the air fryer taco meat in taco shells with classic taco fixings.

When you serve tacos, you’re getting a relatively large serving of grains and small servings of protein and veggies. With salad bowls, you can really pile on the low-calorie ingredients that can help keep you full. (That would be lean proteins and veggies with minimal added oil.)

Back when I was on my weight loss journey, I would typically make myself a taco salad bowl on taco night. It’s an easy way to create a healthy and filling meal.

Plus, you’re less likely to have leftover veggies like you might when using them as taco filling. I know we can’t be the only ones with tons of leftover shredded lettuce after making tacos. Taco bowls are a great way to use it so it doesn’t end up spoiling in the fridge!


Can you cook frozen ground beef in an air fryer?

Yes, you can defrost ground beef in an air fryer and cook it. Thaw the ground beef in an air fryer preheated to 350F (175C) for 6 minutes (top rack). Then crumble the beef and follow the directions in this air fryer ground beef recipe.

Can you make taco meat in an Instant Pot?

Yes, you can make Instant Pot taco meat using the “high saute” setting of the Instant Pot. Leave the lid off the Instant Pot during cooking, and follow the stovetop directions for this recipe.

Can you put taco shells in the air fryer?

Yes, you can air fry taco shells. Just like when you put them in the oven, you need to watch them closely so they don’t burn. Try air frying hard taco shells from the store for 3-5 minutes at 350F (175C).

How to season ground beef?

If you don’t like taco seasoning, feel free to season your air fryer ground beef however you’d prefer. Aside from adding herbs and spices, you also could stir in barbecue sauce, salsa, steak sauce, or teriyaki sauce.

Is ground beef healthy?

I would consider ground beef a healthy choice in the sense that it is a nutritious whole food. Ground beef is rich in protein and certain essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. For those that are looking to lower their intake of saturated fat, extra lean ground beef (96/4) is available.


The best taco meat recipe starts with ground beef, a delicious homemade taco seasoning, and a little broth. This homemade taco meat is healthy, easy to make, and the perfect way to enjoy ground beef tacos at home! 

Pan full of homemade taco meat

There are very few things that my 7-year-old will eat but one of them is taco meat. Not tacos actually in tortillas or a taco shell but the meat. 

Easy Homemade Taco Meat Recipe

Because of that, we’ve had to come up with the best taco meat recipe ever so that the meat tastes good even without all of the toppings! 

This homemade taco meat is our family’s favorite and a great addition to tacos, quesadillas, burritos, burrito bowls – you name it! 

We very rarely use packets of seasonings these days after trying Whole 30 a few years back. But honestly, it’s more about the taste.

I just think homemade taco seasoning tastes better. A lot better.

It’s also better for you. This recipe is also very lifestyle friendly – gluten-free, paleo, Keto, Whole 30 you name it! 

What Is Taco Meat Made Out Of? 

There are really only a few ingredients in this taco meat recipe. I’ve broken out the taco seasoning spices below. Other than the taco seasoning, you’ll also need to have these ingredients on hand to make the homemade taco meat.

  • Ground beef
  • Salt
  • Chicken broth or bone broth 

What’s In Homemade Taco Seasoning? 

The reason this is the best taco meat recipe is because the taco seasoning mixture we use is so good! You could make the seasoning up and store it for the future or you can just add what you need to make these tacos right now! 

For the taco seasoning, you’ll need to have these spices available. 

  • Cumin
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili powder
  • Oregano
  • Smoked paprika 
Spices for the best taco meat recipe

How Do You Make Taco Meat From Scratch? 

One of the most important parts of this taco meat recipe is how you make it. How you make it will determine whether you have dry meat or meat with a little moisture left. 

It’ll also change whether or not the ground beef captures the flavor of the taco seasoning well or just a little. 

Here’s how you make this taco meat from scratch!

1 – Cook The Ground Beef

The first step in making sure your taco meat is seasoning properly is to add salt and garlic to both sides of the ground beef before you cook it. If you’re using a block of meat, cut the block of meat in half and salt both sides of both halves of the block. 

Then cook the ground beef on medium to medium-high heat depending on how how your stove cooks. 

The best way we’ve found to cook the meat is to cook for two minutes on one side, flip and cook for another two minutes, then break up the meat and cook until the meat is browned. 

Pan full of homemade taco meat

2 – Add The Taco Seasoning

While the meat is browning, combine your spices to make the homemade taco seasoning. 

Once the meat is browned, sprinkle the seasoning over the mix and cook for one more minute to let the flavors sink in.

Adding spices to homemade taco meat

3 – Add The Broth And Simmer

Add the broth, reduce the heat, and allow the meat to simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes. The goal is to simmer most of the liquid away so you’re left with the best taco meat. Taco meat that’s flavorful, moist, and perfect for your favorite Mexican dishes! 

Adding broth to homemade taco meat

Taco Meat Recipe FAQs

I’ve had a lot of the same questions about this recipe so I’ve included answers to some of the more popular questions and comments below. If you have others, please feel free to leave comments, and I’ll do my best to answer quickly! 

Is Taco Meat Whole 30 Or Keto Friendly? 

Yes! We added this taco meat to our Whole 30 meal plan all the time! The only thing you need to adjust is to make sure that you’re using chicken bone broth instead of chicken broth. 

How Long Will This Taco Meat Recipe Keep In The Fridge?

One of the best things about this taco meat recipe is that you can actually make a bunch of taco meat once and then use it in various recipes throughout the week. The taco meat keeps in the fridge for 4-5 days and then I’d probably toss it and make up a new batch.

So you could have regular tacos for dinner Sunday night, taco salad for lunch on Monday, and then taco stuffed baked potatoes for dinner on Tuesday night! Just double it if you plan on using it all week long.

Homemade taco meat in a tortilla

Can You Freeze Cooked Taco Meat? 

Yes, you can freeze this in an airtight container. To thaw, simply heat the taco meat with a little broth in a pan over the stovetop. 

When Do You Season The Taco Meat? 

There are two parts to seasoning the meat. You’ll want to add salt to the ground beef before browning as the first step in seasoning. Then second, you’ll add the actual taco seasoning spices to the ground beef once browned. 

This is the best absolute homemade taco meat, perfect for filling tacos, enchiladas, tostadas and more! All from scratch, no packet seasonings allowed!

When Do You Drain The Taco Meat? 

Whether or not you need to drain the taco meat depends on what kind of ground beef you’re using. If you’re using one with a higher fat content like 80/20, you may want to drain the ground beef after it’s browned and before adding in the seasonings. 

We typically use a 93/7 or 85/15 ground beef and with that low fat content, we don’t normally drain the taco meat at all. The fat actually adds flavor and a lot of the liquid simmers out. 

What To Serve With Taco Meat? 

Any Mexican side dish would work great with this taco meat! Our favorite is this coconut rice! Or I mean tacos are kind of an entire meal in themselves when you use this taco meat with a tortilla, cheese, and veggies! 

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