How To Cook Ground Beef For Tacos


As the title suggests, this article is going to show you how to cook ground beef for tacos. If you are tired of eating the same old tacos with stale taco shells and canned refried beans, then this article is for you. There are many ways to cook ground beef for tacos. We’re going to go over some of the most popular methods in this post!

Ground Beef for Tacos

Very quick and easy way to make meat for tacos, or served over rice. My husband loved this — it was a last minute meal idea!!! Enjoy!!


Ground Beef for Tacos

Recipe Summary


5 mins


20 mins


25 mins




4 servings


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Original recipe yields 4 servingsIngredient Checklist

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • ⅔ cup cold water


Instructions Checklist

  • Step 1In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef with onion; drain fat.
  • Step 2Stir in ketchup, taco seasoning, and cold water. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Ground Beef For Tacos

Today I’m going to show you how to cook ground beef for tacos. If you’ve never made it before, you’ll be thrilled with how incredibly easy it is. It only takes about ten minutes to whip up a batch of ground beef taco meat. Then it’s ready to serve in tacos, taco salads, on tostadas or nachos – however you want to enjoy it. You can even freeze it to use later on!

Reasons you’ll love this recipe:

Everyone needs a good recipe for quick classic taco meat.

It’s incredibly versatile. You can use it in tacos, taco salad, taco pie, wrap it up in flour tortillas to make burritos, or even just eat it straight!

Cook now and enjoy later. Make a batch now and you can enjoy it throughout the week, or freeze to enjoy it later. It’s great to have on hand for super fast dinners.

Seasonings just the way you want them. Some like it hot, some do not. When you make your own taco meat, it’s easy to adjust it to be just the way you want it.

This is a very flexible recipe. You can swap the beef for turkey, leave out the corn, add in black beans – it’s very easy to get creative with this recipe.

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How To Cook Ground Beef For Tacos

This is such a quick and easy recipe, that we will keep this post short and simple. One of the greatest things about this recipe, aside from the fantastic taste, and the fact it’s super easy to make, is that the ingredients are really flexible. Think of this recipe for ground beef for tacos as a starting point, one that you can make your own.

Ground Beef Taco Ingredients

This is an overview of the ingredients you will need to make this easy ground beef for tacos recipe. Important notes and substitutions for certain ingredients are discussed. The full printable recipe, with amounts and specific details, can be found at the bottom of the page.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Ground Beef – When it comes to ground beef for tacos, I like to use 80-85% lean beef. That little bit of fat goes a long way with the flavor in tacos. That said you could also use ground turkey or even ground chicken in this recipe. When I’ve made it with ground turkey, I usually increase the seasoning a bit as the turkey simply doesn’t have as much flavor as beef does.
  • Corn – We are a bit of a family divided when it comes to having corn in taco meat. If you like it, like I do, add it in. Sometimes you can even find fire roasted corn which is perfect. I like that corn is a great way to make the taco meat go a bit further. That said, if you aren’t a fan of corn in your tacos, then simply leave it out. If using frozen corn, bring it to room temperature by placing it in a strainer and running it under hot water.
  • Salsa – Use whichever salsa your family enjoys – ready made or a favorite recipe. The type of salsa you use can really influence the level of heat in the tacos.
  • Taco Seasoning – if you don’t have taco seasoning, you can make your own. A quick recipe is to use a tablespoon of chili powder (this is my favorite) and then add in 1/4 teaspoon of each of the following: garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, salt and ground cumin.

Easy Ground Beef Tacos

Ground Beef Tacos are the perfect dish for easy weeknight dinners. This quick taco recipe is not only tasty but it uses spices you likely have on hand!

Add your favorite toppings like guacamole and pico de gallo and serve in soft or crisp taco shells (or add the taco meat to lettuce for an easy taco salad)!

Ground beef tacos on a wooden board with cheese tomatoes and lettuce on the side

Quick Beef Tacos

Traditional Mexican tacos are one of my all time favorite foods and the thing I search out the minute I land in Mexico! I often fill them with either carnitas or salsa crockpot chicken but when I’m home we make ground beef tacos!

Tacos are a terrific way to stretch your meal budget. For a family of four or five, you can get by with just a pound of ground beef.

How Much Ground Beef Per Person for Tacos?  Considering that it takes 2 ounces of filling max, per shell (about 4 tablespoons, or ¼ of a cup), a single pound can make up to eight tacos. If you add diced onion, cilantro tomato rice, beans or other fillings, you could make a pound of taco meat stretch even more.

Ground beef and seasoning in a pan for ground beef tacos

Favorite Taco Seasoning

The great thing about tacos is that you can whip up a big batch of homemade taco seasoning to have on hand for a quick meal and it’s the perfect way to season homemade taco meat!

Taco seasoning is a mélange of classic Mexican herbs and spices (and you can add a little heat if you’d like). Ingredients include chili powder, garlic and onion powders, ground cumin, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. If you are short on time, use prepared taco seasoning.

Toppings for Tacos

Fill the warm shells with meat and serve with your choice of toppings. Wondering what to serve with tacos? An array of toppings including shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce. Sour cream and guacamole, sliced jalapenos and salsa are also great on ground beef tacos. Cilantro, olives… the sky’s the limit!

Sides to serve with ground beef tacos with Cilantro Lime Rice and beans for complete and hearty meal.

Ground beef tacos on a wooden board

How to Make Tacos

Ground beef tacos are super simple, especially if you make your taco seasoning in advance. Tacos are literally as easy as 1,2,3!!

  1. Brown Beef: Brown the ground beef over medium-high heat (I sometimes add diced onion and garlic too). I like to use a lean (but not extra lean) beef (85/15) to get a bit of flavor from the fat. Drain any fat before adding seasonings.
  2. Add Seasoning: Add the tomato paste, water and taco seasonings, and simmer until thickened. The water rehydrates the spices and allows the sauce to coat every morsel of the meat.
  3. Heat Taco Shells: Hard shells should go in the oven (to make them crisp and warm) and soft shells can be cooked either in the oven or microwave.

You can also serve this over a bed of lettuce to make a great Taco Salad!

Ground beef in a pan

To Make Tacos Ahead of Time

You can definitely make taco filling ahead of time! It will keep in the freezer for up to four months, or in the refrigerator for up to four days!

Batch Cook: A good way to make use of those family packs of ground beef is to batch cook taco meat. You can prepare several pounds at once and freeze what you don’t use.

Freeze: Separate into freezer bags or containers, and you’ll have taco filling at your fingertips. I do some single portions for lunches and some family sized portions.

Reheat: Reheat the meat in a frying pan (add a splash of water so it doesn’t dry out) or in the microwave. Frozen taco meat makes a great (and super easy) Taco Soup as well!

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