How To Make Beef For Tacos

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Today we’re going to learn how to make beef for tacos! Tacos are awesome, but the meat that you buy from the store is not. You can, however, buy a roast and make it just like I show you in the video above. Tacos are one of the fastest meals to prepare, especially if you use rotisserie chicken. Fajita meat is also an option, but I use taco calories to make the cheese dip. Meet my family’s favorite tacos.

Beef Tacos

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 45 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients

Beef:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, diced 

2 pounds ground beef 

1/2 teaspoon chili powder 

1/2 teaspoon cumin 

1/2 teaspoon paprika 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Fixins:

20 fajita-sized flour tortillas

18 hard taco shells

1 pound Cheddar-Jack cheese, grated 

15 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 head green leaf lettuce, shredded Add to Shopping List

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. For the beef: In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and onions. Cook until starting to soften, then add the ground beef. Cook the meat until it’s totally browned, then drain the fat. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup hot water and stir. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. For the fixins: Meanwhile, wrap the flour tortillas in foil and warm in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Right before serving, crisp the taco shells in the oven according to package instructions.
  4. Serve with the grated cheese, diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce.

Tex-Mex beef tacos

  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:5 mins
    • Cook:20 mins
  • Easy
  • Serves 6

For a relaxed, pick-and-mix supper combine this easy beef taco recipe with your favourite salsas, sides and toppings. Our tex-mix tacos are a crowd-pleaser

  • Freezable
HighlightNutrientUnit
kcal383
fat21g
saturates4g
carbs29g
sugars1g
fibre2g
protein22g
low insalt1.17g

Ingredients

  • 500g pack lean minced beef
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 4 garlic cloves , crushed
  • 1 ½ tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • pinch chilli flakes
  • 24 taco shells

Method

  • STEP 1Heat a large frying pan until very hot, then brown the mince. Remove, then season with salt and pepper. Add the oil to the pan and fry the garlic, oregano and spices for 1 min until fragrant. Return the beef to the pan and toss well, then cook for 2-3 mins until hot through. Warm the taco shells following the pack instructions and serve with the beef.

Baked Beef Tacos

Beef Tacos – the old school way!!! With juicy seasoned beef taco meat and crispy shells, this taco recipe is made with a simple yet flavour packed homemade taco seasoning that truly tastes like store bought.

I like to BAKE my tacos to crisp the shells and melt the cheese before piling on the fresh toppings. Because melted cheese wins over unmelted cheese every day!

Close up of Beef Taco recipe, fresh out of the oven, with taco meat and melted cheese

Totally un-authentic Beef Taco Recipe!

You will never find ground beef / mince tacos in Mexico. Authentic beef tacos are either sliced seared steaks (like Carne Asada), or marinated beef chopped into thin strips that are pan fried to get golden crispy edges (taqueria style), or slow-cooked and shredded into sauce like this Shredded Beef Mexican Beef and Beef Barbacoa.

So beef mince tacos, the single most popular type of taco meat made in million and millions of households the world over, is totally un-authentic.

And that’s absolutely ok. We love them anyway – and we will always love them!

Bake them!

This is how I make my old school beef tacos – BAKING them to melt the cheese and crisp the tacos shells. I don’t know if that’s “normal”, but I’ll take any opportunity to melt cheese when appropriate.

Let me put it this way – if I had a choice of a cold slice of cheese slapped on bread, or a grilled cheese sandwich with gooey cheese oozing out the sides, I know which one I’d choose.

And you?? 

Homemade taco seasoning

Skip the packet seasoning! It truly is quite incredible how simple it is to make homemade taco seasoning. Garlic, onion, cumin, paprika, oregano plus optional cayenne pepper for a touch of heat.

Just pure, normal spices and herbs – no scary sounding ingredients you can’t pronounce like maltodextrin, silicon dioxide and ethoxyquin that you’ll find in packets of store bought!! (Yes really, just Google “Old El Paso taco seasoning ingredients”)

This taco seasoning mix is a terrific staple to add to your arsenal for all things Tex Mex, from Quesadillas to Burritos, Enchiladas to Taco Soup (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, it’s amazing!). While stores sell different seasonings for each of these, essentially they have the same flavour base which is the Taco Seasoning mix used in this recipe.

Ingredients for the BEST Taco Meat

The taco meat

The taco meat recipe as written is my base recipe made with just beef and onion, and it will stuff 10 tacos generously or 12 normal size tacos.

Add vegetables

Add vegetables for extra nutrition and make one batch go further. Capsicum/bell peppers, corn, black beans, zucchini, to name a few. If you add vegetables, scale up the homemade taco seasoning using the recipe scaler (click on servings and slide up).

Old school taco toppings

There’s a plethora of taco topping options, but today I’m sticking with the old school way: shredded cheese, taco sauce (optional), iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion and even sour cream.

That’s right folks. We’re going Tex-Mex all the way. No fancy salsas, no authentic chilli sauces, no Mexican pickles.

Pile on that shredded cheese and sour cream!

Beef Taco Filling and Toppings

Just to be clear – baking the tacos with the filling and cheese is totally optional.

If you’re not a Melted-Cheese-Monster, by all means feel free to serve it the normal way – bake the empty taco shells then lay it all out for people to stuff themselves. 

Close up of Beef Taco recipe, fresh out of the oven, with taco meat and melted cheese

Old School Beef Taco recipe

Servings4

Tap or hover to scale

Recipe video above. Beef tacos – the old school way! A juicy beef filling stuffed in crispy taco shells. For the real old school experience, go with shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato and sour cream! I like to BAKE my shells with the taco meat and cheese for molten goodness, but this is optional. If you skip it, just bake the empty shells per packet directions. SCALE UP the seasonings and add vegetables to make the filling stretch further!

Ingredients

  • ▢10 to 12 crispy taco shells (“stand and stuff) OR soft tortillas of choice (Note 1)

BEEF TACOS:

  • ▢1 tbsp oil
  • ▢2 garlic cloves , minced
  • ▢1 onion , finely chopped
  • ▢500 g / 1 lb beef , ground / mince (Note 2)
  • ▢2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ▢1/4 cup / 65ml water

HOMEMADE TACO SEASONING:

  • ▢1 tsp EACH garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano
  • ▢2 tsp EACH cumin powder, paprika
  • ▢1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust spiciness to taste, can skip)
  • ▢1 tsp salt
  • ▢1/4 tsp black pepper

TOPPINGS:

  • ▢Shredded cheese (Note 3)
  • ▢Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • ▢2 tomatoes , chopped
  • ▢1/2 red or white onion , chopped
  • ▢Sour cream
  • ▢Taco sauce (optional)
  • ▢Other: coriander/cilantro , jalapeño, hot sauce / chilli sauce, pickled chillies, salsa sauce, pico de gallo

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

BEEF FILLING:

  • Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and onion – cook 2 minutes until golden.
  • Add beef and cook for 2 minutes, breaking it up as you go, until it changes from red to light brown.
  • Add Taco Seasonings and cook for 2 minutes until beef is cooked through.
  • Add tomato paste and water. Cook for 1 minute or until water is evaporated and you’re left with a juicy not not watery beef filling.

BAKE (OPTIONAL):

  • Place taco shells in a baking pan (I can fit 10 in). Fill with taco meat, top with cheese.
  • Bake 5 to 7 minutes until cheese is melted by which time the shells with be crispy.

SERVE:

  • Serve tacos hot, straight out of the oven. Lay out toppings and sauces of choice on the table and let everyone assemble their own!

Recipe Notes:

1. Taco Shells – whatever taco shells or tortillas you use, warm them! Taco shells should be baked until crispy (they are kind of chewy and bendy straight out of the packet) and tortillas only need 20 seconds or so in the microwave (or wrap in foil and bake 5 to 10 minutes)

2. Meat – I usually use lean. If you use fatty beef, you can drain excess fat before adding Seasoning. Can also use chicken, turkey, pork.

3. Cheese – Monterey Jack is my favourite, then cheddar, tasty, pepper jack. Australia – Monterey Jack is now sold at Aldi, sometimes at Costco! Use to be sold at Harris. Melts like mozzarella, tasty like cheddar, non greasy. It’s my fave.

4. Nutrition for 3 tacos, including crispy taco shell, meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion.

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