Seasoned Ground Beef For Tacos

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The seasonings and spices listed below are for a basic seasoned ground beef for tacos. You can use these dry or use them with a wet marinade. If you do choose to use a wet marinade, allow your meat to marinate for at least 2-3 hours before cooking it. Typically I always lean towards using a wet marinade because it’s so easy but you’ll need to adjust the points accordingly.

Easy Ground Beef for Tacos Recipe

This Easy Ground Beef for Tacos is flavorful and juicy! Ready in just 20 minutes, this versatile meat is perfect to fill tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, empanadas, or whatever your heart desires.

Cooked Ground Beef for Tacos in a skillet  surrounded by taco toppings.

Quick And Easy Ground Beef Meat for Tacos Recipe

This kid-friendly Easy Ground Beef for Tacos isn’t just for tacos. This super versatile ground beef recipe, made with simple ingredients, is perfect for filling tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, empanadas, etc.

No store-bought taco seasoning is needed and it’s ready and just 20 minutes!

PRO TIP: Double (or even triple!) this recipe and use it to meal prep for meals for the whole week or freeze to use those days that you don’t have time to cook but still want something delicious and satisfying.

Mexican Style Ground Beef for Tacos in a skillet.

INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED

Amounts are included in the printable recipe below (scroll down). You’ll need:

  • Ground beef — 90-10% lean ground beef is ideal.
  • Onion — finely diced
  • Garlic cloves — minced
  • Chili powder — be sure to use American chili powder and not chile powder.
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Dried oregano
  • Cayenne pepper — or black pepper if you don’t like the heat.
  • Tomato paste
  • Beef broth
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Cilantro leaves
Ingredients needed to make ground beef for tacos.

HOW TO MAKE TACO MEAT

Detailed instructions are included in the printable recipe below (scroll down).

1 – BROWN THE BEEF

Heat a skillet (preferably nonstick) over high heat. When hot, place meat in the skillet and cook, using a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula to break up the ground beef into equal-size pieces as it cooks, until no longer pink.

2 — ADD THE AROMATICS

Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 2 -3 minutes.

Browned ground beef in a skillet.

3 — ADD THE SEASONING

Add paprika, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, tomato paste, and beef broth. Mix until everything is well combined. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the skillet and cook for 5 -8 minutes, or until most of the liquid is evaporated. Taste and add more salt if necessary

Browned ground beef in a skillet with spices

4 — GARNISH AND ENJOY

Garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired, and use to fill tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, empanadas, etc.

Cooked Ground Beef for Tacos in a white skillet with a white serving spoon.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS THE BEST MEAT TO USE FOR TACO MEAT?

I like to use 90-10% lean ground beef, this way, I skip the step of draining the fat released from the meat after browning it.

WHAT SPICES ARE IN TACO MEAT

Skip the packet seasoning! Seasoning meat for tacos is truly simple: onion, garlic, chili powder, paprika cumin, oregano, plus optional cayenne pepper for a kick of heat.

HOW MUCH TACO MEAT DO YOU NEED PER PERSON?

Two pounds of ground beef makes for around 8 servings/people with each serving being around 2-3 tacos.

HOW CAN I USE THIS GROUND MEAT RECIPE?

This Easy Ground Beef is perfect to fill tacos, tostadas, burritos, quesadillas, empanadas, and much more…

QUICK RECIPE TIPS

  • If you don’t have ground beef, you can also use ground pork, chicken, or turkey.
  • If you’re using beef that needs to be drained, keep in mind that it cannot be poured directly down the drain!
  • If you want your onions chopped finely but don’t want to chop them yourself, you can run them through a food processor.

STORING

You can make extra to enjoy throughout the week or freeze it for later. Here’s how to store leftover taco meats!

LEFTOVERS

To store leftover taco meat, let the meat cool then place leftover ground beef into an airtight container and refrigerate for up 3 days.

FREEZER

To freeze taco meat, let the meat cool then place leftover ground beef into an airtight container or a freezer Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Make sure is well sealed to avoid freezer burn on frozen taco meat.

REHEAT

When it comes time to use your ground beef, you can defrost in the microwave or in the refrigerator overnight. To warm it up, drizzle a couple of tablespoons of beef broth over the meat, place it in a skillet over medium-low heat, cover and heat to your liking.

Classic Ground Beef Tacos

Forget Taco Tuesday.  Make every night a taco night!  These Classic Ground Beef Tacos are easy to prepare and packed with flavor thanks to the seasoned ground beef.

Forget Taco Tuesday.  Make every night a taco night!  These Classic Ground Beef Tacos are easy to prepare and packed with flavor thanks to the seasoned ground beef.

As I’ve said a number of times before, a sandwich is only as good as the bread it’s made on.  Assuming that’s true, then we can extrapolate and say that a taco is only as good as the tortilla it’s made on.  Oh, who am I kidding?  Taco meat is delicious.  I’ll eat that straight from the pan!  But a good tortilla is still a worthwhile investment of 30 seconds.

Do you prefer flour or corn tortillas for tacos?  We go back and forth here in our house.  Sometimes it’s a flour tortilla night, sometimes it’s a corn tortilla night.  I do enjoy the doughy goodness of a flour tortilla, but what corn tortillas lack in doughy goodness, they make up for in toasty flavor.  The key is cooking that corn tortilla in a dry cast iron skillet for 20-30 seconds per side, or until the tortilla is lightly charred.

Forget Taco Tuesday.  Make every night a taco night!  These Classic Ground Beef Tacos are easy to prepare and packed with flavor thanks to the seasoned ground beef.

You do have to keep a close eye on the tortillas when cooking them, though.  When I was making these tacos, I put a corn tortilla in the skillet and then I turned to open that day’s mail.  I must’ve gotten distracted because all of a sudden I could smell the tortilla – and it wasn’t a good smell.  Sure enough, I burnt it.  Ugh.  No biggie in the grand scheme, but the point remains that you have to keep a close eye on them.

Classic Ground Beef Tacos

Several months back, I stumbled across a taco holder on clearance at the store.  Now why would a taco holder be on clearance?  It’s not like tacos ever go out of season!  Maybe it was a Wednesday, and the store was dumping taco holders following Taco Tuesday.  I have no idea.  No matter.  That taco holder ended up in my cart, and I went about my merry way.  (Normally I don’t go for unitasker kitchen items like a taco holder – but in this case I just felt like I needed a taco holder.  I’m sure you can identify with that feeling!)

Forget Taco Tuesday.  Make every night a taco night!  These Classic Ground Beef Tacos are easy to prepare and packed with flavor thanks to the seasoned ground beef.

Well that taco holder got pushed to the back of the cabinet where I forgot about it for a couple of months.  But then this past week I noticed it hiding back there…and all of a sudden I started craving tacos!  I figured what better way to put that taco holder into action than with a batch of Classic Ground Beef Tacos.  Seasoned beef.  Shredded lettuce.  Cheese.  Tomatoes.  Sour Cream.  Talk about a favorite comfort food!

The key to these Classic Ground Beef Tacos (aside from the tortilla discussion above) is how you cook the ground beef.  Sure, you can open one of those taco seasoning packets and dump it into the pan with some water.  Nice and easy.  We’ve done that (and still do that) on occasion.  But I have to say that taking the extra few minutes to make your own seasoned ground beef is well worth the time!

In this case, the seasoned ground beef for these Classic Ground Beef Tacos started with some onions + garlic and then a handful of various spices.  Ok, so far so good.  But the unusual piece is the tomato sauce.  We’re not making spaghetti sauce here – we’re making seasoned beef.  So what’s up with the tomato sauce?  That’s the thing – the ½ cup of tomato sauce adds a tangy depth of flavor without turning the beef into a sauce.  I also like to add ¼ cup of water or (if I have it around) chicken stock.  All together, you’ll end up with a seasoned ground beef that is perfect – and I mean perfect – for tacos!

Forget Taco Tuesday.  Make every night a taco night!  These Classic Ground Beef Tacos are easy to prepare and packed with flavor thanks to the seasoned ground beef.

So why not make it a taco night sometime this week?  This recipe is classic in the best way possible.  It reminds me of childhood.  It reminds me of being a bachelor.  It reminds me of when Laura and I first moved in together.  And it reminds me of, well, now.  (Clearly we just love tacos around here.)  I hope you enjoy these Classic Ground Beef Tacos as much as we do!

Classic Ground Beef Tacos

Forget Taco Tuesday.  Make every night a taco night!  These Classic Ground Beef Tacos are easy to prepare and packed with flavor thanks to the seasoned ground beef.

Prep Time:10 minutes

Cook Time:20 minutes

Total Time:30 minutes

Servings:  servings

Calories: 512kcal

Ingredients

For the Ground Beef

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ cup diced red onions
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 16 oz. lean ground beef
  • 2½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup low-sodium chicken or beef broth

For the Tacos

  • 12 6” corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • sour cream
  • diced red onions
  • chopped cilantro

Instructions

For the Ground Beef

  • Using a large nonstick skillet, add olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add diced onions and saute, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes. Add minced garlic, stir and continue sautéing for 1-2 more minutes.
  • Add ground beef, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
  • Add chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, onion powder and black pepper; stir until well combined. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 more minutes, or until beef is mostly cooked through.
  • Add tomato sauce and broth; stir until well combined. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until sauce has thickened noticeably.

For the Tacos

  • Meanwhile, place a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the tortillas (one at a time) and cook for about 15-30 seconds per side, or until lightly charred.
  • Spoon beef filling into each tortilla and top with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, diced red onions and/or chopped cilantro.

Ground Beef Taco Seasoning

There’s nothing more satisfying than using a homemade taco mix and thankfully it couldn’t be easier to create. This ground beef taco seasoning is definitely a keeper!

Small bowl with taco seasoning surrounded by measuring spoons

Homemade Ground Beef Taco Seasoning

9/10 times if I’m having tacos, it’s gonna be ground beef. It’s all too tempting to pick up one of those DIY taco kits you find in the supermarkets for beef tacos, but I’m here today to offer my two cents on why homemade is the best way.

Ground Beef Taco Seasoning Ingredients

  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Sugar
  • Cornstarch/Cornflour
  • Salt & Black Pepper

What is the difference between fajita and taco seasoning?

This article on the differences between fajita and taco seasoning sums things up perfectly. In essence, they’re both very similar, but fajita seasoning tends to be more acidic (to mimic the taste of lime) and taco seasoning tends to have more of a tomato flavour.

The differences I have made between the two is firstly to add slightly more onion powder in the taco seasoning. This is because I’ll almost always add fried onions to my fajitas and quesadillas, but rarely add them to my ground beef for tacos.

Secondly I add a little sugar, just to make a sweeter distinction from the fajita seasoning, which like I said tends to be more acidic.

Lastly, I add a little cornstarch/cornflour to my ground beef taco seasoning. I don’t know about you, but for me there’s nothing worse than dry beef taco meat. As such, adding a little liquid and a bit of cornstarch will create a glossy gravy, which’ll coat the beef and keep it saucy.

How to use Taco Seasoning with Ground Beef

Taco Seasoning with Cornstarch

If I’m adding cornstarch I’ll pour in about 1/2 cup of liquid to 1/2 tsp cornstarch. You can actually use the seasoning without cornstarch, in which case I’d just use your liquid as needed. Around 1/4 cup should stop the beef from drying out.

What to use Taco Seasoning for besides tacos?

  • Potato Wedges
  • Burritos
  • Soup
  • Salads
  • Roasted Veg
  • Pasta

How to make Ground Beef for Tacos (quick summary)

  1. Brown off the mince and add seasoning.
  2. Fry tomato puree for a minute or so.
  3. Pour in beef stock or water.
  4. Add cornstarch and simmer to thicken.
How to make Taco Mince - 4 step by step photos

How much taco seasoning does it take to make a pound of meat?

For 1lb/500g ground beef, I use 3 tbsp taco seasoning, which is how much this recipe makes.

Can you use fajita seasoning for tacos?

For all intents and purposes you can, but there are small differences, so do check out my Homemade Fajita Seasoning!

Can Taco Seasoning be used on chicken?

Absolutely! If you’re using shredded chicken just mix through the seasoning and follow the recipe for ground beef (just fry the chicken for 1-2mins to lock in the spices and heat through). If you’re using breast I recommend either making a marinade or rubbing straight on the breast (both of which I address in my Chicken Quesadillas).

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