How to Add Taco Seasoning to Ground Beef for Delicious Tacos

Tacos are a quick and easy dinner staple that can be customized in endless ways. While you can use store-bought taco seasoning packets, making your own homemade taco seasoning and adding it to ground beef results in tacos that are extra flavorful.

Here’s a simple guide to making incredible tacos by adding homemade or store-bought taco seasoning to ground beef:

Ingredients Needed

To make tacos, you’ll need:

  • Ground beef (or turkey, chicken, pork) – Most recipes call for 1 pound of ground meat. Leaner meats like 90% lean ground beef or ground turkey work well.

  • Taco seasoning – You can make your own or use 1 packet of store-bought seasoning per pound of meat.

  • Oil – For cooking the ground meat.

  • Water or broth – Adds moisture and flavor when cooking the seasoned meat.

  • Taco toppings – Shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, sour cream, etc.

  • Shells – Hard taco shells, soft tortillas, or taco salad bowls.

How to Cook Ground Beef for Tacos

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Cook the ground meat: Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.

  2. Drain excess grease: Drain the cooked beef and discard any excess grease.

  3. Add taco seasoning: Add the homemade or 1 packet of store-bought taco seasoning and stir to coat the beef.

  4. Add water/broth: Pour in 1⁄2 cup of water or broth and stir. This adds moisture and extra flavor.

  5. Simmer: Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 5 more minutes to allow flavors to blend.

  6. Assemble tacos: Spoon the seasoned taco meat into taco shells or tortillas. Top with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, etc.


  • For perfectly crumbled meat, switch from a spoon to a potato masher towards the end of cooking. Gently “mash” the meat to break it up evenly.

  • For extra flavor, use low-sodium beef broth instead of water.

  • Add a spoonful of tomato paste or salsa when cooking for even more depth.

  • Top your tacos with sliced avocado, salsa, jalapeños, cilantro, hot sauce, etc. Get creative!

How to Make Homemade Taco Seasoning

Making your own taco seasoning allows you to control the flavor and skip added preservatives and salt.

This recipe makes enough for 1 pound of ground beef:

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or less to taste)
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper

Simply mix the spices together in a small bowl. Use 2 tablespoons of the mixture per pound of ground beef when cooking. Store leftover seasoning in an airtight container.

Toppings and Serving Suggestions


  • Shredded lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded cheese (cheddar, Mexican blend)
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Jalapeños
  • Olives
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Hot sauce


  • Hard taco shells or soft tortillas
  • Taco salad – taco meat served over lettuce
  • Nachos – with taco meat, cheese, beans, etc.
  • Tacos – fold into soft tortillas
  • Tostadas – flat crisp corn tortillas
  • Burritos or chimichangas
  • Taco bowls
  • Walking tacos – taco meat served in small bags of chips

So simple yet so versatile! Adding taco seasoning to ground beef is an easy way to put tasty tacos on the table any night of the week. Experiment with fun toppings and serving methods for exciting variations.

How To Make: Ground Meat for Tacos with Old El Paso Taco Seasoning


Do you add taco seasoning before or after cooking ground beef?

Once the beef is cooked, you want to cook it with the seasoning and liquid on medium low and just until the sauce starts to thicken. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t dry out. Heat up the tortillas before adding the ground beef on top. You can heat them up in the microwave, oven or on a skillet for 1-2 minutes per side.

Do you need to add water to taco seasoning?

Taco seasonings & spices need water as a medium for making sure the taco seasoning is mixed evenly with the meat. Some people also prefer not to use water since it brings out more flavor from the meat, especially when the taco meat has enough oil or fat.

Do you add taco seasoning before or after draining?

Add the homemade taco seasoning mix to your taco meat AFTER you have cooked (and drained, if necessary) your taco meat. Do you add water to taco meat? You can add water to your taco meat but I much prefer adding a 1/2 cup of low sodium beef broth (or stock) for maximum flavor!

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