How to Make Delicious Taco Beef for Tacos and More

Taco night is a regular occurrence in many households. There’s just something irresistible about warm, spiced taco beef piled high on tortillas or tucked into taco shells. While you can always rely on store-bought taco seasoning packets, homemade taco beef is incredibly easy to make. With just a few ingredients and basic steps, you’ll have flavorful taco meat ready in less than 30 minutes.

Keep reading to learn all about how to make juicy, well-seasoned taco beef at home. We’ll cover tips for choosing the right ground beef, putting together your own signature spice blend, cooking techniques, and fun ways to use taco beef beyond just tacos. With this guide, you’ll be an expert on whipping up the best beef for Taco Tuesdays and other Mexican food nights.

Selecting Ground Beef for Taco Meat

The first step in making great taco beef is choosing the right cut of beef. Look for one of these optimal ground beef options:

  • Ground chuck – This cut comes from the shoulder/neck region. It has nice fat marbling that keeps taco meat juicy.

  • Ground sirloin – Cut from the hindquarters, sirloin is very lean yet still flavorful.

  • Ground round – Taken from the hind leg, round has excellent lean-to-fat ratio.

  • Ground beef – This standard option mixes meat from different cuts.

  • Ground bison or Wagyu beef – For an upgrade, try these richer-tasting ground meats.

For optimal moisture and flavor, choose ground beef with an 80/20 or 85/15 lean-to-fat ratio. Fattier blends add juiciness that works well for tacos.

Look for bright red, fresh-looking ground beef without brown spots or an off-putting smell. Premium beef makes a big difference, so skip those discounted packs of grey mystery meat!

Seasoning Ground Beef for Tacos

Now for the fun part – making a flavorful homemade taco seasoning! With the right blend of spices, it’s easy to produce amazing taco meat without packaged mixes.

These seasoning combinations make excellent taco beef:

Classic Taco Seasoning

  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Tex-Mex Taco Seasoning

  • Cumin
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Oregano
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cocoa powder
  • Ground coriander

Southwestern Taco Seasoning

  • Chili powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Ground chipotle chile
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Cumin
  • Dried oregano

Play around with different proportions of spices to create your perfect taco beef. Add a dash of spice blends like ancho chile powder or fajita seasoning too.

Salt is not needed if using a tomato sauce base. Taste the cooked meat before salting, as tomato sauce often provides enough sodium.

Cooking Methods for Taco Meat

With flavorful meat and spices ready, it’s time to cook. These simple methods produce excellent taco beef:


The fastest route is browning ground beef in a skillet on the stovetop. Here are the easy steps:

  • Cook beef over medium-high heat, breaking it into small crumbles as it browns.

  • Drain excess fat, if needed.

  • Add spices and a small can of tomato sauce.

  • Simmer for 5 minutes to absorb flavors.

Slow Cooker

Let a slow cooker do the work for long-cooked, tender taco meat:

  • Brown beef with spices in a skillet first.

  • Transfer to slow cooker and add tomato sauce.

  • Cook on low setting for 6-8 hours.

Instant Pot

An Instant Pot speeds up slow cooker-style results:

  • Select the meat/stew setting.

  • Add ground beef, spices, and tomato sauce to pot.

  • Pressure cook for 15-20 minutes.

  • Let pressure release naturally before shredding meat.

Fun Ways to Use Taco Beef

Of course taco beef is right at home spooned into crunchy taco shells or soft tortillas. But why stop there? Try these creative ways to use taco meat:

  • Taco salads – Top chopped lettuce with taco meat, beans, cheese, salsa, etc.

  • Stuffed peppers or baked potatoes – Fill halved peppers or potatoes with taco meat and bake.

  • Taco pizza – Use taco beef as topping for homemade or store-bought pizza.

  • Nachos – Pile taco meat and cheese on tortilla chips for easy nachos.

  • Taco pasta – Toss cooked pasta with taco beef and fixings for a hearty meal.

  • Taco bowls – Serve taco beef over rice and beans and top with all the favorites.

  • Quesadillas – Stuff tortillas with cheese and taco meat for handheld snacks.

  • Burrito bowls – Build bowls with taco beef, rice, avocado, cheese, etc.

With so many taco possibilities, your freshly made taco meat will never go to waste!

Tips for Flavorful Taco Beef

Follow these handy tips for getting the most flavor and best texture from your homemade taco meat:

  • If using a lean ground beef, add a teaspoon of oil to the pan to prevent sticking.

  • Break up meat thoroughly as it cooks until fine crumbles form. Drain any excess grease.

  • Pat cooked beef with paper towels to soak up extra fat if needed.

  • For a smoother consistency, pulse briefly in a food processor. Avoid over-processing.

  • Add a spoonful of masa harina paste for more authentic texture.

  • Simmer for at least 5 minutes after adding spices to infuse flavors.

  • Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice just before serving.

  • Garnish with chopped cilantro for extra freshness.

  • Letting the taco meat cool in fridge improves flavor as spices meld.

How to Make Easy Taco Beef for Tacos, Burritos, Nachos and More

From setup to filling tortillas, follow this simple start-to-finish guide for fantastic homemade taco beef:

  • Pick a fatty ground beef like 80/20 chuck or sirloin for optimal moisture and taste.

  • ** Prepare spices** – Use suggested blends or create your own taco seasoning mix.

  • Brown ground beef over medium-high heat, breaking into crumbles. Drain fat if needed.

  • Add spices and tomato sauce – Stir until well combined with meat.

  • Simmer for 5 minutes to blend flavors. Add splash of lime juice.

  • Serve taco beef in tortillas with favorite toppings like shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheese, guacamole, etc.

  • Use leftover taco meat for nachos, taco salads, burritos, or stuffed peppers.

Once you get the basic method down, you can customize taco beef to match your spice preferences. Make a big batch for easy weeknight dinners ready at a moment’s notice. Homemade always beats store-bought taco seasoning when it comes to flavor!

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


Do you add water when making taco meat?

Add a splash of water to prevent any burning. Other meat: I prefer ground beef but you can use pork, chicken or turkey. Nutrition boost: Stir in some mashed black beans or refried beans and as a bonus it also helps keep the meat creamy.

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