Beef Tacos

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Our favorite Beef Tacos bring together crispy taco shells, robustly seasoned taco meat, melty Cheddar, and your favorite taco toppings! Kid-friendly and easy to customize.

Pair these incredible tacos with this cool and crisp cucumber salad, cilantro lime rice, or roasted sweet potatoes.

Overhead image of Beef Tacos with all the toppings on them, still in the casserole dish.

A few weeks ago, I bought crispy taco shells to make Beef Tacos and when I went to get them out of the pantry, the box was empty. Turns out my kiddos ate every single one of them — plain– ha!

The next time I bought the shells, I had to hide them until I got around to making these tacos. At first, my kids were disappointed that they were filled up (they wanted to keep eating them plain) but after one bite, they agreed Beef Tacos are the best! They’ve got the amazing flavor, perfect textures and make for such a great, well-rounded (easy-to-make) meal. 

Image of the taco seasonings being mixed together.

Beef Taco filling

To fill up these Beef Tacos, I use lean ground beef with my homemade taco seasoning and tomato sauce

You can replace the tomato sauce with picante sauce, which is what I do in this taco bowl recipe.

A few quick tips: 

  • Make sure to purchase the freshest ground beef possible (look at the furthest expiration date when purchasing)
  • To avoid steaming (we want to brown the meat!), use a cast-iron pan, and wait for it to be HOT until you add in the meat.
  • In order to brown (and become more flavorful), the beef has to maintain contact with the pan for a little while. Remember that as you break the meat into smaller pieces; the moisture evaporates which can cause the meat to steam instead of brown. Avoid this by giving the meat a few minutes to cook and develop a brown color before breaking it up with a wooden spoon.

QUICK TIP

From a legal perspective, ground beef can be anywhere from 73% to 97% lean. 80% lean is considered ‘regular’ and is what you’ll find in most burgers since the higher fat content contributes to flavor and juiciness. Lean beef is 92% lean, and extra-lean must be 96% lean or greater.

 

Image of the ground beef being cooked with the seasonings.

After the base meat filling is done, it’s all about the toppings! Below are some of our favorite toppings, but get creative with what you like best on your tacos.

Beef taco topping ideas

  • Cheese (Monterey jack, extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, or pepper jack) We like a blend of Monterey jack and extra-sharp Cheddar best!
  • Chopped tomatoes, salsa, or pico de gallo
  • Black beans or pinto beans
  • Freshly chopped cilantro
  • Fresh lime juice we like serving these tacos with lime wedges
  • Avocado or guacamole
  • Cooked white rice 
  • Taco sauce or hot sauce
  • Crispy tortilla strips
  • Creamy cilantro sauce (like the sauce in this honey lime chicken recipe)
  • Sour cream (fat-free or low-fat works great!)
  • Crema Mexicana by Cacique® is another one of our favorites (not sponsored)

Variations

  • Use ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground pork instead of ground beef. When substituting different ground meats, just keep in mind they have different moisture levels and flavor intensities. You may need to add in a bit more or less tomato sauce and compensate with more spices
  • Add fresh-grilled corn on the cob (cut the corn off the cob and add it as a topping). See this post on elote to learn how to perfectly grill corn on the cob!
  • Healthy Beef Tacos: To keep these on the healthier side, use fresh veggies as toppings and reduce, omit or use reduced-fat cheese. Alternatively, try these taco lettuce wraps for a healthier or low carb alternative.
  • Beef Tacos with peppers and onions: Add a sautéed pepper and onion topping. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil to a cast iron skillet, add in 1 thinly sliced yellow onion and 1 thinly sliced bell pepper (sweet or green pepper). Season with salt and pepper, sauté until crisp-tender and lightly charred.
  • Don’t like crispy tacos? Pile the filling and toppings into soft flour or corn tortillas. Just make sure to warm through the tortillas first (more on this below).

Image of Beef Tacos, fresh out of the oven with melty cheese on top.

How to warm the tortillas

If you opt to use soft tortillas instead of crispy, make sure to warm them through before filling them up! This not only contributes to the flavor, but it also helps them to fold and hold the filling and toppings better.

My favorite tortillas for ground beef tacos are the unbaked (flour or corn) ones generally found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store near the block and grated cheese (by TortillaLand® — not sponsored). Or a few other options below:

  • Wrap a stack of five tortillas in a damp paper towel– microwave for 15-30 seconds at a time until warmed through. 
  • Cook in a hot, dry skilletgriddlecooktop, or grill grates — flip after 10-15 seconds.
  • Toast on a gas stovetop over a medium/low flame — place the tortilla right on the flame on the stovetop and flip after 10-15 seconds.

Overhead image of Beef Tacos fresh out of the oven with all the toppings.

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Beef Tacos

5 from 2 votes
Our favorite Beef Tacos bring together crispy taco shells, robustly seasoned taco meat, melty Cheddar, and your favorite taco toppings! Kid-friendly and easy to customize.
Print Recipe

Beef Tacos

5 from 2 votes
Our favorite Beef Tacos bring together crispy taco shells, robustly seasoned taco meat, melty Cheddar, and your favorite taco toppings! Kid-friendly and easy to customize.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword beef tacos
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 259kcal
Cost $7.80

Ingredients

  • 1 package (with 12 total) crispy taco shells (or soft flour or corn tortillas instead!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or ground chuck
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon EACH paprika and cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional, omit if sensitive to spice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH oregano, roasted garlic powder, salt, and pepper
  • Toppings: freshly grated cheese (I like using equal parts of both Monterey jack and extra-sharp Cheddar), shredded iceberg lettuce, sour cream (fat- free or low-fat works great), salsa/chopped cherry tomatoes/pico de gallo, avocado or guac, chopped cilantro, taco sauce, chopped onions, lime wedges

Instructions

  • PREP: Prepare everything for cooking the beef filling, because the process goes quickly! Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and stir together all of the seasonings. Place taco shells in a 9x13-inch baking pan (all 12 should fit) and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • BEEF: Heat oil in a large skillet (cast iron if possible) over high heat. Add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until light golden. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  • BEEF CONT.: Add ground beef and cook for 2-4 minutes, breaking it up into small pieces as you go, until meat is no longer pink. Avoid stirring/breaking beef up too much-- allow it to brown too. If there is a lot of extra grease (from higher-fat beef), drain off. Add in all the seasonings: chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir for another 1-2 minutes or until beef is completely cooked through. Add in the tomato sauce and stir until thickened, another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to slightly cool.
  • STUFF SHELLS: Divide the beef evenly between the 12 shells. Add cheese on top of each ( I add about 2-3 tablespoons of a Monterey jack and extra-sharp Cheddar blend per taco ). Bake for 6-8 minutes or until cheese is melty.
  • SERVE: While tacos are cooking, set out the toppings in individual bowls or on a large platter. Our favorites: chopped cherry tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, and a scoop of sour cream. Other ideas: guacamole, taco sauce, salsa, pico de gallo, chopped onions, etc. Serve tacos hot out of the oven and let everyone add whatever toppings they like best. Enjoy with a squeeze of fresh lime!

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 259kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 511mg | Potassium: 556mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 793IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 4mg

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Oh my word!!! Love it!!! What a great alternative to those nasty taco packets.

    I have tried several of your recipes & love them all. Yum!!!

    I’m feeding a 20 year old son & a husband. Both are pretty picky about good food. (I have spoiled them.) I was getting tired of cooking until I found your website. You have brought life back into my cooking! Thank you so much!!! Forever grateful & can’t wait to try making your pumpkin chocolate chip bread!

    1. Yay!! So happy these were a hit 🙂 Thanks so much for the comment Corrina, it made my day! I hope you love the pumpkin chocolate chip bread 🙂

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