The Best Taco Recipe
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
Tacos: a weeknight dinner staple! This flavorful taco recipe is made with seasoned ground beef taco meat and your favorite taco toppings, wrapped in warm tortillas.
Your search for the best taco recipe stops here! Tacos are one of our favorite quick meals, so much so that we make them almost every week. This taco recipe is fast, easy, and sure to wow everyone at your dinner table!
Serve these tacos in soft corn or flour tortillas or crunchy taco shells, topped with your favorite taco toppings. I’ve given you some suggestions below!
Why You’ll Love this Taco Recipe
- Quick and Easy: This easy dinner idea takes just 20 minutes to make.
- Flavor! You’ll love the seasoning blend used in this taco meat.
- Family-Friendly: The whole family will love it when tacos are for dinner because everyone can fill their taco the way they like it.
- Versatile: This taco meat recipe works for more than just tacos! Try it in this taco salad recipe, use it to top nachos or make beef enchiladas, or add it to a burrito bowl.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need to make taco meat that’s moist and flavorful:
- Ground Beef: This taco recipe calls for ground beef, but you can substitute ground turkey if you prefer ground turkey tacos.
- Taco Seasoning: To season the taco meat you’ll need chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, onion powder, salt and pepper. This simple mix of seasonings makes the most flavorful tacos! The seasoning blend is similar to this taco seasoning recipe, but I’ve included the individual seasoning amounts in this recipe for convenience. If you keep a batch of homemade taco seasoning on hand in your kitchen, you can use about 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning instead of the individual seasonings in this recipe.
- Tomato Sauce & Water: Adding both tomato sauce and water ensures that your taco meat will be moist and flavorful. The water cooks off as the taco meat simmers in the seasonings; it helps to keep the meat from drying out.
- Tortillas: You can serve your tacos in crunchy taco shells or soft tortillas. Use what your family likes best.
- Taco Toppings: Tacos are the best when you load them up with toppings! See my suggestions below or use your favorites.
How to Make Tacos
Making these homemade tacos is as simple as cooking the taco meat and then serving it in taco shells with toppings. Dinner doesn’t get any easier!
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, crumbling the meat with a spoon or spatula.
Then reduce the heat to medium and add the seasonings, tomato sauce and water.
Stir the taco meat and cook it for about 5 minutes more, until the meat is fully cooked and has reached your desired texture. Serve the taco meat in tortillas, with your toppings of choice.
- Drain off any excess grease after browning the taco meat. This may not be necessary if you use 90% or 93% lean ground beef.
- Try not to cook the taco meat too long or it will start to dry out. If the meat does start to get too dry, you can add a few more tablespoons of water and cook it for one or two more minutes, until most of the water has cooked off.
- Forgot to thaw your ground beef? If you are starting from frozen meat you might want to try this Instant Pot Taco Meat recipe.
You can set up a taco bar and let everyone make their tacos the way that they like them. Some ideas for taco toppings include:
- Shredded cheese, such as cheddar, Monterey jack or a Mexican cheese blend
- Shredded lettuce
- Chopped tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
- Pico de Gallo or Salsa
- Sour cream
- Fresh cilantro
- Chopped onion, such as red onion, green onion or yellow onion
How Much Taco Meat Per Person?
The amount of taco meat that you’ll need per person depends on who you are serving. If you’re serving a crowd of big eaters, plan for at least one pound of ground beef for every four adults. If you’re serving a mix of adults and children who eat less, one pound of ground beef will serve 5-6 people.
I also find that people tend to put less meat in crunchy taco shells, and more in soft taco size tortillas. Also account for what you are serving with the meal. If there are lots of side dishes to enjoy, people will likely eat less of the main course.
What to Serve with Tacos
- Chips and Dip: Tortilla chips with homemade guacamole and salsa are our favorite appetizer when tacos are on the menu.
- Rice: Try our Instant Pot Mexican rice recipe.
- Beans: Try black beans, refried beans or Instant Pot pinto beans.
- Salad: This corn salad is a perfect addition to your taco menu. Or make a simple green salad to get more veggies into the meal.
More Taco Recipes
Love tacos? Try one of these easy recipes next!
The Best Taco Recipe
- 1 pound ground beef, or ground turkey
- 2 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste; use less if you are sensitive to spice or your chili powder is very spicy
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- ½ cup water
- 8 taco-size corn or flour tortillas
- Toppings, as desired: shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, avocado, guacamole, cilantro, chopped red onion, etc.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef to the skillet and cook, crumbling with a spoon or spatula, until browned. Drain any excess grease from the skillet. (If you used 90% or 93% lean ground beef there may not be any extra grease to drain.)
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, onion powder, salt, pepper, tomato sauce and water to the skillet. Stir to combine and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, until taco meat is fully cooked and has reached your desired texture.
- Serve the taco meat in warmed tortillas, with toppings as desired.
- You can substitute 2 tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning (plus 1/4 teaspoon salt unless your seasoning already includes it) in place of the individual seasonings in this recipe.
- Nutrition information is for taco meat only (made with 85% lean ground beef), since taco shells and toppings will vary.
That looks like a delicious recipe Kristine! I love to add cilantro. Not only does it look colorful, but gives a fresh and light flavor to the dish. It contrasts the meatiness of the filling.