The best taco meat that is easy to make with only 4 ingredients including a homemade taco seasoning and ready in only 15 minutes! Use the flavorful ground beef for tacos and all types of favorite Mexican dishes.
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Best Taco Meat Recipe
We make taco meat all the time at our house. It’s super simple and can be used so many ways! I especially love to make a big taco salad with all the fix-in’s like pico de gallo, black beans, corn, guacamole, tortilla strips…you name it. Oh, and you can’t forget the cilantro lime dressing. SO yummy!
It’s good to go back to the basics every once in awhile. Taco meat is one of those things that is so easy to make and my whole family loves. I’ll often whip some up and then set it next to a big bowl of lettuce, corn tortillas and all the fix-in’s so everyone can make whatever they want.
The best thing about taco meat is that the sky’s the limit! It’s perfect for making beef tacos, enchiladas, navajo tacos, topping a Mexican salad and more. Plus it’s super easy and takes only 4 ingredients and 15 minutes to make. You can’t beat that!
To make the best taco meat, skip the store bought packet and make your homemade seasoning blend, it’s so easy!
Find the full printable recipe with measurements below.
- Ground beef: I like to use 80-90% lean ground beef, however you could use ground turkey if preferred.
- Onions: Onions add another layer of freshness. They cook with the beef while it browns and add great flavor.
- Taco seasoning: I love to make my own homemade taco seasoning. It’s so easy, cost effective and is great to have on hand. Feel free to use store-bought seasoning if desired.
- Salsa: Not only does mixing in fresh salsa give the meat extra flavor, it also helps to thicken it up as well. If you don’t have salsa on hand, you can use tomato sauce and water instead.
How to Make Taco Meat
This taco meat is so easy and comes together in just 15 minutes with ground beef and a few other ingredients. Just follow the simple steps below to get started.
- Brown beef in skillet. Cook ground beef and onions in a large skillet over medium heat until browned. Stir occasionally to break up any large pieces.
- Add seasonings. Drain any excess grease from the meat, then add taco seasoning and salsa (or tomato sauce and water).
- Simmer. Bring to a light simmer. Add more water if desired.
- Serve and enjoy! Serve in tacos, taco salads or burritos.
Expert Tips and Notes
- Tomato sauce: For less spice instead of salsa use your favorite plain canned tomato sauce or puree. 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.
- Seasonings: Customize the taco seasoning to your liking! Add in some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes for more spice or more cumin for an earthy taste. Smoked paprika will give the meat a smokier taste. Add in additional onion powder, garlic powder or chili powder as desired.
- Restaurant quality: Here is an easy tip used at Mexican restaurants. After browning your meat, add it to a food processor and process a few times until smaller crumbles appear. Just be careful not to overprocess it to mush! Return it to the skillet after and proceed with the recipe.
5 star review
This taco meat recipe is so delicious! I saved this to make againOlivia
for our next taco night, thank you!
Favorite Ways to Use Taco Meat
Serving your tacos the traditional way in hard taco shells or flour tortillas with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and cheese is always a favorite, but don’t let that stop you from using it creatively in many other ways!
- Sheet pan quesadillas: Swap the chicken for beef in this crowd pleasing dinner!
- Mexican pizza: Make a quick and easy taco pizza with a tortilla or use traditional pizza dough.
- Enchilada pasta: Use your taco meat as the base of this one pot pasta dish!
- Oven baked nachos: Upgrade your nachos to loaded status with the addition of ground beef.
- Taco casserole: Layers of ground beef, cheese and chips baked in only 15 minutes!
- Empanadas: Make my easy empanada dough and load it up for an easy weeknight dinner.
Toppings and Sides for Tacos
Complete your meal with these favorite toppings and side dishes!
You can add some cooked pinto or black beans for fiber or try some diced bell peppers for some additional vegetables! A can of green chiles or Rotel would be nice additions as would cooked diced potatoes like in this empanadas recipe!
Your ground beef needs to be thawed before using in this recipe. Once your frozen meat is thawed, proceed with the recipe.
Good tacos are moist because they have a saucy base. I prefer to use salsa, but tomato sauce can also be used. It not only keeps the meat moist but adds authentic taste!
While there are many options you could use, I prefer ground beef for tacos and use 80-90% lean. You could use 70-80% lean if preferred. Fat adds good flavor to the tacos and any grease will be drained.
Storage and Leftovers
Refrigerator: Store leftover taco meat in an airtight container for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
Freezer: Sometimes I’ll double the batch so that I can stick half in the freezer. It’s great to have on hand for an easy weeknight dinner. To freeze, simply place in a freezer bag (make sure to remove all of the air) and store in freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw, stick in the fridge overnight and then reheat on the skillet (or in the microwave) until warm.
Love taco recipes? Try carnitas tacos, fish tacos or even bang bang shrimp tacos!
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Taco Meat Recipe
- 1 pound ground beef , 80-90% lean
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- 1-2 Tablespoons taco seasoning , more to taste
- ½ cup salsa
- ¼ cup water , more as needed
S&P to taste
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and onion and cook until browned, stirring occasionally breaking up any large pieces.
- Once browned, drain off any extra grease. Then add in the taco seasoning, salsa or tomato sauce and water. Bring to a light simmer. Add more water as desired.
- Serve in tacos, taco salads or burritos.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
This taco meat recipe is so delicious! I saved this to make again for our next taco night, thank you!
So glad you enjoyed the taco meat recipe! It’s a family staple over here for taco night!
Love the addition of the salsa! Makes it nice and juicy but adds more flavor than just water alone.
My favorite way to get dinner on the table in a hurry. This recipes quickly becomes a staple!
This is a go-to at our house on busy nights. I love that I can make a big batch ahead of time.
This is an easy go-to at our house!
Delicious! We have tacos every week and love to try new recipes. Thank you :)
Always love the way my kitchen smells when I make tacos! This is such an easy recipe too; sounds tasty!
I love that this taco meat is so versatile! I am going to try it over salad for a Taco salad.
I always use this recipe for Taco Tuesday night! The whole family gobbles it up.
Super easy & super yummy! I love the addition of salsa. It gives it a nice flavor!