Ground Beef Tacos

5 from 12 votes

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Old-school crispy hard shell tacos filled with seasoned ground beef and all of the toppings your hearts desire. A quick and easy weeknight dinner!

Ground Beef Tacos

Old-school tacos have a big place in our hearts. Hard shell tacos, warmed in the oven until fragrant and crispy, ground beef well seasoned with a simple homemade taco blend and all of the toppings your hearts desire. If you have all of the ingredients on hand, you can have these on the table in half an hour!

We love our pulled pork tacos, our fish tacos, our soft tortilla tacos…but we always come back to the classic hard shell ground beef taco. It’s our family’s comfort food and the most requested dinner of all time. My son Jack has never chosen anything over tacos on a birthday or homecoming from camp or college, and I think that’s probably a lifelong commitment.

The spice blend can be doubled or tripled, and stored in a clean jar, so you always have some on hand! I make a triple batch and keep it in a labeled jar, scooping out 1 heaping tablespoon of the taco blend for every pound of meat I am cooking.

Serve these old-school hard shell tacos with Romaine Salad with Queso Fresco or Cucumber Salad. Some black beans and rice on the side would also be amazing. And think about making your own salsa, like Pico de Gallo or Salsa Ranchera if you have extra time.

Ground Beef Tacos on a rectangle plate.

Ground Beef Tacos: Old school crispy hard shell tacos filled with seasoned ground beef, and all of the toppings your heart desires. 

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Homemade Taco Seasoning

Making your own homemade taco seasoning for ground beef is so easy and takes less than 5 minutes. Plus, you can make it in bigger batches, and just scoop it out as you need it, thinking about 1 generous tablespoon per pound of meat.

My taco seasoning blend contains onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, cornstarch, optional red pepper flakes or cayenne, salt, and pepper. Definitely feel free to play around with the proportions and add more cayenne or red pepper flakes if you want spicier tacos.

Ground Beef Taco Ingredients

Ground beef, taco shells, and dried spices for tacos.

For the Taco Seasoning:

  • Onion and garlic powder – The oniony base.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Chili powder – A mix of taco-friendly seasonings; pick your favorite blend.
  • Cornstarch – Helps the seasonings thicken into a light sauce when heated with the cooked ground beef.
  • Ground cumin – Adds a smoky flavor.
  • Dried oregano – A classic Mexican herb — try to find Mexican oregano if you’re into Mexican cooking!
  • Sweet paprika – Adds color and a hint of sweet smokiness.
  • Cayenne or red pepper flakes – Optional, but just a pinch of either adds a welcome bit of heat to the spice blend.

For the Tacos:

  • Ground beef – Use any ground beef you like — 90/10, 80/20, 85/15% — they will all work.
  • Taco shells – Hard shells, baby!
  • Toppings – Choose your family’s favorites. Popular options include shredded lettuce, salsa or taco sauce, shredded cheese, sour cream, and diced tomatoes and avocados.
Lettuce, tomato, sour cream, salsa, cheese, and other taco toppings.

How to Make Ground Beef Tacos

  1. Make the taco seasoning: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl or plastic container, mix together the spices and seasonings for the taco blend.
  2. Cook the beef: Brown the beef in a large skillet. Transfer it to a colander and drain off any liquid.
Wooden spatula stirring a steaming skillet of ground beef taco meat.
  1. Add the spice mixture: Return the beef to the pan over medium-high heat and add the spice mixture. Stir for a minute or two until you can smell all of the spices. Add 3/4 cup of water, and stir until the water is mostly evaporated, the meat is evenly coated with the spices, and there is still a little bit of saucy liquid in the pan.
Woman adding spices to a skillet of ground beef.
  1. Warm the taco shells: Meanwhile, heat the taco shells on a baking sheet (or right on the rack, whichever you prefer) in the oven for 5 minutes until warm and toasty. Place any desired toppings into small individual bowls.
  2. Serve: Transfer the meat to a serving bowl, place the shells on a plate covered with a napkin or clean dishtowel to keep them warm, and set out with the bowls of toppings. Let everyone serve themselves. 
Ground Beef Tacos on a plate surrounded by bowls of taco toppings.

What to Serve With Ground Beef Tacos

Ground Beef Tacos topped with avocadoes, cheese, and sour cream.

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5 from 12 votes

Ground Beef Tacos

Old-school crispy hard shell tacos filled with seasoned ground beef and all of the toppings your hearts desire. A quick and easy weeknight dinner!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 People
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Ingredients 

For the Taco Spice Mixture:

  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne or red pepper flakes (optional)

For the Tacos:

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 12 taco shells (approximately)

To Serve (Choose Your Family's Favorites):

  • Shredded lettuce
  • Salsa or taco sauce
  • Shredded cheese (such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a Mexican blend)
  • Sour cream (low-fat or regular)
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced avocados

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • In a small bowl or plastic container, mix together the onion powder, salt, chili powder, cornstarch, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne or red pepper flakes, if using. Blend well.
  • Spray a large skillet with nonstick spray and place over medium-high heat. Add the beef, and cook, stirring and making sure to really break it up into small crumbles, until it is browned throughout, about 5 minutes. Transfer the beef to a colander and drain off any liquid.
  • Return the beef to the pan over medium-high heat and add the spice mixture. Stir for a minute or two until you can smell all of the spices. Add 3/4 cup of water, and stir until the water is mostly evaporated, the meat is evenly coated with the spices, and there is still a little bit of saucy liquid in the pan.
  • Meanwhile, heat the taco shells on a baking sheet (or right on the rack, whichever you prefer) in the oven for 5 minutes until warm and toasty. Place any desired toppings into small individual bowls.
  • Transfer the meat to a serving bowl, place the shells on a plate covered with a napkin or clean dish towel to keep them warm, and set out with the bowls of toppings. Let everyone serve themselves.

Notes

Making your own homemade taco seasoning for ground beef is so easy and takes less than 5 minutes. Plus, you can make it in bigger batches and just scoop it out as you need it, thinking about 1 generous tablespoon per pound of meat.
Definitely feel free to play around with the seasoning proportions and add more cayenne or red pepper flakes if you want spicier tacos.

Nutrition

Calories: 511kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 36g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 15g, Trans Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 107mg, Sodium: 571mg, Potassium: 523mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 494IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 68mg, Iron: 4mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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5 from 12 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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9 Comments

  1. Kim Beaulieu says:

    These tacos were fabulous. Nothing beats a taco night with the family!

  2. Krystle says:

    We love this seasoning mix so much better than storebought. We make this recipe often

  3. DK says:

    We have taco night every tuesday and this recipe is perfect for that! Can’t wait to make these next week!

  4. Stephanie says:

    The seasoning in these beef tacos is just perfect! A great addition to my recipe box.

  5. Liz says:

    This spice mixture is spot on!! I’ve used it on ground beef and chicken to make tacos. My family loves it.

  6. Tisha says:

    I am ready for taco Tuesday with this recipe! Always a favorite

  7. Tiffany says:

    These tacos are a hot at my house! We like just a bit spicy but not too much so this has worked for us! Thanks!

  8. Bernice says:

    Still one of my family’s favourite dinners. Whenever I ask what they want for dinner the answer is always TACOS! This is a simple and tasty recipe, great for any taco night.

  9. Nicole says:

    This is my favorite taco seasoning! We have these almost every Tuesday!