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    Taco Meat

    If you want to master your taco Tuesday, first you need the perfect Taco Meat. Well, here it is!

    Well seasoned with a homemade taco seasoning blend, this taco filling takes just 20 minutes of your time, and is super versatile.

    Taco meat in a cast iron skillet.

    It seems like taco night comes along pretty often here at the Beisers’. We love them all, from simple Chicken Tacos to the ultimate epic Birria Tacos.

    There’s no end to the variety of tacos you can make. But for today, let’s master the basics.

    Why You’ll Love this Recipe

    • Flavor Explosion: The combination of herbs and spices creates a deeply flavorful and aromatic taco meat that’s simply irresistible.
    • Easy and Quick: This recipe is wonderfully straightforward and quick to prepare. It’s perfect for a busy weeknight dinner or a last-minute gathering with friends and family.
    • Versatility: This taco meat can be used in a variety of dishes, not just tacos. We’ll give you a bunch of ideas later in the post.
    • Customizable Heat: With the inclusion of red chili flakes, you can easily adjust the heat level to suit your taste. Make it mild for the kids or kick it up a notch for spice lovers.
    Several ground beef tacos on a platter.

    Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

    For exact measurements, please refer to the recipe card at the end of this post. Here is what you’re going to need to make your own homemade taco meat.

    • Chili Powder: This is the base of the seasoning.
    • Cumin: Essential for that classic taco flavor, but in a pinch, coriander could be used for a different but still delicious taste.
    • Garlic and Onion Powders: These add depth. If you don’t have them, you could finely chop fresh garlic and onion to cook with the beef instead.
    • Oregano: If you have Mexican oregano on hand, that’s ideal, but Italian oregano works too. Fresh oregano is also an option, just use about three times the amount of dried.
    • Paprika: Adds color and a hint of sweetness. Smoked paprika can be used for a deeper flavor profile.
    • Red Chili Flakes: Adjust according to your heat preference. Can be omitted or replaced with a dash of cayenne pepper for more heat.
    • Salt and Black Pepper: Essential seasonings, but feel free to adjust to taste.
    • Ground Beef: We use 85/15 ground beef for our taco meat. Take note that leaner beef might require a little more water. If you’re using fattier ground beef, you may wish to skim off some of the grease before adding the other ingredients.
    • Tomato Sauce: Adds moisture and tanginess. Tomato paste diluted with a bit more water can be a substitute, or even salsa for a chunkier texture and extra flavor.
    • Water: Necessary for simmering and blending the flavors. You can use broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable) for added richness.

    How to Make Taco Meat

    1. Make a quick taco seasoning: Mix together all the herbs and spices.

    Taco seasoning in a small bowl.

    2. Brown the beef: Add ground beef to a greased skillet, break it up with a spoon or spatula, and cook until no longer pink.

    3. Add the flavors: Stir in taco seasoning, tomato sauce and a little water. Mix everything well and simmer for a couple of minutes.

    Ground beef taco filling in a stainless steel skillet.

    Can I Use Different Meats?

    Absolutely! You can follow the same recipe for ground turkey or ground chicken. Note that you want to use basic ground turkey or chicken, not ground breast, which would be too dry.

    For a vegetarian option, any ground meat substitute can be used.

    Way to Use this Taco Filling

    This homemade taco meat is incredibly versatile. Here are some of our recipes which you can make with it:

    Want more ideas? Check out our collection of taco meat recipes!

    A Few Tips and Tricks

    • Brown the Meat Well: Don’t rush the browning process of the beef. Let it cook undisturbed for a few minutes before stirring. This allows the meat to develop a deeper flavor and a nice sear.
    • Drain Excess Fat: If you’re using a higher fat content beef, drain some of the fat after browning for a less greasy finish.
    • Adjust Consistency: If the taco meat seems too dry, add a bit more water or tomato sauce. If it’s too wet, let it simmer a bit longer.
    • Taste and Adjust Seasoning: Don’t forget to taste your taco meat as it cooks. Adjust the seasoning if needed, adding more salt, pepper, or spices to suit your palate.
    • Make it in Bulk: This recipe scales up well. You can make a large batch and freeze portions for an easy future meal.

    Storage and Reheating

    You can refrigerate leftover taco meat in an airtight container for 3-4 days. When reheating, add a tablespoon or so of water.

    If you wish to freeze it for later use, first allow to cool completely. Transfer to a freezer safe zip top bag and squeeze out as much air as possible. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before use.

    Beef tacos on a platter.

    When you try this taco meat recipe, please leave a star rating and let us know your favorite way to use it. We love to hear from you!

    Pin or bookmark this great recipe so you always know where to find it. And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new recipes for you.

    For more dinner inspiration, check out our collections of favorite taco recipes and Mexican recipes. Until next time…

    Homemade Taco Meat, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    Tacos on the Gypsy Plate.
    Featured image for taco meat recipe.

    The BEST Taco Meat Recipe

    Yield: 4 servings
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    Total Time: 15 minutes

    This homemade Taco Meat recipe is perfect as a taco filling, but is also versatile enough to be used in a number of other ways.



    • 1 Tbsp chili powder
    • 1.5 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • ½ tsp onion powder
    • 1 tsp oregano
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • ¼ tsp red chili flakes
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ½ tsp black pepper


    • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
    • 1lb ground beef
    • Taco seasoning
    • ⅓ cup tomato sauce
    • ½ cup water


    1. Mix all taco seasoning ingredients in a bowl.
    2. Heat up a skillet over medium high heat, and add in a tablespoon of oil. Add in the ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon or spatula.
    3. Let it cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, then give it a stir. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the beef is fully browned.
    4. Stir in taco seasoning, tomato sauce and a little water. Mix everything well and simmer for a couple of minutes.
    Nutrition Information
    Yield 4 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 365Total Fat 24gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 101mgSodium 944mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 2gSugar 1gProtein 32g

    Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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      1 thought on “Taco Meat”

      • Y’all have a pretty decent recipe, definitely solid. I add a few other interests that kick up the richness and taste and really together to create full flavored meat you’ll want to eat start eating on a big spoon with sour cream, medium or higher cheddar, tomato and at least a jalapeno or serrano slice.
        I didn’t see one thing really missed: Fresh ground ancho chili powder and another life guajillo. Smoke Paprika for sure, Mexican oregano, for your oil beef tallow.
        for the added ingredients you want fresh minced garlic cooked in your tallow with the garlic powder and a couple tsp of red wine vinegar, it opens the flavors of them way up.
        Then you want to add a good dash or three of more sodium soy or Maggis seasoning it’s like soy sauce in its look.
        The next is balsamic de Modena or the syrupy balsamic it richens it further and sweetens, about a tsp.
        Then some Knorrs chicken bullion, this is where your salt and msg mostly come from so go very easy, like a 1/2 tsp at first and remember it’s going to cook down more.
        Finally a little sugar, trust me, about an even tsp or little less.
        when these flavors all blend down to make this taco magic you’ll really have something special but super savory, spicy, broad flavored awesomeness. This is probably for a little over a pound of meat 1 1/4. I usually make two pounds though and never measure I’ve done it so much I just eyeball it. anyway, if you end up to salty dip some of your juice out before you cook it down. I’ve even in the beginning had to wash out the meat in a strainer. Anyway, just adding a few of these things really kicks it up a notch.

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