Ground Beef Tacos

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Say goodbye to those pesky premade seasoning packets! These Ground Beef Tacos are so delicious you’ll wonder why you never tried them sooner. This 20-minute taco recipe is easy, flavorful, and perfect for the whole family!

398 CAL 26g CARBS 17g FAT 35g PROTEIN
1 Comment

There’s just something truly classic about Ground Beef Tacos. While they aren’t exactly authentic, they taste like childhood and bring us all back to simpler times.

My mom used to serve ground beef tacos every time I had friends over and we would devour them. Fast forward to a number of years later, and I still can’t get enough!

Nowadays, I like to get my creative juices flowing and create fun, healthier twists on the dishes I grew up with. And this recipe does just that without missing out on the good ol’ comfort of classic beef tacos!

The secret? A delicious homemade spice blend that adds tons of flavor without any of those hard-to-pronounce preservatives.

While not Mexican, these American or Tex-Mex-style ground beef tacos are absolutely delicious, comforting, and way better than the ones made with a taco packet. Looking for something more authentically Mexican? Try this homemade carne asada recipe.

Whether you’re looking for the ultimate weeknight dinner or the perfect recipe to feed a crowd on game day, these ground beef tacos in crispy baked taco shells do not disappoint.

Looking for a version with turkey? These Ground Turkey Tacos are so good!

Ground beef tacos with ancho chili seasoning in crispy baked taco shells with lettuce, tomatoes, and cilantro.

Key Ingredients and Substitutions

Here are the key ingredients that you will need to prepare these ancho chile beef tacos:

  • Tortillas: Feel free to use soft tortillas or crunchy taco shells—totally up to you!
  • Ground beef: For this recipe, I’ve used 95% lean ground beef. It has just enough fat to give flavor to the meat without being overly fatty. For a leaner alternative, try using ground turkey or chicken.
  • Cheddar cheese: Shredded cheddar is my cheese of choice when it comes to tacos. If you want to switch it up, feel free to substitute it with some crumbled cotija or melty Monterey Jack.
  • Spice blend: The flavorful homemade taco seasoning blend is what brings the dish together and makes it truly amazing. You will need ancho chile powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and coriander.
  • Cornstarch: By tossing a cornstarch slurry into the taco meat as it cooks, all of those juices thicken into a glorious and flavorful taco meat sauce.
  • Toppings: This is where you can get creative! You can keep it simple by topping your tacos with lettuce and tomatoes, or go crazy and feature a buffet-style topping bar for your guests. Check out my taco topping ideas listed below.

Recipe Tips and Ideas for Ground Beef Tacos

Here are some of my best recipe tips and substitutions that might help you get the most flavorful and delicious version of these healthy tacos every time:

  • Add some beef stock. If you want a saucier mixture, feel free to add in some beef stock to the mix in place of the traditional water. 
  • Bloom the spices. Seasoning your meat while it’s still cooking lets the fat soak in all the spices and allows the flavors of the spices to really come out. The heat releases the essential oils and you have a fiesta of flavors ready for you.
  • Change up your protein. Don’t have any ground beef or simply want to experiment around? Swap out the beef with another lean meat like ground chicken or turkey.
  • Use a good taco shell. The taco shell either makes or breaks your taco, so I always prefer using a good-quality one. My Baked Crispy Taco Shells aren’t just wholesome and easy to make—they’re delicious!
  • Add some veggies. Toss in some veggies or beans during the cooking process for a nutrient-dense meal. Some of my top picks include zucchini, canned diced tomatoes, black beans, mushrooms, and onions.

Ancho beef tacos with ground beef served in a crispy yellow corn tortilla with toppings.

Beef Taco Topping Ideas

Let’s be honest, toppings are the most exciting thing about taco night. During Taco Tuesdays, I love holding a taco bar by serving these tacos with a variety of toppings in tiny topping bowls. In fact, half the fun comes from watching everyone DIY their own tacos and trying to create the best one.

So, have some fun with your toppings and go beyond the classic sour cream and shredded lettuce combo. Here are some of my favorite taco topping ideas:

How to Store Leftover Tacos

If you’re planning to prepare these tacos ahead of time, I highly recommend storing the ingredients separately and assembling them whenever you’re ready. Just let all the components cool, place them in airtight containers, then store them in the fridge for up to 4 days.

You can store the beef filling in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. To reheat the taco meat, let it thaw in the fridge for 24-48 hours and heat it on the stove until warmed through.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this ground beef taco recipe:

The number one reason why people end up with bland tacos is because the meat wasn’t seasoned properly. Luckily, that isn’t an issue with this dish. However, if you find that your tacos aren’t spicy enough for your liking, feel free to adjust the seasoning as needed or add a few shakes of your favorite hot sauce.

When using a packet of taco seasoning, many times it is due to not using enough seasoning or due to a lack of flavor from the purchased taco seasoning packet.

If you don’t want to use ground beef, ground chicken and ground turkey are both easy swaps. You could also swap out the beef for shrimp or make it vegetarian by using crumbled tofu, chickpeas, or black beans instead.

These tacos taste absolutely divine when served with a plethora of toppings to choose from, but you can also serve it up with some quick and tasty side dishes like this Corn Salsa or a bowl of grains like my Cilantro Lime Quinoa or cauliflower rice for a low-carb option.

Crispy ground beef tacos with ancho chile powder served with lettuce, cilantro, tomatoes, and radishes.
The Recipe
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Ground Beef Tacos

398 CAL 26g CARBS 17g FAT 35g PROTEIN
1 Comment
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  • 1 tbsp. ancho chili powder (or regular chili powder)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 lb. 95% lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 8 corn tortillas (soft or crispy)
  • 1 cup Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

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Mix together the ancho chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, coriander, salt, and pepper. This makes a delicious homemade taco seasoning.

Cumin being added to homemade ancho chili taco seasoning.

Brown the beef (or turkey) in a skillet until cooked through. Drain any excess fat. If you like you could add vegetables during this step you could – diced onions, red and yellow peppers, canned and drained diced tomatoes, or diced zucchini would be delicious. Beans are also a delicious addition.

Ground beef being browned in a skillet.

Whisk together the water and cornstarch. Add to the pan along with the taco seasoning and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 3-4 minutes until sauce thickens.

Taco seasoning being added to a skillet with ground beef.

Serve in the corn tortillas with lettuce, tomato, and cheese.

Ground beef with taco seasoning being added to corn tortilla shells.
Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 2 tacos
Amount Per Serving
Calories 398
Calories from Fat 107
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17g
Saturated Fat 9g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 102mg
Sodium 642mg
Total Carbohydrate 26g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 2g
Protein 35g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.


For lower carb use arrowroot in place of the cornstarch.
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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
1 Comment
On Ground Beef Tacos
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Noreen rundle Rundle
May 6, 2020 - 04:37
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My husband and I enjoyed this taco so much!
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