The Best Ground Beef Tacos

Tacos are one of my favorite Mexican-style dishes. My kids also love them but we hardly ever eat them anymore because the pre-packaged taco seasoning is hard on their tummies – it makes them feel sick (and my husband, too, actually). So I decided to take matters into my own hands and I opened my copy of Joy of Cooking, knowing there was probably a solution inside. There was! And let me tell you, there is no going back to the store-bought taco seasoning after making your own. These tacos were terribly delicious and are now in my tried-and-true binder of go-to meals. I love success stories like this!

What To ServeFresh fruit, or this Honey Lime Fruit Salad
Hummus with fresh vegetables
Cottage Cheese

The Best Ground Beef Tacos

Yield: Serves 4-6

The Best Ground Beef Tacos


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 to 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced fine (alternately, you can add hot pepper sauce to taste or canned jalapenos OR just leave out the heat altogether, although I think the meat really needs a little kick and adding the jalapeno without seeds didn't make the dish overly spicy)
  • Taco shells
  • Additional taco garnishes


  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and chopped onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the meat into smaller chunks, until it is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, drain the grease from the meat.
  2. Return the skillet to the heat and stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 seconds and then add the tomato sauce and jalapeno. Turn the heat to low and simmer the meat mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in taco shells with your choice of toppings.

Recipe Source: adapted from the Joy of Cooking

128 Responses to The Best Ground Beef Tacos

  1. Carol says:

    This “seasoned” beef recipe instead of a salty mess of a packet is just want I wanted due to low sodium restrictions. Thanks for the great recipe, Mel!

  2. Steven says:

    I just made this recipe for dinner last night. Best tacos to ever come out of my kitchen. Definitely my go-to taco recipe!

  3. Diane says:

    Excellent recipe. My husband and I really loved it. When I was making it, it seemed like a lot of seasoning and I was worried it would be too strong tasting, but it wasn’t at all. It’s a keeper. Thank you!

  4. Stephanie says:

    Hi Mel, I’m making these tonight for dinner using ground turkey. Quick question – the recipe says serves 4-6. What do you count as a serving? Enough meat for 2 tacos? Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      I don’t know how many tacos specifically – but this recipe feeds my family of 7 (five kids and two adults). It kind of depends on how much meat goes in each taco shell but there’s probably enough for 12 average-sized tacos.

  5. Clark says:

    I tried these on a whim a few months back, but made burritos out of the mixture instead of tacos.

    My roommates keep demanding I make them and it’s been a 2-3 times a month type of deal since then.

    I find it’s also quite good with a bit of curtido to use as filling as well.

    Cheers for the recipe.

  6. Arlene Colasurdo says:

    Will never go back to pre-packaged seasoning after this! I have been making this recipie for my family for about six months now and it never fails to impress. Kids love it and so does my husband. I love it because the flavor is all there without pre-packaged ingredients.

  7. Katherine says:

    I use this recipe all. the. time. It is wonderfull! I made it for my mom (who has cooked for years but has always used seasoning packets for tacos) and she couldn’t believe the flavor! My husband loves it too. This is a serious winner! Thanks so much!!!

  8. Katt says:

    this was very good – thank you 🙂

    I used a serrano pepper (wow).

  9. Cami Mortensen says:

    Mel, I am a friend of your Aunt Laurie’s. I am just wondering if you know what was hurting the tummies out of the Taco Seasoning Packet? It would be helpful to know! Thanks.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Cami – to be honest, I’m not entirely sure. It’s been so long since we’ve used the taco seasoning packets that I haven’t really analyzed the ingredients. I don’t know if it was the combination of spices or something else. Sorry I’m not more helpful!

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