The Best Ground Beef or Turkey Tacos {20-Minute Meal}

Simple and delicious, these from-scratch skillet ground beef tacos (can use ground turkey, too!) are a weeknight staple. Fast, flavorful, perfect!

The Best Ground Beef Tacos From-Scratch

Tacos are a family favorite around here.

But, much to my family’s dismay, good ol’ classic ground beef tacos don’t appear as often as they would like.

I can always tell when I’ve been experimenting with too many new recipes. My family will turn their long, sad faces toward me and ask: “can we please have tacos…or spaghetti tonight??”

Ugh. Fine.

I can take the hint that we need to go back to the basics every once in a while.

And to be honest, I’m usually happier for it, too, even though I grumble just to make a point.

The Best Ground Beef Tacos From-Scratch

How can you complain about a simple weeknight meal, like these perfect ground beef tacos (can totally use ground turkey, too!) that are made from scratch and still on the table in less than 30 minutes.

These homemade tacos really are the best-ever.

They are the only ground beef tacos I’ve made over the last, probably, ten years, because…well, why change a good thing?

You can even feel good about ditching the prepackaged taco seasoning, because a) you can always come back to it later, and b) these tacos are just as fast and easy (and dare I say, more delicious).

The Best Ground Beef Tacos From-Scratch

As we all know, the great thing about ground beef tacos is that the sky’s the limit as far as how you serve them and what you serve them with.

We are in the camp of crunchy taco shells all the way.

In fact, last time we had these, my 13-year old ate a shocking number of tacos.

Like, ten or something. Way more than even his dad.

The funny thing is that Jackson’s nickname at school is “short stack” because of his small stature, but you wouldn’t know that based on how many tacos (and everything else) he’s eating.

My future of food budgets and simply keeping food in the house, in general, with four boys (and of course their sister) frightens me.

I’m already in the gallon of milk a day club.

Hold me.

The Best Ground Beef Tacos From-Scratch

When I feel like it (and think my family won’t revolt), I change up this already simple taco meal and use the meat over a giant taco salad (similar to this chopped taco salad – that homemade dressing is so delicious, it makes me weep).

And one of our favorite rebellious taco moves is to make taco quesadillas instead of the so-last-summer tacos my kids love.

It’s as simple as it sounds – slap a tortilla on a griddle or in a hot skillet, cover it with taco meat, cheese, and another tortilla, and cook until golden and that cheese is all melty.

Once the taco quesadilla is cut into slices, we pile all adornments (lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, avocados…you know) right on top and dig in with a fork.

Super yummy.

So clearly, the options are endless with this classic ground beef taco recipe! It’s a favorite, favorite. Hope you love it, too!

The Best Ground Beef Tacos From-Scratch

What To ServeFresh fruit, or this Honey Lime Fruit Salad
Mexican Rice

The Best Ground Beef (or Ground Turkey) Tacos

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • 1 to 3 garlic cloves, finely minced, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely minced (optional)
  • Taco shells
  • Taco toppings of choice

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the ground beef or turkey, onion, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often and breaking the meat into small pieces, until the meat is cooked through, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Off the heat, drain any excess grease, if needed.
  3. Return the skillet to the heat and stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 seconds until the mixture smells fragrant.
  4. Add the tomato sauce and minced jalapeños, if using. Simmer the mixture for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  5. Serve in taco shells with your choice of toppings (makes great taco salad, too!).

Notes:

This recipe is updated from an old one I posted way back in 2008. It’s a family favorite (of ours and many of yours, too!). The changes I made in reposting today are minor, but if you are looking for them, the old recipe called for heating 2 tablespoons of oil and sautéing the onion for 4-5 minutes before adding the meat. Over the years, I’ve found the excess oil is unnecessary as the onions and meat cook together perfectly well. 

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Recipe Source: adapted from the Joy of Cooking
Recipe originally published April 2008; updated with new photos, commentary and recipe notes.

The Best Ground Beef Tacos