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Beef Tacos

Classic beef tacos, made with homemade seasoned ground beef filling, no packaged mix. Easy, flavorful taco meat comes together in the skillet in about half an hour. Put out all the fixins for a perfect weeknight dinner the whole family loves!

Beef tacos in hard shells in pan with toppings.

I love a good taco when I go out for Mexican, especially tacos al pastor.  At home though, I make these classic ground beef tacos, simple and flavorful and my family’s favorite.

Always Hungry in New York has asked me how to make it, and it’s usually requested when the kids are home.  It’s a great taco meat base for whatever toppings you want to pile on.

Closeup of beef tacos with toppings.

How to make homemade filling for beef tacos

Three photo process collage for making ground meat filling.

Step 1: Cook some onion for a few minutes, add garlic, spices and salt and cook until fragrant.

Step 2: Add the ground beef, cook and break up with a wooden spoon until no longer pink.

Step 3: Stir in some tomato sauce, chicken stock, apple cider vinegar and brown sugar.  Simmer about 15 minutes until thickened.

Finished ground meat filling in pan.

This taco meat is full of flavor but not spicy.  And it’s so versatile, either in a classic hard taco shell, wrapped up in a flour tortilla like a burrito or piled on chips for nachos.  Nothing fancy or time consuming, just really delicious.

I don’t think you need to wait for Taco Tuesday to make these beef tacos.  Any weeknight is perfect for this family-friendly dinner.

Pull out all the fixins — cheese, lettuce, shredded cabbage, tomatoes, avocado, salsa, onion, jalapeños, sour cream, cilantro — whatever floats your boat, and have a taco bar at home.  You will love these beef tacos, I promise!  Best ~ Kelly

Assembled beef tacos with toppings.

You might also like Tacos de Carnitas and my Classic Margarita.

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UPDATED: With new photos and copy in April, 2020, no changes to original recipe.

Assembled beef tacos with toppings.

Beef Tacos

Seasoned ground beef filling for tacos, burritos or nachos. Easy, flavorful taco meat comes together in the skillet in about a half hour. Put out all the fixins for a perfect weeknight dinner the whole family loves!
4.67 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course/Meat
Cuisine: Mexican, Tex-Mex
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound lean ground beef, I like ground sirloin
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • ½ cup chicken broth, I used homemade
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Tortillas, corn or flour or hard/crispy
  • Toppings of choice, such as: cheese, sour cream, beans, salsa, hot sauce, shredded lettuce or cabbage, jalapeños, cilantro, avocado, lime wedges, tortilla chips


  • Get all your ingredients prepped and in place, measure your spices out into one small dish.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 or 4 minutes.  Add garlic, spices and salt, and cook until fragrant, maybe a minute, being careful not to burn.
  • Add the ground beef and cook and break up with a wooden spoon until no longer pink.  Do not drain meat.  Stir in the tomato sauce, chicken broth, cider vinegar and brown sugar.  Simmer until thickened, about 10 - 15 minutes.  You are looking for a thick beef taco mixture, not watery or runny.  Taste for salt.
  • If using hard shells, heat in oven per package instructions. If using flour or corn tortillas, heat in a nonstick skillet for a minute or two on each side.  Fill taco shells with meat mixture and toppings of choice.  Enjoy!
Keyword: homemade taco meat, beef taco meat, ground beef taco filling
Did you make this recipe? Please comment, rate it and share! And mention me on Instagram @thehungrybluebird or tag #thehungrybluebird so I can see!

*Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook



Recipe Rating


Monday 18th of April 2022

I cut the chilli powder down to a heaped teaspoon, still way too hot. Other than that , nice flavours. Australia


Tuesday 11th of August 2020

Best homemade tacos EVER....THANK YOU!


Saturday 22nd of August 2020

So easy and worth making the taco filling from scratch, glad you enjoyed.

Marilyn Jacobs

Thursday 2nd of August 2018

Loved this! Our family are hard taco, soft taco fans. I liked the meat on top of spanish rice with a little salsa. Thanks for sharing this recipe!


Monday 6th of August 2018

it's my family's favorite ~ so versatile!


Tuesday 23rd of February 2016

It's Taco Tuesday!

Create your very own taco bar at home... it's easy, it's Tuesday, and it's tasty!