This is how I make our favorite seasoned ground beef tacos with homemade taco seasoning on a weeknight in less than 15 minutes. This flavorful, easy, best ground beef taco meat is an quick dinner recipe for busy weeknights, and always a hit with the family!

An image of a pan of seasoned ground beef filling for ground beef tacos, surrounded by toppings.

Easy Weeknight Ground Beef Taco Meat

Ground beef tacos have always been one of my favorite dinners.

They aren't impressive or fancy, but they are so satisfying and everybody loves them. I find that I never get tired of tacos!

We like to serve them with lots of thinly sliced iceberg lettuce and freshly shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole, maybe chopped red or green onions, and hard shell and soft shell flour tortillas. Sometimes pico de gallo and cilantro.

Basic, I know, but honestly, sometimes basic is just the best. Besides, it gives the deliciously seasoned ground beef taco meat a chance to really shine. Tacos are a go-to menu item for weeknights when I don't really want to cook or didn't plan ahead. I almost always have hamburger in the freezer that can be defrosted and turned into tacos in less than 15 minutes.

Perfect for weeknight tacos, taco salad, or on super nachos.

What ground beef is best for tacos?

I don't like to use ground beef that is too lean for tacos. I think the best ground beef for taco meat is 80/20 lean, maybe 85/15 max.

The higher fat content gives much better flavor to the taco meat and helps it stay juicy. And you will drain the grease off the ground beef prior to adding the spices in the homemade taco seasoning.

You can use 90/10 ground beef, but I don't find the taco meat to be as flavorful and good.

How much taco meat do you need per person?

If you are thinking about making taco meat for a crowd, this recipe can easily be multiplied for large groups. One batch makes enough for 8 tacos, as written, which is perfect for our family of four.

What spices are in taco seasoning?

  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • oregano
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • smoked paprika
  • crushed red pepper
  • chipotle chili powder
  • salt
  • black pepper
An image of the spices used to make homemade taco seasoning.
An image of homemade taco seasoning spice blend.

How to make taco meat for ground beef tacos

  1. Cook the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently and breaking up the meat until it is browned. Drain the grease.
  2. Add the spices, tomato paste, and water, stirring to combine. Decrease the heat to low and cover with a lid, then simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Serve with tortillas and your favorite taco fixings.
An image of a pound of ground beef next to homemade taco seasoning, tomato paste and water.
An image of a pan of browned ground beef with homemade taco seasoning and tomato paste.
An image of browned ground beef with homemade taco spice blend and tomato paste.

Another nice thing about this weeknight taco meat is that it is actually a dish that is easy for your kids to help with, as long as they are old enough to be safe around the stove.

My girls LOVE measuring things for me and that's basically what goes into preparing taco meat. And I remember being tasked with browning hamburger meat for tacos many, many times as a kid since I was the oldest girl in a family of seven.

Clara can make these if I'm standing next to her prepping tomatoes and cheese and other taco fixings. She stirs and watches the meat turn from pink to brown and adds in the seasonings. It gives us time to work together side-by-side, which is always a good thing.

An image of ground beef seasoned taco filling with taco fixings next to it.

Basic Ground Beef Taco Meat Variations

  • Add half of a diced onion, a clove or two of minced garlic, or a chopped bell pepper to the pan with the ground beef before browning and saute them together.
  • Mix in a can of drained black beans to stretch the taco meat a little farther.
  • Add ½ teaspoon of cornstarch with the taco seasoning for a slightly saucier taco meat.
  • You can switch out the ground beef for ground turkey if you are looking for a healthier option.

Double Decker Tacos

One of our favorite things to do with this easy taco meat is to make double decker tacos.

That's where you spread refried beans on a flour tortilla, then lay a hard shell taco on top of the beans and fold the flour tortilla over it and fill the hard shell like normal with shredded lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and sour cream. They are the BEST!

More of our Go-To, Easy Weeknight Meals

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Easy Weeknight Taco Meat

4.85 from 13 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 people
This is how I make our favorite seasoned ground beef for tacos with homemade taco seasoning on a weeknight in less than 15 minutes.  This flavorful, easy taco meat is an quick dinner solution on busy weeknights, and always a hit with the family!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup water

Taco Seasoning

  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • teaspoon chipotle chili powder

Instructions
 

  • In a large pan over medium heat, brown the ground beef. Drain excess fat.
  • Add tomato paste, water and all the spices to the ground beef. Stir to mix them together, and bring to a simmer.
  • Cover and simmer for 5 minutes then remove from heat and use for tacos, nachos, or taco salad.

Notes

You can substitute ½ cup of tomato sauce for the tomato paste and water, if desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 303kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 451mg | Potassium: 437mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 591IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Ground coriander is pretty much my favorite spice ever! I add to everything Latin inspired. And it smells amazing!

  2. That bit of tomato paste really gives the taco meat extra added flavor, so simple and so much better than the packets - great recipe!!

  3. We love tacos and eat them almost weekly! This recipe is delicious and made the best taco salad this weekend!

  4. I could make taco night every night around here. This looks nice and easy while being super flavorful!

  5. I love all of the rich spices you have in this recipe! We sometimes add a squeeze of lime.  We love that ground beef can be quick to make and super flavorful.  

  6. Wow ! Fantastic flavor with the meat, I really don't care for tacos much, but this was a game changer for me ! I used the paste also and a bit extra water . I cut back on the hot stuff since my family doesn't like it hot, I put hot sauce on mine and some sour cream along with chopped onion, tomato and lettuce . Thanks !

  7. I always cook for crowds, so for 5 pounds of ground meat I used two 15 oz. cans of tomato sauce instead of tomato paste and water. Tasted great but way too spicy for me even though I omitted the last ingredient and cut the previous one by half. That much chili powder and black pepper destroys me. Everyone else loves it!

    1. Wow, that is definitely cooking for a crowd! So glad it was a hit with everybody even if it was a little on the spicy side for your tastes!

  8. Tastes incredible. Took out a tiny bit of the full tsp of cumin and added that same amount omitted in the 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika. Hope that makes sense. Tiny bit less of cumin & tiny bit more of smoked paprika. The perfect ratio in my opinion. Tasted great as recipe suggested too but a tiny bit too cumin-y. Incredible recipe overall and the range of rich spices makes me feel a lot better about eating crunchy tacos so often lol. 

  9. So simple and very tasty! I am not a cook and even I could make this without much effort and tasting great. Thank you. 

  10. The taco meat turned our to be delicious, this is especially noteworthy as it was vegan meal, Gardein's the Utimate beetles ground. We all really loved it. Thanks for the recipe. I doubt anyone would have known it was vegan once it was spiced up.

  11. Love this quick & easy recipe! In these pandemic times, I’ve been afraid to get take-out or use drive-thrus , & tacos were my biggest craving! I tried another recipe that was too bland, but this one gave me that authentic Mexican flavor I was looking for. I’ll be making it frequently!

  12. I used this recipe x5 for a bigger batch of taco meat. I used the tomato paste and added 1 large clove of freshly minced garlic. It was soupy after 5 minutes of simmering so I simmered another 5 minutes uncovered. It was great!  I like to leave a container of it in the fridge for quick meals. 

  13. "You can switch out the ground beef for ground taco if you are looking for a healthier option."

    Hmm so I make the taco, then ground the taco, then put that in the new taco?

    I think you mean "ground turkey?"