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Taco Meat Recipe


posted: 04/13/24

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This Taco Meat Recipe will become a regular in the weeknight dinner rotation when you see how delicious it is and how easy it is to make. It gets its delicious flavor from my Homemade Taco Seasoning an easy recipe to keep on hand for regular taco nights!

Tacos made with Taco Meat recipe

Taco night is an absolutely favorite in our house. I love to create a recipe that everyone can eat in a way that works best for them. In our house taco night means different things to different people. For one kiddo, it’s a burrito. For me, it is often a taco salad. Of course it is actual tacos to some, and for a few it’s just a pile of the makings of a burrito on their plate. But when you have a solid taco meat recipe in your back pocket, it doesn’t really matter how people eat it, does it?

Taco Meat Ingredients

If you make my taco seasoning and have it on hand, this recipe for taco meat is only three ingredients! It is the perfect easy weeknight dinner. Make sure to see the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the full measurements.

  • Ground beef: I use 80/20 ground beef, but any ground beef or even ground turkey can be used to make taco meat.
  • Tomato sauce: Rather than using water, tomato sauce (pureed tomatoes with no added seasoning) adds flavor and moisture to the taco meat.
  • Taco seasoning: The perfect blend of seasonings that makes this the best taco meat recipe, skip the packet of taco seasoning and make your own instead. The exact measurements you need for this recipe are listed in the recipe card. However, I would encourage you to make the big batch version. That way you can always have it on hand and use just three tablespoons of it any time a recipe calls for a packet of taco seasoning.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

This will become your new favorite taco seasoning. Easy to make, keep on hand, and use, it has perfect flavor and tips for adjusting to your tastes.
bottle of spice jar with homemade taco seasoning

Why Make Homemade Taco Seasoning

Let’s talk about homemade seasonings for a minute. I know all of you are busy people like me. I know that it is a lot easier to just use a packet of store-bought seasoning rather than make it. But let me tell you why I insist on making my own:

  • I can control what goes in it. That means the flavor is perfect, the spiciness can be controlled, and it is literally just spices with no added preservatives or extra salt.
  • It takes very little time to make. I’m serious when I say that making my own taco seasoning takes almost as much time as checking the pantry to see if we have a packet and adding it to the grocery list.
  • I can make it as a big batch. Truth be told, if I had to make it every time I wanted to use some, I probably wouldn’t do it. This is why my recipe for it has the measurements to make a big batch (the equivalent of eight packets!).

If you do make the big batch, you will want to replace the spice measurements listed in this recipe with three tablespoons of the big batch of homemade taco seasoning.

Skillet of Taco Meat

Taco Meat Seasoning Ingredients

Now that I have told you why I love making my own taco seasoning, let’s talk about what is in it. So while this recipe will give you the measurements for the spices (so you don’t have to print out the other recipe if you don’t want to), I encourage you to make the big batch and have it on hand all the time. The flavors are perfect.

For the full taco meat seasoning recipe, see the recipe card at the bottom of the post or the recipe card in my homemade taco seasoning recipe.

  • chili powder
  • paprika
  • kosher salt
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • ground cumin
  • cayenne pepper (vary the amount depending on the level of spiciness you want)

How to Make Taco Meat

Besides the great taste, I love how easy this recipe is! Here is a brief overview of how to make taco meat on the stovetop. For the full recipe including all measurements, see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  1. Combine the seasonings. Mix them in a small bowl and set aside. If you are using a big batch of my homemade taco seasoning, skip this step. You’ll just need it out to pull out three tablespoons in step three below.
  2. Cook the meat. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and break apart. I love this tool for that. When the beef is fully cooked and no longer pink, drain off excess grease.
  3. Add the sauce and seasonings. Stir the tomato sauce and spices into the beef and simmer on low for five minutes.
  4. Enjoy! Serve your taco meat while it’s warm or add it to your favorite recipe.
Tacos made with Taco Meat recipe and toppings

How to Make Tacos

Tacos are a super customizable recipe. They typically consist of three main parts: a shell, protein, and toppings. We’ve covered how to make this ground beef taco meat recipe, here are some ideas for how to use it to build tacos.

  1. Make your taco meat.
  2. Heat your taco shells. If you are using soft shell corn tortillas, wrap them in a damp paper towel. Then put them in a ziplock bag with all put one inch of it zipped shut. Put it in the microwave for one minute. The tortillas will be nice and soft when they come out and easy to fold and eat.
  3. Put the tacos together. Spoon a few tablespoons of taco meat into your tortillas or taco shells and top with desired toppings – see some suggestions below. Enjoy!

Making With Turkey vs. Beef

We cook a lot with ground turkey in my house and you can definitely do this taco meat recipe with ground turkey. If you are using an extra lean ground turkey, you will need to use olive oil or some other oil to cook it so it doesn’t stick to the pan. There likely won’t be any grease to drain when it is done cooking so you can just move on to adding the sauce and seasonings. I love that this recipe works perfectly with both ground beef and ground turkey.

Toppings For Tacos

This taco meat is the perfect taco base and is ready to be made into your favorite tacos! Serve on hard taco shells (what you see in the photos), flour, or corn tortillas, and top with your favorite toppings. Here are a few ideas.

How Many Does This Serve

This recipe makes approximately three cups of taco meat. Each taco pictured has roughly 1/4 cup of taco meat in it. So that is about three tacos for each person, making a total of 12 tacos for four people. Each person gets about 3/4 a cup of taco meat.

Please note that the nutritional information on this recipe is for 3/4 a cup of taco meat and does not include toppings or taco shells.

Close up view of Taco Meat with a spoon

Leftover Taco Meat Recipes

Store any leftover taco meat in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat only the portion you plan to eat in the microwave or in a skillet over low heat until heated through.

Here are some other dinner ideas of what to do with leftover taco meat, or with freshly made taco meat.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Any leftover taco meat can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat only the portion you plan to eat in the microwave or in a small skillet over low heat until heated through.

Freezing Taco Meat

This is a great recipe to double and freeze some for later. Once your taco meat is prepared and cooled, transfer it to a freezer-safe bag or container and keep it in the freezer for up to three months. When you are ready to eat it, allow it to thaw, and then heat in a saucepan over low heat on the stove.

Overhead view of tacos made with Taco Meat recipe

What Else to Serve on Taco Night

Obviously, I have a plethora of recipes to go with taco night. Here are a few ideas.

If you make this taco meat recipe or any of the other recipes, please leave me a comment and let me know! Hearing from you makes my day.

Tacos made with Taco Meat recipe
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Taco Meat Recipe

Serves: 12 tacos
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
This Taco Meat Recipe will become a regular in the weeknight dinner rotation when you see how delicious it is and how easy it is to make. Made with just a few simple ingredients and totally homemade, your family will love it!


Taco Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder see note
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Taco Meat

  • 1 pound ground beef I used 80/20 (458.59 grams)
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce (227 grams)


  • In a small bowl, mix together the spices. (Or use three tablespoons of my homemade taco seasoning.) Set aside.
    1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • In a frying pan over medium heat, cook the ground beef, breaking it up as you cook.
    1 pound ground beef
  • When the beef is no longer pink, drain the fat.
  • Stir in the tomato sauce and the taco seasoning. Turn the heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes.
    8 ounces tomato sauce


If you made a big batch of my Homemade Taco Seasoning Recipe, you can disregard the measurements for all the spices and uses 3 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning, the ground beef, and the tomato sauce, making this a three ingredient recipe.
Please note that the nutritional information for this recipe is 1/4 a cup of the taco meat and does not include the taco shells or any toppings.
Serving: 0.25cup Calories: 107kcal (5%) Carbohydrates: 2g (1%) Protein: 7g (14%) Fat: 8g (12%) Saturated Fat: 3g (19%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g Monounsaturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0.5g Cholesterol: 27mg (9%) Sodium: 236mg (10%) Potassium: 208mg (6%) Fiber: 1g (4%) Sugar: 1g (1%) Vitamin A: 339IU (7%) Vitamin C: 3mg (4%) Calcium: 15mg (2%) Iron: 1mg (6%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Tacos made with Taco Meat recipe

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Taco Meat Recipe

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. ColleenB.~Tx. says

    I do add some finely diced onion, red and green bell pepper while browning the meat and maybe sometimes a splash of hot sauce.

  2. Karen says

    Made the lg batch of Taco Seasoning; using it for taco salad for a crowd of 30. Do I still add tomato sauce since I’ll also be using Catalina dressing?

    • Lisa Longley says

      It depends on the recipe of Taco salad you are using. The Taco Salad I serve over lettuce I use it, the Taco Pasta Salad I make with it I don’t.

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners