The Speckled Palate

June 19, 2019

Ground Beef Tacos

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These classic Ground Beef Tacos are a simple and flavorful meal to make as an easy weeknight dinner for the whole family. Get your kids involved by letting them put together their tacos and add the toppings of their choice. Makes 8 tacos.

Close up of Classic Ground Beef Tacos served on a platter

I’m sometimes not as eloquent as I would like to be, especially during moments of stress or doubt.

Simply put, I’m a bit of a mess.

So are my house and my life on occasion.

I like to think that we all have these jumbled moments in our lives because, ahem, life is MESSY sometimes. And we are given the opportunity to make the most of these messy moments.

I’m working on capitalizing on ’em.

These tacos are kind of like me—they aren’t necessarily eloquent and are kind of messy.

But they’re amazingly flavorful once you get over that mess.

Other TexMex recipes we love for weeknights: Pork Carnitas EnchiladasBlackened Shrimp Tacos / Chipotle Lime Spicy Beer Can ChickenCreamy Chicken Enchilada BruschettaSoy Seared Cod Tacos with Spicy Slaw 

Ground beef and other ingredients are laid out on a surface before cooking

Tools you’ll need to make these Ground Beef Tacos

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Taco seasoning is sprinkled onto ground beef and onions in a bowl

How to Make Ground Beef Tacos

Cook the onion.

Heat your favorite skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s warm, add the oil. 

Once the oil is shimmering, add the onion, and cook for about 5 minutes. You want it to become translucent.

When the onion is nearly done, add the garlic, and cook until it becomes fragrant. This will take 1-2 minutes tops, and you don’t want your garlic to get too brown because burnt garlic will absolutely take away from the flavor of this dish.

Cooked beef is shown in a skillet before deglazing

Cook the beef.

When the onion and garlic are done, add the ground beef to the skillet.

Use a wooden spoon or another kitchen tool to break it into smaller pieces, and season it with the taco seasoning.

Cook the beef over the medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, constantly moving it around the skillet with the wooden spoon and occasionally breaking it into smaller pieces. It will begin to get browner, and some will stick to the bottom of the pan. (Don’t worry about this—we’ll address it in a few.)

Broth is poured into a pan to deglaze it with the meat and onions

Deglaze the pan.

Deglazing the pan is simply adding liquid to help remove all those browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Pour in your broth (you can sub water or veggie broth if you don’t have beef broth on hand), and scrape, scrape, scrape the bottom of the pan as the liquid bubbles. 

Once you’ve gotten all the goodness off the bottom of your skillet, turn down the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Why? This is going to ensure our beef is thoroughly cooked, but still incredibly juicy.

Overhead image of several Ground Beef Tacos on plates

Make your tacos.

While the beef finishes cooking, I warm up hard taco shells in the oven and get color on the soft ones on the stovetop. 

Chop all your toppings (and measure out the ones that are from packages in the fridge) and place in bowls.

Once everything is done, let everyone build their own tacos, adding the ground beef to the shell of their choosing and whatever toppings float their boat.

Close up of two hard shell Ground Beef Tacos, topped with lettuce, tomatoes and cheese, on a platter

Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips for TACOS

Make a taco bar!

Depending on how many people you’re hosting, double or triple this recipe to make a big batch. Cook all the taco fillings up, and serve in a giant bowl for folks to add to their tacos.

Warm a bunch of taco shells in the oven (and warm those soft tortillas in the microwave. I explain how to do it below.)

Place all the toppings in bowls, and let guests add their toppings of choice.

Close up of a bowl holding ingredients before cooking

Cook the beef and onions in advance.

If you’re short on time at night or hosting folks, make the bulk of your meal in advance, and store it in the fridge. Heat it up in the microwave when it’s just about time to eat.

Chop the lettuce and shred the cheese early, to make this an even easier weeknight meal. (Don’t chop the tomatoes in advance because you want to leave those at room temperature.)

Several Ground Beef Tacos are shown on plates, topped with favorite taco toppings

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you warm soft tortillas?

You have two options here:

  • Wrap them in a slightly damp kitchen towel. Heat in 15-20 second bursts in the microwave until warm.
  • Place over an open flame on your stovetop, using tongs to turn the tortilla over the flame so it gets some color but doesn’t catch fire.

When you’re heating it on the stovetop, you’ll know it’s time to turn it when the tortilla begins to fill with air and puff up.

Personally, I like the stovetop method, but I realize not everyone has a gas range.

If you’d like to warm them on the stovetop without a gas range, you can place them in a clean skillet over medium-high heat. When the tortilla begins to puff up, flip with a pair of tongs.

A soft tortilla holds ground beef and other taco toppings, before consuming

How many tacos will a pound of ground beef make?

Honestly, it depends on the size of your tacos and how much beef you like in them.

My recipe here calls for 1 ¼ lb. ground beef, and it makes for 8 tacos. I’ve also used a pound of beef in this recipe and made 8 tacos. 

Cooked ground beef and onions are served with taco toppings for guests

How do you brown taco meat?

Browning taco meat is the process of cooking the surface of the meat. (It can also be used to cook the meat completely through.)

The browning process gives the meat a brown color and adds flavor. It also pulls out excess fats from the meat.

The more it cooks, the browner taco meat becomes.

So to brown taco meat, you throw it in a pan with a little oil, break it up with a wooden spoon (or another kitchen tool), season it with your favorite seasoning and cook it over medium-high heat until it turns brown.

Overhead image of several hard shell Ground Beef Tacos with toppings

How do you drain ground beef?

I like to line a plate with paper towels, and then scoop the ground beef out of the pan onto it so that the paper soaks up any excess fat.

I don’t drain the ground beef in this recipe and instead cook it down as much as possible before pouring broth into the skillet to deglaze it.

Close up of a soft shell ground Beef Taco with toppings

What are some side dishes I can serve with these beef tacos?

Pinterest graphic for Classic Ground Beef Tacos, featuring a close up of tacos in hard shells

Ground Beef Tacos
Yield: 8 tacos

Ground Beef Tacos

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

These soft shell Ground Beef Tacos are a simple meal to make any weeknight. Ground beef is cooked with onion and garlic, then simmered in vegetable broth before serving atop your favorite tortillas. Top with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and more, then enjoy warm!

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ lbs. 85% ground beef
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic pod, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons homemade taco seasoning
  • 1/3 cup low sodium beef broth
  • 8 tortillas (flour, corn or crispy OK)

Toppings

  • Romaine lettuce, sliced thin
  • Tomatoes, chopped
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Sour cream

Instructions

  1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil.
  2. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion.
  3. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion becomes translucent. Add the garlic once the onion is nearly done, stirring so it doesn't burn. (Burnt garlic is the worst!)
  4. When the garlic becomes fragrant, add the ground beef. Use a wooden spoon to break it into smaller pieces.
  5. Sprinkle in the taco seasoning.
  6. Cook for around 10 minutes or until the beef is browned thoroughly, then pour in the broth, scraping the bottom of the pan for browned bits as the liquid soaks it up.
  7. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. You'll know it is done once the broth has soaked into the meat and onion mixture. The meat will be entirely cooked through, but still juicy.
  8. Serve immediately on tortillas and top with your favorite taco toppings.

Notes

Make this fun for the kids! Whenever we make these Ground Beef Tacos, I set out the different toppings for the tacos in small bowls and let our daughter make her own. She thinks it's so much fun, and this simple act gets her excited to eat the dinner that she had a hand in.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8 tacos

Serving Size:

1 taco

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 416 Total Fat: 19g Saturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 10g Cholesterol: 68mg Sodium: 352mg Carbohydrates: 35g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 3g Protein: 26g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

The photos and recipe for these Ground Beef Tacos were originally published on April 22, 2013. The photographs, along with the text of this blog post, were updated on June 19, 2019.


5 Comments

  1. Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies

    You put spinach in your tacos?! LOVE IT! I’ve never actually taken the time to saute up onion or garlic for my tacos, but I’m a taco fanatic so maybe I should show them a little extra lovin before devouring them 🙂

  2. Eileen

    It’s ok to be a mess. Tacos are also a mess, and they are great! Right? 🙂

  3. Jayne

    Not everything in life has to be perfect… even though you make them look impeccable through your lenses. And it’s these little stray ones that are the best. Messy and delicious. Just as life should be. 🙂

  4. Gina @ So Lets Hang Out

    If you are a mess, you are a fabulous taco-making mess. That is the best kind of mess. 🙂

  5. Natalie

    Yum! I haven’t had beef tacos in ages so thanks for the reminder. Adding spinach as a topper is so great, I now all of a sudden want to make these TONIGHT.

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