This ground beef taco recipe is a delicious weeknight meal that’s easy to make and is ready in only 25 minutes. Made with a quick homemade taco seasoning and tomato paste (or tomato sauce) for the best flavor!
On a busy weeknight, easy Mexican dishes like these ground beef tacos are such a time saver. From start to finish, including prepping the ingredients and toppings, this recipe comes together in 25 minutes! As a result, it is a weeknight staple in my house.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Ground beef: I recommend using 85% lean ground beef to keep the ground beef juicy and flavorful.
- Oil: I used olive oil, but you can use any fat you prefer.
- Tomato paste and water: I like to add tomato paste for added flavor and moisture. If you don’t have tomato paste, you can use tomato sauce instead.
- Taco seasoning: My homemade taco seasoning is a blend of spices that includes chili powder, kosher salt, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried oregano.
- Lime juice: I like to add some fresh lime juice at the end to help cut the intense spices.
- Tortillas: Feel free to use any corn or flour tortillas you prefer. If you use flour, I recommend using the smaller 6-inch size.
How to Make Ground Beef Tacos
Step 1: Add some olive oil and the ground beef to a skillet over medium-high heat, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until all the meat is browned.
Step 2: Stir in the tomato paste and water (or tomato sauce), chili powder, ground cumin, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried oregano. Cook for 1 more minute.
Step 3: Cook everything for 1 more minute, then remove the skillet from the heat and stir in some fresh lime juice. Give it a taste and season it with more salt if needed.
Step 4: Serve the taco meat in warm corn or flour tortillas, and top them with shredded cheese, sour cream, diced tomatoes, and shredded lettuce.
- Use 85% lean ground beef. This percentage of fat keeps the meat juicy and moist without it being overly greasy. Anything leaner and you’ll run the risk of the meat being too dry. If you plan to use leaner ground beef, or ground ½ to 1 tablespoon of cooking oil to the skillet in addition to really paying attention to meat when it’s cooking so you can pull it off the heat when it’s done. As a result, it will help the meat stay a little juicier.
- Don’t have tomato paste? You can use ½ cup of tomato sauce instead of the tomato paste and water.
- You can also use 1 or 2 diced Roma tomatoes instead of the tomato paste and cook it down with the ground beef and seasonings until it’s reduced.
- Shredded cheese (a Mexican blend or Colby Jack are my favorite)
- Diced tomatoes or pico de gallo
- Shredded lettuce
- Sour cream, Mexican crema, or cilantro lime crema
- Hot sauce or your favorite salsa (like this roasted tomato salsa, or salsa verde)
- Pickled onions
- Frying the tortillas: Another option for making this simple dish extra delicious is to shallow fry the tortillas in a little bit of oil to get them crispy. This is a traditional method in Mexican cooking. Not only does it add lots of flavor, but it also strengthens the tortilla and makes it more pliable so it won’t crack during assembly. After frying, make sure to pat the tortillas with a paper towel to remove any excess oil.
- Protein: Instead of ground beef, you can make ground turkey tacos or ground chicken tacos. You may need to add more oil while cooking so it doesn’t dry out.
- Veggies: If you want to add in some vegetables, diced bell peppers, zucchini, or even a handful of spinach or kale are great options.
Storing, Freezing, and Reheating
To store, place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
To freeze, allow the ground beef to cool completely and place it in a freezer-safe storage bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat, warm the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until fully heated through. You may need to mix in a splash of water or broth if the mixture has dried out a little.
- 12 warm corn tortillas
- Thinly shredded lettuce
- Shredded cheese
- Diced tomatoes
- Sour cream
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, breaking up the meat into small pieces as it cooks. Drain and discard any excess grease if necessary.
- Add the tomato paste, water, chili powder, ground cumin, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried oregano. Stir together until fully combined. Cook for 1 more minute.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the lime juice.
- Serve ground beef in warm corn tortillas topped with shredded lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and sour cream.
- Beef: I like using 85% lean ground beef to keep the taco meat juicy and moist without it being overly greasy.
- Tomato paste: You can use ½ cup of tomato sauce instead of the tomato paste and water.
- Reheating: Add a splash of water or broth when reheating the taco meat to help prevent it from drying out.
Photos by Erin Jensen of The Wooden Skillet.