BEST Taco Meat Recipe

This is our favorite taco meat recipe, the only taco filling you’ll need for taco night.  So simple to prepare and seasoned just right.  This will quickly become a new favorite weeknight recipe.

a pot with taco meat next to tomatoes, salad, tortillas and cheese

Easy Taco Meat Recipe

When it comes to tacos, you need a simple taco meat recipe that has just the right seasonings without being too seasoned for all of your toppings.

Try my Salsa Verde Beef Tacos too!  Follow Picky Palate on Instagram for daily recipe inspiration.

Dutch oven with taco meat and a wooden spoon

What You’ll Need

  • extra virgin olive oil– You’ll use the olive oil to saute the onion and garlic. extra virgin is preferred.
  • white onion– I prefer white onion, but any variety will work just fine. Finely chop the onion, this will be sauteed and bring a nice layer of flavor to the taco meat.
  • minced garlic– You can use fresh garlic that you mince yourself or use the prepared minced garlic in a glass jar that can be found in the produce section.
  • lean ground beef– Look for at least 80% lean ground beef. Still a little fat, but not too much.
  • kosher salt– Kosher salt is more coarse, I use it in all of my cooking and baking.
  • freshly ground black pepper– For best flavor used freshly ground black pepper.
  • garlic salt– If you can find Lawry’s Garlic Salt, this is the brand I recommend.
  • prepared salsa verde– Use a mild salsa verde salsa. Herdez and Trader Joe’s have good options.
  • ground cumin– Find ground cumin in the spices section of the grocery store. Brings a smoky flavor to Mexican dishes.
  • hot sauce– Cholula works great here.
  • fresh lime juice– The fresh lime juice adds a great freshness to the taco meat.

How to Make Taco Meat

There are two steps to making homemade taco meat, but they are super simple! First you’re going to cook your ground beef, then you’ll add the seasonings and assemble your tacos.

Brown the Meat

Browning ground beef is easy to do! Here’s how:

  1. Place the ground meat in a skillet (preferably a nonstick skillet) and cook over medium-high heat. The most important part to browning ground beef is using a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula to break up the ground beef into equal-size pieces as it cooks. This ensures that all the ground beef pieces cook evenly.
  2. Add cooking oil. If your ground meat is very lean, and especially if your skillet isn’t nonstick, you may want to heat a small amount of cooking oil — about 1 to 2 teaspoons — in the skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the ground meat. This will help to keep the meat from sticking.
  3. On most stove tops, browning ground beef should take approximately 7 to 10 minutes for 1 pound of meat. It’s important to continue stirring and breaking the pieces into the same size with the wooden spoon or heatproof spatula so the ground beef cooks evenly. It’s easy to tell when your meat is ready — it should all be brown with no apparent pinkish pieces.
  4. When the ground beef is fully browned, the final step is to drain the fat. Remember to be careful because you’re working with hot fat. Carefully tilt the pan so the liquid fat falls to one side. Using a slotted spoon, push the meat to the other side of the pan and scoop it out onto a paper-towel-lined plate. Once the paper towels have absorbed any remaining fat, the beef is ready to be used in your favorite recipes.

Add Seasonings

Now all you have to do is stir in the salsa, cumin, hot sauce, and lime juice! Then add the taco filling to corn tortillas along with your favorite fixings and dig in.

Taco Topping Ideas

If you’re not sure what toppings go best with tacos, here are some of my favorite ideas:

  • Cheese
  • Salsa
  • Lettuce
  • Sour Cream
  • Guacamole
  • Tomatoes
  • Hot sauce
  • Cilantro
  • Green onions
  • Jalapenos
a pot with taco meat next to tomatoes, salad, tortillas and cheese

How To Serve

Serve warm taco meat inside your favorite taco shells along with your favorite toppings. This taco meat works great in burritos and rice too.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

This is a great recipe to make in advance because taco meat reheats well. Just let your taco filling come to room temperature, then store it in the fridge in an airtight container. It will keep for 4-5 days. When you’re ready to eat, simply reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. For the microwave, I recommend covering a microwave-safe bowl with a plate to avoid splattering.

taco meat recipe

Best Taco Meat Recipe

The only taco filling you'll need for taco night.  So simple to prepare and seasoned just right.  This will quickly become a new favorite weeknight recipe.
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 136kcal
Author: Jenny
Cost: $15
Print Pin


  • Stove
  • Large Skillet/Fry Pan
  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Lawry’s garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup prepared salsa verde
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce such as Cholula
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


  • Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.  Saute onion and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add ground beef, salt, pepper and garlic salt.  Cook and crumble until browned.  Drain fat if needed.  
  • Stir in salsa, cumin, hot sauce and lime juice.  Reduce heat to simmer until ready to serve.


Calories: 136kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 356mg | Potassium: 305mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 35IU | Vitamin C: 2.7mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 2.2mg
Keywords: beef for tacos, easy taco meat, how to make taco meat, how to season taco meat, taco meat, taco tuesday

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