Ground Beef Tacos (Just Like Taco Bell) | (2024)

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Forget the drive-thru, this is how to make a ground beef tacos recipe that tastes just like Taco Bell tacos for an easy Taco Tuesday dinner at home any night of the week.

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These ground beef tacos are a nod to one of America’s favorite Mexican fast food chains (and my husband’s)—Taco Bell. I’m not much of a fast food fan, but Taco Bell tacos hit just right when it comes to drive-thru Mexican food. I have many recipes that satisfy our regular taco cravings,like myblackened fish tacos with creamy avocado sauce, carnitas, and grilled steak tacos. But these Taco Bell tribute tacos are so nostalgic and satisfy a totally different type of craving, right up there with greasy, cheesy pepperoni pizza. This recipe comes from my mother-in-law. She shared all her secrets with me, and these are so good, they could very well curb your drive-thru habit too.

Why You’ll Love It

  • These ground beef tacos really do taste JUST like Taco Bell tacos (and are so nostalgic)!
  • They’re easy to make, and kid-friendly too
  • These tacos feature an easy homemade taco seasoning and a secret ingredient that makes the ground beef filling the absolute best!

What Ingredients to Put In Tacos

My MIL’s ground beef tacos are revered in the family, and probably the most often requested dinner for family gatherings, next to her Curry Turkey Pot Pie (my birthday favorite!) or Hamburger Soup. She takes her ground beef tacos seriously, and while this recipe is super easy to make, some key ingredients and techniques make it special, and so frigging delicious:

  • Ground beef–85% lean (you don’t want anything too lean, otherwise, you’re liable to wind up with dry taco meat). You could substitute ground turkey if you wanted.
  • White onion–this gets sautéed with the ground beef mixture for more flavor.
  • Garlic–seasons our beef and onion mixture.
  • Tomato juice—this surprise ingredient is added to the ground beef and spices to deglaze the pan. It loosens up all those browned bits and also lends extra moisture for the perfect consistency. You could also use V-8 or water.
  • Yellow cornmeal—my mother-in-law swears this is key to making these tacos taste most like Taco Bell. It tightens up the beef mixture after the tomato juice is added, and adds another layer of maize/corn essence, combining with the Mexican flavors. If the mix feels too thick, add a bit more tomato juice to thin it and cook the cornmeal.
  • Taco shells—I like hard taco shells (white corn specifically), but yellow corn or even flour tortillas make a great Taco Bell-style taco.
  • Shredded cheese–cheddar cheese is my cheese of choice and don’t recommend buying the pre-shredded stuff.
  • Taco seasoning–I ditch the packet and make my own, which is so easy (see below for how I make it)!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

How to Make Taco Seasoning

Fortunes have been made on packaging taco seasoning, but it’s so simple to make from your spice drawer, why not make it from scratch? After you try this easy DIY taco seasoning, you’ll ditch the packet forever.

You’ll need:

  • Cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Garlic salt
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Taco seasoning is pretty salty by itself, so don’t be alarmed if you take a taste and feel it’s too much.

see more:70 Cinco De Mayo Mexican Recipes

How to Make These Taco Bell Tacos

  • Brown the beef. I recommend using a flat-edged wooded spatula to really chop up the beef into small pieces. I find this easiest to do once the meat has begun to brown, breaking down easier than when raw. My MIL says the flavor in these tacos comes from browning the beef thoroughly, building crisped bits on the bottom of the pan. Watch it though, so the beef doesn’t burn or char.
  • Sauté the onion and garlic. Once the meat is in smaller bits, stir in the onions and garlic and cook.
  • Add the special seasonings. Adding the taco spices to the ground beef toward the end of browning allows them to cook for a minute or two to seal flavor into the meat and also awakens the flavors of the spices as they heat.

How to Assemble Your Tacos

Two of the hallmarks of a bad taco are 1) a cold taco shell and 2) cheese that still carries the chill of the fridge. That’s why the last step of my MIL’s easy ground beef tacos is the assembling of the tacos should not be skipped and is worth completing this extra step.

  • Toast your tacos. Use a sheet pan or a casserole dish to snuggle your corn tortillas together upright, then spoon the taco meat into them and sprinkle them with shredded cheese. Toast in the oven or a toaster oven at 400°F just until the cheese melts and the shells begin to brown.
  • Add the fixings. Now it’s time to dress these babies up. Sour cream, shredded iceberg lettuce, avocado, diced tomatoes, and onion are my picks for classic toppings. Everyone has their favorite toppings, and since you’re making them yourself, now is the time to load them up––add red onion and cilantro, and pico de gallo if you like.

see more:31 Healthy Mexican Recipes to Make Now


  • Do you drain ground beef before adding taco seasoning? You could drain your ground beef if you wanted but I don’t usually bother.
  • Do I add water to ground beef for tacos? Some recipes have you do this, but tomato juice imparts so much more flavor! However, if your mix is too thick, you can use water to thin it out.
  • Can I use ground turkey instead? Technically, yes. But if you’re truly looking to make copycat Taco Bell tacos, ground beef is the way to go.
  • Can I use store-bought taco seasoning? You can, but your homemade taco recipe won’t taste just like Taco Bell’s.

How Do You Make the Best Tacos?

  1. Mash your meat. To break down the taco meat very finely, use a potato masher or a meat masher. Or, use your spatula and take your time breaking up the ground beef.
  2. Take your time simmering. After stirring in the tomato juice and cornmeal, let the taco filling bubble away for 10 to 15 minutes. If you try to serve your ground beef tacos immediately, the filling will be too soupy.
  3. Set up a DIY area for filling your tacos. Make your life easier and put all the taco toppings into serving dishes for folks to top their tacos how they’d like.

What to Serve With These Tacos

  • Easy Mexican Coleslaw Recipe
  • Creamy Avocado Salsa Verde
  • Chopped Mexican Kale Salad
  • Mango Margarita With Chile Salt And Lime
  • Chunky Citrus Guacamole

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo andtag me on Instagramwith #foodiecrusheats.

Ground Beef Tacos (Just Like Taco Bell) | (9)

4.64 from 122 votes

Ground Beef Tacos (Just Like Taco Bell)

Forget the drive-thru, this is how to make a beef tacos recipe that tastes just like Taco Bell tacos for an easy Taco Tuesday dinner at home any night of the week.

Print Save

Course Main Course

Cuisine Mexican

Keyword ground beef, tacos

Prep Time 10 minutes minutes

Cook Time 30 minutes minutes

Total Time 40 minutes minutes

Servings 12 tacos

Calories 238kcal


  • 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
  • ½ white onion , diced
  • 2 cloves garlic , pressed or minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • ¼ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 12 taco shells
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese , shredded

Optional Toppings:

  • sliced lettuce
  • chopped tomatoes
  • avocado
  • onion
  • sour cream


  • Add the ground beef to a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook until browned, about 10 minutes, breaking into small pieces as it browns.

  • Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the beef is well browned and the onion is translucent.

  • Add the cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, kosher salt, and black pepper and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring often.

  • Stir in the tomato juice and cornmeal and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the juice has cooked down and the cornmeal softens, stirring occasionally. Add more tomato juice or water if the mixture clumps.

  • Place the taco shells on a sheet pan or in a baking dish and spoon about ⅓ cup taco meat into each shell and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Broil in a toaster oven or oven until the cheese melts.

  • Garnish the tacos with fixings and serve.


  • I like white corn taco shells, but yellow corn or even soft shells make a great Taco Bell style taco.


Serving: 1taco | Calories: 238kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 569mg | Potassium: 280mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 475IU | Vitamin C: 7.9mg | Calcium: 163mg | Iron: 1.7mg

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  • Slow Cooker Smoky Pulled Pork Tacos
  • Stewed Chicken Tacos
  • Fried Avocado Tacos Recipe

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Ground Beef Tacos (Just Like Taco Bell) | (2024)
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