Authentic Mexican Tacos

If you didn’t grow up in the Southwest, your early experiences with tacos probably involved the hard taco shells that you find at the grocery store in a box (or at the Taco Bell drive-through window).

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However, authentic Mexican tacos or Mexican street tacos are served in soft corn tortillas, although some people like tacos with flour tortillas.

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This recipe is one of our favorite Mexican ground beef recipes. Ground beef is such a versatile meat and we love making real Mexican tacos with it.

Authentic tacos and Mexican street tacos made with ground beef are super easy to make.

Let’s learn the step-by-step process for this Mexican tacos recipe.

Why You Will Love Authentic Mexican Ground Beef Tacos

There are so many reasons to love Mexican ground beef tacos.

  • Mexican ground beef tacos are delicious and easy to love. It’s hard not to love tacos. With the ground beef, onion, tomatoes, and cheese wrapped up in soft warm tortillas, this is a full meal that is both yummy and filling.
  • Ground beef tacos are made with flavors most people enjoy. With traditional Tex-Mex and Mexican food flavors like garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and paprika, these tacos have such a spicy and savory flavor that nearly everyone loves.
  • The fresh garnishes and ingredients are the stars of the show. We’re talking about fresh cilantro, fresh lime juice, tomatoes, onions, shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, and avocado or guacamole. Some pico de gallo sends things over the top.
  • Taco Tuesday with the family becomes more fun than ever. Set up a buffet and everyone can make their tacos just as they like them.
  • Tacos are customizable. Tacos can be made with all types of ingredients, including carne asada, cotija cheese, refried beans, Mexican rice, salsa, and more. You can also make steak tacos, a chicken taco, carne asada taco, ground pork taco, barbacoa, pork shoulder al pastor, flank steak tacos, or carnitas taco. Also, don’t forget about the amazing breakfast taco or burrito.
  • You can serve lots of great sides. Besides the condiments and toppings like guacamole and salsa that come with tacos, you can also serve them with amazing Mexican sides like refried beans, pinto beans, Mexican rice, and lettuce salad with cilantro.

Family or friends home taco party.

Ingredients in Mexican Tacos

When making authentic Mexican tacos, the ingredients are key. The fresher your ingredients, the better your tacos will turn out to be. Here is a list of the ingredients you will need for these Mexican ground beef tacos.

  • Ground beef (or other meat, see below)
  • Canola oil or olive oil
  • Tomato paste (or tomato sauce)
  • Beef broth or water (you can also use chicken broth in a pinch)
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Chopped onions: red onion or white onion (or onion powder)
  • Cheese: You can use a Mexican blend shredded cheese, or you can use any type of cheese that melts well. Consider Mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, or Monterey Jack cheese.
  • Taco seasoning: chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, dried oregano, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper
  • Tortillas (corn tortilla or flour tortilla in taco size)
  • Chopped avocado or guacamole
  • Lime wedges (for squeezing on the tacos)
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Salsa (optional)

If you don’t want to make your tacos with ground beef, that’s totally OK. You can substitute a pound of ground turkey. You can also make tacos with shredded pork or shredded chicken.

Eating vegan or vegetarian? No problem! Just make your tacos with chickpeas, tempeh, any type of beans you like, or tofu.

Steps for This Authentic Taco Recipe

To make your tacos, gather together your cast-iron skillet, measuring cups, and measuring spoons.

Step 1: Cook the Ground Beef

Heat the oil in your skillet for two minutes over medium-high heat. You will add your meat once the oil is hot enough to sizzle.

Add the ground beef to the skillet and stir as the meat cooks evenly and begins to brown. This process will take between 6-8 minutes. While the meat is browning, use a wooden spoon or potato masher to break the ground beef up into smaller pieces.

Step 2: Add Seasoning

Once the meat is browned, add the beef broth, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper to the skillet with the meat.

Reduce the heat to medium and allow the meat mixture to simmer for about 3-5 minutes until the sauce becomes thick. Stir occasionally. When the sauce is thick, turn off the heat and set the skillet aside.

Step 3: Heat the Tortillas

To heat your tortillas, put the tortillas one at a time into a hot ungreased skillet or cast-iron comal (the round Mexican flat skillet) for 30 seconds on each side.

In a pinch, you can also heat your tortillas in the microwave. Another way to heat up your tortillas is to heat them directly on a gas burner for just a few seconds, allowing the edges to become slightly charred.

Step 4: Assemble Your Tacos

For each tortilla, add about 2-3 tablespoons of your taco meat mixture. Top the ground beef mixture with onion, cheese, cilantro, and tomato.

Add whatever other garnishes you want to your tacos, including sour cream, pico de gallo, or guacamole. Squeeze the lime wedges over your tortillas.

Mexican pork tacos with vegetables

How to Make Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Mexican Tacos

If you follow a special diet, you can still enjoy authentic Mexican tacos. For gluten-free tacos, just use corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas. Remember that some grated cheese has a light flour coating to keep it from sticking together. For this reason, you may want to grate your own cheese if you’re following a gluten-free diet.

To make dairy-free tacos, serve your tacos without sour cream or cheese. If you want fewer carbs, opt for a low-carb tortilla instead of the regular tortillas.

How to Store and Freeze Mexican Tacos

To store your leftover tacos, be sure to store the ground beef taco mixture separately from the other ingredients like the tortillas and condiments. Store all of the various components in separate air-tight containers and it will all keep well for up to four days in the refrigerator.

To freeze your leftover cooked ground beef taco meat, allow it to come to room temperature. Then, transfer the meat mixture to a freezer bag or airtight freezer container. Your meat mixture will keep well in the freezer for up to three months.

To thaw the frozen taco meat, allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat it according to the instructions below. Alternatively, you can thaw your taco meat in the microwave.

Reheating Leftover Tacos

If you have leftover taco meat, you can reheat it on the stove until warmed through on medium-low heat. If the mixture becomes thick from sitting in the refrigerator, add a little bit of water or salsa to it.

You can also reheat leftover taco meat in the microwave in increments of 20 seconds until it is heated through. You may need to add a little bit of water to the meat mixture before microwaving it.

Tortillas can be reheated in the microwave in increments of 5-10 seconds at a time.

row of mexican street tacos on slate with carne asada and al pastor in corn tortilla

Authentic Mexican Ground Beef Taco Recipe

Cuisine: Mexican

Servings: 8

Serving size: 1 taco

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Calories: 227 kcal

INGREDIENTS (GROUND BEEF TACO MIXTURE)

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water or beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

INGREDIENTS (FOR TACOS)

  • Corn tortilla or flour tortilla
  • Diced avocado or guacamole
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 medium white or red onion, diced
  • Salsa
  • Finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Lime wedges
  • Pico de gallo (optional)

METHOD

  1. Heat the oil in your skillet for two minutes over medium-high heat. Add your meat once the oil is hot enough to sizzle.
  2. Add the ground beef to the skillet and stir as the meat cooks evenly and begins to brown. This process will take between 6-8 minutes. While the meat is browning, use a wooden spoon or potato masher to break the ground beef up into smaller pieces.
  3. Add the beef broth, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper to the skillet with the meat.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the meat mixture to simmer for about 3-5 minutes until the sauce becomes thick. Stir occasionally. When the sauce is thick, turn off the heat and set the skillet aside.
  5. Heat your tortillas by putting one tortilla at a time into a hot ungreased skillet or cast-iron comal for 30 seconds on each side.
  6. For each tortilla, add about 2-3 tablespoons of your taco meat mixture. Top the ground beef mixture with onion, cheese, cilantro, and tomato.
  7. Add whatever other garnishes you want to your tacos, including sour cream, salsa, pico de gallo, or guacamole. Squeeze the lime juice over your assembled tacos.
  8. Enjoy!

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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