Taco Meat Recipe Mastery: Dive into Delicious Recipes & Seasoning Secrets Today!

Taco Meat Recipe Mastery: Tacos are one of America’s favorite foods, with 39% of consumers eating them at least once a week. And the star of any great taco is the taco meat filling. With flavorful, tender meat and spices, taco meat makes these handheld treats irresistible.

So, what’s the secret to incredible taco meat? The suitable recipes and seasonings. The possibilities are endless, from traditional ground beef to chicken, turkey, pork, and more. You can transform those leftovers into tacos, burritos, salads, and more.

This definitive guide will guide you through the following steps:

– Taco Meat Cooking Tips: Learn how to brown meat perfectly and boost flavor
– 10 Best Taco Meat Recipes: Ground beef, chicken, turkey, pork and more 
– 5 Blends for Taco Seasoning: Put down the store-bought packets!
– 10 Creative Ways to Use Leftovers: Tacos for Days!

With over 20 recipe ideas, you’ll never get bored with taco night again. Let’s get started!

Taco Meat Cooking Tips

Before diving into recipes, learn these crucial tips for cooking taco meat:

Brown the Meat Properly 

Browning ground meat transforms flavor. When meat browns, the amino acids, and sugars react with heat, creating hundreds of complex flavors through the Maillard reaction. This reaction also happens when you toast bread or baste a steak.

Cook the meat over medium-high heat. Break it into small crumbles, and only move it occasionally. You want crispy browned bits to form.

Drain the Fat

Draining excess fat helps the taco meat seasoning adhere better. Use a large slotted spoon to remove meat from the pan, reserving any browned bits stuck to the bottom. 

Pour excess grease, then return the meat and browned bits to the pan. Add your favorite taco seasoning and a splash of water to dissolve any stuck bits. 

Boost the Flavor

In addition to taco seasoning, sautéing aromatics like onion and garlic can boost flavor. Fresh herbs, chiles, and spices also pack a punch.

Remember, acids like lime juice or hot sauce. A squirt at the end brightens all the ingredients. 

10 Best Taco Meat Recipes

The possibilities for taco meat go way beyond ground beef. Try out Chicken, Turkey, or Pork Taco Meat

Chicken Tacos

1. Add spices to chicken breasts and cook in a skillet. Chop.

2. Cook onion and garlic.

3. Combine aromatics with cooked chicken.

4. Heat with chicken broth and taco seasoning.

Turkey Taco Meat 

1. Sauté onion, garlic, and spices. 

2. Brown ground turkey. Drain fat. 

3. Add broth, tomato product and flavors. 

4. Finish with lime juice for brightness.

Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos)

1. Cook pork shoulder in a slow cooker until fall-apart tender. 

2. Shred meat and crisp in hot oil to develop flavor.  

3. Warm through with extra spices.

Now let’s dive into 10 of the Best Ground Beef Taco Recipes:

1. Easy Beef Tacos

taco meat recipe

This simple weeknight recipe uses a store-bought taco seasoning packet for fast flavor. It’s great for kids or adults with basic tastes.

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • One packet of taco seasoning mix (mild or spicy based on preference)
  • Six taco shells
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, lettuce, salsa, sour cream (for serving)
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Add the lean ground beef to a large pan and set it over medium-high heat. Use a wooden spoon to break the meat into smaller pieces as it cooks.
  2. Cook the meat for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until it is fully browned and cooked. Use the spoon to break up any large pieces.
  3. Drain the excess grease from the cooked ground beef using a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a paper towel-lined plate. Allow any excess grease to drain off.
  4. Add the meat back to the skillet and sprinkle the packet of Taco seasoning mix evenly over the top. Put in 1/2 cup of water and stir until combined.
  5. Let the sauce reach a simmering point, and then lower the temperature to medium-low. Stir regularly and simmer for about 3 minutes until the seasoning and water make an opaque sauce over the meat.
  6. Warm the taco shells according to package instructions. Carefully fill each shell with the taco meat mixture.
  7. Top with the desired amount of shredded cheddar cheese, lettuce, salsa, and sour cream. Serve immediately and enjoy!

2. Authentic Carne Asada

taco meat recipe

This authentic recipe uses ancho and guajillo-dried chiles for a rich flavor. The blend of spices is balanced with a touch of vinegar and lime zest.

  • Two dried ancho chiles
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles
  • 1 lb 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • One lime, zested
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. With tongs, toast the guajillo and ancho chilies in a dry skillet on moderate-high heat for approximately 1 minute on each side until soft and fragrant. Cut off the stems and seeds when they are still attached.
  2. Combine the chiles and 1 cup of low-sodium chicken or beef broth in a small pot. Bring this pure mixture to a boil, and then simmer it for 5 minutes until the chiles have softened completely.
  3. Transfer the broth and chiles to the blender. Blend at high speed until a fine paste is created, approximately 1 minute. Set aside
  4. In the skillet, cook ground beef over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, breaking it into small crumbles as it browns. Drain excess fat.
  5. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in the dried spices until coated evenly in beef. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  6. Add blended chile paste and vinegar to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until well incorporated.
  7. Remove from heat. Stir in lime zest. Add salt to taste if needed. Enjoy carne asada in tacos, burritos, or bowls!

3. Tex-Mex Taco Meat

taco meat recipe

Tex-Mex flavors like cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pair perfectly with ground beef. Bright tomatoes and lime cut through the richness.

  • 1 lb 90% lean ground beef
  • One small yellow onion, diced
  • Three garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomato
  • Juice from 1 lime
Step by Step Instructions:
  1. Heat a sizable skillet on medium and add the chopped onions. Cook for 4-5 minutes until they become transparent, soft, and tender. Next, incorporate the chopped garlic and continue cooking for another minute. Remove the garlic and onions from the pan and place them in a separate bowl to the side.
  2. Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the ground beef to the skillet and break it up with a wooden spoon while it cooks. Cook it for 5-7 minutes, until the meat is browned and crumbled.
  3. The fat left over from the meat is then returned to the skillet to medium-high temperature.
  4. Incorporate the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and cayenne, distributing the beef uniformly. Cook it for 1 minute or until the spices are fragrant and toasty.
  5. Add your cooked onions and garlic to the pan and diced tomatoes from the can (with juices). Stir until the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Allow the mixture to reach a simmer. Once it’s bubbling, reduce the heat and cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring until it becomes slightly thicker.
  7. Remove from the stove and mix in lemon juice. Then, taste and adjust the seasoning with pepper and salt.
  8. Take advantage of Tex-Mex taco meats in burritos, tacos, nachos, and more!

4. Taco Breakfast Hash

Who says you can’t have tacos for breakfast? This hearty hash combines ground beef with potato, peppers, and egg for a protein-packed morning meal.

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Two russet potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • One small onion, diced
  • One red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Four eggs
  • Salsa, for serving
  • Shredded cheddar cheese for topping
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef for 5-7 minutes, breaking it into crumbles as it browns. Drain excess fat. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Heat the 2 tbsp oil in the same skillet over medium to high heat. Add the potatoes and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown and crisp.
  3. After adding the onion and bell pepper, continue cooking for 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and browned.
  4. Sprinkle the cumin and paprika over the vegetables. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  5. Stir in the cooked ground beef and break up any large clumps. Flatten into an even layer.
  6. Make four indentations about 3 inches wide in the hash. Crack one egg carefully into each well.
  7. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes until egg whites are set but yolks still runny.
  8. Transfer portions of hash and egg to plates. Top with salsa and shredded cheese before serving. Enjoy!

5. Korean Kimchi Ground Beef Taco

In these Asian-inspired tacos, spicy fermented cabbage (kimchi) packs a flavor punch, while creamy yogurt tames the heat.

  • 1 lb 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 cup kimchi, chopped
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Eight small flour tortillas
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. On a large skillet over medium to high heat, cook the ground beef for 5-7 minutes, breaking it apart with a spoon as it cooks. Drain excess grease when browned.
  2. To the skillet, add the chopped kimchi and stir to distribute evenly. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until kimchi is wilted but still retains some crunch.
  3. Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Pour the mixture into the skillet. Stir to coat the beef and kimchi.
  4. Remove the skillet from heat. Stir it in the Greek yogurt until thoroughly combined. If desired, season to taste with more soy sauce.
  5. Warm the tortillas according to package instructions. Spoon the beef and kimchi mixture into the center of each tortilla. Fold or roll up to assemble tacos. Top with extra kimchi or yogurt if desired. Enjoy!

6. Loaded Taco Meat

Add flavor-packed ingredients like olives, bacon, and cheese to the ground beef for an over-the-top taco filling.

  • 1 lb 90% lean ground beef
  • One small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Four slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Add ground beef and chopped onion to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes, breaking up meat crumbles as it browns.
  2. Drain excess fat from the skillet. Sprinkle chili powder and cumin over the meat. Stir well to coat evenly with spices. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  3. Add the chopped bacon and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crispy.
  4. Stir in olives and pepper jack cheese until well incorporated into the ground beef mixture.
  5. Cook it for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cheese melts and creates a gooey, loaded taco meat.
  6. Serve loaded taco meat in hard or soft taco shells—top with your favorite fixings, like lettuce, tomato, and avocado. Enjoy!

7. Chili-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

For a healthy vegetarian option, roast sweet potatoes and stuff them with protein-rich beans, tomato, and spices.

  • Four medium sweet potatoes scrubbed clean
  • 1 (15oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt (optional)
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use a fork to poke holes all over the sweet potatoes. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for 45-55 minutes until they feel tender when squeezed.
  2. Combine black beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, and spices in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Stir the MixMixture and allow it to cool down. Cook for 5 minutes until it’s warm throughout and thickens. Use the back of a spoon to lightly mash some of the beans against the pan’s side.
  3. Cut the cooked sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Then, use a fork to fluff the inside flesh gently, making room for filling.
  4. Spoon the bean chili mixture into the center of each sweet potato half. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and Greek yogurt, if desired.
  5. Serve the chili-stuffed sweet potatoes immediately while hot. Enjoy!

8. Greek Lamb & Feta Tacos

Spice up Taco Tuesday with Mediterranean flavors! Zesty lemon, garlic, oregano, and olives give this lamb recipe a fresh Greek twist. Briny feta cheese adds a nice bite.

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • One small yellow onion, diced
  • Three garlic cloves, minced
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Eight small flour tortillas
Step by Step Instructions:
  1. Heat the 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add ground lamb to the hot skillet. Cook for 5-7 minutes, breaking up meat into crumbles as it browns. Drain excess fat if needed.
  3. Return the onion and garlic to the skillet and add lemon zest, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat the lamb mixture evenly and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Stir in lemon juice and chopped Kalamata olives. Cook it for 1-2 minutes just until heated through.
  5. Serve lamb mixture piled into warm flour tortillas. Top with feta cheese crumbles. Enjoy!

9. Tinga Chicken Tacos 

Tinga sauce features smoky chipotle chiles and bright tomatoes. Shredded chicken soaks up all the sweet and spicy flavors and is excellent tucked into warm corn tortillas.

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • One small white onion, diced
  • Four garlic cloves, minced
  • Two chipotle chiles from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 12 small corn tortillas, warmed
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Put the chicken thighs and 1 cup of broth into a skillet. Simmer gently, cover, and cook for 20 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Move the chicken to a plate to cool off a bit. When it’s cool enough to touch, use two forks to pull the chicken apart into tiny, bite-sized shreds.
  2. Next, using the same skillet set over medium heat, cook the diced onion for 3-4 minutes until it turns translucent and soft. Then, stir in the minced tasty garlic and continue cooking for another minute.
  3. Stir in the minced chipotle chiles and fire-roasted tomato, including juices from the can. Increase heat slightly and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until tomatoes have thickened into more of a sauce.
  4. Return the shredded chicken to the skillet and toss to coat evenly with the tinga sauce. Cook for 2-3 minutes, just until heated through again.
  5. Serve the tinga chicken mixture into the warm corn tortillas. Add any desired toppings, and enjoy!

10. Zucchini-Mushroom Veggie Tacos

For a meatless Monday, try this recipe using nutrient-rich zucchini and mushrooms instead of beef. Chili powder and cumin give it plenty of taco flavor.

  • Two medium zucchini, diced
  • 8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • One small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • One lime, juiced
  • Eight small corn tortillas warmed
  • One avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium to high heat until it shatters. Then, add the zucchini, mushrooms, and onion to the pan.
  2. Allow them to cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring now and then, until the veggies are soft and have a slight golden color.
  3. Mix in the chili powder and cumin, ensuring the vegetables are well coated with the spices. Cook for an additional few minutes until the mixture emits a rich aroma.
  4. Take the skillet off the heat and blend in the lime juice. Adjust the seasoning with extra salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
  5. Serve the veggie mixture piled into the warm corn tortillas. Before serving, top with fresh cabbage and avocado slices. Enjoy!

5 Taco Seasoning Recipes Better Than Packets

Store-bought seasoning packets seem so easy. But homemade blends taste far better! Mix up a batch on hand, then customize it to your taste. 

1. Basic Taco Seasoning

In a small bowl, combine all of the spices:

  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

Whisk ingredients together until thoroughly blended. Add 2-3 Tbsp of homemade taco seasoning to 1 lb of ground beef, turkey, or chicken while cooking. Stir continuously for 1-2 minutes to coat the meat evenly. Adjust chili powder or cumin amounts according to personal taste preferences.

2. Smoky Taco Seasoning

In a small bowl, combine all spices:

  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lime zest

Whisk ingredients together thoroughly until blended. Use 2-3 Tbsp to season 1 lb of ground meat while cooking. Stir continuously for 1-2 minutes to coat evenly.

3. Southwest Taco Seasoning

Vinegar, lime juice, and tomato make this spice blend extra tangy. 

Makes 1/3 cup  

  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp tomato powder

Whisk ingredients together thoroughly until blended. Use 2-3 Tbsp to season 1 lb of ground meat while cooking. Stir continuously for 1-2 minutes to coat evenly.

4. Verde Taco Seasoning

Cilantro, jalapeno, and lime give this blend a fresh, green flavor. Great on chicken or turkey tacos.

  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • One jalapeño pepper, seeds removed if less heat is desired
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • One garlic clove
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  1. Add all these ingredients to a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend for 1-2 minutes, stopping and scraping down the sides as needed, until a smooth green paste forms.
  3. Use 2-3 Tbsp of verde taco paste to season 1 lb of ground poultry or veggies like mushrooms while cooking.
  4. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously to evenly coat.

5. Chili-Coffee Rub

Sparks up your taste buds with this sweet and spicy blend. The coffee adds richness. 

Makes about 1/3 cup

  • 1/4 cup ground coffee
  • 2 Tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  1. In a small bowl, combine all of the spice ingredients.
  2. Whisk thoroughly to evenly distribute and blend all ingredients into a reddish brown rub.
  3. When ready to use, pat 2-3 Tbsp of the rub onto steak, chops, chicken, or fish right before searing or grilling.
  4. Apply rub immediately before cooking so the coffee and spices do not burn.
  5. The coffee in the blend adds a beautiful richness, while the ancho chili and cayenne bring smoky spice and heat.

How to Use Leftover and Extra Taco Meat

Don’t let leftovers go to waste! Make one of these easy meals and get creative with taco filling.

1. Taco-Stuffed Potatoes

  • Ingredients: Leftover taco meat, shredded cheese, baked russet potatoes, scallions, salsa, Greek yogurt
  • Instructions: Slice-baked russet potatoes in half. Scoop the insides into a bowl and mix with taco meat, cheese, salsa, and Greek yogurt. Spoon the Mix back into the potato skins. Broil for 5 minutes until this cheese melts. Top with scallions.

2. Taco Chopped Salad

  • Ingredients: Leftover taco meat, mixed greens, corn, black beans, tortilla strips, avocado, cotija cheese, lime vinaigrette
  • Instructions: In a bowl, toss together greens, taco meat, corn, black beans, tortilla strips, avocado, and cotija cheese. Right before serving, drizzle with lime vinaigrette.

3. Breakfast Taco Scramble

  • Ingredients: Leftover taco meat, eggs, cheese, potato, bell pepper, onion, tortillas
  • Instructions: Scramble eggs with taco meat, shredded cheese, potatoes, bell pepper, and onion. Once eggs reach the desired doneness, wrap them in warmed tortillas to serve.

4. Taco & Black Bean Soup

  • Ingredients: Leftover taco meat, black beans, tomato, corn, broth, cumin
  • Instructions: Puree 1 can black beans with broth. Add to soup pot with leftover taco meat, corn, diced tomatoes, and spices. Simmer for 20 minutes, then ladle into bowls.

5. Taco Bake Nachos

  • Ingredients: Taco meat, tortilla chips, refried beans, salsa, cheese
  • Instructions: In a casserole dish, make layers of crushed tortilla chips, taco meat, refried beans, and tons of shredded cheese. Baked at 400°F for about 10 minutes until hot and melty. Top with salsa, olives, etc.

6. Cheesy Taco Pasta Casserole

  • Ingredients: Taco meat, pasta, enchilada sauce, cheese, veggies
  • Instructions: Toss pasta with taco meat, enchilada sauce, corn, and black beans. Transfer to a baking dish and top generously with shredded cheese. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes.

7. Burrito Taco Bowls

  • Ingredients: Taco meat, rice, black beans, salsa, cheese, lettuce, sour cream
  • Instructions: Serve taco meat and desired toppings like Mexican rice, refried beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, avocado, and sour cream over bowls.

8. Taco Pizza

  • Ingredients: Pizza dough, taco meat, enchilada sauce, cheese, onion, tomatoes
  • Instructions: Roll out pizza dough and bake for 10 minutes. Top with enchilada sauce, taco meat, cheese, onions, tomatoes and cilantro. Bake 5 minutes more.

9. Taco Sub Sandwiches

  • Ingredients: Leftover taco meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, Greek yogurt sauce
  • Instructions: Pile taco meat onto opened sub rolls. Top with shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and Greek yogurt sauce mixed with taco seasoning.

10. Cheesy Breakfast Quesadillas

  • Ingredients: Leftover taco meat, eggs, potato, onion, cheese
  • Instructions: Scramble eggs with taco meat, potatoes, and onion. Place the Mix between two tortillas with cheese. Grill in a skillet for 2-3 minutes per side until the tortillas are crisp and the cheese melts.

With all these mouthwatering recipes, you’ll look forward to Taco Tuesday every week! The possibilities for flavorful taco meat are endless, from easy ground beef to chicken, turkey, and beyond.

Whip up a fresh taco seasoning blend rather than grabbing a store-bought packet. Customize it, boosting spice, smoke, or tangy lime flavors. 

And no more wasting leftovers. Revive extra taco meat by incorporating it into everything from stuffed peppers to nachos, pizza, and more. With creativity, you can enjoy tacos morning, noon, and night!

Also Read: Chick-fil-as-bold-new-chicken-sandwich, Korean-corn-dogs-taking-over-TikTok

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