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Your Traditional and Authentic Mexican Ground Beef Taco Recipe

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

Welcome to your authentic Mexican ground beef taco recipe. If you’re craving a truly traditional ground beef Mexican taco recipe, then this article is specially designed for you.

Have you ever had the desire to prepare something from your childhood? Well, for those of you who grew up with taco nights that consisted of taco shells from a yellow box and mystery taco seasoning from a packet, I dedicate to you this highly superior option to satisfy your taste buds: the authentic Mexican ground beef taco recipe.

What is a Taco?

The origins of this delicacy are not easily traced, but one theory says it dates as far back as the 18th century. The dish has jumped from Mexican silver miners to becoming a fast-food staple.

As a very popular finger food, it is a traditional Mexican dish consisting of two basic components—a corn or wheat tortilla folded or rolled around a filling. With tacos, there is a variety of fillings which include beef, pork, chicken, vegetables, cheese, etc. Easy to eat without utensils, they are often garnished with guacamole, salsa, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and lettuce.

If you set out to look for recipes for the authentic Mexican ground beef taco, my best bet is you’ll find a thousand and one recipes, but the question here is, how do you know which one to follow? Aside from that, how many ingredients are really necessary to get that unique taste?

Many of us love the idea of serving a good meal for the family, and for days when it seems an elaborate meal will not be possible, this easy recipe comes in handy. It incorporates a tirade of Mexican flavors that will soothe your taste buds. That’s not all though, as it is quick and easy to prepare, containing the essential elements that will give a truly delightful Mexican flavor.

Why Homemade Taco Seasonings Are The Best

One annoying thing about tacos bought from the grocery store is the seasoning packets. For those extremely conscious of what they eat, this will derail the purpose of gluten-free ground beef. The seasonings contain sugar, starch, and several additives. They basically taste like cumin and salt.

Also, most taco seasoning packets are heavy on the cumin and oregano, giving them a distinct Tex-Mex flavor. The packets are usually made for one pound of meat and contain roughly 2 tablespoons of seasoning.

Prepackaged seasonings are more convenient, but imagine being able to make your own batch of seasoning at home in a space of 3 minutes. Then, you wouldn’t have to go to the store to get those “convenient” packs. You will always have something ready in your pantry, fresh, just the way you like it. It doesn’t get more convenient than that.

Homemade taco seasoning for ground beef is indeed the surest way to save money and cut unnecessary additives like sugar, gluten, and preservatives from your favorite Taco Tuesday.

Coming up with your own taco seasoning powder or using the authentic Mexican taco seasoning is a better option, as you will get similar flavors with ingredients you already have in the kitchen, just without the sugar, carbohydrates, and gluten.

Ground beef taco seasoning is really important and not to be toyed with. A few spices and veggies make up the seasoning, and they include cumin, onions, black pepper, salt, chili powder, tomatoes, lettuce, and sometimes others.

What Meat Do You Use For Tacos?

When it comes to the preparation of a ground beef taco, the most important ingredient to note is the meat. For your beef, you can use top sirloin, skirt steak, or flank steak. The best meat to use, however, is simple ground beef, 70-80% lean. The fat will help give flavor to the meat and you’ll be able to drain the grease prior to serving.

Just in case there’s no beef available, you can use chicken to make tacos. It will give a different taste, no doubt…but the experience will still be the same. I’m sure a lot of people keep a pound of beef lying in the freezer for those last-minute meals when they need it. This will come in handy on days when you need to prepare tacos and you need beef.

Can you imagine tacos without meat?

An incredible way to indulge in this Mexican ground beef is that you can eat it in crispy, crunchy taco shells. Any ground meat leftovers can be converted to taco salad by adding it on top of lettuce and/or avocado.

That’s not all the options there is to it, though, as Mexican ground beef can also be used for burritos or be served with warm tortillas and rice. In essence, this is perfect weeknight meat, seeing as seasoned ground beef freezes well and lasts for a few days.

Ground Beef Taco Recipe

This authentic Mexican ground beef taco recipe is one that involves little planning as it is fast to prepare—a perfect go-to meal after a long day of work and no tacos.

To cook ground beef for taco recipes, it is best to use ½ pound of beef (enough for two persons), but you can easily double or triple the recipe. In preparing this meal, the first thing is to cook half an onion that has been roughly chopped for a few minutes, then add the ground beef. Depending on the cut of the beef, you can drain off some of the fat at this point if you want to.

In this recipe, we’ll be incorporating chipotle in adobo sauce alongside homemade seasoning, instead of seasoning packs. This will give a flavor that is sure to put the seasoning pack off the market.

Before using the chipotle, cut off any visible stem and remove some of the inner veins and seeds. Then, mince up the chipotle and add it to the beef alongside a tablespoon of the adobo sauce from the can. Also, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of chili powder for a little bit of spiciness.

To finish up, add salt and water and leave it for a few minutes. After all of this comes the biggest decision—the seasoning to add. Seasoning packs are heavy on cumin and oregano, but I’d rather you not depend on those if you want a finer dish. Fresh onion, garlic, and chipotle do quite well on their own as seasonings.

If you still have the nostalgic feeling for mom’s cooking, you have the option of adding a dash of oregano and cumin before the final simmer. You could even add a bit of black pepper. To get your taco fixings ready, what better way to prepare than to quick-bake some corn tortillas in the oven.

Although options exist for making these hardshell tortillas at home, one easy method is to warm up some corn tortillas in the oven, rub a thin layer of oil on them, and then drape over two rungs of the oven rack. In a few minutes’ time, they will crisp up and have a shape to them that looks ready to house some ground beef. Remove the tortillas when they are slightly brown. This will make them slightly pliable and less lethal (crunchy).

This recipe takes a total of 25 minutes and will serve two people. Ground beef taco ingredients include:

  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 6-8 corn tortillas
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ onion
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt(or to taste)
  • 1 chipotle in adobo
  • 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili powder
  • Dash of cumin (optional)
  • Dash of oregano (optional)
  • Dash of black pepper
  • Monterey Jack cheese (or mozzarella)
  • Fresh lettuce
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Guacamole (optional)

Directions:

  1. To start with, roughly chop the half-cut of onion. Saute the chopped onion in a dollop of oil on a saucepan over medium-high heat for a few minutes.
  2. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. You can drain the fat if you want. Add the minced garlic and saute briefly. Add the minced chipotle, a tablespoon of adobo sauce, and 1-2 teaspoons chili powder. You can add oregano, cumin, and black pepper if you want (it’s optional).
  3. Next is to add the salt and a couple of tablespoons of water. Allow that to simmer for a few minutes under medium heat. By the time you get all the taco fixings, the meat will be ready. You can take a final taste for seasoning. This is where you add any extra seasoning if you’re not content with the taste so far.
  4. Concerning the taco shells—if you want to bake them, you can start by warming up the corn tortillas in the microwave or oven. Lightly brush the tortillas with neutral oil or cooking spray and drape them over two oven rungs for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Remove them when slightly brown. Serve your tacos with diced tomatoes, shredded mozzarella or Monterey jack cheese, chopped lettuce, and guacamole. You can also add any other filling of your choice. Of course, you should also serve the tacos with freshly-made salsa.

With garnishing comes a variety of options to play with. One way to garnish tacos is to add diced onions and chopped cilantro. You can serve these with lime wedges. When preparing your taco, there is room to replace the adobo sauce with tomato sauce. This is more efficient than water when it comes to thickening the dish so that the spices stick to the meat.

Instead of using store-bought tortillas, you can prepare tortillas fresh at home (homemade tortilla) with masa, water, and salt. Yes! A glance through the ingredient list for the store-bought tortillas, even the organic ones, and you’ll find quite a bit more than those ingredients in terms of additives. But all you need to do at home is to combine the ingredients, roll golf ball-sized dough balls, press them down and cook these in a pan. You don’t need oil or anything else.

Sometimes a nice trick to getting ground beef is to mince the meat finely until what you have closely resembles ground beef. Of course, your arm will hurt from all the chopping, but it’s definitely worth it.

With all of this, your cooking experience can only get better. Say a big adiós to the yellow box and that mystery seasoning pack, because now your authentic Mexican ground beef recipe is here to stay!

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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