Use this Taco Bell Meat recipe to learn how to make taco meat taste just like takeout. Then you can recreate all your favorite menu items at home!
Salty and savory with just a touch of heat — there’s something uniquely delicious about the Taco Bell™ ground beef recipe that makes their tacos a craveable snack at any time of day.
While there are dozens (or more!) homemade taco meat recipes out there, none have ever come as close to tasting like this fast food favorite.
Once you know how to make taco meat at home, there will be no reason to wait in the drive thru again!
Taco Bell Meat Recipe
There really isn’t anything difficult about making this taco meat recipe. Just brown the ground beef, and add a little water and Tex Mex spices.
Then, let it simmer and cook until it thickens up.
However, there’s one trick that’s extremely important when making this copycat Taco Bell meat recipe.
Be sure to break up the beef into very small pieces, so the texture is consistent. It’s just as crucial as getting the seasoning right!
Taco Bell Beef Ingredients
- Ground Beef – I prefer to use 85% lean ground meat, but feel free to use your favorite.
For fattier blends, you will need to drain off any excess grease before adding the spices.
- All Purpose Flour – This ingredient isn’t typically used in an authentic taco meat recipe, but Taco Bell ground beef has a very specific texture that we’re trying to achieve.
A little all-purpose flour helps to thicken the mixture so it all sticks together.
- Spices – Garlic and onion powder are must in just about any savory dish!
Cumin, chili powder, and paprika add more flavor and heat without making the meat too spicy.
- Beef Bouillon – You’ll want to use a concentrated paste for this Taco Bell beef recipe, not the dry cubes or granules.
- Sugar – Don’t worry — this doesn’t give the beef a sweet flavor! There is just enough to balance the flavors and prevent a sharp aftertaste.
- Water – Liquid helps the spices distribute throughout the browned meat, locking in all of the delicious flavor.
Prep Ahead Instructions
Once you learn how to make taco meat, it becomes second nature to whip up a batch in a few minutes.
It doesn’t hurt to cook it up in advance for parties, just don’t let it sit out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
If you need to prep ahead, refrigerate the mixture and reheat it on the stove when it’s time to eat.
Homemade Taco Meat FAQs
Can I use a packet of taco seasoning instead?
Personally, I like to use homemade spice blends whenever I can, simply to avoid the added preservatives and artificial colors. That said, your favorite taco seasoning blend will work just fine. Or, some stores carry the branded Taco Bell taco seasoning.
Does Taco Bell use real ground beef?
According to their website, yes. There have been rumors over the years that their signature blend includes horse meat and other fillers, but the company states that they only use 100 percent USDA premium beef.
What’s in Taco Bell taco seasoning?
Unfortunately, the ingredients are a bit of a mystery. Their website does note a “signature blend of 7 authentic seasonings and spices,”. They also say they have removed artificial flavors and colors in favor of natural alternatives.
For this Taco Bell meat recipe, I use a blend of savory and hot spices, plus a little bit of sugar — and a surprise ingredient, beef bouillon paste! This combination creates a unique flavor that (in my opinion) tastes just like the Taco Bell beef.
How do you store Taco Bell beef?
Transfer any leftover homemade taco meat to an airtight container and refrigerate. Be sure to use it within 2 to 3 days. You could also double or triple this Taco Bell meat recipe and freeze some for future meals!
Portion the seasoned ground beef into freezer-safe Ziploc bags so you can thaw just what you need in the refrigerator overnight.
Cooked taco meat keeps well for up to 3 months in the freezer.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Easy Mexican and Tex Mex Recipes
Taco Bell Meat Recipe
- potato masher Thanks to a trick from Rachel Ray, this is my favorite tool for breaking up ground meat!
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon beef bouillon paste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- Add ground beef to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until browned, using a meat chopper or potato masher to break the meat into very small pieces as it cooks.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking, breaking the meat apart as necessary, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
- Use as desired, and enjoy!
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within 2-3 days.
- You can substitute the spices with a packet of your favorite taco seasoning, or a packet of Taco Bell taco seasoning.
- Breaking down the meat into very small pieces is just as important as getting the seasoning right for this copycat recipe. The longer the meat cooks, the easier it becomes to break it down.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published April 2022, updated and republished March 2023
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