Taco Bell Meat Recipe

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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!

titled: how to make taco meat


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!

Once all of the liquid has been absorbed, it’s ready to serve! Spoon it into taco bowls or shells, or set out a walking tacos buffet.

And, of course, you’ll want to use it to make some of our other Taco Bell recipes! You can make a Mexican Pizza, Beef Quesarito, or a Crunchwrap Supreme!

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.


If you don’t have time to stand at the stove, you can cook ground beef in a slow cooker!

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.

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taco meat close up

Taco Bell Meat Recipe

Donna Elick
Use my Taco Bell Taco Meat recipe to learn how to make taco meat taste just like takeout. You can recreate your favorite menu items at home!
4.91 stars from 11 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Tex Mex
Method Stovetop
Servings 4 people



  • 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!

Donna’s Notes

  1. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within 2-3 days.
  1. You can substitute the spices with a packet of your favorite taco seasoning, or a packet of Taco Bell taco seasoning.
  1. 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.


Serving: 4ounces | Calories: 258cal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 90mg | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 3mg

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.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled pinterest image: how to make taco meat like taco bell

Originally published April 2022, updated and republished March 2023

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  1. What is the red blob you show in several pictures and why isn’t it in the ingredient list? It looks like about 2tbsp of tomato paste, which can’t be correct since that would easily overpower 1lbs of ground beef.

    1. Hi Chris,
      Your guess is correct – there are 2 tablespoons of tomato paste in the recipe. We don’t think it overpowers the other flavors at all. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

      TSRI Team member,

      1. Hi,
        I want to try this recipe tonight for copycat burrito supremes. In your recipe the two pictures of the ingredients on a plate and the ingredients on top of the meat looks like you’re adding dried minced onion but, it’s not listed in the ingredients list. Can you tell me if I’m wrong

    2. I’ve been on a quest to find a good taco bell meat recipe. I’ll try this one, sounds good.
      Some say ‘that’s not authentic Mexican’. No one is saying it is. Sometimes I want authentic (which, in itself, is subjective) and sometimes I want Taco Bell.
      I’ll rate it once I’ve tried it.
      The beef bullion paste is a great tip. I use Sam’s Club Beef Base (and Chicken Base) in a lot of my cooking.
      And the water. It really breaks down the ground beef, and other ground meats.
      I noticed that your wooden spatula has a crack in it. That could harbor bacteria. My Tip…When one buys a new wooden/bamboo cooking utensil, warm it slightly in the oven. Then rub on a generous amount of coconut oil. Reheat it and apply more oil. Do this until it no longer absorbs the coconut oil. Repeat occasionally. Hand wash and rinse and dry after each use. Other oils can be used, but some turn rancid over time. Coconut oil has disinfectant properties.

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks for correcting the ingredients! Wanted to make this the right way! Wasn’t sure if that was tomato paste or not and YES the recipe is DELICIOUS!!! Thanks so much!

      1. 5 stars
        I’m 69, very athletic and still thin (skinny, 31 waist) mainly because I eat fruit and vegetables my whole life and avoid hard to chew meats and sugar, and no vices, causing me to never been sick since childhood. However, I was born and raised in L.A. eating burritos and tacos at Taco Bell. It is the only meat I love, but I eat there very rarely now because I live 50 miles away, up in the mountains and it takes too long to get there. But if I lived nearby I’d eat there every day. So you can understand my excitement and joy when I found this recipe, especially after reading a dozen other recipes over the last several months in frustration. And it’s not just the recipe but your delivery, the words you use, very loving, very supportive, very instructive. I haven’t bought hamburger since my teens. But today, Thursday Sept 15th, I’m going to buy 1 lb of grass-fed 80/20 beef at my local Vons costing I believe $9, plus the paste. That should come to about $1 per taco. I’m also saving this page on my phone so that I can access all those other yummy recipes (chili lime chicken taquitos, yum). And that’s all except I’d like to add that people who comment they can’t print the recipe must be too lazy to take the 60 seconds it takes to write them down. And they’re probably using a desktop computer which no one has used in the last 10 years. Even laptops are outdated. Phone technology is king. So I hope I can make this as well as you and I’ll eat Taco Bell food everyday way up here in the mountains.

        1. What a heartwarming comment, David – thank you so much for taking the time to share your excitement with us! Enjoy your grass-fed tacos – I’m sure they will be delicious! 🙂

          TSRI Team member,

        2. I’m 62 and only use a computer when I have to. Your remark that phones are king was soo perfect. Yup I am a boomer, but not outdated

        3. 5 stars
          David you must try the Taco Bell Pizza recipe.It is really good!
          I worked at Taco Bell in the 70’s.I was meat and bean cook.Only thing I put in the meat was large pkg of their seasoning and a little water.It was good.

  3. We have tried to print this recipe but unable to get the ingredients and instructions to print on our computer. We got the comments and ads, several pages that are useless but no ingredients and instructions. Please help!!!!!

    1. I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble, Levada. I just tested the print button from my computer and my phone and didn’t have any issues. You might want to try right clicking on the print button, then open it in a new browser tab.

      TSRI Team member,

    1. Hi Bill,
      That would be in step 2 where it says “Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet and bring to a simmer.” Hope that helps!
      TSRI Team Member,

  4. This recipe is delicious, if for some reason you cant get your meat “fine” enough, and you have something like a cuisinart, put the meat in small batches for 3/4 secondsw and it will be perfect

  5. What is Beef Bouillon paste where can I buy it and coukd you send a picture of it please I love love Taco Bell groundbeef

  6. 5 stars
    I discovered this tonight but I used ground oats in my vitamix instead of flour. It is perfect texture! Made Mexican pizzas. I will be using this recipe for our taco Tuesdays.

  7. Love this recipe!

    Could you clarify if the cooked beef should be drained before adding the seasoning ingredients?

  8. For the closest thing to the finely broken up beef like Taco Bell, once you’ve got the ingredients all added and you’re ready to eat, I use mu immersion hand blender on it. Just a few quick pulses. Like 3-5. Be very careful, you don’t want to make a taco slurpee! Perfecto every time. I also use the immersion blender on the jarred salsa I buy to get restaurant style smooth salsa. Few quick pulses first in the salsa, then the meat.

  9. Delish , although at first it tasted like it was “missing something” I tweeked it with pretty much an extra sprinkle of all spices listed& also added some cayenne powder & a little seasoned salt … perfecto !

  10. Yummy … made exactly as directed (which is not my norm) because I really wanted meat similar to Taco Bell … my granddaughters did not notice a difference 😊

  11. 5 stars
    I’m very happy how this came out. But i have to admit that i don’t measure ingredients to a T. As a seasoned home cook i just eyeball everything.

    The flavors were just right and the beef bouillon paste was the thing that I’ve been missing!! My trick to get the beef ground up perfectly is to drain the fat and Then put the meat in a stand mixer and mix away. I do this while I’m assembling the other ingredients. This is also my hack for shredded pork or chicken.

    Thank you for this recipe!

  12. 5 stars
    This was a delicious recipe – even without the beef bouillon (I didn’t have it). Thank you! Probably the best tacos I ever made.

  13. Printed this out because I was worried to lose track of the screenshot. This was GREAT. It really does taste like TB and really hit the spot like only tb can sometimes 🙂

  14. 5 stars
    I am giving this recipe 5 stars after just reading it, I will be buying some ground beef on the next grocery run. I Love Taco Bell and not just because my Maiden name is Bell, their taco meat is addictive to say the least. I will be using Better Than Buillion Beef which I have used ever since it came out and am planning on using my Cuisinart Stick Blender to get the texture as close as possible to Taco Bell’s meat which is pretty much better than any regular browned ground beef. Can’t wait to hopefully Master this before Super Bowl.

    Thanking you so much in advance for posting this! I am truly excited, based on other comments on here and I will share with my Daughter, (Mother of two teenage Soccer players).

  15. Hi, I can’t wait to try this recipe! Just thought I could maybe pass on a tip that was so helpful to me to achieve the correct consistency of this beef. I read it in a recipe for making hot dog chili and I use it all of the time now with great results….all you need to do is RINSE the cooked meat in a metal colander after browning it….of course, that means BEFORE adding seasoning. It’s worth rearranging the directions. It works EVERY time…you will need to rinse with warm water for a few minutes! Try it

  16. My 8 year old great granddaughter will only eat taco bell tacos and she loved this! I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly. I made a double batch and put some in freezer bags for easy quick snacks.

  17. I have made this recipe several times and couple days ago my daughter brought a taco from Taco Bell after eating half I let my wife try and we both agreed this recipe is better we only do one thing different I add Sazon Goya

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