Use this Taco Bell Taco 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 crave-able snack at any time of day.
While there are dozens (or more!) 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 Taco Meat Recipe
There really isn’t anything difficult about making taco meat. 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.
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 ground beef recipe, not the dry cubes or granules.
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.
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!
How to Make Taco Meat FAQ
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.
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.
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 taco 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.
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.
How To Store Taco Meat
Transfer any leftovers 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 Taco 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 teaspoon beef bouillon paste
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- In a large skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef. Use a potato masher or meat chopper to break the meat into small pieces.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking and breaking the meat apart until most of the liquid has been 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.
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