Tortillas filled with savory meat or vegetables, also known as tacos, rank as one of the all-time favorite dishes in the world.
Growing up in Texas, eating Tex-Mex was literally a way of life! We love all the classics like cheese enchiladas with ancho sauce and chicken quesadillas. But these crispy savory tacos are at the top of our list. They are fun to make and simply incredible in taste and texture!
How To Make Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
Probably the two most important components of the classic Tex-Mex taco are the filling and the crispy taco shells.
The meat filling should be deeply flavorful and very juicy. The shells should be crisp, but not so crisp they shatter after the first bite.
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The Ingredients You Will Need
It may seem like there are a lot of seasonings in the meat sauce. We’ve tested and tested and found the combination of these spices with these quantities delivers a true beef taco filling that is about as good as we’ve ever had.
Here’s What You’ll Need to Have on Hand
Oil – Vegetable, or olive (for sautéing)
Onion – Chopped
Garlic – Minced
Ground beef – 85% lean is great, but you’ll need to drain off excess grease
Chili powder – We order ours from Pendery’s
Cumin – Ground
Oregano – preferably dried Mexican, but regular dried will work, too
Salt – Kosher
Pepper – Black, ground
Cayenne – A pinch for a little kick, more for added heat (spice)
All-purpose flour – Acts as a thickener
Ro-tel – Canned tomatoes with chilis (just half the can)
Beef stock – Go with good quality stock or broth for the best depth of flavor
Tortillas – Soft corn, preferably from your local Hispanic market
Vegetable oil – For frying
The toppings – Shredded cheddar cheese, chopped lettuce and tomatoes, and salsa (preferably homemade)
EXPERT TIP: It’s very important that you don’t over-simmer the meat filling. Drain off excess grease, add the seasonings, and then add half the can of Ro-tel and the beef broth. It will take only about 10 minutes for the filling to reduce the correct consistency. The meat filling should be wet, but not runny, but it should definitely not be dry either.
Tips for Perfect Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
Don’t Overcook the Beef Filling – We can’t express this enough. You want the mixture to be wet to the touch. Not dripping with liquid, but not dry at all. Have extra beef stock on hand, just in case it gets a little dry. You can also add some dark Mexican beer for an even deeper flavor profile
Test Frying the Tortillas – Once you get your oil to 350°F, you’ll only need to fry them for about 75 seconds. Do a couple of practice runs, first. The perfect shell will be nice and crunchy but still have just enough “chew” that they don’t completely fall apart when bitten into.
Warm the Tacos Briefly in the Oven – This step is 100% necessary, but filling the shells with the meat filling and then baking on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes, will keep the shells crispy, but slightly pliable: The perfect Tex-Mex crispy taco.
EXPERT TIP: We use a taco fry press/mold for frying our shells. Be sure not to press the mold to tightly shut with the tortilla in it, this will cause the curved bottom of the shell to crack and break. You can also place a tortilla filled in a cast-iron skillet with hot oil, and then use two forks to bend the tortilla into a taco shell shape. Flip and fry until crispy.
How To Serve Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
These tacos are best served warm, fresh out of the oven, or freshly stuffed with the warm filling.
We love to serve them with a fun taco stand. You can even place the taco stand on a baking sheet and then warm the meat-stuffed tacos while standing upright. But, this isn’t absolutely necessary.
Of course, for the true Tex-Mex experience, you need to have plenty of traditional toppings available, including chopped lettuce and tomatoes, shredded cheddar, and homemade salsa. Some folks love a spoonful of sour cream, too.
Other Tacos Recipes To Try
It’s pretty safe to say there is seldom a taco we ever met that we didn’t like. While these traditional crispy beef shells are certainly one of our all-time favorites, here are some other versions that are always sure to impress:
Chicken Tinga Tacos
Korean Beef with Kimchi Tacos
Shrimp Tacos Dorados
Mahi Mahi Soft Tacos
Baja Fish Tacos
In the meantime, aren’t you craving this classic?
Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine is one of the most popular types of food in the world.
And tacos are one of the most popular food items from this wildly popular cuisine.
Making them from scratch is nothing short of amazing and is always a huge hit when served to guests. Talk about the ultimate taco party!
Every bite is a Tex-Mex taste sensation!
Ready to make the best tacos this side of the Rio Grande? Go for it!
And when you do, be sure to take a photo of them, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!
Authentic Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
- Deep-fryer or skillet 3/4 filled with oil
- Taco shell mold or use 2 forks to fold the taco after about 30 seconds
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb ground beef 85% lean works well
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp oregano preferably Mexican
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp cayenne
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ½ can Ro-tel (tomatoes with chilis)
- 1 cup beef broth
- 12 corn tortillas
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded, for garnish
- 1 cup lettuce shredded, for garnish
- 1 cup tomatoes diced and seeded, for garnish
- Salsa for serving
- Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in skillet.1 tbsp olive oil
- Cook the onion until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, and sauté for another 30 seconds.1 cup onion, 3 cloves garlic
- Add the beef and cook, stirring often, until no longer pink. Tilt the skillet and use a large spoon to remove most of the rendered grease. Discard safely.1 lb ground beef
- Add all seasonings and the flour. Stir until well blended and aromatic, about 1 minute.2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp Kosher salt, ½ tsp cayenne, ½ tsp ground black pepper, 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- Add the Ro-tel and beef stock. Cook until thickened somewhat and most of the liquid has cooked down, about 10 minutes. The mixture should feel wet, but not runny, but also not dry.½ can Ro-tel, 1 cup beef broth
- Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil to 350°F degreesVegetable oil
- Fry corn tortillas in deep fryer, or in a skillet (if using a skillet...place the tortilla in the hot oil for about 10 seconds...then, using tongs and a fork, grab one end of the tortialla and gently fold in half....continue cooking for about 20 seconds...then flip, and cook for another 20 or 30 seconds, and until golden and nice and crisp).12 corn tortillas
- Place cooked tortillas on paper towels. Preheat oven to 275°F.
- Place meat mixture in tortilla shells and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve at once with all the fixings.1 cup cheddar cheese, 1 cup lettuce, 1 cup tomatoes, Salsa
POST UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in March 2018, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe with new tips and photography and a fabulous new video in May 2023!
I love how this taco thread pops up every few months in my email. Brings a nice smile field dreams of TexMex tacos.
Thank you guys!
I meant. A smile filled with dreams of TexMex tacos.
Love it so much!!!
Hi Joseph! Nothing much better than when tacos appear, right? Thank YOU for sharing!!!! All the best, Kris & Wesley
Best tacos ever- so good the family wants them again two days later – I accidentally used bread flour- but I just added more broth- turned out great – thanks for sharing
Hi Sandy! Woo hoo!! We are thrilled you made the tacos and had such great success with them! Sounds like you made them perfectly! Thank you so so much for sharing! Please stay in touch!! And keep on making tacos! They make life better!
Dear Wesley and Chris!
While another batch of Tacofilling is bubbling away on my stove I have to say two things:
1. Thank you so much for providing such a wonderful recipe that even my super picky kids enjoy!
2. A little question aside
Because I’m cooking in Switzerland and Germany, I have no access to “1/2 can Ro-Tel” but an amazing amount of good canned tomatoes in every size…it would be so nice if you could tell how many ml, oz or gramm originally in the cans are so I can work around it)
Greetings from Hamburg and Basel!
Hi Kathy! It is so so wonderful to hear from you! We lived in Hamburg from 1994 – 1995. I (Kris) was a musical theater performer and performed in the musical CATS at the Operretenhaus! We LOVED Hamburg so much and hope to visit again someday! We traveled through Switzerland while we were there and it is truly one of the most beautiful places on the planet!
Now! Back to cooking! Go with about 7 to 8 ounces of your favorite tomatoes. That’s about 1/2 a cup. We are so thrilled you and your kiddos are loving the tacos! They are our favorites, too!
Hope this helps and please stay in touch! xoxo Kris & Wesley
Oh, thank you for your reply!
Dear Tumblebrutus and Loon,
Hamburg is still a great place for musicals,
Thx for the measurements,
Love, gruezi and a holldriöö from Switzerland!
Another fabulous Loon dinner. These are really good tacos with just the perfect amount of seasoning and spice. I only had a two pound package of ground beef so I doubled the recipe and we still didn’t have much left! Just enough for a taco salad bowl with some black beans for lunch. I can’t wait for lunch today. My taco shells didn’t fry up so nice in a skillet but I will keep trying. I’m so happy that I joined your membership site! It’s giving me such great recipes in one easy site for suggestions for dinner. My house is now an official “Loon Foodie” place! LOL Happy Holidays to you both and as always thanks for making me look like a way better cook than I am. Keep up the hilarious videos that always make me laugh.
Diane!! We just are so so so thrilled that you are having such fun and success with our recipes! Getting the tacos shells perfectly fried takes a little practice, but we have no doubt you’ll get it!! You are an AWESOME cook, Diane!! We wish you and your loved ones the happiest and merriest of holidays and a healthy and spectacular new year!!! xoxo Kris & Wesley
I made these again and clicked on the link for the taco stands and ordered them. Getting better frying up the shells! Made with your Mexican Rice and refried beans recipes that was really yummy and so very easy for a weeknight dinner. Tried it all out together for Cinco de Mayo. So guess what we are having on Friday? LOL.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!!!! Let us know how it all turns out!! xoxo
Omg was fabulous. The rice was to die for. Haven’t used my blender in ages. The tacos go without saying. They are always fabulous. Made with some sautéed southwest corn. What a yummy meal. So glad to stay in for a yummy meal on Cinco de Mayo. XXOO
Hi Diane! You had an amazing Cinco de Mayo feast!! That makes us so so happy! Thank you so much for sharing!!! Have a GREAT week!!!
Umm, YUP. I’ll be doing my ground beef tacos by this recipe from now on. It’s delicious, and thank you for sharing it.
I don’t know if you still monitor these posts but… I grew up in the Southwest before moving to Australia where I’ve spent the rest of my life. We have a lot of great Mexican food here, and I’ve tried a bunch of DIY recipes which were all great, but nothing came close to that sentimental craving for genuine TexMex tacos.
I discovered your recipe just over two years ago and it literally felt like a wave of delicious nostalgia and was exactly what I had been looking for. I cannot stress how good they turn out every time, and take me right back to burning hot days in the United States. My girlfriend is obsessed with these tacos and we make them every few weeks. Kudos for getting this so damn right, your recipes are amazing.
Jason…you have no idea how happy you just made us! I know the feeling you are talking about!! I (Kris) grew up in Texas but moved to NYC as a young adult and then lived in Germany during the 90s. I missed authentic Tex-Mex SO MUCH!! That’s why I had to develop a recipe that you could make at home (anywhere) and remember the taste and experience. We are SO damn thrilled these tacos bring you back!! We love Australia, BTW! Thank you so very much for letting us know!! And have another taco on us!! Stay in touch, friend! And give our best to your girlfriend! Best, Kris & Wesley
Thank you so much for this recipe. I’ve been making tacos for years and, while my family loves my tacos, they are really just seasoned with chili powder and I have been searching for that authentic Tex-Mex flavor for a long time. I am making these as I type this, but I just tasted the beef and was so excited that I had to come tell you about it. I did some of my own tweaks as well, which are:
1. I substituted diced garlic in a jar for the cloves, mostly for convenience
2. I skipped the flour, but I did add diced potato (I did 3 lbs of beef and one russet potato was good for the tripled recipe)
3. I skipped the garlic salt, but added just a little more fresh garlic to make up for it and
4. I cooked it in a dutch oven for four hours. I learned this trick from making ragu and I really like how the extra time brings the flavors together and improves the texture of the beef. After a couple of hours, the potato starts to break down and the starch binds some of the liquid, which I think is what you are going for with the flour, so this is a gluten-free way to do it (my mother -in-law has celiacs so its good for her)
Anyway, thanks again. This is amazing.
All sounds absolutely perfect, Mike!! So glad you had success with the beef tacos! We love them so much and we are so happy you do, too!! Stay in touch! Best, Kris & Wesley
About to make some tonight and I have my variation of spices that I used which is quite similar to yours and comes out delicious every time but thinking of trying your recipe. Lets see how this goes and I will post my update. Thank you for the recipe and according to your reviews,.. keep up the good work!
Thanks much, Andrea! Let us know how it turned out. Thanks again!! Kris & Wesley
Can you give me nutritional information?
I didn’t use salt, and the flavor is wonderful.
Just moved to Austin. Found you while searching for Tex mex taco recipes. Started with the tacos. Awesome! Used Garden of Eatin’ yellow corn taco shells, Hatch tomatoes and chilies original, and Sprouts super greens for substitutes. I’m going to use your recipes to feed the locals and get to their hearts.
That sounds great, Joseph! We LOVE Austin. Great city and amazing food. We’ve got lots of TexMex recipes you’ll enjoy. I (Kris) grew up in Texas, so TexMex is true and dear to my heart. Thanks for reaching out to us and please stay in touch!
Love this! I hate taco seasoning packets from the store (I think they smell like body odor )! I did not have rotel on hand, so just added 4oz. green chilies. I cut back on the smoked paprika & cayenne a bit too. Added it to 2lbs ground beef, & it had tons of flavor, & plenty of kick for me! Best seasoning recipe I have tried! Thanks!
Awesome! I agree, if you want the best, make it yourself! So glad you liked it, and your tweaks sound good!! All the best! Stay in touch. Kris & Wesley
Hi. Is the chili powder pure chili powder, or the blend of spices used in making american chili?
Hi Michelle, I use a blend that I buy from http://www.penderys.com. They are the best!
kidding me right there is no one out there that knows the trick to real authentic Tex Mex Taco. They do not eat Tacos like the ones I am referring to in Mexico. Its a Texas Thang. I knew a mexican waitress for many years when I asked her for the trick, she wouldnt tel me. Wanting my busines instead..
Who is the loon, I felt like you were calling me a loon, maybe I need to know who this loon is before reading about the tex mex tacos, maybe I jumped in the middle here. I’ll do some research before proceeding.
Hi Joel…check out the site and you’ll get the “Loon” reference. I (Kris) am a cook, and my partner (Wesley Loon) loves to eat my cooking. Hence the name of the blog…How to Feed a Loon!