Dear, Tacos. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love you made with homemade corn tortillas, topped with shrimp and avocado crema, or melt-in-your-mouth braised beef short ribs. You are fantastic always, but even sometimes when I have more gourmet options, I love you the most simplest way of all: served in crispy corn shells with a Tex-Mex-inspired filling of ground beef (or turkey).
I’m talking about the most popular type of taco in America, and the one most often prepared for “Taco Night.” Hard (or soft, depending on your preference) tacos filled with a well-seasoned, quickly sauteed mixture of ground beef is a standby favorite of mine and so many others. I sometimes make it with ground turkey to lighten it up, but it can easily be made with lean ground beef as well, and it tastes just as good!
I’m never a fan of using store-bought mixes for anything. I found a great recipe to make your own seasoning for taco filling and I’m sticking to it. It’s a cinch to make!
You can easily multiply this recipe,and use the extra meat for other purposes like filling burritos, but it would also be great on nachos and in taco salad.
The shells I used here are from Trader Joe’s. What they lack in preservatives and unnecessary additives they make up for in delicious crispiness. And they only cost $1.99 for a pack of 12! After warming them up for just a few minutes in the oven, they are perfect for a night of guilt-free tacos! I’m much happier serving my family tacos made with better quality taco shells and completely homemade meat filling! It makes all the difference.
Ground Beef (or Turkey) Tacos
(Adapted from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/4 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup water
12 taco shells, crisped up in the oven according to package directions, or 12 taco-sized flour tortillas for soft tacos*
Toppings, such as sour cream, salsa, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, pickled jalapenos, and grated cheddar cheese
Combine all the ingredients for the seasoning mix in a bowl. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef or turkey and break it up with a wooden spoon. Stir the meat continuously, breaking it up into small pieces, until it is cooked through, a few minutes. Drain off any extra liquid that accumulates.
Add the seasoning mix and water, starting with about 1/2 cup and then adding more as needed until it creates a thick sauce that just coats the meat, cooking it another minute or two. Remove from the heat and serve with the taco shells and your choice of toppings.