Homemade Tex-Mex Beef Tacos

I came home last night in the middle of a freak snowstorm, but didn’t care because I knew a quick stop at Wegman’s would be worth the slushy bullshit I’d have to drive through later just to get home. I wanted tacos, and no amount of snow was gonna stop that from happening. You already know how I feel about tacos. They’re my little pieces of heaven in a cruel and cold dog-eat-dog world. Tacos…are everything.

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos

These tacos are completely homemade. No kits. No seasoning packets. No boxed taco shells — which I’d still eat, but only in a pinch. There’s nothing better than frying your own corn tortillas for a taco, and this method I learned makes life so much easier. It takes just a few minutes to fry up the taco shells, and the crunch they provide is out of this world. These tacos are perfect — no orange grease running down your arm, perfectly seasoned, just hands down delicious.

Once you make these, you won’t bother with the box kits…nothing beats the taste of homemade. Plus, you’ll feel so special knowing that you prepared these entirely by hand…its a rewarding feeling lol.

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
taco seasoning

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
saute your onions

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
then add the seasoning and mix around until well combined, for about a minute

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
then add your ground beef….break it up

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
make sure all of the pink is out, about 5 minutes

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
as soon as all the pink is out, add the tomato sauce, chicken stock, vinegar and brown sugar

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
let it simmer over medium-low heat until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 15 to 20 minutes

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
10 minutes later, still too wet…

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
about 20 minutes later, perfect! still moist but not runny and sloppy

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
fry your taco shells and season w/ a little salt to taste *see note below*

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
build your tacos and enjoy

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos

Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
deliciousness awaits

Homemade Tex-Mex Beef Tacos
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Serves: 8
Ingredients
For the Beef Filling:
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped small (about ⅔ cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef (or leaner -- don't use 80/20 because it'll be too greasy)
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar (preferably cider vinegar)
For the Shells:
  • 8 to 12 6-inch corn tortillas
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Salt to taste
Topping suggestions:
  • Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes or salsa
  • Cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Hot sauce
  • Limes
  • Guacamole or avocado chunks
  • Whatever you want -- it's your taco!
Instructions
For the beef filling:
  1. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, spices, and ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground beef and cook, breaking meat up with wooden spoon and scraping pan bottom to prevent scorching, until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and breaking meat up so that no chunks remain, until liquid has reduced and thickened (mixture should not be completely dry), about 10 to 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. I added hot sauce to my mixture, but you don't have to. Make sure you taste it before you serve it up!
For the taco shells (see photos below):
  1. In a small shallow pan, heat about 1 to 2 inches of canola oil to 350 degrees. Hold one end of each tortilla with tongs, and hold down the other end with a heat-proof spatula in the oil until it sets up, about 10 to 15 seconds. Switch positions and fry the other side until you get a somewhat perfect shell, then repeat on the other side again until it's evenly crisp. They won't be 100% perfect, but they'll be delicious! If you don't have a thermometer to test the temperature of your oil, just tear off a piece of a tortilla and put it in the hot oil -- if it floats after a few seconds (about 5) it's ready. If it doesn't float at all, it's not hot enough -- and if it burns immediately, its too hot!
  2. Drain each shell on paper towels and season with salt while they're still very hot.

 

NOTE: photos to illustrate the process…

How to Fry Perfect Corn Tortilla Shells for Tacos

How to Fry Perfect Corn Tortilla Shells for Tacos

How to Fry Perfect Corn Tortilla Shells for Tacos

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Comments

  1. DJ says

    Oh…dear…I have a list of things to make from your site. I wonder how the taco meat would be on some nachos…hmmmmmmmm

  2. says

    Okay, I think I got my life back with these tacos! No, like seriously, my mom used to fry taco shells when we were little. Somewhere between being broke and having no time to cook in college, I lost my way…

    Well, you have brought me back! These tacos remind me so much of my childhood and of California where I grew up.

    And yes, I know, *they’re just tacos* , but sometimes you don’t realize how something so small can bring back such vivid and pleasant memories.

    I think these may have solidified a weekly taco night for the family. They loved them too! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Charnae says

    Wow!!!! I JUST made this dish but instead of frying the whole tortilla I cut them in quarters and made nachos!!! It was amaaaaazing! Thanks girl for the recipe my chance of getting married before 30 just went up 20%! :):)

  4. Novice cooker in training says

    Hi! Love your recipes… However I’m not a beef eater, will these spices for this taco recipe work well with ground turkey or chicken??
    Thanks

  5. W. Nicole says

    Just made these with ground turkey and they are amazeballs!!! Def a different flavor than those “taco seasoning” packs but very delicious. I cleaned my plate!!! soooo good! My homegirl and I are working/cooking our way through the site so when you see me tweeting all the recipes that are awesome don’t be alarmed (@fearcediva)

  6. sfk says

    I can’t find coriander at my local restaurant. Will it be good without it or should I see if I can find it somewhere else?

  7. Meka says

    Dinner tonight was ahhh-mazing!!! I used the spicy sour cream recipe from your crunchy shrimp&salmon tacos – (I did substitute the sour cream for greek yogurt and it was the bizzomb)! I had 4 so my inner fat girl says thank you! =)

  8. says

    I grew up eating these. I’ve seen so many recipes online that just made me want to sob…with the store bought taco shells. It’s nice to see someone actually made the only tacos I knew of growing up! lol.

    I just came across your blog today, and I’m loving it so far!

  9. lisa g. says

    This looks so good! Is there another seasoning you can recommend in place of oregano? I dont care for it and I dont want to ruin the recipe when I make the taco filling. Thanks!

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