These ground beef tacos have been enjoyed by our family for over 60 years! This recipe is simple but delicious and is part of our weekly family meal traditions for our family and extended family too.
These are the best tacos for large gatherings and can easily be double or even tripled. I love making extra meat and using it for other great dishes like our taco salad recipe, gluten free tacos, nachos in the oven, and tater tot casserole.
Tacos with a legacy…
My mom’s mom passed away when she was only 11 years old of breast cancer. She was left with her younger sister and five older siblings all under the age of 20. My grandpa was a cattle rancher so he was gone on the mountain a lot but that first year after grandma died, my mom remembers getting a whole cow made into ground beef.
My mom said they only knew how to cook these tacos so they made them every night. Grandpa was shocked that ALL the beef was gone after just one winter.
You’d think my mom and her siblings would have gotten sick of tacos but instead, it became one of their favorite meals and they went on to make it for all their kids weekly.
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Now that us kids are all parents, we do the same in our own house. It’s become a real family tradition to eat these tacos…
Everyone makes them a little differently. My mom and dad like just salt and pepper while my aunt Heidi loves to jazz them up with our 1-minute gluten free taco seasoning like I do here in my own recipe. No matter how you choose to make them, they will be a winner for your family as well.
What’s in homemade tacos?
Feel free to get creative with your toppings and spices but here are my favorite taco ingredients. And if you want vegetarian tacos, these potato tacos are a great option especially when served with our vegan chocolate sauce and vegan nachos on the size.
Good Quality Ground Beef
As I mentioned, my grandpa was a cattle rancher and now so is my father-in-law so good quality beef is what makes these tacos really fantastic. I recommend organic or locally raised if you can.
Soft Corn Tortillas
The key here is to keep the corn tortillas soft and pliable but nice and cooked with just a bit of butter on both sides. This taco shell is the perfect carrier for your ground beef and toppings.
Our family LOVES ranch and not the Hidden Valley kind, ew. We love real, homemade ranch. I have even made this Whole 30 ranch for my dairy free boys and we all enjoy it. While not necessary, I really think it makes the taco better.
Fresh Grated Cheddar Cheese
Cheese is optional but freshly grated cheese is so much better than store bought bagged cheese. I like adding the cheese while the meat is still hot so my tacos have melted cheese.
Using a variety of spices gives these tacos a ton of flavor. Onion powder, cumin, chili powder, etc. are some of my favorite spices in this recipe. You can use taco seasoning if desired.
I like to add a variety of toppings onto my beef tacos. Red onion, sour cream, bell peppers, fresh cilantro, tomato sauce, hot sauce, and even sweet corn taste delicious on a taco. Using only the freshest ingredients will make sure your taco is a crowd pleaser.
How do you make homemade tacos?
These street tacos are so easy to make. They’re made with simple ingredients in under 30 minutes. No need to make anything fancy like homemade tortillas for authentic Mexican food.
Step 1: In a large frying pan, cook the ground beef with all seasonings until no longer pink and slightly crispy making sure to stir and break up meat often
Step 2: Meanwhile, cut up veggies you will be topping your tacos with and start frying the tortillas
Step 3: Preheat a large griddle to 350 degrees and grease with butter then start cooking taco shells in batches making sure not to overcrowd the taco shells (they should all lie flat on the griddle)
Step 4: Cook for 1 minute and butter the top side then flip and cook 1 more minute
Step 5: Add cooked tortillas to a plate covered with tinfoil or a tortilla warmer to keep them warm while you continue cooking the remaining tortillas
Step 6: When you are ready to assemble your taco, add meat to the cooked tortilla and top with lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo, salsa roja, pinto beans, hot sauce and anything else you desire…enjoy!
Pro tip: For hard taco shells, cook your tortillas a little longer but be careful not to burn them.
Expert tips and FAQs
To keep taco meat really moist, you can add canned tomato sauce. You only need a few tablespoons but it makes a huge difference. Really good Mexican tacos have a saucy tomato base.
Ground beef tacos are classic but you can also make a chicken taco, fish tacos, ground turkey tacos, or even salmon tacos. Feel free to swap the meat if some of your guests have dietary restrictions.
Taco meat is usually good for 3-4 days in the fridge. I do not recommend storing whole tacos in the fridge as the shell and toppings will get soggy. Store ingredients separately to preserve freshness.
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Tacos for a Tacos for a Crowd (60 year old recipe)
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon minced dried onion
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 24 soft shell corn tortillas
- 5 tablespoons butter
- Optional but delicious: fresh shredded cheddar cheese, lettuce, ranch, hot sauce, etc.
- In a large frying pan, cook the ground beef with all seasonings until no longer pink and slightly crispy making sure to stir and break up meat often
- Meanwhile, cut up veggies you will be topping your tacos with and start frying the tortillas
- Preheat a large griddle to 350 degrees and grease with butter then start cooking taco shells in batches making sure not to overcrowd the taco shells (they should all lie flat on the griddle)
- Cook for 1 minute and butter the top side then flip and cook 1 more minute
- Add cooked tortillas to a plate covered with tinfoil or a tortilla warmer to keep them warm while you continue cooking the remaining tortillas
- When you are ready to assemble your taco, add meat to the cooked tortilla and top with lettuce, cheese, ranch, salsa, hot sauce and anything else you desire…enjoy!