For homemade tacos, there is no better taco meat recipe! This taco meat is everything that tacos should be! It is extremely tender and extremely flavorful and perfect for filling traditional tacos, taco salads, stuffed peppers, zucchini boats, and adding flavorful protein to almost any Mexican inspired dish. You can use either ground beef or ground turkey for this recipe. The meat is seasoned with cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic, onion, rich tomato flavors and more. In addition to being the best ground taco meat I have ever had, it is also naturally gluten free, dairy free, paleo, whole30 compliant, keto, and low carb.
Taco Meat Recipe
You know when you have always eaten something, but really you never cared for it too much? Taco meat has always been like that for me, but THIS taco meat is the one that converted me.
There are taco meats out there that are boring and bland and really make the exciting thing about a taco pretty much everything else but the meat. This taco meat changes everything! It is the perfect combination of tender and flavorful and compliments the shell, the crisp lettuce, the cheese, but also stands on it’s own so when you get a bite you think, “oh now this is good!”
I love this recipe, but it’s not just because it is super delicious. It is also great because it is naturally gluten free, dairy free, and low carb, and ever-so-importantly, kid friendly! When you are entertaining you can whip this up with little concern over if it will be friendly for your guest’s dietary needs. Also, you know how much I love to make things where I can repurpose the leftovers into a new meal and this taco meat can be made into approximately 3,000 other things besides just tacos so it wins a gold in that category.
What to make with Taco Meat
One of my favorite things about this recipe is it’s versatility. You can use it to create so many different kinds of dishes that are family friendly, quick and easy to make, but still very delicious. Here are some of my favorite options:
- Tacos- traditional hard shell, soft with either flour or corn tortillas, or lettuce wraps (gluten-free and low carb option)
- Taco salad
- Stuffed bell peppers
- Enchilada filling
- Baked chile rellanos
- Burrito filling
- Burrito bowls
Really I might could go on forever but, you probably get the idea. If you have a favorite recipe you use ground taco meat for that I didn’t list, I would love it if you left me a note in the comments so I can try it out with my family!
What to serve with Taco Meat
Whether you are serving the taco meat actually as tacos, or one of the other ideas listed above, these side dish options will almost universally go well with all of them to round out the meal and make a wholesome dinner.
- beans- refried, black or pinto
- mexican style corn
- chips served with salsa and/or guacamole
- sauteed peppers and onions
- mexican cornbread
Low Carb side options
- mexican cauliflower rice
- side salad (especially with this jalapeno ranch!)
- veggies roasted with a olive oil and a little taco seasoning
- sauteed greens (I actually will eat the meat right on top of sauteed spinach and I think it is delicious!)
You can pick and choose 1-3 of these options to add to the meal for a filling dinner. I try to give a good range of suggestions but if I missed something delicious, let me know in the comments so I can add it to the list!
How to make Taco Meat
The best part about this recipe is how simple it is to make. I am going to walk through the recipe with you here step by step to help with any questions that might arise. If you just want the quick version, you can skip down to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Taco Meat Ingredients
- 1.5 lb ground turkey or ground beef– We don’t eat much beef so I usually make this recipe with ground turkey, however you can make it with either. When it comes to the fat content, the fat in meat adds flavor so choosing a higher fat content can lend to a richer meat, however the seasoning really adds the bang to this recipe so if you want to go with a super lean cut, that will still give you a really delicious batch of taco meat.
- 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce- If you are doing low carb, or whole30 make sure to use a tomato sauce with no added sugar, otherwise you can use any variety.
- 3 tbsp tomato paste- This shouldn’t have added sugar but it is always smart to check if you are concerned with it. TIP: Since you will only use part of a small can, I take the rest of the can and drop it in tablespoonfuls on parchment paper then pop it in the freezer for a few hours. Once it is frozen you can transfer the spoonfuls to a zip top bag and you can store for up to 6 months to use them as needed.
- 3 tbsp taco seasoning– This seasoning is the “secret sauce” of this recipe. It is simple but gives the perfect combination of flavors. If you are in a pinch you can use a seasoning packet with the recipe but I really love it with the homemade version of the seasoning. Also, if you are gluten free or low carb you will definitely want to use the homemade stuff as the packets may contain gluten or starch products.
Taco Meat Instructions
- Sauté the meat in a large skillet over medium high heat, breaking up the meat and stirring, until no longer pink. Drain any excess liquid and return to the burner. If you choose to use ground beef, you will have more grease so make sure to drain well. Turkey doesn’t seem to be as greasy but does sometimes have extra liquid as well.
- Add tomato sauce, tomato paste and seasoning and continue to cook stirring regularly until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the meat is coated in the tomato and seasoning. This step really coats the meat in flavor. The key is just mixing well and making sure the meat is coated in all of the good stuff. As it cooks the liquid in the tomato cooks down to really absorb the flavors and coat the meat giving it the signature taco flavor.
- Remove from heat, and serve as tacos, as the filling in stuffed peppers or enchiladas, as a taco salad or any of your favorites!
We just love having taco night as a family, and this taco meat is where it is at! If you do get a chance to try it, I would love it if you let me know! You can leave me a comment below, or if you post a picture on Instagram, make sure to tag me @easyfamilyrecipes so that I can see what you are cooking up! It makes my day to see others enjoying the recipes that I share!
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The BEST Taco Meat
- 1.5 lb ground turkey or ground beef
- 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tbsp taco seasoning- use this one to ensure gluten free! It is what makes these tacos SO GOOD!
- Sauté the meat in a large skillet over medium high heat, breaking up the meat and stirring, until no longer pink. Drain any excess liquid and return to the burner.
- Add tomato sauce, tomato paste and seasoning and continue to cook stirring regularly until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the meat is coated in the tomato and seasoning.
- Remove from heat, and serve as desired. Enjoy!
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)