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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cora’s Mexican Ground Beef Tacos

I have to confess something. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to Mexican food. I blame living 20-40 miles from the Mexican border for eight of the last 15 years, with the other seven years still being in California. One of my biggest fears of moving away from the San Diego area is that I won’t be able to access my favorite Mexican ingredients for cooking at home. No, really, it’s a true FEAR.

Cora's Mexican Ground Beef Tacos | from @janemaynard

Now that you know I’m a snob, I have another confession to make. Ground beef tacos are not my favorite and I refer to them as “gringo tacos” in my head (especially when crispy taco shells are involved). This isn’t to say Mexican cuisine does not include seasoned ground beef for tacos, it’s just not my first pick and ground beef is never on the menu at any of my favorite Mexican restaurants. That all said, I will still eat and even cook ground beef tacos occasionally, it’s just never my first choice.

While we were visiting family the last few weeks, however, my sister-in-law Cora (who is a wonderful cook as well as a crazy talented photographer) made the best ground beef tacos I’ve ever had. Her Mexican friend Zu taught her how to make this delectable taco meat, and Cora has now passed that wisdom on to you and me.

Cora's Mexican Ground Beef Tacos | from @janemaynardPlease note: The amount of meat you see in the picture above is the recipe below doubled.

First off, you will not need taco seasoning packets ever again. Stop buying them.

Secondly, after you make this taco meat, you will want to eat 10 tacos. You’ve been warned. (After Nate’s umpteenth taco he declared, “Why are these SO GOOD?!”)

Cora's Mexican Ground Beef Tacos | from @janemaynard

Thank you, Cora, for bringing ground beef tacos back into my life in the most delicious way.

Note: Making your own crispy taco shells is the best thing ever with this taco meat recipe. Click here to read how to make crispy taco shells.

Cora's Mexican Ground Beef Tacos
My sister-in-law Cora gave me this recipe. Her Mexican friend taught her how to make this meat and it is scrumptious!
Serves: 8
  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (Cora prefers chipotle chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (Cora uses smoked paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1½ - 2 tsp seasoned salt (to taste)
  • 1 handful chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 pint quartered grape tomatoes
  1. Brown beef over medium heat in a large, preferably deep, skillet. Use a potato masher to really break down the meat as it cooks. (The potato masher is the secret trick to this recipe!)
  2. When the beef is about halfway browned, drain off excess fat, then add the diced onion and seasonings. Continue browning, then add the chopped cilantro and tomatoes.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook until tomatoes and onions melt into the beef mixture, at least 20 minutes. You can add a bit of water as it cooks if needed. Also, continue to use the potato masher throughout the cooking process.
  4. Awesome served with fresh homemade salsa (like this one), pico de gallo and Cholula hot sauce...but you can eat it however you want!




  1. 1
    Kim From PA

    I just made these tacos. I used ground chicken instead of beef and they are fantastic! Really bursting with flavor! I used a pint of variety, multi-colored, fresh off the vine tomatoes. Wow!

    I was making this ahead for tomorrow’s dinner but couldn’t stop myself from enjoying 2 tacos tonight :-)!!

    This recipe is a keeper!

  2. Wow – we will definitely be trying this. I admit we are victims of the taco seasoning packets given our crazy schedules. Two things are different here from how we do tacos – one is my wife tends to cook the beef from frozen [which drives me nuts] in a skillet, and the mashing of the beef with a potato masher looks like it helps with breaking down and blending. Will be trying shortly! Thank you1

  3. 3

    We made this last night and loved it! The recipe was easy to follow and it turned out delicious. We were eating it out of the pan with a spoon before we sat down to eat at the table! Thank you for sharing.

  4. I love Mexican food, as soon as I can make this recipe at home.

  5. 5

    Just made this tonight. Delicious. Thank you for sharing this, especially the tips to pour out half the fat and use the masher. Soooooo good 🙂

  6. 6
    Vicki B

    I made this last night for Cinco de Mayo. This was the best taco beef I’ve ever had, delicious! I added some manzanilla olives to it, other than that I was true to the recipe. The entire family loved it. I will never buy those seasoning packets again. THANK YOU for sharing this recipe!

  7. 7
    meat online kanpur

    Wow..The recipe was easy to follow and it turned out delicious..

  8. 8
    Sharla Muskin

    I was thinking of making this for a large group. When you say it serves 8 do you mean it makes 8 tacos or is that more than one per person? Trying to figure out how much more I would need.

    • Hi! Serves 8, so more like 16 or so tacos’ worth of meat. 🙂

    • I’m on my phone so not wording things well! 😉 definitely more than just 8 tacos. When I make this much, our family of five has dinner (all eating probably 2 tacos each) and we always have leftovers for several people the next day. 🙂

  9. 9

    I just made this recipe and I eyeballed everything except for some of the seasonings. I added one hablando pepper to your recipe but I think that’s more to personal taste.

    I could live off Mexican food year round and was looking for a good base recipe for Mexican ground beef. Though I don’t know if I can ever improve upon this particular recipe.

    I’m definitely hammer down my refried beans and Mexican rice recipes this rounds out the trio.

    Thank you so much for the great recipe, with so many out there I consider myself lucky I found this one.


  10. 10

    Just made these. Much like an earlier commenter, this was my first time never using a taco seasoning packet. It was great to be able to control the amount of sodium.
    I will likely never again use seasoning packets again…like ever. (lol)
    Thanks for posting this.

    • Yay! Love hearing this! And, I happened to be sitting with my sister-in-law Cora when I read your commmet and it made her very happy, too. Thank you!

  11. 11
    Stephanie Hall

    Can you make this up the day before and then heat it up in a crockpot? I’m doing a birthday party and would like to have this made ahead of time so I can do the other things for the party

  12. 12
    Bill B

    Just made this for my wife, I’ve been out of town for a week so I wanted to surprise her with dinner when she comes in from work. Awesome, thanks

  13. 13

    Made this for a dinner with friends…it was absolutely delicious. Rave reviews from all. Loved it and will be making it again! Thanks for sharing.

  14. 14

    Best. Taco. Meat. EVER. I’ve been experimenting with different blends vs using a package mix for a while. This is it!! I love this. Done, going in my ‘permanent’ recipe file as my ground beef taco filing going forward. So glad I found you and this recipe! thank you!! I might add a little heat, depending on my guests, but as is, you can’t beat this.

  15. 15

    I’m going to try this, this weekend. My girlfriend and I found this Mexican food truck one day and decided to give it a try. Best tacos we have ever eaten. No cheese, no lettuce. Just beef with cilantro and this jenopeno sauce that is optional. Can’t wait to see how this taste

  16. 16

    This one’s a keeper. Halfway through dinner, my husband said, “these are the best ground (turkey) tacos you have ever made”. Thank you!

  17. All of our burgers are ? lb. and made from fresh, never frozen ground beef. Served with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, coleslaw and your choice of Chili Cheese Smashed Potatoes, French Fries or Onion Rings.

  18. Looks yummy!You list garlic in the ingredients list, but I don’t see where you add it to the recipe. I would guess that you add it to the partially sautéed onions?Thanks!

  19. 19

    Hi! I’ve made this recipe for years. Everyone loves it! I was wondering if it would freeze well? I’ve never tried. Thanks!

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