Do you ever get a craving for some home cooking that you grew up with? No matter how strange or ridiculously processed the cooking happened to be?
Well, these Classic Ground Beef Tacos are for all of you that grew up with a taco night that consisted of taco shells from a yellow box and mystery taco seasoning from a packet.
Whipping up your own ground beef seasoning will give you a reliable taco option that you can use to quickly satisfy a hunger for the days of yore.
Chipotle Ground Beef Tacos Recipe and Ingredients
These can also be made muy rapido with very little planning involved, so it's a perfect go-to meal after a long day of all work and no tacos.
I'll list everything out using 1/2 lb. of ground beef (usually enough for two people), but you can easily double or triple the recipe.
Start by cooking a roughly chopped 1/2 onion for a few minutes, then add the ground beef.
Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Depending on the cut of beef, you can drain off some fat at this point if you want.
Add a minced clove of garlic and briefly saute while you gather the other dry ingredients.
We'll be using a chipotle in adobo to create flavor that will put the seasoning pack out of business.
I usually cut off any visible stem and remove some of the inner veins and seeds.
Mince up the chipotle and add to the beef along with 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce from the can.
We'll also add 1-2 teaspoons of chili powder. I'm using a crushed New Mexican red chile, but nearly any chili powder will do here. (Here's some chili powder alternatives).
Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt along with a couple tablespoons of water and let simmer over medium heat for a few minutes. Taste for salt (I usually add a bit more than the 1/4 teaspoon).
And now for the only big decision you'll have to make until you can eat these beauties.
Most taco seasoning packs are heavy on the cumin and oregano, giving them a distinct Tex-Mex flavor.
I tend to shy away from that flavor as I think the fresh onion, garlic and chipotle do quite well on their own, but I also fully sympathize with the nostalgic yearning for Mom's cooking.
I don't think you'll miss the Tex-Mex flavor of the seasoning packs once you try this version, but just know that you've got the option of adding a bit of cumin and oregano just before this final simmer.
As photographed, I added a dash of cumin and black pepper, but no oregano.
Let simmer over medium heat. By the time you have the taco fixings gathered up the meat will be ready. (Note: you can also use this beef mixture to make killer Ground Beef Nachos.)
My go-to method for doing away with the yellow box is to quick-bake some corn tortillas in the oven.
I think I'll do a separate post on options for making these hardshells at home, but for now here is an easy method:
Warm up some corn tortillas in the oven or microwave. Rub a light layer of neutral oil on them. I used Canola oil and spread it over the tortilla with a pastry brush. (You can also use cooking spray).
Then drape them over two rungs of the oven rack (375F):
In 10-12 minutes they will crisp up:
And they'll even have a shape to 'em that looks built to house some ground beef.
I usually pull them out just before they turn fully brown. This leaves them still slightly pliable and less lethal (crunchy).
Serve immediately with the ground beef and your choice of fixings. Lettuce, tomatoes, cheese (Mozzarella or Jack), and a basic guacamole are all good choices.
I'm normally a huge fan of building a fresh salsa to go along with a main course, but this dish can come together so quickly that defaulting to a healthy dose of Valentina hot sauce usually does the job.
Adios yellow box and mystery seasoning packet?
Classic Ground Beef Hardshell Tacos
- 1/2 lb . ground beef
- 6-8 corn tortillas
- 1/2 onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 chipotle in adobo
- 1 Tablespoon adobo sauce
- 1-2 teaspoons chili powder (I used crushed New Mexican)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- dash cumin (optional)
- dash oregano (optional)
- dash black pepper
- 2 tomatoes
- fresh lettuce
- Monterey Jack cheese (or Mozzarella)
- guacamole (optional)
- Roughly chop 1/2 onion. Saute the onion in a dollop of oil over medium-high heat for a few minutes.
- Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Drain any fat if you want. Add 1 clove minced garlic and saute briefly. Add 1 minced chipotle, 1 Tablespoon adobo sauce, and 1-2 teaspoons chili powder. You can optionally add dashes of cumin, oregano and black pepper.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a couple Tablespoons of water. Let simmer over medium heat. By the time you gather all the taco fixings the meat will be ready. Take a final taste for seasoning (I added another generous pinch of salt to this batch).
- If you want to bake the taco shells, start by warming up the corn tortillas in the oven or microwave. Lightly brush them with a neutral oil (or cooking spray) and drape over two oven rungs for 10-12 minutes at 375F.
- Serve the tacos with diced tomatoes, chopped lettuce, shredded cheese and guacamole (optional). You can also serve them with a freshly made Salsa.
If you want, you can use the beef mixture to make an awesome Taco Salad.
We've also got an awesome Mexican Picadillo recipe that uses similar ingredients.
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Hi,just made ground beef tacos.delicious . I used 100% ground beef.Is that ok?Or should I use fattier beef?I also enjoyed making chipotle tomato salsa.I just bought some tomatillos,to make another salsa.I have a question,which dried chile should I buy?Which are essential in Mexican cooking?Good job with the website.I like the recipes,there not complicated,but simple and flavorful.Thanks
Thanks much for the feedback Ramon!
Yeah you can use lean ground beef but of course it will probably taste a little better with some fat in there. You can always use a fattier beef and then after browning it drain as much of the fat as you want and leave some behind for flavor.
A traditional Salsa Verde is a great salsa to make with fresh tomatillos. And the Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa is a keeper too. More tomatillo recipes.
And regarding dried chiles, I always keeps Anchos on hand as they have loads of flavor and make awesome Enchilada Sauce.
Okay hope that helps a bit! Cheers.
These were delicious! Thank you for posting.
Hey thanks Llana, so glad you found this recipe! Cheers.
Loved the taco shells! So much healthier than frying..
This turned out so much better than I thought it would. My son loved smokey/spicy flavor and it was a hit! Such a lovely change over the usual boxed kit. Would use this again ... and again!
CANT WAIT TO MAKE THESE!!! I'M SO SICK OF PACKAGED SEASONING. MAKING THEM TONITE. I'LL BE BACK WITH MY COMMENTS. THANKS
Wow!! I never leave comments when I find recipes but I had to tell you and other readers how delicious this was! I added a second chipotle pepper and a little more adobo sauce (I like my food nice and spicy) but other than that I followed this exactly and it was a hit. I will forever make this when we have our beef taco nights! Thank you!
Thanks so much for your notes Rachel! Chipotles pair with beef so well and I've become a huge fan of this combo. Adding more chipotles is always a good adjustment! Cheers.
This taco recipe was a complete game-changer for me. The tase and smokey warmth to these tacos brought my family to another realm, I swear! I will never buy a prepared taco seasoning again. Thank you so much for your generous website and recipes and I look forward to eventually making everything you suggest!
Thanks for the feedback Meg! I grew up with those seasoning packs too -- it's amazing how much you can improve on it eh? I hope you find some other keeper recipes on the site. Cheers.
These are perfect for me! See, I’m from Utah and grew up in a home that used every shortcut when cooking. So I’m very accustomed to the “hard taco shells from the yellow box” and the packet of taco seasoning. Oh, also the obligatory shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and bag-o-shredded cheese to adorn them. I mean, I grew up on them so they’re near and dear to me but my Mexican husband refuses to eat them. Well, here’s the answer to my problem, thanks!
Ha awesome, those are the exact same tacos I grew up with, iceberg lettuce and all.
So glad these chipotle flavored ones are working out for you, they are perfect for those of us who grew up with the yellow box. Thanks much for the feedback!
These were so good!! Amazing.
I followed the recipe almost exactly and everything was perfect. Husband said, 'hey, these are really good. Don't you think?"
We had them with guacamole and the oven roasted taco shells. Oh, I used cheddar cheese, not jack.
Awesome, thanks for the feedback Maggie! I like these with guac too.
What a great recipe, and fantastic photographs. It really puts me in the mood to make tacos! (...which I've kind of been in ever since I read your posts on refried beans)
Hey thanks for the feedback Jeff! Hope your upcoming taco night treats you well 🙂