Taco Recipe:
Who Needs Packaged Mixes?

Here's a homemade taco recipe that doesn't take much longer than using a premade taco mix. It tastes better than a mix, and of course it is more economical and better for you.

taco recipe

I still use packaged taco shells, though. If you have an easy recipe for those, please let me know!

Check that you have these staples at home

  • in the cupboard

    • chili powder
    • cider vinegar
    • maple syrup
    • ground cumin
    • packaged taco shells
    • a jar of salsa

  • in the fridge or freezer

    • ground beef (about 1 pound/500 g)
    • onions
    • Cheddar cheese
    • sour cream or plain yogurt

Buy these fresh ingredients

  • lettuce

Get out your equipment

  • Essential

    • a skillet or pot that has a lid
    • a can opener
    • measuring cups and spoons
    • a wooden spoon or your favourite mixing spoon
    • a grater
    • a cutting board and sharp knife
    • a baking sheet

    The taco recipe

    1 lb/500 g ground beef

    1 cup/250 mL diced onions

    1 can (14 oz/398 mL) chopped tomatoes, drained

    1 Tbsp/15 mL chili powder

    1 Tbsp/15 mL cider vinegar

    1 tsp/5 mL maple syrup

    1 tsp/5 mL ground cumin

    1 cup/250 mL cheddar cheese

    8 lettuce leaves

    8 taco shells

    Put the ground beef and the onions in a skillet.
    Cook and stir over medium-high heat until the meat is no longer pink and the onions are soft.
    Drain off any liquid.

    Add the tomatoes to the skillet. Stir.

    Add the chili powder, cider vinegar, maple syrup and cumin. Stir.
    Reduce heat to medium-low.
    Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Preheat the oven for heating the taco shells. (Read the package to find the oven temperature.)

    Meanwhile, shred the cheese and the lettuce and set them aside.

    If the meat mixture is still too moist, remove the lid and simmer for a few more minutes.
    Remove from heat.

    Put the taco shells on a baking sheet and heat them according to the package directions.
    Fill each shell with some meat mixture, cheese and lettuce.

    Top with sour cream or yogurt and salsa.


    • Use fresh tomatoes instead of canned. You'll need about 1 1/2 cups/375 mL chopped tomatoes.

    • Use white vinegar or your favourite vinegar instead of cider vinegar.

    • Use honey instead of maple syrup.

    Ideas for making this recipe your own

    • Experiment with the spices. if you like spicy tacos, use more chili powder - or add a bit of cayenne powder.

    • Make your own homemade salsa!

    • Add other toppings to the tacos. Chunks of fresh tomato are nice. How about slices of avocado, or guacamole? How about mango chunks? Get creative!


    • Use a grater to shred the cheese, but not the lettuce. (It will turn into mush.) Use a sharp knife to cut the lettuce into strips.

    • To stretch this recipe, cook some rice. Put a layer of rice on the bottom of each taco shell before adding the meat. You won't see or taste the rice, and you will make twice as many tacos!

    Menu suggestion

    Serve this dish with

    If you enjoy this taco recipe, you may also like these other recipes for ground beef:

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