Healthy Taco Meat Recipe
Super easy, quick and flavorful! This homemade Mexican taco meat recipe is one that I make often. You only need a handful of simple ingredients, your favorite taco toppings, and the options are endless with this delicious taco meat. Use it to create taco salads, enchiladas, burritos, or your favorite taco variations. This is seriously the best taco recipe! These tacos make for an easy dinner that the whole family will enjoy, even your pickiest eaters!
Taco night is our favorite night! Learn how to make taco meat and try some of our other super tasty taco recipes: these popular fish tacos, grilled chicken tacos, or even layered taco casserole.
Best Taco Meat Recipe!
When I’m looking for an easy dinner that I know my kids will happily eat, I often turn to tacos. We enjoy this taco meat recipe several times a month, it’s so fast and easy! For even more enjoyment, I typically put out a condiments bar and let everyone assemble their perfect taco. And this makes a great recipe for entertaining because everyone can choose their own taco ingredients from the tortilla and toppings to the sauces. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person that didn’t love tacos!
- Ground meat. I like to use lean ground turkey to make these tacos. The taco seasoning is super tasty and moist, so there’s no way you’ll end up with dry, flavorless tacos. However, you can also use lean (or regular) ground beef, if preferred.
- Onion, jalapeño, garlic. These fresh ingredients will give your taco meat a great depth of flavor. The little bit of jalapeño doesn’t make this taco meat too spicy, but feel free to leave it out.
- Taco meat seasoning. I love the homemade taco meat seasoning in this recipe. It’s so much tastier than store-bought taco seasoning packets and so easy too!
- Salsa. Adding in fresh salsa gives the taco meat extra flavor, and also helps to thicken it up and keeps it moist. If you don’t have salsa on hand, you can use tomato sauce or a combination of the two.
- Tomato paste. If you don’t have tomato paste available, no worries, but I love the extra rich flavor it adds to this taco meat.
How To Make Taco Meat
This taco meat is so easy and comes together in just about 20 minutes. Simply follow the steps below and you’ll have a delicious dinner in no time at all. Scroll down for the full recipe.
- Sauté veggies. Cook the onion, jalapeño, and garlic until soft. Once cooked, you can transfer the veggies to a plate or add the ground meat right in the skillet along with the cooked veggies.
- Cook ground meat. Cook ground turkey or beef in a large skillet over medium heat until no longer pink. Stir frequently to break up any large pieces.
- Add seasonings and simmer. If you’re using ground beef, you’ll want to drain any excess grease from the pan, then add taco seasoning, onion mixture back in, salsa (or tomato sauce), and tomato paste. Mix well. Reduce heat to medium-low, stirring frequently for about 8 minutes and until mixture thickens.
- Serve and enjoy! Use this delicious taco meat to fill tortillas, taco shells, taco salads, enchiladas or burritos. So many yummy options!
How To Serve Taco Meat
Of course, this Mexican taco meat is great served taco-style. You can use the traditional hard shells, which my kids usually prefer. But the soft flour tortillas or corn tortillas will work great and that’s typically what my husband and I enjoy. I also love to use Cut Da Carb wraps and make taco crunch wraps. My favorite!
Don’t stop with tacos, though, use this tasty taco meat for taco salads, burritos, quesadillas and more. The possibilities are endless!
Taco Seasoning Tips
This taco meat is very kid-friendly, however, if your kiddos or you are sensitive to extra spice, leave out one or both of the jalapeños, cut the chili powder down to 1 teaspoon and use more tomato sauce than salsa. Also, be aware of what salsa variety you use in this recipe. If you’re using a super spicy salsa, your taco meat is likely to be super spicy. These tacos are really versatile, so just adjust according to your family’s preference.
What To Serve With Tacos?
Beyond the signature dish itself, it’s nice to have a side dish or two to round out the meal. This healthy taco meat recipe pairs fabulously with my homemade salsa recipe (which has awesome reader feedback), my personal favorite homemade guacamole, and an easy Mexican brown rice recipe. You could also simply warm up some canned beans and enjoy your tacos with that and some chips and salsa. Easy peasy!
What Are The Best Toppings For Tacos?
I typically put out a toppings bar and include some or all of the following taco toppings.
- Shredded cheese
- Diced tomatoes
- Minced red onion
- Jalapeño slices
- Sour cream
- Shredded lettuce
- Diced avocado
Leftovers will stay good in an airtight container in the fridge for about 5-7 days.
Freezer option. Double this recipe and store half in the freezer to have taco meat on-hand for an easy weeknight dinner. To freeze, place cooked and fully cooled meat in a freezer bag, remove all of the air, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw, place in the fridge overnight and then reheat on the skillet (or in the microwave) until warm.
Other Taco Recipes You’ll Love:
Super Simple Shrimp Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
Seared Salmon Tacos with Avocado Crema
If you try this taco meat recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Happy taco night, friends!
Healthy Taco Meat Recipe
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound lean ground turkey or chicken
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 cup tomato sauce or salsa, (or a combination of the two)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 6-7 taco shells or tortillas
- Optional for topping: guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, diced tomato, fresh cilantro
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and jalapeños; cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes and until onions are soft.
- Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently for 1 minute. Transfer onion mixture to a small bowl and set aside.
- Add turkey to the same skillet; cook, over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to break up turkey, for 8 to 10 minutes and until turkey is no longer pink.
- Season with chili powder, cumin and garlic salt.
- Add onion mixture, tomato sauce or salsa (or a combination of the two) and tomato paste. Mix well. Reduce heat to medium-low, stirring frequently for about 8 minutes and until mixture thickens.
- Serve in tortillas or taco shells with all of your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
Did you make this recipe?
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This post was originally published September 2015. It was republished September 2020 with new content.
great recipe for anyone who is on a cal deficit or just trying to consume more protien/healthier food.
So glad you enjoyed!
Been making this recipe for about 8 months now. Delicious each time! I’ve always added a cup of salsa to mine
This makes me so happy to hear!!
My new favorite taco meat! THank you!
Yay! So happy you enjoyed!
Great recipe. My whole family really enjoyed this!
This recipe looks delicious and I am so excited to try it. Would it also work well with ground beef?
Yes, that will definitely work! Enjoy!
So easy and so delicious. I am so glad I came across your page! My husband and I loved your tacos and are looking forward to trying new recipes. I had a question though, is the calories correct? From my math it seems like it should be higher.
So glad you enjoyed, Devon! The nutritional info is for 1/2 cup servings using lean ground turkey. I checked it this morning using myfitnesspal and it actually came out 10 calories lower!
I made these today with ground Turkey! YUMMY!
Do you think this recipe would work with tofu?
Yay! So glad you enjoyed!
I’m sorry, but I don’t have much experience cooking tofu, so I’m not sure. If you give it a try, please let me know how it turns out.
Is there an easy way to turn this recipe into a crockpot recipe? Very excited to try this!!
I haven’t tried it, but I think you could totally just mix everything in a slow cooker and cook on low for about 8 hours or high for about 4 hours. Let us know how it turns out!
Yes, these were amazing except the corn tortillas fell apart immediately. I just put in a bowl and enjoyed, which was fine! Thank you though, these were amazing and the best taco recipe I’ve tried! I’ve used big flour tortillas in the past, but maybe I just over stuffed them:) I tried the mixture before putting in the tortillas and they were great, so I think I just over stuffed them.. Thank you for teaching me this method of making tacos! Delicious!
Yes, corn tortillas can definitely be hard to work with. So glad the taco meat worked out great for you though. I need to make it again soon for my family!
Made these for the first time tonight, we are trying to eat a little healthier and these are so good! My picky guys both went back for seconds. Our new go to taco recipe!
Yay! So glad your family enjoyed! Thanks for taking time to leave feedback!
Hands down best taco meat recipe ever! Thanks so much for such a flavorful recipe the whole family loved.
I make these all the time! Thanks so much for a great recipe.
I’m so glad to hear this!! Thanks for your comment!
These are AMAZING! So yummy!
Yay! So happy you enjoyed!
Would it work if I replace the olive oil with coconut oil?
I made this for my lunches for the week. They were so yummy and since I have 3 kiddos, it worked perfect to have something that I could make once and warm up for the week.
I literally just made this dish for Taco Tuesday and it is so good!! I followed the recipe exactly and for my salsa i used roasted garlic salsa from Trader Joes.
Awesome! I’m so glad you enjoyed. Love that roasted garlic salsa. I bet that was delish!
Made these tonight and were a hit! Easy, straightforward recipe! Thank you!
Oh good! I’m so glad you enjoyed them as much as my family does!
Oh, we had these on Monday and loved them. I had ground turkey and homemade zucchini salsa,which was a bit tangy but sooo good. It was indeed a quick and tasty meal. And I left out the jalapenos, didn’t have any and they would have been too much for the kids anyway. Thank you.
Awesome! I’m so glad you loved them. I bet that zucchini salsa was yum!
These tacos are wonderfully tasty and such an easy weeknight meal. My children loved them too!