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Oct 10, 2008 02:44 PM

Taco beef seasoning

Hey guys, what's a good mix of spices to add to your ground beef when you make tacos/Mexican food? I have always cheated in the past by using the "Taco Bell" seasoning packets from the store, but I'm trying to create something good.

I drain the meat and then add a little water and spices.

I have most of the normal spices on hand (s&p, cayenne, cumin, etc.) but what can make it really shine and be on a 1-10 scale of heat - about a 7 or so.

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  1. What ever you select as a spice mix, don't forget to add a little lemon (or lime) juice.

    1. A good starting point for a pound of meat as far as the seasoning goes
      3 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
      2 tablespoons chili powder
      1 teaspoon ground cumin
      1 teaspoon ground coriander
      1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
      1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
      Plus table salt to taste.
      I prefer lime or cider vinegar, or depending on heat tolerance a little bit of the adobo sauce from some chiles in adobo.

      1. So, do you want to make Taco Bell-style tacos, or do you want to make real Mexican tacos? It sounds to me as if you want to make real tacos. That means no ground beef. I've lived in Mexico for nearly 30 years and have yet to see a taco made with ground beef.

        If not ground beef, then what?

        Try this:

        *Carne Deshebrada (Shredded Beef)*

        2½ pounds beef roast, or chuck
        1 small onion, sliced
        3 cloves garlic
        water to boil
        2 or 3 chiles jalapeño, slit open
        1 tbsp salt
        1 bay leaf
        juice of 2 limes

        Trim beef of bone, fat, and gristle. Cut into 3 to 4 inch pieces. Place in a
        saucepan with garlic and onion, cover with water. Add salt, and bay leaf. Bring
        to a boils, reduce heat and simmer until meat is tender. Drain; ( save broth for
        soups or other recipes ) shred meat while it is still warm.

        Generally speaking, the 'heat' in Mexican tacos does not come from the filling, but from the salsa you use. What you'll see at any taco stand or in a home kitchen is this:

        --choice of red or green salsa, and often avocado salsa
        --cooked beans, fresh from the pot (frijoles de la olla)
        --minced onion
        --grilled sliced onion
        --minced cilantro
        --sliced cucumbers
        --finely shredded cabbage
        --key limes to squeeze over the taco filling
        --salt, preferably sea salt, to taste

        Real Mexican tacos are made using soft (not crisp-fried) tortillas. You never see tacos in Mexico with sour cream, black olives, or shredded yellow cheese. Those are TexMex inventions.


        6 Replies
        1. re: cristina

          Thanks for the tips. I'm used to the Tex-mex style I guess, but I want to make something more authentic like Cristina posted. Thanks all!

          1. re: cristina

            That's sounds really good, I am going to try it. Do you have a recipe for a good green salsa? TIA

            1. re: paprkutr

              *Salsa Verde* (Green Salsa)

              1 lb tomatillos, husked and washed
              6-8 chiles serrano, stems removed, washed
              big bunch of cilantro, washed
              sea salt to taste

              Put the tomatillos and chiles in a big-enough pot and add cold water to cover. The tomatillos will float--don't worry about it.

              Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a low boil and keep an eye on the tomatillos. As each one cracks open, use a slotted spoon to remove it to your blender jar. Some of the tomatillos may not crack, but most will. When you have put most of them in the blender jar, put the chiles in the blender with the tomatillos, add the tomatillos that have not cracked, add about 1/2 tsp sea salt, and blend until fairly smooth.

              A little at a time, add the cilantro to the blender jar. Blend until the cilantro is well chopped.

              Taste and correct the salt, adding more if you want more.



            2. re: cristina

              Thanks for your yummy post. Never have liked those impossible-to-eat crispy tacos.

              1. re: cristina

                Agreed Ground Beef tacos are mostly a gringo thing... mostly. In general, Mexicans feel grinding beef is a waste of meat that can be put to better use.

                However, what is a little more authentic is Picadillo.... which I guess is more of Cube steak than Ground meat but the end result is similar tiny balls of meat that can be seared/pan fried then braised.

                In Highlands Jalisco... Picadillo de Liebre (Finely Diced / Ground Hare in a complex spicey & spiced sauce) is a very common filling for homestyle tacos.

                The spices used would be Guajillos Chiles, Raw Onion, Raw Garlic, Vinegar, Salt, Black Pepper, Allspice, Dry Ginger, Fresh Thyme, Fresh Marjoram, Fresh Oregano, Fresh Spearmint, a little bit of Broth... blend it all to a fine paste... strain & add to the seared meat in the pot.

              2. Lately I've been using chopped garlic, chili powder, cayenne, chopped onion, chopped green chiles, and cilantro.

                1. In case y'all haven't used Search, my Gringo Taco recipe is here:
                  Definitely Not Mexican. Expensive, anonymous spice mixes Not Allowed :-).

                  A good topic discussing carne asada, the Real beef taco filling:

                  EDIT - sorry for waking up this old thread, I just noticed that new 'context sensitive' topic links are bringing up Old topics. Not good, Chow staff.