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Former Taco Bell Employees, Please Help!!!

Some time ago I started a discussion on how Taco Bell tasted a lot better in the '70s and '80s. The meat was much better, just tastier. I hardly can stand the way Taco Bell taste now. I will only go a few times a year because of that. I did a new discussion because the other was too long and interest by viewers was lost, so here is a new one.

Someone replied that used to work at Taco Bell and noted the shells were fried on premises and fried with coconut oil. So I have part of the equation on how to make tacos like old school Taco Bell, but the big question is what about the meat? The cheese is obvious and lettuce but how about the meat. Some one replied stating that they got 5 or 10 LB bags of ground beef and got the season packages and mixed it with water and cooked it. Great, I can do that with any packaged taco seasoning but none on the market taste like old Taco Bell. I need to know the exact process in which you mixed the meat with the seasoning and water and if you know if anything else was added to the meat like any oils or anything? Also what was in the seasoning.

Today the Taco Bell tacos they serve is a far cry from the old days. I'm 43 so I started going to Taco Bell in the early '70s. I am going to try to fry up some tacos in coconut oil and see how it turns out. If I can get the shells to taste right and of course the cheese and lettuce are obvious, all I need is the meat, which is the hardest part to figure out. I've tried experimenting yet no luck getting the meat to taste like old school Taco Bell. But then again they were greasy as all heck. I don't mind that, I go to the gym 5 to 7 times a week and am in shape. I'm not gonna eat greasy tacos all the time, so it's no matter to me if they are greasy. I just want something that taste great like Taco Bell used to. Now it taste kinda bad almost. Not quite but almost. I do recall that when you received your tacos in the wrapper, the wrapper was drenched in grease. That looked bad to the health driven decade of the '80s therefore Taco Bell changed their recipe for the tacos which made them healthier I suppose but taste bad or close to bad.

Any former Taco Bell employees from the mid '80s or prior who can help out on making the Taco Bell meat like it was during the glory days of the '80s and '70s much appreciated it would be.


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  1. Considering the to-do recently about how less than 40% of Taco Bell meat is actually meat, I think you may find it impossible to replicate.

    4 Replies
    1. re: katecm

      Considering the to-do recently about how less than 40% of Taco Bell meat is actually meat,


      Your assumption is wrong......


      1. re: fourunder

        Ya, Taco Bell's taco meat has more beef than my home made does.


        1. re: fourunder

          Yep, Love it when people take rumors and post them as fact.

          1. re: fourunder

            The lawsuit was withdrawn. That is not a comment on whether Taco Bell uses extenders in its meat products. The ingredient labels make it clear that extenders are used.

        2. I'm not a former Taco Bell employee, but I've been making the 80's Enchirito at home for many, many years. I use a recipe I found here: http://www.topsecretrecipes.com/Taco-...

          The ground beef mixture cooked in water tastes EXACTLY like old school TB beef. I use this concoction for beefy bean burritos, taco salads, etc. Try it. Be sure and use fresh spices. It does make a difference.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sheilal

            sheilal, thanks for the info. I'm gonna click on the link and check it out.

            1. re: sheilal

              thanks, sheilal. I just made this an hour ago. It doesn't look too pretty but I love the texture. I've always wondered how restaurants get that texture. It's been so long since I've eaten at a taco bell, I don't really remember. But I've encountered the same thing in real deal Texmex places - in Texas.

              Have you experimented at all. I think I might like it even more with a little less flour.

              Thanks again, from an 8 taco per week gal.

            2. I'm older than you and ate taco bell back in the 70s at least and I don't remember the taco shells ever being freshly fried. They have always been that disgusting preformed fake shell.

              Can't help on the meat though. I kinda miss the old bell beefer

              1 Reply
              1. re: rasputina

                rasputina, I tend to have the same memories as you. I don't recall them being freshly fried but many an ex employee says they were. They were just perfectly made like at a factory but maybe they had the taco shell process down to a science at each restaurant so it seemed as if they were not fried on the spot. If I go to a real Mexican food place and they make their shells right there and then they sure don't look like the Taco Bell shells I had as a kid. The ones I had were like perfect from a factory but I can only guess they made them perfect at the Taco Bell location since these employees are saying they made them from scratch. I just recall the tacos being ultra greasy and good.

              2. I avoid fast food franchises to the extent possible. I don't ever recall TB being tasty. I do believe Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation reported that TB had gone to precooked meat. Everything is preprocessed to the extent possible and shipped in, not only for safety, but to assembly line the process to the max so the high turnover, undertrained, low wage workers cant screw up the food. You may be missing the freshly prepared meat filling of the past.

                6 Replies
                1. re: dijon

                  dijon, I think you are right. I bet that the switch from freshly prepared meat to the already made stuff they ship to the restaurants is when it started tasting bad. It's not horrible just the Taco Bell of the '70s and '80s was really really good and the stuff now is not so good.

                  I don't eat too much fast foods either but I have to admit I do like fast food places. I'll admit it's bad for me but I love the way it taste. I work out a lot and eating now and then won't hurt me, I just don't go all the time to fast food places.

                  1. re: HoundDogz

                    I know this is an old thread but Taco Bell was my first job. I started out as the fryer.....in summer....Trust me ALL shells were fried on location. Even the nachos and cinnamon crispas (fried flour tortillas with cinnamon sugar).

                    We had a metal rack that you put the tortillas in to make the shape, then an insert that went on top. Fried in coconut oil (pretty sure about the type).

                    This was using yellow corn tortillas not white corn.

                    1. re: Mr_Smee

                      That's why the tacos were so greasy that the paper they were wrapped in were drenched with grease. Funny enough you guys did a great job because the shells were so perfect they looked like they came from a factory. I thought they were greasy because of the meat but since you made them yourselves by frying them that explains the greasiness. If only TB did things the old way they would still be great.

                      1. re: HoundDogz

                        Most likely the grease was from the meat. Unless the shells were freshly fried. We had to drain the meat so I imagine some didn't drain it all the way. There was always a little orange grease though. I remember the greasy wrappers also and the excellent taste.

                        1. re: Mr_Smee

                          Exactly they were excellent, grease and all.

                  2. re: dijon

                    I do believe Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation reported that TB had gone to precooked meat.


                    Several years ago, I was involved in a fund raising event where our local Taco Bell donated the ingredients to make walk-away taco salads. The meat came precooked and pre-seasoned in large (5 pound maybe?) bags.

                  3. The first Taco Bell I ever patronized was as a college student in East Lansing, Mich., in the mid-70s. What I remember most about it (in addition to the fact that it was wildly popular with my colleagues at the college newspaper) was that the flour tortillas were dyed orange -- why, I have no idea. It's hard to believe that the food was better back then.

                    I do think there is some variation today in the food served at different Taco Bells. When I worked in downtown Los Angeles in the late 1990s, the Figueroa Boulevard Taco Bell served what I considered the top-of-the-line bean burrito; the refried beans at other Taco Bells were dry and tasteless in comparison. Now that I live in the northeast, there's a Taco Bell in Nanuet, N.Y., that my kids and I have deemed "the worst Taco Bell ever," with horrible service and iffy ingredients. (But the ones in Paramus and Hackensack, N.J., are OK.) Go figure.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: melissa511

                      melissa, the one on Figureroa Boulevard I'm not familiar with but when I used to work in downtown, last I worked there was 2007, I used to sometimes go to the one around the California Plaza area on Grand between 5th and, well I guess 4th Street.

                    2. Prior to Taco Bell being purchased by Pepsi Co (before 1985) EVERYTHING was prepared fresh onsite:

                      • Ground beef, not Choice but the grade below, was delivered in 10# bags fresh, not frozen.
                      • Beans were made in 20# batches with sorted and washed Pinto Beans, a cup of salt and 2#’s of LARD per pressure cooker brought to a boil, air released – then built back up and cooked for another 2-3 hours then “drilled” with a 2’ long drill bit. New employee hazing included being told you had to count the beans that went in each batch.
                      • Cheese arrive in a 40 pound block was cut with a wood handled and guitar string cutter each night and then shredded fresh each morning.
                      • Lettuce came by the case and was cleaned at night, shredded each morning.
                      • Tomato’s slice then cubed multiple times per day and same for onions.
                      • Olives came WHOLE in a can and sliced into 3 pieces because the ring couldn’t be broken.
                      • Grade A sour cream came in 2Qt tubs and were transferred to plastic tubes, air pockets removed for use in portion gun.
                      • Corn tortillas were delivered by distribution and fried into shells each morning.
                      • Full size flour tortillas, buns (for the Bell-Beefer) and smaller orange colored (could have been a combination of flour and corn) tortillas (used for Enchiritos) were stored cold and placed in the steam cabinet prior to use.
                      • The green sauce came in a #10 can and had no ingredients listed as it was a proprietary secret. One can was divided into 2 inserts and then filled the balance of the way with water.
                      • The red sauce came as a dry mix. Water was added to an insert then you whisked the entire time you slowly poured the mix into the insert.
                      • The meat seasoning came as a package too. A smaller cambro container (guessing 2QT’s) was filled to the lower rim with water then the dry mix was stirred in. Seasoning sat at least overnight in the walk in before being used. One 2Qt container seasoned 20 pounds of meat. The whole container was added to the raw meat and then cooked to 165 degrees – stirring almost the entire cooking time to get meat to a fine consistency. Once at 165 – meat was set to drain and cooled to 150 then placed in pans and moved to steam table for service.

                      Yep, I was an employee and I probably could have (and maybe did) eat there 5 days a week for well over a year (no weight gain) and at least 3 times a week there after until it was sold to Pepsi Co and everything began to ship pre-made from the corporate commissary. A bean and cheese with green sauce, no onion, extra cheese for less than a buck made the perfect, cheap, filling lunch.

                      The Taco Bell I worked at still had phonetic pronunciations on the menu board. The Burrito Supreme was pretty new and considered fancy. Most folks stuck with the basics; taco, burrito, tostada and bell beefer. Rich people bought the enchirito, taco supreme, taco grande, taco light (not low cal, just made with a fried flour tortilla), and tostada supreme. The nacho bell grande arrived while I worked there and that was considered innovative. Chips were fried onsite, cheesy sauce came from a can though.

                      You Tube has lots of “nostalgic” commercials. You can re-live the glory days of what was good, fast food if you just do a quick search.

                      And if in the late 70’s, early 80’s you considered fast food trash then too, well we’ll just have to disagree. I grew up in a house with no packaged foods, everything was homemade. Knowing that we were going to get bean burro’s during Lent was a huge bonus (mom didn’t know they used lard)!

                      In the end I can’t answer your question of how the meat was truly made – but maybe you can experiment with off the self seasoning packets and the Taco Bell cooking technique.

                      Good Luck,


                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Bazel

                        Bazel, thank you for the detailed description of how the process of the food was prepared at Taco Bell. Taco Bell was a high quality fast food chain from what I gather from what you described it as. More like an independent than some fast food chain even tho it was a chain. Too bad Pepsico ruined everything.

                        Do you remember that the tacos were drenched in grease? If you recall that, was it from the meat or was it because you all made fresh shells on site? I'm trying to figure out how the tacos were so greasy. I'd think the meat but now that I think of it it's the taco shells possibly because when I go to an authentic Mexican restaurant and get tacos the shells are greasy as all heck because they were just fried. I'm amazed that Taco Bell made the shells on site and they came out so perfect looking as if they were made by a supplier somewhere with giant equipment.

                        I'm gonna try the recipe in the link above that one of the previous posters posted the link to. I'll try different processes based on what you describe above on how to make the meat.

                        I do go on YouTube and look at the old Taco Bell commercials. They bring back fond memories of my elementary and high school years. I am the Class of 1985, Alhambra High School, Alhambra, California.

                        Do you also notice the taste of the taco meat is not nearly as tasty as the original pre-Pepsi days?

                        I visited El Taco in Downey. This was also started by the guy who started Taco Bell. I think it was Glenn Bell who started both Taco Bell and El Taco. El Taco is still independent and not corporate. They have amazing chicken enchiladas. I was hoping the tacos were gonna taste like old school Taco Bell. Nope they don't but they are.


                        1. re: HoundDogz

                          HoundDogz, when I first tried the recipe I linked above, I was skeptical about it. Especially the ingredient of flour and then putting it in water. I think it's the combination of the two that yield the fine texture of the ground beef. It was really surprising how close it tasted. After tweaking my spices (I use only fresh ones, which isn't a problem since I use them so frequently), it was dead on!

                          1. re: HoundDogz

                            I worked at Taco Bell for many years (1978-1986) in the Phoenix area. The description made by Bazel above is almost an exact example of what my experiences were. I started with Taco Bell as a shy 16 year old who was on my own and had to support myself. I finished as the manager of the busiest store in the state (in the 1980’s anyway). The experiences that I gained in those years are both fond and frustrating for many different reasons, but I learned excellent work ethics and pride in a job well done that has carried me throughout my various careers. I worked for a very large franchise that really cared about how their business was presented. The owners were on hand daily to inspect in detail every process of the operation, and the district managers were never too good to pick up a broom or cook a pan of beans. I forget how many stores they had but there were quite a few. I was very proud to have worked for this particular franchise for a long time. Unfortunately, in the end I moved on to a different franchise because of a very young, favored and brand new district manager that was “sowing his oats” shall we say? The new franchise was vastly different and their attention to detail left a bit to be desired. Things were better in the old days and I outgrew my fast food job and moved on to a more modern career.

                            As far as the shells go, I personally have fried many, many thousands of shells in my Taco Bell career. Perhaps it was a franchise or regional thing as to whether they were fried on site or not. Our “fryers” as we called the kids that did that, worked generally in the mornings or late at night. The different types of shells all had metal molds that gave them their perfect appearance. The heat was kept very consistent and the shells were fried for a very specific time. If they weren’t perfect they went to the trash, period. The batches were fried generally every other day and the shells were kept in a warming oven at a very low temperature that helped to make sure that they were never, ever stale.

                            With regards to the meat, we cooked it exactly as Bazel described. I think that the meat was an 80/20 blend that had pretty high water content. Anyway, it could be somewhat greasy if it wasn’t drained properly. The owners taught us never, ever to mash the meat in any way, neither while cooking nor draining. They wanted the meat to be fluffy with no mushy texture. Once the meat was set in the drainer the thermometer was placed in it and it was not touched again until it reached 150 this way the liquid would have more spaces to drain and would remain moist and fluffy. It was placed in a metal pan, covered and placed in the steam cabinet until the pans in the tables were empty.

                            These days I do not eat at Taco Bell. The food is not the quality I remember it and I can make pretty much everything myself at home. I make the meat myself but I use a 90/10 blend. The meat must be completely thawed, not in a microwave where it can partially cook. I use whatever brand of taco seasoning I have; they all pretty much taste the same. I generally buy the large containers from Sam’s Club and mix it myself. I think it can taste different from what the old Taco Bell meat tasted because it is not drained the same. What you get at home is the meat cooked, drained and then a dry mix added and then water added to that. Consequently what you wind up with is cooked ground beef with a sauce. The texture and the flavor, while tasty, is not the same as the old Taco Bell meat. What I tried was pre mixing the sauce, it should be liquid when you add it to the meat, and usually the measurements are ¼ cup mix to 2/3 cup water. Add it to the UNCOOKED meat. Cook until it is at least 165 degrees or however you like it to be (well done, etc…). Pour all of it into a colander with smaller holes, fluff it and let it drain, again you can fluff it but do not mash it. It should be moist but not too greasy. If it cools too much, put it in a bowl and heat it a little in the microwave just before serving, warm meat heats very quickly in the micro, be sure not to overdo it. I’d love to find out if I was helpful in your quest, and what you think of the meat. Good Luck.

                            1. re: HoundDogz

                              Class of '85 here to Hound. I would bet that the grease came from the meat and I'll explain why.... When a saturated fat is used for frying (coconut oil in this example). It seals in the moisture from the outside film created. The liquid oil does not soak in to the item. The remaining oil is drained off. This is why I believe the shells are not responsible for the oil in the wrapper. I noticed also this clear brown/red oil floats on top of properly made chili for example that had no taco shells involved. It was the beef and the tallow (fat) in the real beef that is required for that wrapper oil.

                            2. re: Bazel

                              Thank you Bazel for posting this! I am just as obsessed with the old Taco Bell and I'm glad to know from this discussion that I'm not the only one. I remember as a teen in the 70's seeing the staff cooking the meat and beans and yes, frying the taco shells with those metal forms. I stopped going to TB about 10 years ago. I crave an Enchirito every now and then but it's always so disappointing. I'd like to try the suggestions on here and make my own. I remember the tortillas for the enchiritos were different and I always wondered if they were a wheat/corn flour mixture. Can't believe how sad I was they started using the white tortillas. Then around the late 80's on, the food was horrible. It just keeps getting worse. Those "gourmet bowls?" Really? With "world-renowed" chef what's her name? Roasted corn, guac, cilantro-lime chicken? Can you say Chili's?

                            3. I worked at Taco Bell in 1977 in Van Nuys, CA. The shells were not fried. In fact the shells are pretty much the same as now. The meat was ground beef mixed with a pre measured seasoning packet. Nothing odd or sinister was added to the meator anyoftheproducts and everything was made when it was ordered.

                              1. Taco Bell "Bell Burger" from 1960's

                                From about the mid-1960's through the mid-1970's Taco Bell made a Sloppy Joe like sandwich called the "Bell-Burger". It used the same flavored ground beef mixture as a crunchy taco, along with a sauce similar to Mild Border Sauce and shredded mild cheddar cheese. This was served on a hamburger bun that had been steamed slighly to soften and warm it.

                                This is not the "Bell Beefer", which came about 10 years later and had diced tomatoes, lettuce and sour cream. The "Bell Burger" was just seasoned loose meat, sauce and shredded cheese on a steamed bun.

                                Beef Filling:
                                1 pound lean ground beef, uncooked
                                1/4 cup all-purpose flour
                                1 Tbsp mild chili powder
                                1 tsp table salt
                                1/2 tsp dried minced onion flakes
                                1/2 tsp paprika
                                1/4 tsp onion powder
                                dash garlic powder
                                1/2 cup cold water

                                6 hamburger buns (steamed slightly to soften and warm them)
                                6 to 12 packets (or 1/3 to 2/3 cup) of Taco Bell Mild Border Sauce (recipe below)
                                3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

                                Combine in a mixing bowl raw ground beef, flour, chili powder, salt, minced onion flakes, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder. Mix thoroughly like you would mix a meatloaf.

                                In a skillet on the stove top, add 1/2 cup of cold water and the seasoned ground meat mixture. Mix well. Cook over medium heat, mash and stir ground meat as it cooks, breaking it up. Cook until meat is no longer pink and slightly browned. The meat mixture should be loose, without any large pieces. Drain off any grease or liquid.

                                Steam the burger buns slightly to warm and soften them.

                                Build a "Bell Burger" like this:

                                Spread a tablespoon of Mild Border Sauce on the bottom bun.
                                Place several tablespoons of the meat mixture on the bottom bun like making a sloppy joe.
                                Add 1 or 2 packets (or 2 Tbsp) of Taco Bell Mild Border Sauce evenly over the meat on bun.
                                Sprinkle 1 or 2 Tbsp of shredded mild cheddar cheese over meat mixture on bun. Add the top bun.
                                Repeat 5 more times. Serve warm.

                                Makes 6 "Bell Burgers"


                                Taco Bell Mild Border Sauce

                                3 cups cold water
                                2 tsp cornstarch
                                1 (6-oz) can tomato paste
                                3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
                                4 tsp chili powder
                                2 tsp salt
                                1 tsp cayenne pepper

                                Add cold water to a saucepan. Stir in the cornstarch until it is dissolved.

                                Stir in the tomato paste, vinegar, chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper.
                                Stir until well mixed and smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for
                                5-minutes to thicken.

                                Allow sauce to cool then store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

                                Makes about 3 cups of Mild Border Sauce.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: Antilope

                                  Thanks for this. Do you suppose the different red sauces in the packets can be acheived just by varying the cayenne content, or are there other differences as well?

                                  1. re: Antilope

                                    To make a Bell Beefer from the above Bell Burger recipe, just add diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce and sour cream.

                                    1. re: Antilope

                                      I don't remember any toppings on it, certainly not sour cream. Not saying it didn't have them at one point, I just must not of ordered it during that time. I just remember meat and cheese. But then, I don't remember the cheese being shredded either. Was a long time ago.

                                      1. re: Antilope

                                        Ah, I remember the bell beefer! Thanks for this recipe! I'm going to have to try it. Funny, i don't remember the lettuce, tomato and sour cream!


                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          I just did a search on the Google newspaper archive. You are right about the sour cream. But the Bell Beefer did have lettuce, onions, tomatoes and cheese:

                                          The Sun newspaper- Apr 18, 1982

                                          "The regular Bell Beefer (89 cents) is meat sauce, onions and lettuce on a roll that falls apart when lifted; the Bell Beefer Supreme ($1.09) has tomatoes and cheese."

                                          1. re: Antilope

                                            Oh that totally rings a bell (hahaha! no pun intended), actually. I do vaguely remember the lettuce (though that could have been from the tacos, too), but I don't remember the tomatoes or cheese. We ordered the bell beefers because they reminded us of the loosemeat sandwiches from back home, but loosemeats wouldn't have had all of that extra stuff like lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. I remember there were some things that cost "extra" but we never wanted those things anyway because they don't come on loosemeats!


                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              I read on another board that someone buys Taco Bell tacos, takes them home and dumps the loose meat on hamburger buns and adds some mild border sauce to make quick Bell Beefers.

                                              1. re: Antilope

                                                That's pretty funny.

                                                I thought I was the only one who remembered them and am glad to have a confirmation that I wasn't imagining it.


                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  I was surprised, in 2006, on my first visit to Mexico (a business trip to Chihuahua) there were Taco Bell outlets. I didn't try them and local people said they hated the Taco Bell food. Maybe Taco Bell is there for the American tourists? I ate at a local chain called Ricky's Tacos and they were delicious.

                                      2. As a truck driver, I have hauled the premade preformed taco shells from Mission Tortilla Company in downtown Los Angeles to a Taco Bell distribution center in Texas. Unless they have changed their policy in the past few years, none of the TB corn tortilla shells are made on site.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: PotatoHouse

                                          Here's a paraphrased recipe for Taco Bell Fire Border Sauce (from TopSecretRecipes). That's were I got the paraphrased Mild Border Sauce recipe above and the paraphrased Beef Filling recipe above:

                                          Taco Bell Fire Border Sauce

                                          3 cups cold water
                                          2 tsp corn starch
                                          1 (6-oz) can tomato paste
                                          3 Tbsp vinegar
                                          3 Tbsp finely minced canned jalapeno slices
                                          1 Tbsp chili powder
                                          1 Tbsp dried minced onion
                                          2 tsp salt
                                          1 tsp cayenne pepper
                                          1 tsp sugar
                                          1/4 tsp onion powder
                                          dash garlic powder

                                          Add cold water to a saucepan. Stir in the cornstarch until it is dissolved.

                                          Stir in the tomato paste, vinegar, jalapeno slices, chili powder, dried minced
                                          onion, salt, cayenne pepper, sugar, onion powder and garlic powder.
                                          Stir until well mixed and smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for
                                          3-minutes to thicken, stirring frequently.

                                          Allow sauce to cool then store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

                                          Makes about 3 cups of Taco Bell Fire Border Sauce

                                          1. re: Antilope

                                            I'm guessing you'd have to puree this with a stick blender or in a regular blender, as the stuff in the packets is pretty smooth. I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for this.

                                          2. re: PotatoHouse

                                            None of the shells are fried on site now. But they used to be in the 70's. I remember those wire-form taco shaped baskets and dropping them in the grease like french fries. Even the corn-shell products are horrible and have come into question around 2000.

                                            1. re: PotatoHouse

                                              That is one example of the big problem today. "Pre-made". There are others of course.

                                            2. I'm glad I'm not the only one obsessed with the old Taco Bell. I miss it so much! I remember the smells of the food when the beans and meat were cooking early lunch time in those square vats. I also remember the taco shells fried with those special metal forms. Just like dropping fries in a wire basket and lowering it in the hot oil. I don't remember the tacos being that greasy though. My fav was the enchirito with those three slices of black olive and special yellow tortilla(corn/wheat flour mixture?) in those foil trays. Now the tortillas taste awful, meat tastes like sand and wood, beans are stale. The veggies are usually limp and sour. I haven't been to a TB in 10 years. Occasionally I'll have a bad craving for an enchirito but I'm always disappointed. It seems like alot of trouble to make all of this for one item. It would be fun to find other obsessed fans for a cook-off!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: sarahcz12

                                                Glad other's recall that the old original Taco Bell taste way better than now. I don't care for Taco Bell now, at least the current recipe. I know that being a big company they do have the guidelines and the recipes for the old school Taco Bell tacos but they refuse to make it.

                                                Glenn Bell, originator of Taco Bell had a taco place before TB called El Taco. I mentioned it here already but will again. There is the one in Downey or something where I go and was hoping the tacos would be the same old recipe but taste nothing like old school TB. It's okay but not so great. I do love the enchiladas there and I go there for that.

                                              2. sheilal, just wanted you to know I posted a thank you under your post way above. Just in case you open this up and only read the bottom.

                                                1. I worked at Taco Bell in the 1980's as a fry cook. The taco shells were soft flat and were put into a metal form in the shape of a taco. It was a pain in the butt because the shells could break when you flipped the device over to get the shells out after you cooked them. The taco lights were the worst, about a quarter of them would break-but I wish they would bring them back. The biggest issue I had was when you flipped them over, you had to use the back of your hand to stop the tacos from flying out of the form. You would then slowly pull your hand out and let the tacos come out. I wore a big glove to protect from burns but the heat and the oil really made my hands dry and crack. The meat was prepared fresh back then- usually came in 10 pound bags and you cooked 20 pounds in each container. Add the liquid seasoning-smelled really good and then break up with a large fork hoe thing and then drain. The beans were made fresh in a pressure cooker-beans, lard, and water. Then when it was done we used a drill to turn them into refried beans.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: yoshert

                                                    Maybe that is why the tacos were always so greasy that the shells were made from scratch there and right out of the hot oil. The wrappers were very much soaked with oil due to the shells being freshly made I suppose.

                                                    Golden color wrappers were the regular tacos and if you had a special order like no cheese or no lettuce or something added they would come in a white wrapper. The wrappers had the Taco Bell logo on them too with a pic of a Taco Bell restaurant.

                                                  2. I worked at Taco Bell in 1984/85. It was my first job. Almost everything was prepared on site. The tortillas were fried in coconut oil. That year they were experimenting with the taco light! The meat was raw and cooked in the kitchen. The tomatoes came whole and we pain stakingly had to cut the mini tiny cubes. There were two sauces, a red and a green sauce. The supreme products had olives on top. The dessert choice was cinnamon crisps which were tortilla chips in cinnamon sugar. The uniforms were awful brown polyester that didn't breathe. The girls wore a handkerchief style hat that was so out dated. Even for the 80s! Fun job with fun people for the most part!

                                                    13 Replies
                                                    1. re: Smerc

                                                      Didn't the original Taco Bell have a cauldron of fire out front, or am I thinking of somewhere else?

                                                      Taco bell menu is all jacked up now - it's like they're trying to be more like chipotle. And with a higher price point.

                                                      1. re: rudeboy

                                                        Yes they had a circle fire pit with gas I think. Couldn't imagine anybody doing that now with lawyers and stupid people.

                                                        1. re: rudeboy

                                                          The menu like the food is a mish mosh of slop. All they do nowadays is think up different combinations of crap ingredients and make new names for the item. That is the game YUM plays.

                                                          INSTEAD of the smart thing to do.... AND THAT IS - stick to basically the original menu from the mid 80's and prepare and use the SAME recipes and preparation like it is supposed to be made. You just need the tacos (soft & crunchy), burritos, (bean - beef - baconcheeseburger), taco salad (original), enchirito, tostada, nachos belgrande, meximelt, and of course the supreme versions of certain items. That's it !!!

                                                          1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                                            Totally agree - the last few times I've gone there, I spent way to long in the drive through trying to figure out the damn menu. The enchirito may be gone forever. Those damn doritos tacos don't taste right because the flavors are incongruent. And while not an 80's item, they took away my favorite gordita. There's an upcharge just to approach a facsimile of it. The only thing to order now is the regular taco, crunchy taco supreme, and nachos bellgrande or supreme. I can't believe those "grillers."


                                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                                              The gordita can have a place on the menu. I liked those too actually. But all the silly "locos", "doritoes", "fiesta", "firey", etc. tacos and garbage are just that. Flavor blending is an art. You can't just throw ingredients together just because they exist in the same realm and expect them to taste heavenly.
                                                              They destroyed my beloved Nachos Belgrande and Pizzaz Pizza (mexican pizza). First they changed the chips for the worse in the Belgrande and they now have a bitter rancid taste, since they use artificial vegetable oil starting around '89 or so. Then they removed the green onions and changed the seasoned ground beef to fillers. The pizza was ruined by removing the black olives and green onions and also frying the wafer in toxic oil. Taco Bell in the 80's and prior was orgasmic-ally flavorful to the palate. Because everything was fresh and natural.

                                                              1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                                                Good points. I was in a conversation with amysuehere (great chowhound) and she said that you can still request and receive an enchirito. I wonder how it tastes compared to the 80's. I remember going next door from our family restaurant to get them from an old school Taco Bell circa 1981.

                                                                (an aside - I worked at Burger King in high school, and we use to chop all the onions and fresh tomatoes. Bet they don't do that anymore).

                                                                1. re: rudeboy

                                                                  As far as I know... The enchirito is not the same either. Even though some places still have it as a menu item.... They now use a flour tortilla instead of the yellow corn as original. No more black olives on top, and of course the seasoned ground beef is nothing but soy and artificial fillers resembling a beef filling today. Who likes the low fat sour cream? Not me ! And never forget the mild shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese is coarsely shredded today SO they can skimp on it. You certainly don't get the amount of cheese you once did. Because the finely shredded was easier to pick up as a bunch (clump). So they cut that out too to save a penny.

                                                                  1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                                                    Just saw this again - are you sure about the enchirito originally being corn? I thought the whole thing was about kind of being an enchilada and then kind of being a burrito = enchirito.

                                                                    1. re: rudeboy

                                                                      That is only what I heard. I personally only remember the flour tortilla myself and never saw the corn tortilla.

                                                                      They used to be delicious, but when they switched to shelf stable tortillas, low fat cheese - skimped on amount too, and altered the taco beef for the worse.... I no longer enjoyed them.

                                                                      1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                                                        The omission of the black olives was key, as you pointed out. Those very expensive, canned black olives.

                                                                        1. re: rudeboy

                                                                          Yes, and the removal of the black olives was a big mistake. They added such a great flavor combination to certain items. I even add them to my own homemade Nachos Belgrandes.

                                                                          They never said cost was the problem. They told me it is because some people didn't like them. Too bad for those people, they can remove them from the top of the food after. I think they wanted to cut costs everywhere they could. When you buy in bulk, the cost per lb. drops.

                                                                      2. re: rudeboy

                                                                        Yes it was a corn tortilla. Yellow corn. They were different than the taco shell tortillas though as they came in a different package.

                                                                        Maybe it was a more softer corn tortilla but it was yellow corn.

                                                                        1. re: Mr_Smee

                                                                          That would mean the corn was pulverized instead of grainy like a taco shell. Makes sense. Hmmm, wonder where we would be able to buy yellow corn tortillas that are smooth like the flour type?

                                                        2. Glad I made it. Whew, wondering where you went Hound? MrSmee has started another thread under Tumblr to make old school Taco Bell. His site is called Old School Eatery. Now to catch up on the findings..... And YES, when Taco Bell had great Tacos, the beef drained oil into the wrapper. Healthy saturated natural fat that the human body recognizes. Hope we can bring that back.

                                                          1. OMG I can't believe I read the whole thing on this but I did. To the OP. yes for crying out loud, the grease that you cannot comprehend where it came from was from the beef! I don't know how many people told you that and you at one point sounded like you got that. Then you came back asking if it was from the shells again? NOOOOOO. Why would greese that is orange, dripping out of a taco onto the paper be from the taco shell lol? It wouldn't. I'm sorry for being so mean but it's common sense dude. Ok a taco shell is deep dried in greese. That is true. But the greese is clear, not orange. The greese you ask about is orange greese dripping off the seasoned beef.
                                                            Now having said that. I loved this blog and I love old school Taco Bell. I'm surprised nobody mentioned this, the beans are no longer cooked at the stores. They are a dried flake just like dehydrated mashed potatoes, and rehydrated with water. That's why they suck now. They are powdered refried beans.
                                                            If you allow this to get posted, don't take it personally. I have worked at a lot of fast food restaurants and my brother used to manage a Taco Bell in the early 80's. But I just couldn't believe you kept asking if the greese came from the shells.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: Pleasedude

                                                              Thanks for helping this forum. HD is just a perfectionist like me. We want to be certain on the ingredients and processes. We miss real Taco Bell so much that resort to making it at home now. As you know I make excellent bean burritos.
                                                              I figured the fat (oil) came from the seasoned beef itself. This is why I NEVER drain the beef after it is cooked. I think the seasoning part is the holy grail. If we knew the exact recipe for the seasoning? We could make it spot on. I make a pretty good taco beef myself, but not exactly like original Taco Bell from the 80's. I use the taco bell seasoning packet, 80/20 beef, water and will try a couple tablespoons of buttermilk next time.

                                                              1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                                                Hey how's it going! Actually I didn't know about your bean burritos. What's the story on those?
                                                                I took the recipe from this blog on how to make TB ground beef. I have made it twice since last week. It calls for adding the flour and seasoning first and then cooking the meat. The flavor is good but the consistency of the burger is too minced for me. I know TB meat is clumpless and that's why I like it. Have you ever eaten at some bodies house when they were making tacos and they left the beef in huge chunks? I hate that! Anyway, both times that I cooked the meat it was way too fine. My wife even commented. I always shoot for that whenever I made taco meat in the past and was never in danger of getting it too minced. The only thing I can assume is that mixing raw beef with flour somehow results in the taco meat breaking down like that. I did my best the second time around to barely stir it while it cooked and yet, same results. Are you mixing the beef first and then cooking it or do you add everything to the pan at the same time?
                                                                As a side question: I love TB hot sauce. Not mild sauce and not fire sauce. A couple days ago I went in there and ordered one hard taco just so I could grab "steal" extra hot sauce packets lol. I was making enchiritos that night so, you know. I grabbed 30 packets of sauce for my one hard taco. Now I have some! So is the store bought TB hot sauce exactly the same as the packets? TB hot sauce is the only sauce I like on my Taco Bell creations. However whenever I make any other version of tacos, burritos or macho nachos, I use pace picante hot salsa. You have to stay "real" with the Taco Bell ingredients but when making other renditions of mexican food, I use totally different ingredients.

                                                                1. re: Pleasedude

                                                                  Hi Pleasedude.... First thing. When I make the taco beef I add ALL ingredients together from the beginning. And simmer it quite a while so the flavors meld. The taste is decent but not exact to original TB. We are all still tweaking it as of now.

                                                                  As for my bean burritos. Here you go:

                                                                  Large flour tortillas (refrigerated type)
                                                                  Refried beans of your choice
                                                                  Shredded mild cheddar cheese
                                                                  Enchilada sauce or La Victoria red chili sauce
                                                                  White sweet onion diced and heated to tender/clear in microwave

                                                                  Heat the refried beans in a pot and reduce consistency to your liking with water and some lard (tablespoon to a pound). Then heat your flour tortilla under a wet paper towel in the microwave on high for 45 seconds. Assuming all your ingredients are ready to go, place a tortilla on a plate and scoop a nice amount of refried beans on one side as close to the edge as possible in center. Then add your chopped onion, shredded mild cheddar (about 1/3 of beans amount), and drizzle your red sauce down length.

                                                                  Now when you roll the burrito.....try and keep ingredients on end closest to you even tilt the tortilla. When you roll fold over one end only (I fold right side first), then roll burrito completely LEAVING one end (left side on mine) OPEN ! Never close both ends like they do now. We want our one open end believe me. It actually tastes better, because your first couple bites are mostly tortilla and sauce if you apply... After I make them, I then heat in the microwave a little just to warm everything and get the cheese to soften into a kind of solid mass. Then enjoy. You will love them.

                                                                  Today at TB, the bean burritos are dough burritos. I'm not kidding. A smear of bean, no cheese and rolled up solid dough. Bleeech !!!

                                                                  1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                                                    Yep sounds just like TB bean burrito. I haven't made one like that yet. Been too focused on the enchiritos. Ever since I saw to use la Victoria sauce and discovering it tastes so much like the real thing, I have been eating a lot of at home enchiritos. I'll have to make some bean burritos. They used to be my favorite item there. I haven't really ever ordered more than just a few items there. This is all I have ever had: hard or soft tacos. Steak tacos. Bean burrito, burrito supreme. Bean or beefy tostadas. Nachos Belgrande. Enchiritos and pintos and cheese. I don't go for the fad stuff like gorditos. I don't even know what a gordito is.
                                                                    I really want to start making beans from scratch again. They are so much better than canned. The mexican restaurant I worked at a long time ago made refried beans and I hardly remember the way we did it. There's plenty of videos on the net showing how to make them. But I plan to get off my butt and make the effort.

                                                                    1. re: Pleasedude

                                                                      I liked the enchirito also. Basically it is a burrito smothered in goodness (cheese and red sauce).

                                                                      You can take my bean burrito recipe and just add the red sauce and mountains of cheese on top. A beef enchirito would be great with or without refried beans.

                                                                      My big pet peeve with any Tex Mex dish is that I don't like any RICE. To me wasting space with seasoned rice FILLER is a cheapo tactic and adds nothing to the dish. That is why Toxic Bell today promotes "seasoned rice", because they can keep the slop cheap as can be. I don't even think rice was an ingredient back when Glen Bell still owned the franchise. It figures.

                                                            2. I will add this recipe of my first attempt at original Taco Bell taco beef like it used to be in the 1980's here too:

                                                              1 lb. of 80/20 ground beef
                                                              1 packet of low salt Ortega taco seasoning
                                                              1 heaping Tablespoon of tomato paste
                                                              1 heaping Tablespoon of dried minced onion
                                                              1 heaping Tablespoon of milk mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice OR buttermilk if you have it
                                                              A generous 1/2 cup of water

                                                              Place all in a skillet and brown meat while chopping clumps into small pieces. Then cover and simmer for at least a half hour or until water is gone.

                                                              I designated this attempt "TBB1"

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                                                Thanks for posting it. I will try it out. I will next weekend as this weekend I can't. So how did you feel it was when you did it? Pretty close?

                                                                1. re: HoundDogz

                                                                  It is closer than what I had made in the past. My wife actually loves it. And she don't eat much "fast food". Also she does not like to eat high fat (80/20) LOL. I think I moved into the realm of what it should be. But I will need feedback from you and others to be sure. I don't think I nailed it, but it is getting there. The 73/27 would make it better I'm sure. I think the correct seasoning dump (packet) is key. Let me know.

                                                                  1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                                                    Cool. I will try to make it this weekend. Thanks!

                                                                    1. re: HoundDogz

                                                                      That's great HD. Let me know what you think. I trust your taste.

                                                                      1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                                                        Thanks, I trust your taste too! This weekend can't make it because turns out have relatives visiting so busy with them but during the week after work I am gonna try to make it and post my thoughts. Thanks for posting your recipe!

                                                                        1. re: HoundDogz

                                                                          Anytime... Let us know. I also posted on your other thread : )