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Oct 3, 2012 10:40 AM

Copying Taco Bell recipes [split from Taco Bell Pre-90s Was Good thread on Chains]

Hey hounddogz... It can be brought back. People today must make noise. The way to do it, is to show the younger generation how Taco Bell today is not as good tasting as they think. This is done by making the same dishes at home. How? Like this:
Use refried beans from a can, add some lard to it with a little water in a pot on the stove and heat and mix to the consistency you like, next get your own fresh tomatoes and chop them up, next get regular (normal full fat) sour cream, next get and shred fresh iceberg lettuce, next get some vidalia or spanish sweet white onion, next get fine shredded Monterey jack and mild cheddar blend from a package, next get sliced black olives from a can and drain liquid, next get fresh green onions and chop them up into 1/4" long pieces, next get flour tortillas, next get Snyders White Corn Tortilla Chips, next get Taco shells like Ortega brand, next get normal/regular/traditional fat-meat ratio 100% ground beef and add the taco seasoning packet/s according to directions, some water and DO NOT DRAIN the fat! -cook and mash to flavor and reduce size of pieces of meat, next get some red enchilada sauce, next make the nacho cheese sauce like the recipe on website, next buy real guacamole such as the refrigerated Calavo brand guacamole, next assemble the ingredients in the proper way for the items you are duplicating. To make a mexican pizza flat shell, you just deep fry a flour tortilla in lard until it bubbles and crisps. You can make the bean burritos, burrito supremes, nachos belgrandes, tacos, mexican pizzas, and some other favorites like the Taco Salad if you get a flowered shape stainless steel form to deep fry the large flour tortilla in the lard to make the bowl. For the salsa? Just dice fresh tomatoes, dice green bell peppers, dice sweet white onion, and chop up fresh Cilantro and mix and let set, or put all into a processor and chop. If you remember the bacon cheeseburger burrito? I duplicated the sauce too, all it is - is bacon ranch dressing with a little Kraft bbq sauce added until it turns that orangy color, and then add a few more bacon bits for the chunks. Give them these fresh full fat versions of their liking and I guarantee you will win them over. Pass this to the whole country! By the way, I actually copied "Arby's Sauce" to perfection. The sauce they give you in the packets.... I also copied their red sauce that they add on the buns of the beef&cheddar and super roast beef. Took me years of trying. All recipes for these two sauces on the internet are wrong. But I copied both sauces exactly. I am what you call a supertaster, and can distinguish subtle differences in foods. Stick with me and together we will beat Taco Bell at their own game. Talk to you later...

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  1. HUNGRYMAN8, thanks for the info but no taco seasoning packet mix on the market today taste anything like Taco Bell taco meat from the '80s and prior. Nothing on the market today. The taco seasoning mixes for home made tacos taste better than today's TB any day but not anything like or as good as old-school Taco Bell.

    And, TB will never go back to the old recipe as long as people today are buying what they are selling and they are making money.

    24 Replies
    1. re: HoundDogz

      You can copy it. The secret is too let the mix simmer for a long time, leave in all the fat (oil), and chop the pieces of meat very small. It all has to do with fat. Use full fat ground beef. And fat is harmless, unlike what the food nazis like to say.

      Don't just quickly brown the beef and serve right away like the seasoning packet says, you have to MELD the flavors together for a few hours.

      1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

        I'll give that a try. Thank you for the info.

        1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

          So you have to let it simmer for a few hours? Not just 15 or 30 minutes but a few hours? If that's the trick I don't mind doing that for that long.

          I agree about fat content. I use 80/20. That's a pretty high fat content. Fat content in meat does not bother nor scare me.

          What's the best taco seasoning mix on the market that will come close to the Taco Bell flavor of yesterday that we all long for? I'll use that plus your method of cooking it.

          Thanks buddy.

          1. re: HoundDogz

            I know that some former TB employees have mentioned how they made the taco meat although they did not know what is in the seasoning. They described the process yet I don't think they mentioned how long they cooked the meat for before serving.

            Maybe some can chime in as to how long they would cook the meat before serving. I am talking old school TB employees when Taco Bell taco meat was really good pre-90s.

            1. re: HoundDogz

              It was cooked until it was all browned. Then it was put into steam cabinets. The trick was breaking it up to a fine consistency. Not lumpy at all. I think we had a tub of seasoning and added a tub of water too. Don't remember the water for sure.

              I honestly don't remember the seasoning being much different than what you can make yourself or get in the store. I really think it was a texture thing. Plus all the fresh vegetables, finely shredded cheese, fried shells that made it

              The way I do it at home is I add water to the ground beef and add seasoning. Break up the ground beef real good then let simmer until reduced down.

              1. re: Mr_Smee

                Thanks for the info. What store bought taco seasoning do you use? Also do you have a recipe for homemade taco seasoning?

                1. re: HoundDogz

                  Don't have a recipe I just wing it. Chili powder, cumin, granulated garlic, dried onion, salt or you can go by their ingredients now:

                  Cellulose, Chili Pepper, Onion Powder, Salt, Oats (Contains Wheat), Maltodextrin (Corn, Potato, Tapioca), Soy Lecithin, Tomato Powder, Sugar, Soybean Oil, Sea Salt, Yeast Extract (Contains Gluten), Spices, Garlic Powder, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Potassium Chloride, Cocoa Powder Processed with Alkali, Natural And Artificial Flavors, Trehalose, Modified Corn Starch, Inactivated Yeast, Cultured Whey, Lactic Acid, Torula Yeast, Natural Smoke Flavor], Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Less Than 2% Beef Broth, Potassium Phosphate, Potassium Lactate. CONTAINS: SOYBEANS, WHEAT, MILK

                  1. re: Mr_Smee

                    Yes, I usually wing it too with some of the ingredients you mention. I normally don't care for the package seasonings that are out there for tacos because they taste kinda, well not sure how to describe what I don't care for but just don't taste right but I'm always on the look out for a suggestion on a packaged taco seasoning that is good.


                    1. re: HoundDogz

                      I do have a bottle of some from Smart and Final. It's not bad but wouldn't buy it again. Have you tried Lawry's? I thought they were good but has been a while.

                      When making yourself use quality ingredients. I like Gepharts (sp?) chili powder. Too much cumin can ruin it though. Try toasting some cumin seeds then grind too. Try with the adding water part too. That gets the seasoning all over and into the meat. If you just sprinkle then brown it up you may get bits with no seasoning and others with too much.

                      1. re: Mr_Smee

                        Thanks for the info. I did try Lawry's but like you been awhile so I forgot how it was. I'll try it again. Gepharts, yep I have that at home. That's really good quality. I will use that when making my own.

                        I bought some cheap seasoning at Rite Aid believe it or not, forgot the name but I recall it was really good. Don't know if they still have it.

                        Thanks so much.

                        1. re: Mr_Smee

                          I have not tried Lawry's, but I found Taco Bell brand Taco seasoning mix in WalMart for .61 cents. But like I told Chow, the key is simmering with water, retaining the fat (oil) and chopping the meat small....

                          1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                            Yeah I remember seeing that before. Didn't know you could still get it. Will have to keep an eye out for it. It's probably just Lawry's repackaged LOL.

                            1. re: Mr_Smee

                              I will let you all know how the Taco Bell seasoning compares....Have not used it YET...Too come.

                        2. re: HoundDogz

                          I was just at WalMart the other day and found Taco Bell brand Taco seasoning packet for the ground beef. It was only .61 cents per packet. This should suffice. But remember to add water, chop meat very small, do not drain out any oil, and simmer covered for a while to meld flavors and retain moisture.

                          Also, for the mexican pizza wafers: deep fry flour tortillas in a 1/2 inch of lard at 375 degrees for about 30-45 seconds per side.

                          1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                            The other day I did buy the Taco Bell brand taco seasoning.

                            So I put the meat in the cast iron pan but put some olive oil first as to not have it stick to the pan, not sure if it would have but put the oil in anyway. I added the powder to the water and mixed it up and poured it into the pan with the meat but I did not brown and cook the meat and add the powder then water as the directions on all taco seasoning mix suggest. Instead of just cooking it for 10 or so minutes I like it simmer for about an hour or maybe an hour and a half. What I did do was put more water in the mix than the directions called for, I thought that if I do so then it will allow to simmer longer rather than have less water which would evaporate sooner.

                            Unlike HUNGRYMAN suggest I did drain. I normally don't drain but I just got a strainer/colander and poured the meat in after cooking and allowed for the excess solution to collect in a pot below. I thought it turned out really good. Was way better than when you follow the directions on the mix package. I have to do this again because I used ground beef that was from the freezer. I did let it thaw but I think it would have been better with fresher meat. Believe me the final product did taste good and the meat was no rancid but fresher meat would have been better. I have to taste more with better meat or fresher.

                            Thank you HUNGRYMAN for your suggestions and everyone who had suggestion on how to make it right. I can't go through all the post again and see who suggested what but many of you did give for good cooking instructions. Oh I told my wife about this and she is not here to eat it but at her parents. She was supposed to make tacos for her parents but did not yet but will tomorrow. I'll go to her parents who don't live far and show her how to do this right.

                            So yes the key to this is to mix the mix with water and don't brown/cook meat first but put solution in meat and let simmer for at least one hour, you know low and slow. Stir too. Not sure which person said this in this thread or was it another TB thread I started but he suggest not to break up meat into small pieces but to constantly stir as when he was at Taco Bell years ago that was the procedure. I didn't have the patience to stir for an hour but I stirred a lot and did break up the meat slightly but did not do too much.

                            Thanks so much everyone. Mr_Smee when you try this please post your results. I don't know if TB brand is just Lawry's but I should make two batches one day using this proccess and see if they taste the same which would mean they are both Lawry's or if they taste different then they are not. I guess I could compare ingredients of the two though to find out.

                            1. re: HoundDogz

                              I'll take a look next time I'm in the store. The reason why I said to constantly break it up was for the texture. When you mix it with water the ground beef will break up pretty easy then you just simmmer. Texture is part of the whole thing too. That is another reason their stuff isn't the same. If you ever had a burrito supreme back then try one now. Now you can make a bell beefer :)

                              1. re: Mr_Smee

                                Well, tomorrow I am gonna make more and will break it up and also constantly stir while it's simmering. I mean I'll stir a lot but I'll take breaks of course.

                              2. re: HoundDogz

                                You're welcome. I'm glad the taste is getter closer to what we used to get. I will try the TB seasoning next time I make it. I also plan on getting some non modified lard soon. Lard is another important key in authentic taste. Don't let anyone tell you that lard is bad for health. That is also total BS. More and more information is coming out on how hydrogenated oils are worse than natural fat that the human body recognizes and needs. The food police and those who support them have an agenda not of health, but of power over people.

                                1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                  HUNGRYMAN8, when you say unmodified lard I guess you mean the kind that is not sold by Farmer John. Farmer John's is in the white brick shaped piece. Do you mean the kind that is kind of tan color? I am not sure but that's what I think you might mean. When you use Lard with the TB recipe how much do you put in? I know a friend who used to work at TB back in the early '80s when TB taste good said they used lard but I see some postings that say that lard was used in the beans but not in the making of the taco meat.

                                  Just bought some more TB taco seasoning at Walmart yesterday for 61 cents.

                                  It's amazing that not only is the texture different when you don't follow the instructions on the package but the taste is almost totally different. Not browning the meat and not adding the powder then water pales in comparison in taste rather than when you mix the powder spices to water and then add to the meat and have the meat cook in it and simmer in it for an hour. It's like the taste is night and day. I have to make some more with fresher meat and see how it turns out. Last time it was good but the meat was not that fresh. No not rancid I'd never do that but just saying rather have fresher meat.

                                  1. re: HoundDogz

                                    Most lard that you can buy now in the supermarket has been shelf stabilized by partially hydrogenating the fats, as they do with shortening/crisco. It is hydrogenated fats that appear to cause health problems. Unfortunately unhydrogenated fats become rancid quickly.

                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                      "Unfortunately unhydrogenated fats become rancid quickly." < which is why when I do buy Manteca (that's lard right?,I think so anyway) I freeze it in manageable sizes, that can be used accordingly.

                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                        That works, yes manteca is lard. Just trying to figure out how one burger outlet has been using the same lard for 100 years, and only strains it and seasons it???? I'm sure they add to it, but it is still used over and over without going rancid....

                                    2. re: HoundDogz

                                      Sorry for the late reply. Like the other poster mentioned..... Don't use ARMOUR lard! It is modified (hydrogenated). This is not good!
                                      What you want is Natural Leaf Lard. The real natural deal, that has been around since the beginning. All natural lard made the old fashioned way. This is healthy lard that the human body recognizes and converts normally in the digestive system without any side effects. Chemically altered man made food products are never a good thing for health. Now I'm not saying that one should eat tubs of lard everyday. The caloric intake is high, but those who are very active can burn those calories quite easily. Bottom line is to balance your calories with your activity so as not to gain weight. Moderation is the key.

                                      I would say use about a teaspoon of lard to 2 cans of refried beans. Adjust to your personal taste.

                                      I also know that the Taco salad shells and nacho chips made years ago were fried in lard and not the unpleasing vegetable oil used today.

                          2. re: HoundDogz

                            I know I'm a little late but chili powder an cumin salt and pepper

                2. HMan8, I like the idea of Most of your Recipe. But some things need to be super clear, Any pre frozen/shredded cheese regardless of the kind or even shred style will ruin the entire process.. The cheese must be FRESHLY SHREDDED.. The taste and texture of fresh compared to the bagged cheese is remarkable..Also you can buy in many stores (Smart and final for sure) the dried dehydrated beans rather than using canned. The flavor is so so much better, Also as for Guacamole or any condiment.. If possible make it fresh.. Avocados and sour cream are pretty easy. Certainly its very hard to fry your own shell unless you have the proper tool and a deep fryer to make them as TB did, the best option is to0 buy the premade make sure its a brand that makes crispy shells, then preheat in the oven. I think the meat should be broken up with a fork in the water and seasoning.. this way its still fluffy but in fine small pieces, and the meat should be anywhere from 70/30 to 80/20 MAX. But the truly sad thing is, We can try and try, and we can even get close..But without the EXACT seasoning's, and the EXACT original TACO SAUCE, We can duplicate all the other fillings but they will never be the same or as good. I just wish since they have no intention of sharing those secrets they would give the option to Franchise owners to re-introduce the true original TB experience and recipes. Afterall, the additional cost if any would fall on the Franchise owner.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Taelyn

                    Yes, I agree with all you have to say. Cheeses ideally need to be finely shredded from a block at time of using. I like Calavo's guacamole - it is refrigerated and tastes the same as old TB.
                    The dehydrated bean powder is also a plus. No taste of can metal.
                    YES, the meat should be worked so that the meat pieces become like littles BB's in size. Tastes much better.
                    Even homemade, we can make old Bell that trumps anything current in the taco bell stores these days.
                    Don't forget the lard!

                    1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                      I would disagree with store guac and make it fresh

                      1. re: whoeverdroid

                        I tried that but it did not have the "kick" that I was looking for. I know that prepared foods is a no no. But Calavo Guac is refrigerated and has no preservatives.

                        1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                          Maybe I ate to much at once (2 Bates) could be that I was looking for more lumps

                          1. re: whoeverdroid

                            Maybe... I also prefer to have the red pepper a little lumpy but not the avocado. It also needs a stronger lime taste. Calavo is tasty in my opinion, since it has the right balance of spice.

                            1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                              If we can recreate the ground beef why not start on the guac, nacho cheese

                              1. re: whoeverdroid

                                That is fine. I used Rico's brand Nacho Cheese sauce and it tastes like it. Maybe they used this one? I doubt that sauce was from scratch even way back. But someone please correct me if I am wrong. I would love to know if they did have a proprietary recipe.

                                1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                  I don't tink is was from search then either, but why not try to go a little further and try to control stabilizers too

                  2. hungryman

                    wow! what a hoot of a post!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: iL Divo


                      Like Taelyn said, we should use dehydrated bean powder for our refried beans. And finely shred the mild cheddar and montery jack fresh each time.

                      You see with all of our efforts, we can triumph over YUM brands and Pepsico who turned our beloved Bell into bland airport slop.

                    2. I'm not sure if it was Taco Bell or Del Taco. When I was a junior in high school,1973. We would have a off campus lunch. My freinds and I would go downtown to grab one of my all time favorites. Taco meat in a soft bun with some lettuce.I think it was called a Bell or Del burger .Really wish they would bring back the bun.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: emglow101

                        Could be old taco bell. I never seen one on the menu. But I heard it was called a bell burger.

                      2. Don't forget the BellBurger and the BellBeefers.
                        Taco Bell seasoned loose taco meat on a hamburger bun with various toppings and a sauce similar to mild border sauce:

                        In the 1960's -
                        -To make a "Bell Burger", on a steamed hamburger bun, add seasoned loose taco meat, grated cheese and mild border sauce.

                        In the 1970's through 1990's
                        -To make a "Bell Beefer" on a steamed hamburger bun, add seasoned loose taco meat, diced onions, shredded lettuce and mild border sauce.

                        -To make a "Bell Beefer Supreme" on a steamed hamburger bun, add seasoned loose taco meat, diced onions, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese and mild border sauce.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Antilope

                          Sounds good to me. I remember the Beef Burrito. It was delicious. Solid taco ground beef throughout. This item really presented the taco bell ground beef the way IT USED TO BE made.

                          You could clearly see it was 100% beef without fillers. Consistency of hail (tiny granules). Dark brown in color. This burrito also had small chopped white onion mixed in the beef.

                          Can't be made today with the current recipe of part meat/part soy filler and some dreadful orange paste. Bleech!!!!