There are certain meals that were dinner classics growing up. They could be as plain as spaghetti or roasted chicken breasts, or they were more fun like breakfast for dinner.
Ground beef tacos were another one that my brother and I asked my mom to make all the time.
Back then tacos weren’t such a thing like they are now, at least not where I grew up in Ohio. Of course there were Mexican restaurants, but I can’t remember much in the way of gourmet taco fillings.
The tacos we ate at home were pretty straightforward. My mom browned the meat in a skillet, and then she used a spice packet from the ethnic food aisle at the grocery store to season it.
The meal didn’t take long to make, so it was a solid choice for a weeknight. I’m not sure how my mom discovered that spice packet and what inspired her to make those tacos at home.
In a moment of nostalgia, I decided to create a from scratch version of those ground beef tacos. With my spice drawer, I knew I could come up with my own seasoning blend that would be just as good, if not better, than the packed one from the store.
I used a combination of cumin, chili powder, paprika and oregano. This mix provided the right balance of earthiness and heat.
Simmering the meat in diced fire-roasted tomatoes added even more flavor.
I’m more of a tortilla person than a hard shell taco person, but I felt like I had to go with the shell to properly honor the classic.
In my childhood I ate everything plain, but now I want toppings. I love the freshness of lettuce, tomatoes and shredded cheese on my tacos. You also can add a dollop of sour cream.
While I love the fancy tacos found on countless restaurant menus, this basic at-home version brought back wonderful dinner table memories.
Ground Beef Tacos
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: Makes 8 tacos 1x
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound ground beef
1-14-1/2 ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
8 hard taco shells, warmed
Toppings: chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream, shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté the onions until they start to soften, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until it is no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes until thickened.
Spoon the meat into the taco shells and add the toppings.