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Soft Shell Tacos {Homemade Beef Tacos}

Home » 300+ Entree Recipes » Soft Shell Tacos {Homemade Beef Tacos}

Making Soft Shell Tacos from Scratch is easier than you think! And you can tailor the seasonings in these homemade beef tacos to your liking!

I don’t think I’ve used a packet of taco seasoning since I was a newlywed. This Easy Homemade Beef Taco Recipe is not much more complicated than adding the grocery store seasoning mix. Plus, it’s made of all-natural ingredients and perfectly balanced. Use to season burritos, quesadillas, fajitas, and more!!

Overhead view of Soft Shell Tacos {Homemade Beef Tacos} on a platter next to toppings

How to Make Soft Shell Tacos

Decades ago, I worked as a nurse on the oncology ward of our university hospital. One of my co-workers, of Mexican descent, brought in some taco meat for one of our pitch-ins. She simply seasoned it with chili powder, cumin, oregano, and some salt.

It didn’t have that Day-Glo coloring, an overload of preservatives, or the weird thick sauce. This is basically a no-brainer recipe for ground beef tacos.

Tweak it to your liking, then provide an array of your favorite toppings. We usually have tomatoes, lettuce, and cheddar cheese. For company, I’d add avocados or guacamole, sour cream, diced onions, and salsa. Cut back on the red pepper flakes if you’re feeding my husband. And provide some hard corn taco shells if you’re cooking for my dad.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of ground beef is best?

I prefer 80/20 as the meat cooks up moister and more flavorful. Just drain the fat after the beef is cooked and before you add the spices.

How much ground beef per serving?

4 ounces or 1/4 pound protein is the average serving. But ground beef will cook down, making it necessary to purchase more than 1 pound (16 ounces) for 4 servings, especially if you have hearty appetites!

Can I Use Other Taco Shells?

Of course! My dad loved those hard taco shells and corn tortillas would be delicious, too. I buy whole wheat soft tortillas for me, while the rest of the family prefers regular flour tortillas.

Should I Heat My Soft Taco Shells First?

Toasting or heating your taco shells first is totally optional. It’s especially helpful if you feel the tortillas are a little stale. Heating will help refresh them. There are two methods for heating a tortilla. The first is my preference. Heat a dry skillet to medium, add a tortilla and heat for about 30 seconds per side. If you’re feeding a large crowd, this method is not very practical.

Another option is to preheat your oven to 375 degrees, fold your tortillas in half and place them on a sheet pan. Heat for about 5 minutes or until warm. Overheating can dry out your shells, so watch carefully.

What is Cinco de Mayo?

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on May 5 to commemorate the Mexican win over the French in an 1862 battle. The phrase Cinco de Mayo literally translates to May 5 in Spanish. In the US, it began from a beer campaign in the late 1980s and has spiraled into a Mexican food and drink extravaganza. All the recipes linked below are perfect Cinco de Mayo recipes, but are also excellent for themed dinners or any gathering!

How to make beef tacos

These soft shell tacos are only slightly more difficult than dumping that taco seasoning packet into some ground beef. And it still comes together in just minutes!

You need to chop an onion and bell pepper, plus mince some garlic.  Saute these in a bit of olive oil, then add the ground beef when the onion is soft. Cook, breaking apart until almost all the pink is gone from the meat.

Drain any excess grease before continuing. Then add the 5 seasonings and continue cooking and stirring until well mixed. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference.

Dish out using the taco shells of your choice along with an array of your favorite toppings! I know you can all do this!! And you’ll feel better about controlling what actually goes into your family’s meal.

PRO-Tip: Quadruple the taco seasoning portion of this recipe, then you will have it on hand for your next few batches of ground beef tacos!

Overhead view of 4 soft shell beef tacos on a white platter with peppers and cilantro to garnish

What Can You Serve with Beef  Tacos?

Overhead view of soft shell beef tacos on a white platter

More Taco Recipes You’ll Love:

Soft Shell Beef Tacos | Easy as can be plus you can tailor the spice to your liking!

The Recipe: Soft Shell Tacos

Easy taco filling made with ground beef, onion, garlic, spices and more. So much better than a store bought packet!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Yield 3-4


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (or more to taste)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (try Mexican oregano if you have it)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or seasoning salt (more or less to taste)
  • Flour tortillas
  • Toppings of your choice (diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, grated cheddar cheese, diced onions, avocados, sour cream, etc)


  1. Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large skillet.
  2. Saute onion, garlic and pepper till soft. Add ground beef and break apart and cook till browned.
  3. Drain any excess grease and add seasonings. Cook, taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. Serve in flour or corn tortillas with toppings of your choice.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 407Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 903mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 33g


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63 comments on “Soft Shell Tacos {Homemade Beef Tacos}”

  1. It’s so funny how one incident (like your hospital party) can change how you do things for the rest of your life. I’ve had that happen so many times in culinary and other ways. I think if I came to your house and cooked with you, I’d learn a zillion fun, new, delicious tricks! Love your tacos, I could gobble up a bunch of them, with the guac, please!

  2. I´ve had this kind of tacos many years ago for the first time, and they´re still pretty much my favorites. And so easy to put together. Love the display with the sauces Liz! And I like how Bill is turning into the picky kid in your posts… jajaja

  3. Ha! I remember that day-glow color from the store-bought taco seasoning. That’s one of the reasons I never ate them when I visited a particular relative. Let me just say that I love your food styling! Your photos are so inviting and inspirational.

  4. Those taco seasoning packets have no comparison to homemade ones with your own spice combinations. I’m going to try your spice combo next time I make tacos (or burritos).

  5. OMG Michael is constantly begging for pretty much exactly this recipe! Yay!!

  6. These look so Liz! Looking forward to trying these for #WeekdaySupper.

  7. Happy Cinco de Mayo, Liz. I would have to admit I used packets when I first started cooking Mexican until I found out how easy it was to make my own spice blends.

  8. Since the husband and I swing towards fish and veggies in our tacos, very glad to have a taco beef filling recipe for visiting carnivore family and friends. And it’s a Liz recipe so I know it will be very tasty =)

  9. I love tacos and agree, no need for purchased flavor packets! Happy Cinco de Mayo:@)

  10. I could do tacos any day of the week. I absolutely love the simplicity of this recipe! I just need a huge bag of tortilla chips and I’m set 🙂

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