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Soft Shell Tacos {Homemade Beef Tacos featured image

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.

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!

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 with 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

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.

Overhead view of soft shell beef tacos on a white platter

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 below are perfect Cinco de Mayo recipes, but are also excellent for themed dinners or any gathering!

More Taco Recipes You’ll Love:

What Can You Serve with Beef  Tacos?

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

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. 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 🙂

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

  3. 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 =)

  4. 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.

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

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

  7. 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).

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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!

  11. Happy Cinco de Mayo! Your tacos look wonderful!! Love your homemade taco seasoning!!

  12. Simple rolled tacos are one of Michael’s favorite quick weeknight dishes…my MIL taught me about traditional seasonings for picadillo meat when we first started dating. I haven’t used a seasoning packet since then either. Fresh and authentic like these perfect tacos is the way to go!!!

  13. I love that you made your own taco seasoning! I haven’t had tacos in years because I stopped wanting the store bought mix. Now I can make my own!

  14. Tacos always work! I’ve been mixing up my own seasonings lately. I haven’t bought a pack of anything in years (and years). I used to fill up the cart down the “mix” aisle. No more.

  15. These are exactly my kinda taco! Gorgeous pics, Liz!

  16. Many Americans are shocked when I tell them we, Mexicans, don’t use those pouches. My family was introduced to them once we moved to the US. Your tacos are so healthy and I’m sure taste wonderful with your own spices added in. Thanks for sharing Liz!

  17. I’ve never bought taco seasoning, I’ve always just used my instinct to flavour Mexican Food with the usual suspects, but the oregano sounds interesting in the mix. I’m cooking a Sopa Azteca for dinner tonight with shredded BBQ chicken do we’re on the same wave-length. Even though we don’t have company, I’m adding a small avocado anyway, it’s Judy too good to pass up. Your soft shell tacos look wonderful.

  18. Your toppings/sides look delicious! We love fresh tacos!

  19. Great seasoning, and they look beautiful!

  20. I don’t use the taco seasoning packets either. Far too much sodium and other ingredients I can’t pronounce. Homemade always has better flavor. Your tacos look delicious!

  21. I haven’t used that packaged taco seasoning for decades! I season my taco meat just the way you do – tastes better and is so much cheaper. I go back and forth between craving hard shell or soft shell tacos. I think if I had to choose only one, it would be soft shell. Fortunately, it’s a decision I don’t need to make! Good stuff – thanks.

  22. Yeah, that day-glo coloring is kind of funky. This looks like I should be having it for dinner today!

  23. Those spice packets do have kind of a strange glow 😉 Thanks for this nice recipe. I’m like your husband, so I’ll cut back a bit on the spice. That’s the great thing about cooking at home, we can easily adjust to our tastes! Beautiful photos, too!

  24. Liz, I love anything Mexican and your soft shell tacos are no exception. Happy Cinco De Mayo! I hope you are having a margarita or two to go along with these beauties!

  25. Your tacos look so tasty, I’d love them for my Sunday supper! 🙂

  26. This sounds perfect Liz. Quick to make but packs the flavor without all the sodium of a packet that’s asking for high blood pressure or a heart attack. Plus I love soft shell tacos. I use to eat them weekly in college from Taco Johns. I don’t eat at those places anymore but they sure hit the spot back then.

  27. These tacos look soft and flavour filled 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  28. I’m the same way. I always feel like a cheat when I use a chili packet. tehehe. These look amazing!

  29. lovely presentation, Liz.

    Happy Cinco De Mayo! Xx

  30. Happy Cinco de Mayo, Lizzy! Looks yummy – those would been great at my party today. I shared my party foods on my blog.

  31. Your cinco de mayo soft tacos are calling my name as well as all the dishes listed above. Oh, so yum!!!!!!

  32. These looks absolutely delicious. I’ve just started mixing up my own ‘mexican inspired’ spice mixes instead of buying it from the shop – it’s so much tastier & healthier. Yum!

  33. Los tacos hechos en casa son los mejores muy ricos,hugs.

  34. Love that mixture! Must try!

  35. Your tacos look awesome! I love that you use your own seasoning instead of that little store bought packet!

  36. My family loves tacos and I love the non day-glo version!

  37. Looks delicious! Hope you had a wonderful Cinco de Mayo!

  38. Dang woman these are fantastic. I love mexican food so much. Tacos are just the bomb.

  39. I would love some tacos for the lunch!! These look so mouthwatering.

  40. Looks delicious as usual, Liz. I think I am the only food blogger around who forgot to make anything for Cinco lol. But now I want tacos 😀

  41. That is so much better than bought seasoning mix and I love how simple it is. We need as few preservatives in our systems as possible. I love how perfectly rolled your roll-ups are – mine are usually a little more harried looking xx

  42. I know what you’re saying! I used to use the packets for tacos, as well as premade dry rubs for pork, etc. Once I started making my own, I couldn’t figure out why I’d ever done it any other way! YUM!

  43. I’ve never been known to turn down a taco, and I definitely wouldn’t be able resist these delicious tacos. Yum!

  44. I have to admit, I’ve never made my own seasoning, I know it’s so simple and so much better for you, I think you’ve just officially convinced me to give it a shot!!!

  45. My family never used packets either. It was always fresh herbs and spices, so naturally as I got my own house I never used a packet to make tacos.

    These look amazing! 🙂

  46. I made gluten-free soft tacos last night with all the trimmings and it worked well. It’s always such a satisfying meal. I have some left over for my work lunch too.

  47. Love soft tacos! They were a stand by on our house. Have fun at the show home. Those are a TON of work!

  48. Don’t these tacos look inviting. 🙂 I could eat that plateful and enjoy it again the next day. My family loves tacos so this would be a winner in our house. 🙂

  49. Love this! Homemade spice blends beat store-bought, any day!

  50. Those look so very good. I agree about the packaged store bought taco seasoning!! I either make my own too or now that I am selling Epicure I love to use theirs, so much healthier!!

  51. Liz,
    I love these. . I also have not used a taco seasoning packet in a longgg time! This looks fabulous! yum!

  52. I used to use those premade seasoning pouches all the time, before I knew better. Now, there is no excuse – you can make super tasty and healthy Mexican with just a few spices and fresh ingredients. Your tacos look delicious, Liz.

  53. I’m right there with you on the seasoning packets! I love making my own and controlling what goes into what I make. These look delicious! Awesome job.

  54. Lizzy,
    Love these tacos. You make everything look so delicious.

  55. So perfect for next taco Tuesday! I can’t wait!

  56. That spice combo!!! Love it! 

  57. My son would eat these every night for dinner if I let him! Perfect quick meal for nights we have to get the the ball park.

  58. Taco Tuesday is ON with these delicious tacos. Can’t wait. 

  59. I could eat Mexican food every day – love these tacos

  60. They look so good….and I love how easy they are!!

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