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.

Why You Must Make

  • 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!
  • Plus, there are no preservatives, just normal seasonings.
  • You can customize it to your liking, adding more heat and your favorite tortillas and toppings.
Soft Shell Tacos Ingredients on a sheet pan with labels.

Ingredient Notes

  • Kitchen Staples – Olive Oil, Kosher Salt
  • Ground Beef – Use 80/20 ground beef for the best flavor (80% beef/20% fat). Very lean ground beef will be dry.
  • Onion – Peel and dice
  • Garlic – Minced
  • Red Bell Pepper – Dice
  • Chili Powder, Cumin, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Oregano – Adjust amounts for your tastes.
  • Tortillas, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and shredded cheese, to serve.

How to Make

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.

  1. Chop an onion and bell pepper, plus mince some garlic. 
  2. Saute these in a bit of olive oil, then add the ground beef when the onion is soft.
  3. Cook, breaking apart the beef with a spatula until almost all the pink is gone from the meat.
  4. Drain any excess grease before continuing.
  5. Then add the 5 seasonings and continue cooking and stirring until well mixed.
  6. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference.
  7. Dish out the taco meat 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: Double or quadruple the taco seasoning portion of this recipe, then you will have it on hand for your next few batches of ground beef tacos! I like to store it in a small canning jar with the rest of my spices.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of ground beef is best?

I prefer 80/20 as the meat cooks up moister and is 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 ¼ pound of 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!

Menu Suggestions

Overhead view of soft shell beef tacos on a white platter.

You May Also Like:

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

Soft Shell Tacos Recipe

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

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


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ bell pepper, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (or more to taste)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon oregano (try Mexican oregano if you have it)
  • ½-1 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 it 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.


Mix up an extra batch of the spice mixture so you have some ready to go the next time you want to make tacos.

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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