Close up of Beef Taco recipe, fresh out of the oven, with taco meat and melted cheese
Print Recipe
4.95 from 20 votes

Old School Beef Taco recipe

Recipe video above. Beef tacos - the old school way! A juicy beef filling stuffed in crispy taco shells. For the real old school experience, go with shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato and sour cream! I like to BAKE my shells with the taco meat and cheese for molten goodness, but this is optional. If you skip it, just bake the empty shells per packet directions. SCALE UP the seasonings and add vegetables to make the filling stretch further!
Servings: 4
Calories: 490kcal
Author: Nagi


  • 10 to 12 crispy taco shells ("stand and stuff) OR soft tortillas of choice (Note 1)

Beef Tacos:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 onion , finely chopped
  • 500 g / 1 lb beef , ground / mince (Note 2)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup / 65ml water

Homemade Taco Seasoning:

  • 1 tsp EACH garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano
  • 2 tsp EACH cumin powder, paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust spiciness to taste, can skip)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  • Shredded cheese (Note 3)
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 2 tomatoes , chopped
  • 1/2 red or white onion , chopped
  • Sour cream
  • Taco sauce (optional)
  • Other: coriander/cilantro , jalapeƱo, hot sauce / chilli sauce, pickled chillies, salsa sauce, pico de gallo


  • Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

Beef Filling:

  • Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and onion - cook 2 minutes until golden.
  • Add beef and cook for 2 minutes, breaking it up as you go, until it changes from red to light brown.
  • Add Taco Seasonings and cook for 2 minutes until beef is cooked through.
  • Add tomato paste and water. Cook for 1 minute or until water is evaporated and you're left with a juicy not not watery beef filling.

Bake (optional):

  • Place taco shells in a baking pan (I can fit 10 in). Fill with taco meat, top with cheese.
  • Bake 5 to 7 minutes until cheese is melted by which time the shells with be crispy.


  • Serve tacos hot, straight out of the oven. Lay out toppings and sauces of choice on the table and let everyone assemble their own!


1. Taco Shells - whatever taco shells or tortillas you use, warm them! Taco shells should be baked until crispy (they are kind of chewy and bendy straight out of the packet) and tortillas only need 20 seconds or so in the microwave (or wrap in foil and bake 5 to 10 minutes)
2. Meat - I usually use lean. If you use fatty beef, you can drain excess fat before adding Seasoning. Can also use chicken, turkey, pork.
3. Cheese - Monterey Jack is my favourite, then cheddar, tasty, pepper jack. Australia - Monterey Jack is now sold at Aldi, sometimes at Costco! Use to be sold at Harris. Melts like mozzarella, tasty like cheddar, non greasy. It's my fave.
4. Nutrition for 3 tacos, including crispy taco shell, meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion.
Nutrition Facts
Old School Beef Taco recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 490 Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Fat 23g35%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 99mg33%
Sodium 998mg43%
Potassium 755mg22%
Carbohydrates 31g10%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 36g72%
Vitamin A 630IU13%
Vitamin C 6.8mg8%
Calcium 212mg21%
Iron 4.2mg23%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Calories: 490kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 99mg | Sodium: 998mg | Potassium: 755mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 630IU | Vitamin C: 6.8mg | Calcium: 212mg | Iron: 4.2mg