Crispy Beef Tacos

crispy beef tacos

So delicious. So much taco sauce on my face.

We never, ever had McDonald’s when I was a kid, but Taco Bell was on the “okay sometimes” list. I don’t remember ever eating Taco Bell when we weren’t in the car, so it must have been some kind of back-up plan for food emergencies on the way to important places like the post office, but that part really doesn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was the crispy tacos. Me and li’l brother would always get crispy tacos. I guess because he was so little, li’l brother didn’t really know how to eat a crispy taco without breaking it all to pieces, or else he was too young to understand that that’s just a fact of life when you eat crispy tacos.

Either way, once that taco was broken, IT. WAS. ALL. OVER. Like, mayhem and chaos and crying in the back seat and his day was absolutely RUINED, probably also ruining my mom’s day. It could have ruined mine, too, if I weren’t always so occupied stuffing my taco-loving face as quick as I could. Poor mama would try to convince him that a crispy taco held sideways is “just like a sandwich!” Travis knew that was horse shit and he was no longer interested in that G.D. crispy taco and was wishing it had never come into his life.

I don’t know why my mom let us keep ordering crispy beef tacos.

Another time, as I was wolfing down my taco, I started choking on a piece of taco shell and barfed in the car. Fortunately, we still hadn’t even left the drive-thru line and the car was parked so I was able to open the door and get it (mostly) outside. Oh yeah, I guess it was also fortunate that I didn’t die. But that should also tell you something about how desperately I LOVED crispy tacos as a kid. I still love them, but I no longer devour them like a feral dog and can usually manage to eat them without spilling taco sauce all over my shirt.

Serve these with Spanish rice and refried beans if you like! Click here for my salsa verde recipe.

Watch the video for a demo on making the taco shells and to hear the crispy beef tacos song!


4.7 from 14 reviews
Crispy Beef Tacos
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Low-fat baked taco shells with delicious beef filling
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • Cooking oil spray or vegetable oil and a basting brush
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed (or ½ teaspoon ground cumin)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ½ cup water, beer, or beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • For serving: shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, avocado, salsa
Instructions
  1. Make the tortilla shells:
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Sprinkle the tortillas with a little water and microwave for 30 seconds or so to soften. Spray or brush lightly with oil. Lay each tortilla over 2 oven rack bars. Bake for 9 minutes, then remove tortillas from bars and set upright on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet back in the oven and turn oven OFF while you make the filling.
  3. For the filling:
  4. Saute onion in about ½ teaspoon or oil (or use cooking spray) for 10 minutes over medium-high heat until translucent and slightly browned.
  5. Add cumin and chili powder and stir for 10 seconds.
  6. Add garlic, jalapeno, red pepper, and beef.
  7. Break the meat into large chunks and add water.
  8. Continue to stir the meat, breaking it into smaller pieces with the water.
  9. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink.
  10. Add oregano and salt and simmer another 5 minutes to evaporate excess water.
  11. Fill the taco shells with the beef and serve with the toppings of your choice.
Notes
Of course you may use store-bought crispy taco shells, or even flour tortillas for soft tacos, which would be safer if you have small children. Choking Ahogo! Also, you will probably have enough beef mixture for 10 tacos, actually, but 8 is how many tortillas will fit easily in most ovens. You could of course bake more in cycles. Or use leftover taco filling for a taco salad the next day.

 

If you like, try my beef picadillo recipe as a filling for these, too!

Comments

  1. Bell invented the hard taco shell so he could speed up production of tacos. Really.
    Seriously try watching a good Taco Bell employee knock those suckers out. They liter take a hair over 2 seconds to make and wrap them. Kinda freaky and at the same time amazing.

  2. Win Cruz says:

    I like your website very much because of its simplicity and information… God bless Hila :-)

  3. Brady Hamilton says:

    Soooo Yummylicious!!! I just made beef tacos this last weekend. I usually simmer my beef for about 30-40 minutes to soak up all the goodness. I also add a can of Ro*tel to the beef. Lastly, I ALWAYS add California Chili Powder to my Mexican dishes.
    You rock Hilah!!

  4. Dude! For awhile, taco bell used to make these crazy soft/crispy taco hybrids where they smeared refried beans on a flour tortilla which they wrapped around the crispy taco. Totally solved the disaster cracking and frustration of crispy tacos that had made me a loyal mexi dips and chips girl. Tell Travis! Tell taco bell to bring them back!

    • Shoot yeah! The double-decker or double-layer or something. That actually was pretty smart. But Mexidips and chips is SO fun to say and eat! I’ll talk to TB for you. XOXO

  5. hi…
    love read your blog…
    nice

  6. I’m a taco freak and love making them. I’m always looking for ways to improve my “spice mixture” and can’t wait to try yours! Would the spices be different if using ground turkey?

    The shells…What a great use of an oven rack!

    • Thanks Randy!
      I think I’d increase the spices a little if I were using turkey, but I haven’t tried it so I can’t be certain. Hope you like them!

  7. Nicoleincos says:

    We had these for dinner last night…and breakfast this morning. I will never buy pre-made crispy taco shells again! Delicious! Thanks Hilah, you rock!

    P.S. to Randy, I use ground turkey often and don’t change much but add a few dashes of worcestershire and let the flavors stew together longer.

  8. Ellecat says:

    OMGosh, Hllah! I laughed so hard reading this. But I can’t decide whether I want to make these beef tacos or your recipe for shrimp tacos. Maybe both! Meanwhile, I am supposed to be on the Lean Cuisine wagon. I think I just fell off. Thanks!

    • Thanks Ellecat! I’m happy to make you laugh!
      I think maybe you could do this recipe with lean ground turkey if you want and you won’t have fallen too far off the wagon. ;)

  9. Bob Jones says:

    Never went to a Taco Bell as a child. My Mom made exactly the tacos as per above, American-style tacos like Taco Bell but much better. When I started drinking and went to Taco Bell I appreciated the idea it. I use Hilah’s method for ease, economy and cleaning. But if you fry the tortillas it’s worth it. I’ve got a springy gadget that takes 3 inches of oil for rare big time production. But I only need two forks and about an inch of oil. It takes practice to nail the fork method. But it’s like learning to ride a bicycle, once you’ve got it you’ve got it They crunch as much as they can crunch without exploding. I’ve been doing it a long time. I’d love to put my 2 cents in and then watch Hilah do it in an episode.

    • Hi Bob!
      I guess I’d better get to practicing! I’ve never tried this two-fork-shallow-oil method but I think I can picture how it works. Thanks!

      • Bob Jones says:

        In short, tortilla flat in 350 oil, flip over, but not too late (causes big square ends and narrow “waist”), and start sculpting. I try to round out the bottom curve and squish the ends for a pita-like containment benefit. You can seriously impress the ladies, like the sushi dudes do, but without the expense. Waiting for your video…

  10. I have been making tacos for about eight years now, I love to cook but I am nothing compared to Hilah. She is so awesome, showing us how it is done! And these tacos look great. I can’t wait to try her recipe.

    But Hilah, there is no recipe for Carne Asada Tacos! You know those street tacos that we all love with Tapitio sauce, Pico Galileo and those little tortillas (I call em bullet tacos) . I have been trying to master that for years and have gotten pretty close.
    But I would love to see how you would do it, I am sure your implementation would be a master piece! So I would love to see a video for that, I hope your fans agree.

    Oh and dont forget the burrito edition if you do decide to show us how to make the bomb tacos!

    • Oh man! That’s true, Jason. It’ll be on for next season, along with carnitas. And burritos! Although I don’t see them much around Austin, they are fun.

  11. Hilah,
    Great meal! The shells and meat spices were great! We both have food issues and this allows us to pick and choose what goes into our tacos. With Celiac disease I have tried the corn tacos and they less than great. Your method made them fantastic!!!
    Going to try more of your good cooking tomorrow !

    • Thanks, Janet! I’m so happy you enjoyed the tacos. I also like to do crispy tacos with shredded chicken sometimes. Have fun cooking!

  12. larry kiimball says:

    Great idea for making crispy taco shells! No need for expensive special racks, just use your oven rack. We mostly eat soft tortilla shells with tacos, but next time I sill make some of these for sure. Thanks, Hilah.

  13. I’ve always just made taco meat by adding Ro*Tel, diced onions, and diced serrano’s to 2 lbs meat (beef and turkey 1/2 and 1/2). Thought it was time to learn to use some spices also, so I threw in your suggestions as well. Turned out some great taco meat, we’re having the leftovers tonight…my reasoning for the 2 lbs of meat, in addition to the tastiness of beef, balanced by the leaner and healthier (?, which way is the wind blowing today) turkey.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Rod! Thanks so much! I’m glad your taco meat was a hit. I love making extra – I put it on salads for lunch the next day and sometimes make “taco soup” with whatever vegetables I have around, some chicken broth, and top it with chips and cheese.
      Thank you for the beef-turkey combo idea, too. Seems like a good compromise, since, yeah, recommendations change all the time. :)

  14. everything went perfectly thank you for your recipe

  15. Christina says:

    I tried your beef taco recipe and it was completely amazing! Wow! Also, we recently tried the chicken pot pie and it was gone in one night. I will next be trying the gluten free pie crust.

    I am currently trying to remove all wheat products from our kitchen and any recipes are greatly appreciated.

    • Yay! Thanks, Christina! I’m so glad you liked them both. I hope you like the GF pie crust. Check out Kate’s site, too, for other GF recipes. :)

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I made this for lunch and it was delicious! I’ll use the same filling for nachos. Thank you again!

  17. These look amazing! I think i’m going to try and make them for my friends and I tonight! Do you know how much
    Protein
    Carbs
    Fat
    Fibre
    there is per taco?

    That’d be really helpful! Thanks again for the recipe

    • Hi Will!
      I plugged the ingredients into an online calorie counter and got this, not including any toppings, this is just the taco shell and filling, per taco:

      Protein 19g
      Carbs 12g
      Fat 4.6g
      Fibre 2.2g

  18. So… I had these with my friends last night, they went down a treat!!! Definitely will be cooking these bad-boys again! Thanks Hilah!

  19. Hi Hilah. I tried your recipe for tacos al pastor and migas and they were excelente. Can you make a video on how to make puffy tacos? Thanks.

    • Hi Lynda! I’m happy you’ve enjoyed both of those recipes! I love puffy tacos and we will be doing an episode on them later this summer so stay tuned! Thanks for writing.

  20. youre so funny! haha! *whatever! lol. will make taco soon. thanks!

  21. The Other Randy says:

    Well, I’ll be, iTunes smart playlists are “smarter” than I ever knew. The very first batch of Hilah Cooking videos as I started my marathon catch up viewing sessions included crispy beef tacos and cheese enchiladas. They just happen to be my absolute two favorite things to eat. And they had both fallen by the wayside since I ended up living alone and having only myself to cook for. But not anymore!

    Probably the main reason for not making crispy tacos is that it just seemed to be too much work to drag out my deep fryer to make 3 or 4 taco shells. Your oven method is absolute genius, Hilah!

    And I love the beef filling. Making a double recipe is going now be a bi-monthly ritual from now on, making it easier than hell to restore my very favorite eating tradition: Taco Night! For most of my life, Saturday night has been Taco Night. My grandmother started tradition in the 1940s. Then my mother continued it and when I left home, I continued it. I’m already looking forward to next Saturday! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    • The Other Randy says:

      Where’d my proofreader go? That should be “the tradition”. And I neglected to mention that the filling gets frozen in ziplock bags in portions for 4 tacos each.

    • Hi Randy!!!
      So glad you’re back! And what a wonderful twist of iTunes fate that you found this recipe first! I’m so happy to help you out with your taco night conundrum. Hope you like the baked shells. They are not quite as easy to eat as the storebought ones, but they’re fun to make and healthier, too.
      Thanks, my friend!

      • The Other Randy says:

        It’s true that they are a bit chewier than fried ones, but I once lived and worked for about 6 months in Mexico City and while they don’t make crispy tacos in Mexico (at least they didn’t 30 years ago), the tortilla chips you find in many restaurants there are much chewier than those here in the U.S. I grew to really like them. Much later on, a friend of mine, who grew up in Tampico, told me that Mexicans aren’t nearly as fond of the crispy and the crunchy as Americans. Anyhow, I had a Proustian moment as my first bite into an oven-baked taco shell transported me back to Ciudad de México.

        • Yay! That made me smile big, Randy! :)
          I think there is some truth to what your friend was saying. Definitely about the crispy tacos, those were invented in the US as I’ve heard it.

  22. The Other Randy says:

    Speaking of Taco Bell, two weeks ago I read Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America by Gustavo Arellano, which I heartily recommend. It includes a lot of discussion of Gordon Bell, the founder of Taco Bell. One of the great ironies is that the building which, in 1948, housed Bell’s very first restaurant (a hamburger joint…he didn’t get into tacos until years later) is now home to a Mexican restaurant, owned by Mexican-Americans and where everything is made from scratch and there’s not an assembly line in sight.

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