Crispy Beef Tacos

crispy beef tacos video – scroll down for recipe

We never 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 or the day-old-bread store, 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 him 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.
You can also try my beef picadillo recipe as a filling for these, too!

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

crispy beef tacos recipe

crispy beef tacos

So delicious. So much taco sauce on my face.


Crispy Beef Tacos

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.7 from 15 reviews

Low-fat baked taco shells with delicious beef filling

  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 8 corn tortillas
  • Cooking oil spray or vegetable oil and a basting brush
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup water, beer, or beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • For serving: shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, avocado, salsa


  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 1/2 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.


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.

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  1. Scott Kursk on April 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    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.

    • Hilah on April 11, 2012 at 9:54 am

      I know. Their assembly line is ingenious.

    • Troy on January 20, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      wow thank you we dont get these in england thank you. By the way you are really beautiful xx

      • Hilah on January 21, 2013 at 11:39 am

        Yay! Happy to spread the crispy taco luv throughout the universe.

  2. Win Cruz on April 11, 2012 at 1:48 am

    I like your website very much because of its simplicity and information… God bless Hila πŸ™‚

    • Hilah on April 11, 2012 at 9:53 am

      Thanks so much! Glad you enjoy it!

  3. Brady Hamilton on April 11, 2012 at 10:33 am

    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!!

    • Hilah on April 12, 2012 at 11:14 am

      Yu-u-ummy! RoTel pretty much makes everything better. Thanks, Brady!

  4. Laurel on April 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    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!

    • Hilah on April 12, 2012 at 11:12 am

      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. Kenanga on April 12, 2012 at 10:24 am

    love read your blog…

  6. Randy on June 12, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    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!

    • Hilah on June 12, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      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 on June 14, 2012 at 9:26 am

    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.

    • Hilah on June 14, 2012 at 11:02 am

      That’s great to hear! And thank you for sharing the turkey tip. πŸ™‚

    • Randy on June 14, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Thanks Nicoleincos for the info…I’ll try it next time.

  8. Ellecat on July 21, 2012 at 9:30 am

    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!

    • Hilah on July 21, 2012 at 10:32 am

      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. πŸ˜‰

  9. Bob Jones on August 2, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    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.

    • Hilah on August 3, 2012 at 8:53 am

      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 on August 4, 2012 at 8:20 am

        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…

        • Hilah on August 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm

          Thank you! πŸ™‚

  10. jason on August 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    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!

    • Hilah on August 13, 2012 at 9:37 am

      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. Janet on August 17, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    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 !

    • Hilah on August 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      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 on August 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    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.

    • Hilah on August 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm

      Thanks Larry! They are so easy it’s a nice chance from soft tacos. Hope you like em!

  13. Rod on October 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    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.


    • Hilah on October 1, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      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. πŸ™‚

  14. Hardthi bahar on November 25, 2012 at 6:53 am

    everything went perfectly thank you for your recipe

    • Hilah on November 26, 2012 at 9:49 am

      Thanks for the update, Hardthi! πŸ™‚ Happy to hear that.

  15. Christina on January 22, 2013 at 1:24 am

    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.

    • Hilah on January 22, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      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. πŸ™‚

  16. Victoria on January 30, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    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!

    • Hilah on January 31, 2013 at 11:28 am

      Thanks for writing, Victoria! I’m so glad you liked it. πŸ™‚

  17. Will on May 22, 2013 at 8:18 am

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

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

    • Hilah on May 22, 2013 at 8:30 am

      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

      • Will on May 22, 2013 at 8:46 am

        Thanks! – can’t wait! I’ll let you know what everyone thinks!

  18. will on May 23, 2013 at 6:39 am

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

    • Hilah on May 23, 2013 at 8:38 am

      Hooray! That makes me so happy!

  19. Lynda on May 23, 2013 at 10:21 am

    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.

    • Hilah on May 23, 2013 at 10:44 am

      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.

      • Nic on February 21, 2017 at 6:50 am

        Had best food in Houston where I lived for years. They had a puffy and crisp fried circle they called a taco but was not dented or taco shaped. They put the stuffing inside the round fried crispy “taco puffy style” round light shell.

  20. ciala on May 29, 2013 at 8:55 pm

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

    • Hilah on June 1, 2013 at 2:05 pm

      Hope you enjoy them, Ciala! Thanks for writing.

  21. The Other Randy on September 9, 2013 at 11:52 am

    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 on September 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      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.

    • Hilah on September 9, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      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 on September 10, 2013 at 9:48 am

        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 MΓ©xico.

        • Hilah on September 10, 2013 at 10:08 am

          Yay! That made me smile big, Randy! πŸ™‚
          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 on September 10, 2013 at 10:12 am

    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.

  23. Diana on January 14, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    I made this taco filling last night for a Mexican-style pizza. My 14 year old requests that kind of pizza every week. I make it only about once a month. Anyway, it’s the fourth or fifth ground beef taco recipe I have tried from the Internet and it’s the only one where there was no pizza left with this family of three. My skinny boy devoured four pieces by himself. Excellent. Thank you so much. I now have a “go-to.” I also ordered your Breakfast Taco book because I was so impressed. We love our breakfast tacos in this house. Can’t wait to get the book!

    • Hilah on January 15, 2015 at 9:37 am

      That’s wonderful news, Diana! I’m so flattered that you and your family like my recipe the best πŸ˜€
      Your Mexican pizza sounds really good. Hope you enjoy the Breakfast Taco book, too!

      • Diana on January 15, 2015 at 4:50 pm

        Forgot to mention, as our son was washing dishes later that night, I overheard my husband say to him “I think your mom is getting better at the pizza” Ha! It’s just Hilah’s taco filling recipe. Everything else is the same.

        • Hilah on January 16, 2015 at 7:59 am

          Hahahaha! πŸ˜€

  24. Bob on January 16, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    Doing my weekly e-mail check and wow, what a flurry; “(Hilah Cooking) New Comment On: Crispy Beef Tacos”. Nice reminder to get this back in the rotation. I also gots me a tortilla press and bag ‘o masa I need to bust out. Could be a disaster but I’ll let Hilah write about that:)

  25. Lavonda on April 17, 2015 at 9:17 am

    AAAHHHHHH!!!!! Simply wonderful……Everything that you make is soooo good…..I love watching your videos, cause i’m always laughing at something that you say or do…..and it don’t hurt that your from Texas too……I live in Lufkin which is east of you…..keep doing your thang girl…..and congrats on your 200th video…..:)

    • Hilah on April 17, 2015 at 9:37 am

      Thank you! πŸ™‚ So nice to hear from you!

  26. Nad on August 22, 2015 at 2:46 am

    Hi, , I kinda need a rather urgent answer. πŸ˜€ do we really have to cook the onions for 10 minutes? Wouldn’t they just get burnt?

    Idk, I don’t really know things realted to cooking, but if you’re reading this Hilah, please answer

    Thank you!

    • Hilah on August 22, 2015 at 8:33 am

      Hi Nad,
      Yes, they would burn if you just put them in the pan and walked away for 10 minutes πŸ˜‰
      You need to stir them the whole time and watch them. If they start to get brown before 10 minutes, you can turn the heat lower or just move to the next step. But you want them to be soft and a little bit brown to have a nice, rich flavor.

  27. Kristy on August 1, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    Umm am I the only one whose mind was blown after seeing tomato paste in a tube? That is freakin’ genius and now I must find my own. Holy cow I have seen the light.

    • Hilah on August 1, 2016 at 7:07 pm

      It’s the best! You can get it near the other tomato paste.

  28. plasterer bristol on December 28, 2016 at 1:07 am

    These sound so good. Gonna have these for tea i think. Thanks for sharing.


  29. BarcaBakes on July 27, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Has anyone tried making taco bowls like these ones – ? I think they look delicious, but I don’t know if they are worth it if they taste the same as these tasty looking ones. Any thoughts?

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