Cook's Illustrated Beef Tacos

One of my favorite dinners as a kid was tacos. How I loved taco night! It's a favorite at our home too. Well, maybe my favorite, because it's such a quick and easy dinner. My usual taco night ritual includes throwing some lean ground beef into a pan, adding a chopped onion, some V-8 juice and a package of taco spice mix. Lately, I've been on a "make your own mix" kick. I found this recipe from Cook's Illustrated and decided to give it a try. Yum. Loved it. 
Oh, and in case you are super lazy and don't love your family and are thinking "why would I make these when I can jump in the car and pick up 3 tacos for $1 at Taco (fill in the blank) ??"  Read this:

 In a study conducted...it was found that Taco Bell’s “meat mixture”, which it dubs “seasoned beef” contained less than 35 % beef. If these figures are correct, the product would fail to meet minimum requirements, set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to be labeled as “beef”. The other 65% of the “meat” is made up of water, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, silicon dioxide, anti-dusting agent and modified corn starch (amongst other ingredients more suited to a test tube than a taco). Full article found here.

Yikes! The "meat" is less than 35% meat????  Scary.
Taco Tuesday. 
This one's for you. 

Cooks Illustrated Beef Tacos
Cooks Illustrated
print recipe

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound extra-lean ground beef or ground turkey
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
8 taco shells

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. 

Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. 
Stir in the garlic, spices, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until fragrant about thirty seconds. 
Stir in the ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until no longer pink, about five minutes. 
Stir in the tomato sauce, broth, vinegar, and sugar until thickened, about 10 minutes. 
Season with salt to taste. 


  1. Wow, beef tacos! What a treat! Looks so yummy and colourful. Thanks for sharing X

  2. Yum. Where did you get those pretty taco shells?

    1. Anon,
      I bought corn tortillas and heated up some canola oil in a frying pan (about 1/4 cup) over medium high heat. Place the tortillas in the pan (one at a time) and fry on each side just until it starts to crisp up . Remove and place on a paper towel to drain, and fold in half while still warm.

  3. I love tacos yours looks delicious endeed

  4. Oh my goodness, this is too funny. We were in a hurry last night & went through the drive thru at Taco Bell. My husband & I each had 2 soft tacos and then all evening talked about how upset our stomachs were and wondered just what was in that "beef". ;0) Your tacos look wonderful!

  5. I'm not totally surprised that the "meat" at Taco Bell isn't. Much like "Sugar Free" Cool Whip isn't. First two ingredients: water, corn syrup. Bleh!


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