Easy Beef Tacos


There's no secret to how to make tacos, the key is to use a few bold flavors and zesty spices, like chile powder and a touch of cayenne, in your ground beef filling rather than tossing in a store-bought seasoning packet. Sarah Carey's crispy tacos have been a favorite in her family since the 1970s. We include instructions for making your own crispy shells but you can buy them if you prefer.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • cup tomato paste (from a 6-ounce can)

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

  • 4 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1 pound ground beef (80 percent lean)

  • Coarse salt

  • 8 crisp taco shells

  • Lettuce, tomatoes, scallions, cheddar, and lime wedges, for serving


  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cayenne (if using), and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

  2. Add beef and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Spoon off excess fat. Serve filling in taco shells with toppings.

    Bryan Gardner
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