Serves: 4 (8 tacos)
Time: 55 Minutes

America’s Test Kitchen set out to develop a taco recipe with a boldly spiced beef mixture and fresh toppings. We fried corn tortillas to make superior homemade taco shells. For the filling, we sautéed onions and garlic and then sautéed the spices to bring out their flavor. Using very lean ground beef prevented greasiness, and adding tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, and vinegar created roundness and depth.

There’s no need to prepare all of the toppings listed below, but cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes are, in our opinion, essential.

Beef Filling

    • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil or corn oil
    • 1 small onion, chopped fine
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tablespoons chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
    • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef
    • ½ cup canned tomato sauce
    • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
    • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar

Shells and Toppings

    • 1 recipe Home-Fried Taco Shells (recipe follows)
    • 4 ounces cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 cup)
    • 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
    • 2 small tomatoes, cored and chopped fine
    • ½ cup sour cream
    • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and chopped fine
    • 1 small onion, chopped fine
    • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
    • Hot sauce

Directions for Ground Tacos

  1. For the beef filling: Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, cayenne, and ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground beef and cook, breaking meat up with wooden spoon and scraping pan bottom to prevent scorching, until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, broth, vinegar, and sugar; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and breaking up meat so that no chunks remain, until liquid has reduced and thickened (mixture should not be completely dry), about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. For the Shells and Toppings: Using wide, shallow spoon, divide filling evenly among taco shells; place 2 tacos on individual plates. Serve, passing toppings separately.