Even with all the cooking I do, and as much as I push making everything from scratch and being adventurous in the kitchen, sometimes there’s just nothing better than a very simple straight-forward dish. Sometimes though, we’re too tired to cook, or don’t have the time, or honestly just don’t really feel like getting into the kitchen. I know first hand what that feels like, I’m not immune to it. I’ve been asked a few times what my go-to fast food restaurant choice is. Or if I had to choose a fast food restaurant to eat at, if someone forced me to choose, what would that place be and what would I eat there? I’m always like, you don’t have to force me to eat at my favorite fast food place, believe me. Whenever I do eat out, it’s usually for something that I don’t know how to cook or don’t make on a regular basis, like Indian or Vietnamese food, those are usually my go-to places. I am human though and I do like to have fun from time to time, and so I have a guilty fast food exception. I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I feel like we’ve been doing this blog thing together for a while now and I can tell you anything. I’m obsessed with Del Taco. Being born and raised in Southern California, it seems like there’s always a competition of Del Taco or Taco Bell over here. We’re divided. I’m 100% a Del Taco fan, ever since I was a kid. To this day, I still drive through one every now and then because it’s weirdly good. I normally get a couple crunchy regular tacos, and an order of fries, because they have crinkle cut fries and I just can’t live without them, and a side order of nacho cheese to dunk my fries in and it’s the best day of my life don’t you dare judge me.
These tacos are pretty much a replica of the crunchy regular tacos I always get at Del Taco, and if you’ve had them before then you know what I’m talking about. They’re ridiculously simple and super easy to make. They literally are made up of store-bought taco shells, a delicious ground beef filing, and then topped with just shredded lettuce and cheese. That’s it. Then you douse the whole thing in hot sauce and you call it dinner because there’s no greater guilty pleasure out there than these tacos right here. I love them because they’re made with ground beef, which is a relatively inexpensive cut of beef and you can really feed a crowd with it without breaking the bank. We ate a lot of ground beef growing up, so ground beef dishes always bring me back to my childhood. I’m calling them Tacos Americanos because coincidentally there’s a taco restaurant in New Orleans which my friend Joy and I always go to whenever I’m out there once a month, and they’re pretty much like these tacos as well. They’re called Tacos Americanos, so I’m sharing them with you all so that you too can experience their magic. Let’s Cheers to the Weekend and live life to the fullest, drive-thru tacos and all.
Before we get to cooking, let’s talk about an important part of this dish…Taco Seasoning Mix. We’ve all seen them at the grocery store, and maybe even used it before. I have from time to time. The thing is though that they’re full of all kinds of crazy ingredients with stuff I can’t even pronounce. Stop grabbing those little packets because they’re full of salt and who knows what else, and just make a simple and delicious taco seasoning mix of your own! It’s super simple and so much better for you! Chances are you probably already have all the ingredients in your spices. In a small bowl combine, chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and dried oregano! That’s it!
**Tip: Don’t worry about the specific measurements right now, I’ll share the actually amounts at the end of this post. I usually make a BIG batch of this and store it in a mason jar and use it for all sorts of recipes, not just tacos. I use it as a seasoning for grilled chicken or steak that goes on salad or sandwiches or fajitas. I mean the possibilities are endless.**
Brown the ground sirloin in a skillet, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and stirring often to make sure it’s all completely crispy. You can use any ground beef you have, but try to keep the meat higher than the fat, when it comes to ratios. So a 85/15 would be ideal.
**Tip: If at this point the beef releases a lot of fat or liquid, drain it before proceeding to the next step. You don’t want that excess fat or liquid to ruin your filling.**
Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until softened, but not caramelized, about 5 minutes. This will give the beef a bit more substance and flavor.
Add in our homemade taco seasoning, and a can of tomato sauce. Give it a stir and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes just to start developing that flavor and make sure it’s well combined with the beef and onion.
**Tip: If you like things super spicy, you can mix in a small can of diced green chilies with the juice, at this stage. Or you can use a can of Mexican hot tomato sauce, in the yellow can with the duck on it, instead of the plain tomato sauce.**
In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water until fully dissolved. Stir it into the mixture and cook over low until thickened. This is also a great filling for a taco salad or enchiladas!
To enhance these simple tacos even more, make sure to warm the crunchy taco shells in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes, just to warm them through and make them as crunchy as possible. So many people, I’m thinking of my sister, don’t warm the taco shells out of the package, and they’re not as great that way. The package actually tells you warm them, so you should!
To assemble these tacos, very simply, fill the warmed taco shells with heaping spoonfuls of the ground beef mixture and top with shredded lettuce and shredded cheese.
You an grate your own cheese, of course, and use either Cheddar or Monterey Jack, but let me tell you more about these tacos here. They great with that pre shredded stuff that’s super thin. That’s just the way I remember eating them and that’s the way I want them to taste. So while I’m never a proponent of pre shredded cheese, this is my only exception.
The entire point of these tacos is that they’re ridiculously simple and easy to make. Plus they remind me of my favorite fast food restaurant so that’s why I intentionally only topped them with lettuce and cheese. BUT with that being said, you can most definitely top them with all kinds of different toppings. Feel free to use any and all of your favorite taco toppings. Avocado, tomatoes, salsa, radishes, or jalapeños would all be great in these!
Even though I have a soft spot for these crunchy tacos because of the store-bought crunchy taco shells, I grew up eating them what can I say, they’d also be great with warmed flour or corn tortillas. I basically want this recipe to be super simple for you to whip up this weekend or any night when you don’t really feel like cooking.
Even if you don’t make these over the weekend, make them during the week, TACO TUESDAY anyone? Set it out as a buffet, and have your family, friends or guests create their own tacos. Put out all of those toppings and have a fun and interactive dinner! The great thing about it is that they literally take no time at all, without much effort! It doesn’t get any better than this.
If you make this recipe, along with any other recipe from the site, be sure to snap a picture and share it on Instagram or Facebook and tag me and hashtag it with #CandidAppetite or #TheCandidAppetite. Once you start making these Cheers to the Weekend recipes, be sure to also tag it with #TCAweekend! I’ll be monitoring it all closely and share my favorites throughout! Happy Cooking!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground sirloin
- 1 small onion, finely diced (or half of a large onion)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix (recipe follows)
- 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- ¼ cup water
- 8 to 12 crunchy taco shells
- 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
- 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese (or Cheddar cheese)
- Hot sauce, for serving
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Once hot, add the ground sirloin and begin breaking it down with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned and crispy, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the taco seasoning and tomato sauce. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water until dissolved and then stir it into the beef mixture. Cook over low, until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Warm the taco shells in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes before serving.
- To assemble the tacos, fill the warmed shells with the beef mixture and top with shredded lettuce and cheese, or use whatever taco toppings you love!
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- Mix everything together in a small bowl until well combined. Use for tacos or seasoning for chicken or steak for fajitas.
- Note: This can easily be doubled or tripled and then stored in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid, and stored in the pantry, for up to 3 months.
- Yield: about 1/4 cup