Crispy Beef Tacos

These crispy beef tacos are like the ones I had as a kid, but easier to eat. By toasting fresh tortillas on the stove, in the oven or air fryer, they stay together rather than shattering into pieces when you bite into them.

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A white plate with two crispy beef tacos, salsa and guacamole with more tacos on a platter in the background.

Better Than Taco Shells

I remember taco night as a kid. My mum would buy the crispy taco shells that came with the spice mix. She’d sauté ground beef with the spice mix and we’d make our own tacos, filling them to the rim with the beef mixture, shredded lettuce, tomato and cheese. I’d fill my taco so carefully and then take my first bite and my plate would instantly be full of taco salad. Those hard taco shells were impossible to keep in one piece and inevitably broke as soon as my little hands picked it up. These crispy beef tacos take me back to those taco nights as a kid, but by using soft flour tortillas and crisping them up myself – in the oven, on the stovetop or in the air fryer – they are more forgiving and more manageable, no matter how big or small your hands are.

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Ingredients for beef tacos: ground beef, tortillas, cheese, spices, stock, canned beans and canned tomatoes.

Ingredients for Crispy Beef Tacos

The ingredients for the beef taco are simple. Grab some ground beef (medium or lean), your favorite canned beans (I like pinto, but you could use black or white beans), some canned tomatoes, onion, a little flour and some taco seasoning. You’ll need some cheese and tortillas and then whatever vessel you are going to use to cook them – a skillet, an air fryer or a sheet pan

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Looking down on tacos being assembled - a skillet of taco mix, some grated cheese and tortillas in various stages of being filled.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

You could buy taco seasoning if you really want to, but it’s so easy to make yourself.  There are just 6 different spices, some salt and pepper and if you make a big batch, it will keep nicely in your spice cabinet until you’re ready to use it again. You can find a recipe for homemade taco seasoning here

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Assembled tacos on a blue sheet pan, ready for frying.

Oven Tacos

To make these tacos in the oven, brush the tortillas with oil and lay the assembled tacos out on a large sheet pan. Pre-heat the oven to 400˚F and bake the tacos for 10 minutes. Flip them over and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes and you’ll be ready to go.

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Crispy beef tacos frying in a large skillet with tongs resting on the side.

Pan-Fried Tacos

The tacos really crisp up well on the stovetop. Pan-fry them in oil for just a few minutes on each side and serve hot. This is the fastest way to prepare these crispy beef tacos and you already have a skillet in use from making the beef mixture, making it convenient too.

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Crispy beef tacos in an air fryer basket.

Air-fried Tacos

If you’re watching how much oil you intake, the air fryer might be your best choice for these tacos. Spritz both sides of the assembled tacos with oil and then air-fry at 400˚F for 5 minutes on one side, flip over and air-fry for another 3 to 5 minutes on the other.

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Looking down into a chopper with avocado crema inside.

Avocado Crema

You could serve the tacos with guacamole or with this bright lime-y avocado crema. It’s made easily in a food chopper or in a bowl and includes avocado, sour cream, cumin, cayenne pepper and lime juice. It is a nice light accompaniment to the beefy tacos.

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A white platter with crispy beef tacos, a bowl of salsa and a bowl of avocado crema.

How to Serve Crispy Beef Tacos

These crispy beef tacos are best served warm right out of the pan, oven or air-fryer. I like a fresh salsa to go with it, whether that’s a traditional pico de gallo, some mango salsa or a smooth and smoky tomato chipotle salsa. Oh, and don’t forget some napkins and a plate to catch all that falls. They’re not completely mess proof!

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Crispy Beef Tacos - Stovetop

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 30 m
  • Total Time: 45 m
  • Servings:
    10
    (8-inch) tacos

Ingredients

  • pounds ground beef
  • ½ onion diced
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper seeded and minced
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ cup beef stock or water
  • 2 cups grated Cheddar cheese 12 ounces
  • 10 8-inch flour tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
For Serving:
  • Avocado Crema
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa Fresca

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and onion and cook until the beef is cooked through and no longer pink. Drain off the grease and return the beef to the skillet.
  2. Add the taco seasoning and Jalapeño pepper to the skillet and sauté for a couple of minutes until the seasoning is fragrant. Stir in the pinto beans and sprinkle in the flour. Cook, stirring to distribute the flour well, for a minute or two. Add the diced tomatoes and beef stock (or water). Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Lay the tortillas out on the counter. Sprinkle some of the cheese on half of each tortilla. Divide the beef mixture between the tortillas and top with the remaining cheese. Fold the tortilla in the half.
  4. Wipe out the skillet and return it to the stovetop. Heat over medium heat and add a glug of vegetable oil. Place the folded tortillas in the pan and fry for a couple of minutes on each side until browned and crispy. Transfer the tacos on a plate lined with paper towel for a few minutes before serving.
  5. Serve the tacos warm and top with salsa, sour cream or avocado fresca as desired.

Crispy Beef Tacos - Air Fryer

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 30 m
  • Total Time: 45 m
  • Servings:
    10
    (8-inch) tacos

Ingredients

  • pounds ground beef
  • ½ onion diced
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper seeded and minced
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ cup beef stock or water
  • 2 cups grated Cheddar cheese 12 ounces
  • 10 8-inch flour tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
For Serving:
  • Avocado Crema
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa Fresca

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and onion and cook until the beef is cooked through and no longer pink. Drain off the grease and return the beef to the skillet.
  2. Add the taco seasoning and Jalapeño pepper to the skillet and sauté for a couple of minutes until the seasoning is fragrant. Stir in the pinto beans and sprinkle in the flour. Cook, stirring to distribute the flour well, for a minute or two. Add the diced tomatoes and beef stock (or water). Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Lay the tortillas out on the counter. Sprinkle some of the cheese on half of each tortilla. Divide the beef mixture between the tortillas and top with the remaining cheese. Fold the tortilla in the half.
  4. Brush each side of the tortillas with olive oil. Air-fry at 400°F for 5 minutes. Flip the tortillas over and air-fry an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown on each side. Transfer the tacos on a plate lined with paper towel for a few minutes before serving.

  5. Serve the tacos warm and top with salsa, sour cream or avocado fresca as desired.

Crispy Beef Tacos - Oven

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 45 m
  • Total Time: 1 h
  • Servings:
    10
    (8-inch) tacos

Ingredients

  • pounds ground beef
  • ½ onion diced
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper seeded and minced
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ cup beef stock or water
  • 2 cups grated Cheddar cheese 12 ounces
  • 10 8-inch flour tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
For Serving:
  • Avocado Crema
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa Fresca

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400˚F.

  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and onion and cook until the beef is cooked through and no longer pink. Drain off the grease and return the beef to the skillet.
  3. Add the taco seasoning and Jalapeño pepper to the skillet and sauté for a couple of minutes until the seasoning is fragrant. Stir in the pinto beans and sprinkle in the flour. Cook, stirring to distribute the flour well, for a minute or two. Add the diced tomatoes and beef stock (or water). Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Lay the tortillas out on the counter. Sprinkle some of the cheese on half of each tortilla. Divide the beef mixture between the tortillas and top with the remaining cheese. Fold the tortilla in the half.
  5. Brush each side of the tortillas with vegetable oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip the tacos over and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until golden brown on each side. Transfer the tacos on a plate lined with paper towel for a few minutes before serving.

  6. Serve the tacos warm and top with salsa, sour cream or avocado fresca as desired.
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Comments (2)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    The ground beef using the spice recipe super flavorful. I fried in a pan with little oil, watch them they cook quick once pan is hot. I then put in a preheated oven. Fresh pico, guacamole & sour cream little lettuce inside….so good. I did not add the tomato to meat mixture. Great recipe

  2. 5 stars
    I made this for tonight’s dinner. Everyone loved it. Only thing I changed; I used Masa instead of flour. It was delicious.

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