America's Test Kitchen Beef Tacos

Freshly fried taco shells and a packet-free spice mix make for much better tacos than you get from those kits. Stick with the 90% lean ground beef for this; anything fattier will be too wet and greasy. Video of this segment from ATK Season 6 can be seen at Show more

Ready In: 45 mins

Serves: 4

Yields: 8 tacos




  1. In a deep skillet, heat 3/4 c vegetable oil to 350°F Fry tortillas into traditional taco shape: hold tortilla in oil at 90 degrees for 30 seconds using an offset spatula to hold it under the surface. Turn over and hold the other side in the oil to set the U shape, leaving about a 2" gap, again using the offset spatula to hold the tortilla down in the oil. Fry until golden brown, about 1 minute. Turn back over and fry the first side until golden brown, about 30 seconds more.
  2. In a second skillet, heat 2 tsp vegetable oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and saute until soft but not colored, 3-5 minutes. Add spices and garlic and saute about 1 minute until fragrant.
  3. Add beef. Cook, breaking up beef with the edge of a spoon and scraping the bottom of the pan, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, brown sugar and cider vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until thick and almost dry, about 10 minutes. It should be slightly moist, but not sloppy-joe levels of sauce.
  5. Serve with the usual accoutrements: shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomato (or pico de gallo), guacamole, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa.
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