Alton Brown’s seasoning mix is a great homemade version of the taco packets from your childhood, and fried corn tortillas are an easy DIY alternative to buying premade hard-shell tacos. Just sauté some ground beef, fill up your fried shells, top with some fresh lettuce, shredded Mexican cheese, and a few dashes of hot sauce, and you have a Tex-Mex fiesta on a plate.
Check out all our other tantalizing taco recipes too.
- Yield: 8 to 12 tacos
- Difficulty: Medium
- Total: 35 mins
- Active: 20 mins
For the taco seasoning:
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon mild smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon hot smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon habanero powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
For the tacos:
- 3/4 cup grapeseed oil or peanut oil
- 8 to 12 soft corn tortillas
- 1 large red onion, medium dice
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 3/4 cup water
For assembling the tacos:
- Shredded lettuce
- Mexican blend shredded cheese
- Hot sauce (optional)
- Make the taco seasoning by combining the spices, cornstarch, and salt. Mix well to make sure the cornstarch is fully incorporated and there are no lumps.
- Fry the taco shells: Heat your oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels and place it in the warm oven. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet until it registers 350°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Fry 1 tortilla at a time, using tongs so you don’t get burned: Carefully lay a tortilla in the hot oil—try not to submerge it. Fry flat for about 15 seconds, then use your tongs to fold it in half. Fry an additional 30 seconds, flip over, and fry for a final 30 seconds.
- At this point the tortilla should be browned lightly in spots but still flexible. Remove it from the oil and drain on your towel-lined baking sheet (try to stand the shells up if you can—it doesn’t always work).
- Return the baking sheet to the oven to keep the shells warm. Continue until all the shells are fried. When finished, pour off most of the frying oil, but leave about 1 tablespoon behind in the skillet.
- Set the skillet back over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
- Add the ground beef to the skillet. Break it up with a spatula and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add the taco seasoning and stir it into the beef until combined.
- Add the water and cook, uncovered, for a few minutes until the mixture is bubbling and has thickened.
- Assemble your tacos!