This Whole30 Taco Salad is easy, quick & delicious. It can be made ahead of time and goes great with homemade pico de gallo! If you’re not in the mood for a salad, feel free to use the ground beef recipe and your favourite tortillas for some easy and delicious tacos!
I have two go-to methods for making so-called ‘taco meat’ using ground beef. The first is fairly involved and very similar to my recipes for Mexican Chili Braised Short Ribs and Crockpot Barbacoa. It involves rehydrating dried Mexican chilies, making a purée, braising, etc. In terms of flavour, this process can’t be beat. But sometimes a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and if you’re hangry, tired from a long day at work and desperately craving tacos on a Tuesday, it doesn’t matter how delicious a recipe promises to be. Am I right?
The other recipe is a quick and easy approach. It’s a one pot, minimal ingredients and lots of spices situation. The spices are really, really important here. With the correct combination you can achieve one of the most flavourful mouthfuls of juicy, succulent, taco meat.
Tips for a Delicious Whole30 Taco Salad
I realize that it is fairly rare (if not entirely impossible) to encounter ground beef tacos in the streets of Mexico. As always, this recipe is an inspired one and not meant to serve as an authentic version.
Nevertheless, I do have some golden rules if you are going to make this recipe at home. In fact, this applies to almost every single recipe that involves ground beef:
- Quality is Key: Try to source the highest quality ground beef you can afford. Ideally, you will be able to find grass-fed beef. If not, try to get organic. Still out of the question? Get the best tasting lean ground beef you’ve tasted. High-quality beef will emit a sweet, delicate perfume when being browned. If the kitchen smells funky when you’re cooking the beef, that’s a bad sign.
- Extra Lean Is For the Birds: Use lean or medium ground beef. You need some fat content here and if you’re using high-quality, grass-fed or organic beef the extra bit of fat is not necessarily a cause for concern.
- Surface Moisture is the Devil’s Playground: Thoroughly dry your meat with paper towel before browning. All pre-packaged beef, ground or otherwise, is covered in moisture and a wet piece of meat will not properly brown – it will steam! Take the time to pat the beef dry with some paper towel. I cannot stress this point enough!
- Cold Meat in a Hot Pan is No Bueno: Try to let the ground beef come to room temperature before cooking. A cold piece of meat will toughen when thrown into a hot pan. If you’re short on time, don’t worry about it too much. As mentioned, bird in the hand…
- Substitute If You Like: Personally, I’m not crazy about substituting ground turkey or chicken. It tends to a be a bit dry. However, if you are adamant on using “white meat”, then go for it. Nothing changes in terms of ingredients or technique. The only thing to note is it will probably cook a little bit quicker, so you may not need the entire 30 minutes for the meat to get tender. You can also try substituting game meat, ground pork or ground lamb.
Whole30 Taco Salad
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 2 lbs lean ground beef – preferably grass-fed organic
- 1 large onion – diced
- 1 serrano pepper – diced seeds removed for mild spice
- 5 cloves garlic – finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon regular paprika
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more depending on preference
- Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 head romaine lettuce – shredded
- compliant salsa or homemade pico de gallo works
- 1 avocado thinly sliced
- finely sliced radish
- lime wedges – for garnish
- Heat 1 tablespoon avocado oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven over high heat. Add the ground beef and brown in batches. If required, add more avocado oil to brown the second batch of beef. Transfer browned meat to a bowl. Drop the heat to medium-low, add the diced onion and serrano peppers. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent – approximately 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook an additional 60 seconds. Add the paprika, onion powder, coriander, ancho chili powder, oregano, cumin, and cayenne. Stir and cook 45-60 seconds. Return browned beef to pot and stir everything to coat.
- Add chicken stock, bring everything to a boil, lower the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook 30 min, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Note: the longer you cook this, the better it will taste! An hour is ideal.
- Serve taco meat over a bed of shredded romaine. Top with pico de gallo, sliced avocado, thinly-sliced radish and lime wedges.