How To: Clone Taco Bell's Meat (AKA 'Taco Meat Filling')

Clone Taco Bell's Meat (AKA 'Taco Meat Filling')

Taco Bell's in the news for umpteenth time, and today the controversy is over their infamous beef taco meat. Gizmodo leaked a picture of Taco Bell's "Taco Meat Filling" and surprise, surprise— it's missing a lot of the "meat" that it claims in its advertisements.

Taco Meat Filling Ingredients

Beef, water, isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin (a polysaccharide that is absorbed as glucose), soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder, silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), natural flavors, yeast, modified corn starch, natural smoke flavor, salt, sodium phosphate, less than 2% of beef broth, potassium phosphate, and potassium lactate.

Just How Much Beef Is There?

Beef may be the first ingredient listed in their "beef"-based pseudo-Mexican filling, but Gizmodo claims there's only 36% beef, with the rest of the ingredients above absorbing the other 64%.

Jesus Diaz said, "According to the USDA, you can't call this 'beef' at all. Beef is defined as 'flesh of cattle'. Ground beef is defined as: Chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without seasoning and without the addition of beef fat as such, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders."

And this is the reason why an Alabama lawsuit has presented Taco Bell with a legal case for false advertising.

The USDA also defines "meat taco filling" as containing at least have 40% fresh meat. According to the Alabama law firm, their stuff only has 36% meat.

Making Your Own Better Meat Filling at Home

This whole ordeal is unlikely to kill off Taco Bell's fans. If you like it, chances are you're not going to be upset at this revelation. Just remember, one man's meat is another man's poison—but it doesn't have to be, at least with these alternative Taco Bell meat recipes.

Recipe #1 for DIY Taco Bell Tacos

This recipe is more meat than Taco Bell's meat, but that's because no professional, nor novice cook, would ever hinder the main ingredient's ability to delight.

If you've tried the Taco Bell brand spices you buy in the stores, you've probably thought it taste very similar to the fast food chain's in-house meat filling, and you're right—it does. If you want to make it from scratch, here's how you do it when preparing their famous tacos, according to clone chef Todd Wilbur. Check out the full recipe at Ever Wonder.

Taco Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried minced onion
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • dash garlic powder
  • ½ cup water
  • 12 taco shells
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Making the Tacos (Makes 12 Tacos)

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef with the flour, chili powder, salt, minced onion, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder. Use your hands to thoroughly mix the ingredients into the ground beef.
  2. Add the seasoned beef mixture to the water in a skillet over medium heat. Mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula, and break up the meat as it cooks. Heat for 5 to 6 minutes, or until browned. The finished product should be very smooth, somewhat pasty, with no large chunks of beef remaining.
  3. Heat up the taco shells in a 375 degree oven for about 5 minutes.
  4. Build each taco by spooning 2 to 3 tablespoons of the meat into a warm shell. Spread some of the shredded lettuce over the meat and then sprinkle some cheese over the top. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve immediately.

Recipe #2 for DIY Taco Bell Tacos

If the above recipe didn't satisfy your craving, try this more detailed Taco Bell clone of their special meat seasoning sold in stores, thanks again to clone chef Todd Wilbur. It may not be an exact clone, but it's close enough for the average Taco Bell frequenter who wants to make it themselves.

Taco Seasoning Mix Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1½ teaspoons dried minced onion
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed beef bullion cube
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • dash onion powder

Making the Tacos (Makes 12 Tacos)

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Prepare taco meat using 1 pound of ground beef and following the same spunky directions as on the original package:
  • BROWN ground beef; drain. Add seasoning mix and ¾ cup of water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  1. HEAT taco shells or tortillas as directed on package.
  2. SERVE bowls of seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomato and cheese. Pass the taco shells or tortillas and let everyone PILE ON THE FUN!"

Recipe #3 for the Taco Bell Secret Sauce

To further enjoy your Taco Bell tacos, you might want to try out the Taco Bell sauce. And guess what? Todd Wilbur to the rescue again. But this time, Cooking with Jack demonstrates Wilbur's recipe for Taco Bell's restaurant quality hot sauce, which he claims is "really close" to the real deal.

Got you own recipe for homemade Taco Bell tacos? Share below!

Taco Bell tacos photo by stevendepolo/Flickr

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