Taco Tuesday, Trader Joe style

Tuesday May 17, 2011

Note:  I first shared this recipe before we started eating paleo.  I’ve added some paleo updates to reflect how we eat it now. 6/18/12

Tacos seem to be in high rotation in our family meal plan, so I thought I’d document what our “official” taco recipe is.    I’m sure many people have similar variations, but this is what we’ve come to love, so this is how we do it.

The secret to our taco recipe starts with Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning Mix.


This packet is all natural, gluten free, and only $.79!  I have made my own taco seasoning before, but you really can’t beat this price and the combination of ingredients is better than what I keep on hand in my own pantry.

Paleo Note:  the packet does contain a small amount of cane sugar.

TJ Taco Seasoning Mix Ingredients: sea salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, cane sugar, paprika, onion, garlic, black pepper, red bell pepper, oregano, chili pepper, smoked paprika

Another benefit of this recipe is that it has enough of a kick that we usually divide into thirds, thus stretching it even farther and make it an even cheaper accent.   To make the recipe, we pretty much follow the directions on the package:

Ground Beef Tacos

3.5 from 2 reviews
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Easy taco recipe using the delicious Trader Joe's seasoning packet
  • ½ packet TJ Taco Seasoning Mix (we use ⅓rd)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 14oz can tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp healthy oil (coconut, or EVOO)
  1. Heat onion in a heavy sauce pan.
  2. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Add ground beef and seasoning mix and saute on high heat for an additional 5 minutes, until beef is browned.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add tomatoes/sauce.
  5. Simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring often.

After you make the taco meat, you’ll have something delicious that looks like this:


Now you have to figure out how to serve it.   Some in my family prefer hard shell tacos, some like soft.   Myself, I prefer to make Taco Salad.   Here’s how I make mine:

Paleo Note:  Nowadays when when we make taco salad, I skip the cheese, beans, chips, and dressing.  Instead we load up on avocados or guacamole and salsa.  Below is the “pre-paleo” version of Taco Salad I used to make.

Taco Salad (not Paleo!)


  • Taco Meat (see above)
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Cheddar or Mexican Cheese blend
  • 1/2 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Catalina Dressing

Optional Toppings

  • Fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • black olives, sliced
  • Avocado, sliced

The secret to my taco salad is the catalina dressing.   I used to buy store brands but was out one day and looked online for a homemade version.   This version rocks.  You can read the comments and follow the advice to lower the sugar and substitute onion powder — it’s really really good.

Usually, on taco night, I make a small amount of taco salad, and leave the rest self-serve so everyone can fix it their own way.


I don’t usually have olives on hand for taco salad, but they are a favorite of Sam’s, so when I have them, he likes to load up.


I wish I had better pictures to show of my culinary talents, but sometimes, ya get what ya pay for 🙂

That’s how we do tacos in our house — what do you fix your tacos?


7 Responses to Taco Tuesday, Trader Joe style

  1. 1
    Grandpa says:

    Wow, that looks like some mighty good eats. May have to drop in some time when we see that on the menu.
    Fine looking bowl the Taco Salad is in.
    Tell Windy that some corn did not come up and sure need some help in replanting. Also shop floor around the lathe sure could use some one who is good at using a broom.
    Also lots of rocks to pick up. One bucket full equals one ice cream cone.

  2. 2
    Heather U says:

    We do Taco Tuesday’s too! The boys usually go for flour tortillas while Abe and I opt for the Taco salad thing. Some of the extras we’ve offered are sour cream, salsa, Spanish rice as a side along with refried beans, as well as guacamole to go with the tortilla chips. My youngest love, love, LOVES black beans so we usually use those instead of Kidney beans. So, Since we both do Taco Tuesday’s I’m curious do you do Friday night pizza night too? 😉

    • 2.1
      Kendra says:

      We have black bean fans in our house too! That is our usual side, along with chips & salsa & guac (love the salas Ree shared aways back). Fridays are either homemade pizza, or if I’m feeling cooked out, leftovers, chx nuggets, pasta or breakfast for dinner.

      • 2.1.1
        Gigi says:

        Yikes, I threw away the taco packet and came on here to see how to make it. However, I had already added the entire bag to 1 lb. of meat!! Hope it’s not too much spice!!

        PS: I love breakfast for dinner!! Yum, yum.

  3. 3
    Renee says:

    Another winner. The whole family loved it.

  4. 4
    Sam-I-Am says:

    The Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning Mix we bought for this recipe was WAY too hot for my family. We’ve never had a problem with any other brand before, but this was so spicy neither the kids or adults would eat it. Because of this we wasted the meat and that’s not something we take lightly around here – very disappointing. The TJ Taco Seasoning Mix batch I’m referring to (from the back of the packet) is B 236710-E BBE29MAR20. The packet directions read one 1.3 oz packet to 1 lb of ground beef and that’s what we did but I sure wish we had followed the advice in the recipe and only used 1/3 of the packet.

  5. 5
    JanetM says:

    Haven’t made it yet, but I LOVE TJ’s taco seasoning! I haven’t had tacos in years, and had forgotten even how to make it… knowing it was a simple dish. I use ground turkey. I kind of thought 1/2 packet of TJ’s taco seasoning might be enough. I’m not sure if I want it too saucy, so may use less tom. sauce. But the avocado slices, shredded lettuce, chopped onion (I prefer raw onion), and some of TJ’s Mexican style shredded cheese (gotta have cheese on my tacos!)… mmm mmm mmm. That’ll be dinner tonight. I just cook for 1, so it’ll be a few taco meals, and a meal w/o the tacos. Thanks for the tips!

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