Paleo Tacos

There I was, skulking in the Mexican aisle of the grocery store, surreptitiously photographing packages of taco mix. At any moment, a store employee might tap me on the shoulder and ask me to leave.

My goal? To create taco-seasoned ground beef that had the deliciously gummy texture and slight sweetness  of the packaged taco mixes, but with no added sugars. To stay Paleo, which means avoiding grains, I planned to serve the spiced taco meat in lettuce leaves. 

After a bit of experimentation, I had something pretty close to the original. Give it a try and let me know what you think!


Free-range ground beef  + taco spice mix ingredients

Stuff you need

  • 2 lb. ground beef, preferably free-range
  • 1 cup water
  • Lettuce leaves to serve in (I used romaine)

For the taco spice mix:

  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tsp onion powder. This adds some natural sweetness from the onion. All the taco mix packages I looked at had sugar in them; also, they all called for dried onions – win-win solution! Note: Be sure to use onion powder, not onion salt.
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 4 tbsp sugar-free chili powder (read the package!)
  • 3 tsp arrowroot starch — this adds the slight sticky texture that we see in taco meat. If you’re very low-carb, you could leave this out.
  • 1 tsp salt. I use sea salt, because regular salt has (of course) sugar in it.

For the garnishes:

Prepare small bowls/plates with some or all of the following:

  • Finely grated cheddar (I use the finest holes on my grater; this makes fine threads of cheese that simply mellllt into the meat)
  • Finely chopped lettuce
  • Finely chopped tomato
  • Guacamole or chopped avocado
  • Salsa (all the store-bought taco sauces had sugar in them, but not all salsas do)
  • Sliced black olives
  • Anything else that strikes your fancy

Now what?

  1. Brown the ground beef in a large pot over medium heat, breaking up lumps frequently. I used my Le Creuset Dutch oven (Looove! I got it for a serious discount at Winner’s because it was a factory second, but I’ve never been able to find the flaw.) Anyway…
  2. When the meat’s nicely browned, add the spice mix and stir briefly.
  3. Add the water and simmer for 20  – 25 minutes, stirring now and then
  4. During the simmer, rinse and pat dry the lettuce leaves and prep your garnishes (see above)
  5. To serve, put some meat in a lettuce leaf and top with some or all of the garnishes. If they want to, non-Paleo diners can use (the horror!) a taco shell or a grain-based wrap.

The simmer


The garnishes await. That’s my funny (but good) dairy-free “cheese” right at the front


The final product, plus gluten-free cassava balls – num!


2 thoughts on “Paleo Tacos

  1. I’m going to try this! Thanks for sharing. Interestingly — we’ve rededicated ourselves to no sugar — not even valentine day cheats from the kids goodies. I was floored by the withdrawal I experienced — especially with the moodiness! But thankfully about 8 days later, it has lifted! I can’t believe how much sugar affects me. And of course, the weight has started dropping again — no sugar, low carbs. love it!


    • Hi, Deb! I’m so glad you’re going to try the recipe – we really enjoyed it. The onion powder (not onion salt) and arrowroot starch are key.

      And, huge kudos to you for giving up sugar completely — wow! I’m so happy for you! It’s so exciting about your weight, and super interesting about your mood!

      I wonder if sugar might be at the root of some of the mental health problems that seem to be overwhelming our healthcare system these days. I’ll try and look into it!


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