two tacos on a white plate with a couple limes resting next to it

Sweet and Spicy Tacos

Sweet and Spicy Tacos are the best ground beef taco recipe you'll every make! The flavors are ample and robust with a hint of brown sugar, but easy enough to make for Taco Tuesday.
Course Dinner, Gluten Free dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 9
Calories 341kcal
Author Melissa Erdelac



  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 14 ounce can stewed tomatoes
  • 12 ounce bottle chili sauce, such as Heinz
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons ancho chile powder or chili powder*
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • taco shells cheddar cheese, lettuce, cilantro, and lime wedges for serving

Lime Sour Cream:

  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ tablespoon finely grated lime zest, about 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt to taste



  • In a large nonstick skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat until cooked through. Drain grease and transfer to a bowl.
  • Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add a splash of olive oil to the pan. Add onion and garlic and cook until almost translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes to the skillet and break up with spoon. Simmer until liquid mostly evaporates and sauce slightly thickens, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add cooked ground beef, chili sauce, Worcestershire, chili powder, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, and cumin. Simmer and stir for about 5-10 minutes.
  • Spread in a 13X9" pan and bake until an almost black crust forms around edges, about 30-40 minutes. (I know this sounds unconventional, but it develops the flavor more. This step can be skipped if you are in a time crunch.) 

Lime Sour Cream:

  • For the sour cream, mix together all the ingredients. Add salt to taste. Serve with taco meat and fixings. 



    * Ancho Chile powder is spicier than regular chili powder traditionally used in ground beef taco recipes. To tone down the spice use 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder and 2 tablespoons regular chili powder .
    More Tips:
    • This is the perfect make-ahead meal because it tastes even better the longer the seasoned beef sits and melds. Make it the day before or earlier in the day and bake right before serving.
    • Not only is this a great weeknight dinner, but Sweet and Spicy Tacos are perfect for entertaining. Make a day or two beforehand and save the baking step for right before guests arrive.
    • Since this recipe uses 2 pounds of ground beef we usually have leftovers. Freeze the rest for another weeknight dinner or use the next night in quesadillas, taco salads, taco pasta casserole with cheese, or throw on these Quick and Easy Taco Dogs.
    Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit


    Calories: 341kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 792mg | Potassium: 672mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1140IU | Vitamin C: 12.2mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 4.3mg