Is Taco Bell's Beef Real Beef?

Taco Bell's beef isn't real beef.

Does Taco Bell Use Real Beef?

Taco Bell’s seasoned beef is 88% “100 percent USDA-inspected premium real beef” and 12% common ingredients like soy, spices, water, and oats. In other words, Taco Bell’s beef is real beef, which when added to their taco sauce forms the mixture which is placed into your taco.

TIP: The following video is Taco Bell’s own PR video, we fact-check their claims regarding their seasoned beef below and explain some of the ingredients.

Taco Bell PR video – Of Course We Use Real Beef! We did some fact-checking and what Taco Bell claims checks out. See below for details.

FACT: Taco Bell uses real beef in a “seasoned beef” sauce, which is composed of water and spices, similar to the way you would make taco filling at home.

What Does Taco Bell Have to Say?

According to Taco Bell’s FAQ:

“The beef we buy is 100 percent USDA premium beef. Before coming to our restaurants, it is drained of excess fat and pre-seasoned with our signature blend of 12 authentic seasonings and spices – much the same way you prepare taco meat at home. It is then packaged with added water for moisture and shipped to our restaurants, where it’s prepared just for you ensuring you’re getting the same great tasting seasoned beef no matter which of our restaurants you are eating at.”[1]

What’s in Taco Bell Beef?

Here are all Taco Bell Seasoned Beef Ingredients as of January 1st, 2016:[3]

“Beef, water, seasoning [cellulose, chili pepper, onion powder, salt, oats (contains wheat), maltodextrin, soy lecithin, tomato powder, sugar, soybean oil, spices, garlic powder, citric acid, caramel color (C), disodium inosinate & guanylate, cocoa powder, natural and artificial flavors (contains gluten), trehalose, modified corn starch, lactic acid, torula yeast], salt, phosphates. Contains: Soy, Wheat”

Is Taco Bell's Beef Real Beef?

Explainers of Certain Taco Bell Ingredients

Here are some of the ingredients in Taco Bell’s taco meat, what Taco Bell has to say about them according to an interview done with ABC News, and then what we have to say about all that:[2]


“It sounds weird, but it’s actually a form of mildly sweet sugar we use to balance the flavor. You may have had it the last time you had a natural soda,” Taco Bell says.

We say: What Taco bell says checks out. Maltodextrin is an artificial sugar that when eaten on its own it has no nutritional value and can spike blood sugar, but it’s a common additive in food and only really unhealthy in large amounts.


“This is a form of yeast that gives our seasoned beef a more savory taste,” the company says.

We say: What Taco bell says checks out. Torula yeast is a replacement for MSG, some people still have an allergic reaction, but it really is just a common form of yeast used in lots of the food you eat.


“Actually, it’s derived from corn, which is a food staple in Mexican culture as well as many others. We use a small amount as a thickener and to maintain moisture in our seasoned beef. It’s common in many foods like yogurt,” Taco Bell states.

We say: Cornstarch, like the stuff in your cupboard you use to thicken sauces. It’s about as healthy as maltodextrin, which is to say it has no nutritional value but is a common food additive.


“When you prepare as much seasoned beef as we do, you don’t want it to separate. That’s what soy lecithin does. It helps (with moisture) to bind substances that would otherwise separate — like oil and water. It’s a common ingredient in many grocery staples, like chocolate bars and salad dressings,” says Taco Bell.

We say: Yes. It’s just an emulsifier. Again, it’s used everywhere and shouldn’t be eaten in large amounts.


Taco Bell says it uses this “to help make sure our seasoned beef is the right texture.”

“They’re also commonly found in deli items, cheeses, coffee drinks and desserts,” the company says.


Taco Bell says, “This safe acid occurs in almost all living things, and we use a very small amount to manage the acidity to get the right flavor.”


Taco Bell says the caramel color “is caramelized sugar, which is a commonly used food coloring (also found in cereals and pancake syrup). Cocoa Powder doesn’t add any flavor to our recipe, but it helps our seasoned beef maintain a rich color.”


Taco Bell: “It’s a naturally occurring sugar that we use to improve the taste of our seasoned beef.”


So What Does This All Mean?

Taco Bell isn’t any different from anything else you eat. Almost everything we eat out or buy is chock full of sugar, soy, and corn derivatives. Generally, none has nutritional value on their own and shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts. Considering the amount in a given taco, you are just fine. That said if we continuously eat all these things in all our foods all the time the results are theoretically troublesome.

Good on Taco Bell for their honesty and the fact that they have continued to improve ingredients and be transparent. Still, the overarching idea that so many preservatives are used in our foods has their own pros and cons.


Where’s the beef? It’s in your taco, encased in the seasoned beef sauce.


  1. Frequently Asked Questions“. Retrieved Jan 20, 2016.
  2. Taco Bell Reveals Its Mystery Beef Ingredients“. Retrieved Jan 20, 2016.
  3. INGREDIENT STATEMENTS“. Retrieved Jan 20, 2016.
  4. Maltodextrin“. Retrieved Jan 20, 2016.
  5. The Health Risks of Maltodextrin“. Retrieved Jan 20, 2016.

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Rita Heath on

I just know that I had the absolute worst taco salad yesterday at the Taco Bell located at Sheridan & Gore Blvd. in Lawton, OK. It was too sweet and the strangest color. I did not eat anything but the lettuce and tomatoes. I will never eat there again.

Thomas DeMichele on

Can’t knock every taco bell for one experince, you should complain to their headquarters so they can fix the issue. Businesses (good ones at least) want to know these things.

Bob on

Good advice

Bill on

It’s real beef but you’re misleading your readers. The Real Beef makes up for less than half of the meat sauce used on all their meat products. We’re eating a lot of oats !

Thomas DeMichele on

Hmm. Well we have the beef itself, which is beef, water, and oats (essentially). Then we have the sauce. The final result is that what we call beef isn’t just beef. It is 100% real beef… plus oats and water (and some other ingredients like soy).

I don’t know the exact percentages. Officially Taco Bell said 88%, but then you have that Alabama Law Firm from 2011 who claimed it was somewhere in the 30% range. Exact percentages aside, the story is the same. On this issue I don’t see a specific reason not to take taco bell at their word. If anyone can prove it one way or another, drop a link or your methodology.

Taco King on
Doesn't beleive this myth.

Holy crud are you wrong.
According to Taco Bell and ANYONE tht has tested their beef, it is 88%real beef in the finished product.
This has been held up in court.

Michael on

Im a trucker and haul beef to some of the places that make the stuff for taco bell. That being said I have no problems with taco bell. Subway on the other hand……

Todd Lemons on

This means nothing…it is what happens after you deliver. They put a ton of fillers and other things in it such as sugar. They also do not say what ratio of beef to fat they use. Given the cheap price of their stuff it has to be a very high fat percentage. It is precooked at the factory and sent to the stores in frozen plastic bags which are boiled in the store.

Juan on

I just commented above (juankehoe) but I must comment on your post about the cheap price..When my family & I first started visiting Taco Bell in Wash DC area in 1993..Tacos were 59 cents each..The ones I bought today were $1.29 each..Cheap Prices…Not any longer.

Paradise Agor on
Supports this as a Fact.

The taste of the Taco bell meat has changed and I wrote it right away on their receipt for comments about a year ago. That’s why people are questioning it and it asked Google again today. It tastes different like they changed it or added something else as a filler.

Todd lemons on

This is not an accurate list. All their meat options have sugar in them. Also, Taco Bell does not release what mix of ground beef they use. For instance typical mix is 80 percent beef and 20 percent fat, but lower quality beef that places like this use are often 70/30. Although they claim 80 percent or more of beef, it is not really 80 percent because it does not take in account the beef to fat blend. In reality it could be 65-70 percent real beef plus fat.

Juan on

There are numerous Copycat Taco Bell recipes..None of them include beef so it’s pretty logical that the only beef in their sauce comes from the beef bullion. I’m a retired diplomat from the U.S. State dept & I was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City for 2 years..There’s a place there called “EL Camineros” (The walk-ers) You watch them make your tacos by cutting off a large chunk of lean beef, tossing it on the grill with some pieces of bacon, onions..grilling it for maybe 5 minutes..Adding a chunk of cheese to melt down through the mixture, put the whole mixture with cheese on top on a platter & topping it with 9 tortillas..You construct your tacos at the table..You can make this at home by improvising a little, & it’s great.

Teresa Hicks on

Will you get what you pay for and we pay for it in more ways them one I

blablavla on
Supports this as a Fact.


zenda Eby on
Supports this as a Fact.

I just ordered 3 beef tacos, they had no taste. I did not eat the third one. I will never return again.

David R White on

One month I ate at my local Taco Bell. In two visits within 2 weeks, I bit into my taco and found bone chips, about 1/2″ long x 3/16″ wide. That last visit was my last visit. A lot of people referred to that Taco Bell as the store that specializes in being the diarrhea king. That happened 2014, haven’t been back since.