At Taco Bell®, providing you and your friends with delicious food at great value is our #1 priority. We also go to great lengths to be open about the ingredients we use, and want you to know the truth. Our seasoned beef recipe consists of 88% Premium Beef and 12% Signature Recipe. All of our ingredients are listed on our ingredient statement page, and you can learn more about these ingredients and the Taco Bell meat grade by clicking on a topic below.
What are these other ingredients? They have some pretty weird names!
They do have weird names – perfect for tongue twisters! But these ingredients are completely safe and approved by the FDA. They're common ingredients also found in food items at your grocery store.
Each ingredient helps make our Seasoned Beef taste great. Many of them are items you might use at home such as salt, peppers, and spices. Ingredients like oats and sodium phosphates help make sure the texture is right.
But I don't use these ingredients at home. Why do you?
Well, some of these ingredients are not sold individually, but you'll find many of the same ingredients in seasoning packets found on grocery store shelves. They do the same thing for those foods as they do for us.
We sell more than 2 billion tacos every year, so it's important our seasoned beef consistently maintains the proper standard of quality for every customer. In case you're curious, here's our not-so-secret recipe. We start with USDA-inspected quality beef. Then add water to keep it juicy and moist. Mix in Mexican spices and flavors, including salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, sugar, garlic powder, and cocoa powder. Combine a little oats, yeast, citric acid, and other ingredients that contribute to the flavor, moisture, consistency, and quality of our seasoned beef.
Do you put oats in your Seasoned Beef as a filler?
No, not as filler. Our seasoned beef doesn't contain any "fillers" or "extenders" to add volume. The very small percentage of oats is used to help our Seasoned Beef stay moist.
Okay, but I've heard you use Grade D meat. Is that why it's so cheap?
Although that's funny, the answer is NO. In fact, there's no such grade given by the USDA for beef. We use the same quality beef used in all ground beef (like you'd find in the grocery store) - only USDA-inspected, 100% premium real beef, period. We're one of the largest beef buyers in the U.S. Every year, we buy about 300 million pounds of seasoned beef. Since we buy in bulk, we're able to secure some of the best prices, which we pass along to you.
Isn't Cellulose a fancy term for wood?
Cellulose is a safe carbohydrate found in the cell walls of plants and helps with water and oil binding. You'll find it in everything from cheese and vitamins to bread and pasta.
It’s a naturally occurring sugar that we use to improve the taste of our seasoned beef.
"Artificial flavor"? Could you be more specific?
We add a black pepper flavor to enhance the taste.
Potassium Chloride sounds like something from a science experiment, not a taco beef recipe!
Well, potassium chloride is a common salt substitute used in the food industry. We actually used it to help reduce the amount of salt used in our seasoned beef recipe, which is part of our ongoing effort to reduce sodium levels in our ingredients while still delivering the same great taste you expect from us.
What is soy lecithin and why do you use it?
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.
Maltodextrin? Seriously? Why would I eat that?
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.
Okay what about "Torula yeast?"
This is a form of yeast that gives our seasoned beef a more savory taste.
Modified Corn Starch seems like an odd ingredient in Mexican food.
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.
Why do sodium phosphates belong in your recipe?
Well, we use them to help make sure our seasoned beef is the right texture. They're also commonly found in deli items, cheeses, coffee drinks and desserts.
Tell me what citric acid does.
We use a small percentage in our overall recipe to add brighter flavor.
Any MSG added to your seasoned beef?
Caramel Color and Cocoa Powder? Those sound like they belong in desserts!
They probably do! But 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.
Please explain Lactic Acid.
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.