What Is Taco Bell Meat Made Of? (4 Critical Ingredients)

Arianna Foster
Published by Arianna Foster
Last Updated On: December 4, 2023

If you're a snack lover like me, a salty and savory Taco Bell hits the spot for those daytime cravings.

However, I recently found a controversial article stating that Taco Bell meat has less real meat than they claim.

Having eaten my fair share of this fast food, I decided to do a comprehensive research and look into the ingredients of Taco Bell beef and whether or not it is healthy.

Here's everything I found out.

Quick Summary

  • Taco bell meat constitutes less meat and more filler additives like cocoa powder and modified corn starch.
  • Taco bell's seasoned beef has torula yeast added to enhance the meaty flavor and provide a rich umami, and more savory taste.
  • It's advisable to make your own Taco Bell beef at home because then you can cut down on additives and unhealthy fillers.
  • When sourcing premium-quality meat, you should consider a reputable company like ButcherBox.

Ingredients for Taco Bell Meat

A top view image of taco ingredients on a table

Here's a breakdown of the key ingredients found in Taco Bell meat.

1. Caramel Color

This is a browning food color that is a little contentious. It is the most widely used food coloring additive in the world and is frequently present in various drinks, like natural soda.

Taco Bell says they use this caramelized sugar compound to help their seasoned beef maintain a rich brown color.

The issue arises because some variations of this pigment include a substance known as 4-methylimidazole, which may be carcinogenic [1].

2. Torula Yeast

Torula yeast's high glutamic acid content gives Taco Bell meat a savory, natural smoke flavor.

With the rise in popularity of vegetarianism, food manufacturers use torula yeast to simulate the flavor of meat in their veggie food products without using real animal ingredients.

Like other yeasts, torula enriches food with a significant amount of nutrients. Additionally, it may thicken meals like protein drinks and dips.

3. Sodium Phosphates

Sodium phosphates are emulsifiers that help control food's acidity/alkalinity and inhibit oxidation—in other words, this compound prevents the browning that happens to some foods, like raw Taco Bell beef, as a result of air exposure.

4. Soy Lecithin

Soy lecithin is a powdered emulsifier that is produced naturally as a byproduct during the processing of soybean oil.

Emulsification unites two substances that ordinarily reject one another, like ingredients in a salad dressing.

According to a Taco Bell spokesman, when handling as much seasoned beef, they use this ingredient to prevent ground beef and fat from separating.

Post You May Like: How to Make Taco Meat?

Is Taco Bell Meat Healthy?

No, taco bell meat isn't really healthy, and here's why:

1. Lacks Fiber

An image of three tacos on a wooden board

You probably won't feel fully satiated even after eating a couple of seasoned beef tacos or burritos. The components of a taco bell meal are directly responsible for this sensation.

Taco bell’s beef fast food has little fresh, wholesome dietary fiber and nutrients, so it quickly passes through your digestive tract and leaves you hungry shortly after.

A never-ending cycle of hunger brought on by this lack of fiber may even result in overeating.

"Fiber is essential to help with the digestive system because it introduces healthy gut bacteria."
- Katherine Marengo, Clinical Registered Dietitian

2. Stroke Risks

Most fast food chains sell ultra-processed foods like taco bell meat that have more saturated fat, which increases the body's low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.

The risk of heart disease and stroke is increased by high LDL levels [2].

3. Depression Risks

An image of a hand holding a delicious taco bell meat

Some of the most immediate impacts of eating a taco or burrito from  Taco Bell occur in the brain.

Nitrates in Taco Bell cheeses and processed meats can make depression worse [3].

A fast-food diet like Taco Bell meat consists of products that have been processed and/or ultra-processed, often modified corn starch, cocoa powder, added sugars, and artificial food colors. All of these chemicals cause the body and brain to become inflamed.

4. Cognitive Impairment

More depressive symptoms aren't the only thing to fret about when we tuck into a savory taste box of tacos.

When we excessively consume a diet rich in added Maltodextrin (mildly sweet sugar), corn starch, and toxic trans fats, we impair the brain's ability to think effectively [4].

Taco Bell’s high saturated fat content may also impact your cognitive capacities.

Saturated fatty acids have been linked to brain inflammation, insulin resistance, and cognitive impairments [5].

Related Articles:

Making Your Own Taco Bell Meat At Home

An image of a woman holding a plate full of tacos

Here's a quick and easy recipe to make your own fresh Taco Bell meat at home that's free of synthetic chemicals and additives.


  • 500 lbs lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 minced onion
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp tomato powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 10 taco shells
  • 1 ¾ cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 ¼ cups shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Mix the ground beef, flour, salt, tomato, onion, garlic, onion, and paprika in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Massage the seasonings into the ground meat with your hands.
  3. Combine the seasoned meat and the water in a pan over medium heat. 
  4. With a cooking stick, thoroughly combine the ingredients, breaking up the meat as it cooks.
  5. Cook for 6 to 10 minutes or until golden. After the cooking duration, you should have a smooth, pasty meat dish free of huge bits of meat.
  6. Preheat the taco shells to a 375°F oven for 5 minutes.
  7. To assemble each taco, scoop 2 to 4 teaspoons of the meat onto a heated shell. Layer some shredded lettuce on top of the meat, then sprinkle with cheese.
  8. Serve hot with your favorite dip for a more savory taste.


  • Ensure you evenly break down the ground meat to get a consistent texture.
  • If you're using fatty ground meat, cook it for longer until all the fat drains out before going in with your spices.
  • Mix up your taco seasoning however you like; you can add jalapeno pepper flakes for more heat.

Also Read: Ground Beef Taco Seasoning


How Much of Taco Bell Meat is Filler?

About 74% of taco bell meat is filler. Taco bell meat has about 36% real meat.

Do Jack in the Box Tacos Have Real Meat?

Yes, Jack in the Box tacos have real meat, including beef and chicken.

Is Taco Bell Steak Gelatin?

No, taco bell steak is not gelatin. Taco bell steak uses meat plus other ingredients that are USDA-approved.


  1. https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/crnr/chemical-listed-effective-january-7-2011-known-state-california-cause-cancer-4
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3483430/
  3. https://www.aau.edu/research-scholarship/featured-research-topics/processed-meats-may-be-bad-your-mental-health-study
  4. https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/23/health/alzheimers-trans-fats-dementia-risk-75-higher-wellness
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2823983/
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About the author

Arianna Foster
Nutritionist/Editorial Director
Arianna Foster is the editorial director and senior reviewer at Carnivore Style. She loves sharing her passion for nutrition, diverse cooking techniques, and the many health benefits of a meat diet with readers.
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