Kidwell Family Tacos are easy to prepare, and customizable to your tastes. You can use ground beef, bison, turkey – even ground elk! Or go vegetarian, and make them with chopped zucchini and carrots.
platter with Kidwell Family Tacos

(Photo by Rick Souders)

Cousin Jim Kidwell and his daughter Sarah are both fabulous cooks, and their Kidwell Family Tacos are the best you will ever eat, just ask our other cousins!

Jim and Sarah like to use ground elk meat, but I’ve found this recipe is equally delicious with ground beef, bison or turkey (just omit the butter). They don’t really measure the ingredients, so the measurements in the recipe below are approximate. The best approach to this recipe is to mix together, cook, taste and season again. These tacos are not only delicious, they are quick and easy to prepare – and customizable to your tastes!

We all like to serve our tacos with pico de gallo and guacamole on the side. While both these items can be purchased already prepared, I provide instructions below to make your own!

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platter with Kidwell Family Tacos

Kidwell Family Tacos

  • Author: (From "Fresh Tastes" by Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Main dish, meat, gluten free


Kidwell Family Tacos are quick and easy to prepare, and customizable to your tastes. You can use ground beef, bison, turkey – even ground elk! Or go vegetarian, and make them with chopped zucchini and carrots.


  • 1 to 1 1/4 pound ground elk (preferably with more than 5% suet), beef, bison or turkey
  • Chili powder, to taste (preferably a blend of flavors)
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano or common oregano
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, sliced (only use with elk)
  • 8 to 10 taco shells, preferably home made
  • Pico de gallo *
  • Prepared guacamole**
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Chopped green onion
  • Chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet, cook elk meat over medium heat, breaking up meat with a spatula as it browns. Sprinkle a heavy coating of chili powder over the top. Sprinkle with garlic powder to taste, then the cumin, salt, and oregano. Cook, stirring and continuing to break up the meat, until the meat is slightly brown. Add butter, stirring until it melts. Sprinkle with another light coating of chili powder and continue cooking until a deep red-brown color (don’t overcook otherwise it will dry out).
  3. Divide meat equally between the taco shells.
  4. Place in a baking dish that will hold them snugly in one layer; bake 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Serve with guacamole, sour cream, cheese, onions, cilantro, and pico de gallo on the side.


* Pico de gallo: If prepared pico de gallo isn’t available in your area, make your own by chopping and mixing together grape tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and jalapeño pepper. Season with salt and cumin (you can also add some chile powder if you want). Alternatively, substitute purchased salsa.

** Guacamole: To make your own guacamole, chop and mix together avocado, tomato, shallots or green onions, garlic, cilantro and jalapeno or Serrano pepper. Stir in fresh lime juice and hot pepper sauce. Season with cumin, chile powder, salt and ground pepper.

Gluten free: Use gluten-free corn tortillas.


Lee Clayton Roper


I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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Access more recipes in Lee's award-winning book, Fresh Tastes!

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