Cleavon Little’s Tacos Californian

Cleavon Little was an actor of television, film and stage most known for his role as Sheriff Bart in the comedy Blazing Saddles. He won a Tony award for playing the lead role in the Broadway musical Purlie. You may also have seen him in such movies as FM, Scavenger Hunt, High Risk or Toy Soldiers as well as guest appearance in many popular TV shows of the 1970s and 1980s.


This is his recipe for tacos. It is a very simple American style taco that uses ground beef. Cleavon Little’s Tacos Californian only uses lettuce, tomato, cheese, onions and hot sauce as toppings but you could easily add other toppings that you desire. This is a really easy beef mixture that uses pantry staples instead of a package of taco seasoning. He created this recipe because he felt that he was never “able to find good tacos in New York, so I always make my own”.



Cleavon Little's Tacos Californian

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Easy and delicious ground beef taco recipe from actor Cleavon Little.

source: Celebrity Cookbook by Johna Blinn


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 12 hard taco shells
  • 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Taco sauce or Tabasco sauce


  1. Heat the oil skillet over medium-high heat and saute half the onion and the minced clove of garlic until the onion is soft.
  2. Add beef and cook until you can no longer see red and breaking it up with a spatula as it cooks.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt, pepper and sauce. Cook until mixture thickens, stirring often. Keep warm.
  4. Heat the hard taco shells according to the package.
  5. To assemble: spoon 2 tablespoons of beef filling in bottom of each taco shell.
  6. Top with the onion, lettuce, tomato,cheese and taco or hot sauce. Serve immediately.


  • Of course you can use soft taco shells in you so desire as well as any additional toppings such as salsa, sour cream or jalapeno.


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