If you love steak but are looking for a healthier alternative, this recipe is for you! Coffee-rubbed grilled bison steaks are cut thinly and served on corn tortillas topped with a dollop of spicy avocado crema, a tangy red cabbage slaw, and green onions. Go ahead and give my Tatanka Tacos a try; they are as unforgettable as Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves

mottled black serving platter with 4 bison steak tacos and a bowl of avocado crema

What is “Tatanka?”

Dances With Wolves is one of my all-time favorite movies. I actually learned the word tatanka from watching this scene – it means “buffalo” in the Lakota language.

These tacos are made with coffee-rubbed bison top sirloin. Hence the name for this recipe – Tatanka Tacos. Clever, right? My hubby made up the name and it stuck.

Why I Love This Recipe

I was first introduced to bison beef when I moved to Colorado. If you haven’t yet tried cooking with bison, I’m here to tell you that you should! Bison top sirloin is deliciously tender, rich, and has a slightly sweet flavor.

As the primary cook and grocery shopper for my family, I’m in charge of making sure they are well fed. I absolutely LOVE this bison steak taco recipe because it has all the flavor of regular steak tacos without all the unhealthy saturated fat!

The taste of bison is difficult to distinguish from beef, but is much healthier. Bison meat has fewer calories and less fat than a skinless chicken breast and is higher in protein than other meats.

When used for making tacos, bison meat is a perfect steak substitute. As with regular beef, I recommend cooking it to medium temperature or less. If you do, and give it time to rest, you’ll end up with a surprisingly tender and delicious steak!

When paired with a creamy avocado crema and a crunchy, tangy red cabbage slaw, these tatanka tacos are to die for. Do yourself a favor and make these simple, healthy bison tacos tonight!

sliced bison steak on corn tortillas on a cutting board and topped with avocado crema

How to Make Bison Steak Tacos

Making bison steaks is pretty darn similar to making regular beef steaks. Follow along with my easy instructions and you’ll have a plate of delectable bison tacos ready in no time!

Red Cabbage Slaw

While slaw isn’t difficult to make, it does take a bit of time for the flavors to meld. You can complete this step up to 24 hours ahead of time.

Combine cabbage and onion in a large bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl and then pour over the cabbage mixture and stir. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Drain before serving.

These tacos would also taste fabulous with pickled red onions.

Top Sirloin

Once the slaw is ready to go, let’s cook the bison first so it has a chance to rest.

Drizzle olive oil in an iron skillet and place it over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, and ground coffee and then coat steak well on both sides.

Cook steak 3 minutes, turn over and cook other side for an additional 3 minutes for medium-rare. Cook an additional minute on each side for medium.

Allow steak to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. DO NOT RUSH THIS STEP! As with all meats, it is important to rest after cooking so the juices can redistribute themselves. If you slice into it too soon, you risk letting all that juicy goodness get away.

Avocado Crema

This part is simple. Place avocado, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, crema, and salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until creamy. That’s it!

Serve Tacos

To serve, place sliced bison on top of a warm tortilla, followed by a dollop of avocado crema, red cabbage slaw, and sprinkle with green onions. Enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

What temperature should I cook bison to?

I love my steaks medium-rare, and I recommend not cooking bison steaks past medium doneness, leaving some pink. If you cook your steak too quickly or well-done, it will become tough and chewy.

As long as you cook it to medium doneness (or less), you will be left with an amazingly tender, delicious steak. Just make sure that your steak hits an internal temperature of 145F for food safety.

What does bison taste like?

Bison honestly tastes a whole lot like beef. This steak is tender and deeply flavored with a simple coffee-rub. Cook the steak for a few minutes on both sides to medium-rare, then let the meat rest for a few minutes before slicing to seal in the juices. 

Bison steaks have a deep red color and a lot less marbling than beef, but they are a great healthy swap. If you are unable to get a hold of bison beef, I recommend replacing them with grass-fed organic beef top sirloin.

Why is my bison dry?

Ooops! Sounds like you overcooked it. Since bison doesn’t have the marbling that we are used to in beef, it cooks a heck of a lot quicker. Be sure to keep your eye on it while cooking. Once it hits an internal temperature of 145F, you can remove it from the heat to rest.

hands assembling a bison steak taco on a corn tortilla with sliced bison and avocado crema

Need more inspiration?

Check out some of my other favorite meaty recipes:

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serving platter of bison steak tacos on a wooden cutting board with grilled green onions

Tatanka Tacos

5 (1 rating)
This steak is tender and deeply flavored with a simple coffee-rub. Cook the steak for a few minutes on both sides to medium-rare, then let the meat rest for a few minutes before slicing to seal in the juices. The steak is sliced thinly and served on corn tortillas topped with a dollop of spicy avocado crema, a tangy red cabbage slaw, and sprinkled with green onions for unforgettable tacos.

Ingredients

Top Sirloin:

  • 4 ounces bison top sirloin , or grass-fed organic beef top sirloin
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coffee

Red Cabbage Slaw:

  • 3 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Avocado Crema:

  • 2 large avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • handful cilantro
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1 jalapeno, rough chopped
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Tacos:

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 4 green onions, sliced

Instructions 

Top Sirloin:

  • Drizzle olive oil in an iron skillet and place it over medium-high heat.
  • In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, and ground coffee and then coat steak well on both sides.
  • Cook steak 3 minutes, turn over and cook other side for an additional 3 minutes for medium-rare. Cook an additional minute on each side for medium.
  • Allow steak to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Avocado Crema:

  • Place avocado, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, crema, and salt. Blend until creamy.

Red Cabbage Slaw:

  • Combine cabbage, and onion in a large bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl and then pour over the cabbage mixture and stir. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Drain before serving.

Tacos:

  • To serve, place sliced beef on top of a tortilla, followed by a dollop of avocado crema, red cabbage slaw, and sprinkle with green onions.

Notes

  • I love my steaks medium-rare, and I recommend not cooking bison steaks past medium doneness, leaving some pink. If you cook your steak too quickly or well-done, it will become tough and chewy.
  • As long as you cook it to medium doneness (or less), you will be left with an amazingly tender, delicious steak. Just make sure that your steak hits an internal temperature of 145F for food safety.
  • If you are unable to get a hold of bison beef I highly recommend replacing with grass-fed organic beef top sirloin.
Serving: 1taco, Calories: 319.79kcal, Carbohydrates: 38.34g, Protein: 10.09g, Fat: 16.18g, Saturated Fat: 4.23g, Cholesterol: 21.5mg, Sodium: 948.02mg, Potassium: 692.23mg, Fiber: 10.02g, Sugar: 4.9g, Vitamin A: 917.59IU, Vitamin C: 44.15mg, Calcium: 119.84mg, Iron: 2.2mg

Photography: Jenna Sparks

Originally published: February 2018.