You will not believe how easy this dump-and-go Crock Pot Taco Meat recipe is, and since it’s made with just a handful of simple ingredients and requires no pre-browning, it’s perfect for feeding a crowd or for super fast meal prep!

three tacos on a white plate filled with crock pot taco meat

about this crock pot taco meat recipe

I’ve gotta tell you, this is the perfect recipe to make for a party, and with just a few ingredients it’s also a very economical way to feed a crowd!

Around here, we love taco meat!

So much so that we have several recipe variations, including slow cooker ground turkey taco meat, Mexican-inspired shredded beef tacos and crockpot fajita salsa chicken tacos.

Besides the delicious taste, the ease of prep (and good-for-you ingredient list) make tacos one of our favorite healthy weeknight meals.

This is one of those recipes where you can make it once and then use the leftovers to make multiple dinners during the week.

I love using this ground beef taco meat to make everything from – well, the obvious, tacos – to taco bowls, salads, burritos, nachos, and more.

But wanna know the best part?

This turkey taco meat recipe can be made in the slow cooker without browning the meat first!

Meaning less prep, less dishes, and less mess, for the ultimate fuss-free meal prep situation.

ingredients for crock pot taco meat in a black slow cooker on white background

process & tips

Making taco meat in the slow cooker is so easy, and since it can be made ahead it’s perfect for busy weeknights, feeding a crowd, or for a party.

This recipe is a true dump & go recipe, so it doesn’t require any pre-browning of the meat.

Simply add all your ingredients to the crockpot and let it do the work for you.

The final taco meat is quite juicy, but if you prefer a drier taco meat, you can drain off some or all of the cooking liquid.

Then all that’s left to do is add your toppings and dive in!

It’s totally up to you if you want to cook it on the high or low slow cooker setting. I’ve included directions for both below to keep your options open on busy weeks.

ways to use this crock pot taco meat

The spice on this taco meat is very mild and everyone can mix & match the toppings they like, so it’s very family (and party) friendly.

You can use hard taco shells, warm corn or flour tortillas and top with shredded cheese, sour cream, diced tomato, shredded lettuce, guacamole, hot sauce, jalapeno, cilantro or my favorite creamy cabbage slaw to make delicious tacos!

To make burrito bowls, layer the taco meat with rice (or cauliflower rice), beans and toppings of your choice (like this 4-ingredient guacamole).

Or try turning it into a hearty taco salad by serving it with shredded romaine lettuce, chipotle honey vinaigrette, pico de gallo, sliced avocado, and crushed tortilla chips for extra crunch.

If your leftovers stash is running low, you can repurpose and stretch the remaining meat into some next-level nachos too! 

Just pile the taco meat on top of chips, top with cheese, beans, pickled jalapenos, and pop under a broiler for a few minutes until crispy.

wooden spoon with ground beef and a black slow cooker

ingredients & modifications

Ground beef: The type of ground beef is up to you, either a 95% lean ground beef or traditional 80% lean ground beef will work. The extra fat from an 80% lean ground beef will lend extra flavor, but if you prefer leaner the long, slow cook time will still yield a delicious, tender result.

Salsa: Salsa is a fantastic convenience ingredient in this recipe, but if you prefer to make taco meat in the crock pot without salsa, substitute 1 15-oz can of diced tomatoes and an additional ½ teaspoon salt in place of the pre-made salsa. I tested this recipe with a number of different salsas, all of which worked well. However, overall, we preferred a “thick and chunky” style jarred salsa (such as Trader Joe’s or Muir Glen organic), or a store brand that doesn’t contain added sugar. Bonus, since the jarred salsa is shelf stable this becomes a wildly easy pantry dinner!

Garlic powder: I like the ease of using granulated garlic powder in this recipe, but if you prefer fresh minced garlic you could substitute that in its place.

Mild chili powder: The chili powder (along with the garlic powder, smoked paprika, and cumin) is the base for making our own homemade taco seasoning. If you prefer to use a pre-made taco mix, substitute the taco seasoning for the garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder and salt in this recipe. 

Smoked paprika: The smoked paprika lends a smoky flavor that we love, but if you don’t have it regular paprika will work.

Kosher salt: Look for kosher salt with the regular iodized salt at the grocery store (it has a subtler flavor). Use less iodized salt if that’s what you have on hand.

The heat level of this taco meat will depend on the type of salsa and chili powder you use. For mild taco meat, use mild salsa and mild chili powder. For spicy taco meat, use spicy salsa and hot chili powder.

three tacos on a white plate filled with crock pot taco meat

how to store & freeze leftover ground beef taco meat

This is one of those recipes that still tastes totally delicious the next day, and leftovers make a great lunch!

It keeps well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, in a sealed container.

This taco meat also freezes beautifully, either in a gallon ziplock bag, or individually in mason jars.

You can store it in a sealed freezer friendly container for up to 2-3 months.

more slow cooker ground beef recipes

Mexican-Inspired Shredded Beef

Spicy Cabbage Soup

Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

Slow Cooker Hamburger Soup

Beef Minestrone Soup (with Instant Pot + Slow Cooker Instructions)

Slow Cooker Easy Beef and Bean Chili

this recipe is…

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wooden spoon with ground beef and a black slow cooker
5 stars (7 ratings)

Crock Pot Taco Meat

Crock pot taco meat is an easy dump-and-go recipe made with just a few simple ingredients, perfect for busy weeknights or for feeding a party crowd.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 16- oz jar no-sugar added salsa
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon mild chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Optional serving suggestions

  • hard taco shells, warm corn or flour tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream, diced tomato, shredded lettuce, guacamole, hot sauce, jalapeno, cilantro

Instructions 

  • Add the ground beef, salsa, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, chili powder and salt to a 6-quart slow cooker.
  • Break the meat apart into small pieces and stir to combine with the other ingredients.
  • Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours. Do not remove the lid during the cooking process.
  • Serve in with taco shells or warm tortillas and toppings of choice.

Notes

Nutrition information calculated for taco meat only, without a taco shell or toppings.
The heat level of this taco meat will depend on the type of salsa and chili powder you use. For mild taco meat, use mild salsa and mild chili powder. For spicy taco meat, use spicy salsa and hot chili powder.
I tested this recipe with a number of different salsas, all of which worked well. However, overall we preferred a “thick and chunky” style jarred salsa (Trader Joe’s and Muir Glen both make good organic options), or look for a store brand that doesn’t contain added sugar.
The final taco meat is quite juicy, but if you prefer a drier taco meat, drain off some or all of the cooking liquid.
For more ingredients & substitutions, see blog post above.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 308kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 769mg, Potassium: 485mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 436IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 3mg
Nutrition disclaimer
Did you make this recipe?If you do, be sure to share it on Instagram and tag me at @realfoodwholelife so I can see!

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