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, so it’s perfect for feeding a crowd or for super easy dinner or meal prep!

wooden spoon with ground beef and a black slow cooker

About this Crock Pot Taco Meat Recipe

I’ve gotta tell you, this Crock Pot taco meat 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!

And, since it’s the ultimate slow cooker dump and go recipe, you don’t have to pre-brown the meat.

On top of that, there’s no chopping required; making it the easiest slow cooker recipe you’re likely to find.

Plus, it’s absolutely delicious and the perfect slow cooker taco meat filling for tacos, burritos, enchiladas and more.

We’re big fans of easy taco fillings around here, so much so that I’ve created many recipe variations over the years, 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.

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

Process & Tips

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 ground beef 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.

Making this 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!

Tip: 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.

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

Ways to Use 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, fresh tomato salsa, 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.

Ingredients & Substitutions

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. I tested it with a number of different salsas, all of which worked well. However, overall, I preferred a “thick and chunky” style jarred salsa (such as Trader Joe’s, Muir Glen), or a store brand that doesn’t contain added sugar. I found that fresh, refrigerated salsa made the meat a bit too watery, but if that’s all you have, just know you might need to drain off some of the liquid after cooking. Bonus, since the jarred salsa is shelf stable this becomes a wildly easy pantry dinner!

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.

Garlic powder: I like the ease of using granulated garlic powder in this recipe, but if you prefer fresh minced garlic you can substitute 2 minced garlic cloves 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. Use hot chili powder if you like things spicy.

Smoked paprika: The smoked paprika lends a smoky flavor that I 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.

Tip: 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.

This Recipe Is…

wooden spoon with ground beef and a black slow cooker
5 stars (15 ratings)

Crock Pot Taco Meat (No Pre-Browning!)

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 85/15 lean ground beef
  • 1 (16-oz) jar chunky style 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

  • Easy Guacamole
  • Fresh Tomato Salsa
  • Hard taco shells, warm corn or flour tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream, diced tomato, shredded lettuce, hot sauce, jalapeno, cilantro

Equipment

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.
    Ground beef with spices and salsa in a slow cooker.
  • Cook on high for 2 hours, or low for 4 hours. Do not remove the lid during the cooking process.
  • When done cooking, stir to recombine. Serve as-is for a wetter taco meat, or drain some or all of the liquid for a drier meat. Serve in with taco shells or warm tortillas and toppings of choice.
    Cooked ground beef in a slow cooker.

Notes

For more ingredients & substitutions and tips, see blog post above.
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.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 (of 8), Calories: 308kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 673mg, 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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