This Crockpot Taco Meat is slow cooked to saucy perfection. Not too dry, not too drippy and all of the right spices to make taco night something to celebrate.
There’s no denying it, tacos are one of the greatest foods ever invented. I’ll never pass up a chance to make this Instant Pot Pork Carnitas or whip up a Cheesy Tater Tot Beef Casserole with my tasty Homemade Taco Seasoning.
Saucy Crockpot Taco Meat
One of the easiest weeknight meals just became even easier! Making taco meat in the crockpot takes a bit of time but requires virtually no attention.
The slow cooked ground beef becomes so tender and flavourful, with a unique luxurious texture. It’s not too dry, nor is it too wet…no one likes an extra drippy taco!
However, most importantly the depth of flavour in this taco meat is second to none. The warm taco spices mingle with the ground beef and prepare your mouth for the brief hit of spicy heat.
A Word About Authenticity
For those of us that grew up on tacos made with seasoning from the little ‘yellow packet’, these tacos are a familiar comfort food. Ground beef tacos are a Tuesday night staple served in homes all over North America.
However, stop at any authentic Mexican taco stand and you’ll find an entirely different menu. Depending on the region, you may see slow cooked Pork Carnitas, Beef Barbacoa, Tacos al Pastor, Carne Asada, Ting de Pollo, and Papas con Chorizo just to name a few.
Ground Beef Picadillo may be the closest to ‘North American’ tacos, though it often includes more vegetables in the ground beef mixture.
There’s a whole world of tacos out there and I encourage you to explore it one flavour at a time. However, for an easy family weeknight dinner this Crockpot Taco Meat can’t be beat.
Ingredients for Crockpot Taco Meat
- ground beef
- chili powder
- ancho chili powder
- ground cumin
- chili flakes
- cayenne powder
- dried oregano
For this recipe, lean ground beef is recommended. It has just enough fat content to keep the meat saucy, but not enough to drown the meat in a large fat layer. If you prefer, you can substitute ground turkey, chicken, or even vegan seitan in this recipe.
Most of the other ingredients are simple everyday pantry items. However, if you do not have the spices, feel free to grab a package of store bought taco seasoning and use it in place of the required spices.
While using a packaged mix, skip the salt as these grocery store mixes are often quite high in sodium (this is why I prefer to make my own).
Feel free to adjust the amount of heat to your preference by decreasing or omitting the chili flakes, cayenne pepper, or both.
Additionally, you can adjust the spice level by adding the salsa of your choice: mild, medium, or spicy.
How to Make this Simple Crockpot Taco Meat
This recipe really couldn’t be more easy…it’s simply ‘dump and go’. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a crockpot, then break up the ground meat as much as you can.
Yes, you can cook raw ground beef in a slow cooker and guess what? You don’t even have to brown it first, unless you want to. Note that if you are browning the beef first, you will lose the amazing luxurious beef texture that slow cooking brings.
Cover and cook the beef mixture on the lowest setting for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally if you are home to do so. For a ‘quicker’ cooking time, cook it using the high setting for four hours.
If your crockpot has a ‘keep warm’ feature, feel free to use it for up to an hour after the meat has finished cooking.
How to Serve Crockpot Taco Meat
To serve the taco meat, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the crockpot. If the meat appears quite greasy (and it might depending on the fat content of the ground beef) feel free to let it drain for a minute or two in a paper towel lined bowl.
The most obvious way to serve this tender and flavourful favorite taco meat is in…tacos or a taco salad topped with diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, and guacamole or sour cream.
This taco meat is great in casseroles, especially topped with golden crispy tater tots, or mixed into ultra cheesy mac ‘n’ cheese.
Try using the leftovers in a hot and cheesy queso dip or taco soup or maybe even in a breakfast hash, topped with eggs.
Mix up this spicy meat with peppers, mushrooms, corn, and beans to make an amazing chili con carne, or eat it with all the fixings in a giant burrito.
But wait…there’s more! How awesome would this taco meat be on a pizza?! Or as a topping for baked potatoes?
The possibilities are endless, it seems…you’d better make a double batch!
The Great Taco Debate
Where do you stand on the great taco debate? Do you love the messy crunch of a hard taco shell or the pliable soft shell taco?
I could have either, I just love tacos that much! Whichever style of shell you choose, remember that to be ‘one’ with the taco, you must bring your mouth to the taco, not raise the taco to your mouth.
How to Store Crockpot Taco Meat
The great thing about this super simple recipe is that it is SO EASY to double, or even triple. Having extra taco meat in the fridge makes meal prep so very convenient.
Prep your taco bowls and salads for daily lunches, safe in the knowledge that this beef will keep in the fridge for 5-6 days.
Before storing, always cool the meat to room temperature before placing in the fridge or freezer. Placing it in the fridge while it’s still hot increases the base fridge temperature and may lead to food safety concerns.
Freeze the remaining taco beef in an airtight container (you don’t want the odours to permeate throughout the freezer contents) for up to three months.
Thaw the taco meat in the fridge overnight, then reheat in a microwave in one minute increments. Alternatively, place the meat in a saucepan, cover, and gently heat until it reaches 165 F.
Helpful Items for this Recipe
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- 1/2 medium onion; diced
- 2 cloves garlic; minced
- 1/2 tbsp ground chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tbsp ancho chile powder (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 cups salsa
- 1 lb lean ground beef (turkey or chicken would work too)
- Saute the diced onion in olive oil until it softens and becomes translucent.
- Add the minced garlic, chili powders, cumin, and cayenne and saute for a few more moments, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and scrape the aromatics and spices into the bowl of a crockpot.
- Stir in the rest of the seasonings (chili flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Add ground beef (chicken or turkey) and break it up as much as you can.
- Pour in the salsa and mix well.
- Cover and set crockpot on low setting. Cook for 6 hours, stirring occasionally if you can.
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 314Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 1633mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 35g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.