Saucy Crockpot Taco Meat

A bowl full of cooked spiced ground beef beside tacos and guacamole.

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.

A bowl full of cooked spiced ground beef beside tacos and guacamole.

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 bowl full of cooked spiced ground beef beside tacos and guacamole.

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.

A bowl full of cooked spiced ground beef beside tacos and guacamole.

Ingredients for Crockpot Taco Meat

  • ground beef
  • garlic
  • onion
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • pepper
  • salt
  • ancho chili powder
  • ground cumin
  • chili flakes
  • cayenne powder
  • dried oregano
  • salsa

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.

A bowl full of cooked spiced ground beef beside tacos and guacamole.

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.

Three filled hard shell tacos surrounded by lime wedges, guacamole and a bowl of crockpot taco meat.

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!

Three filled hard shell tacos surrounded by lime wedges, guacamole and a bowl of crockpot taco meat.

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.

a hand holding a hard shell stuffed taco over a bowl of cooked crockpot taco meat.

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.

Three filled hard shell tacos and a bowl of crockpot taco meat.

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.

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Helpful Items for this Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small portion from qualifying purchases at no extra charge for you.

Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker Dishwasher-Safe

OXO Good Grips Nylon Slotted Spoon

Pack of 4 – Stainless Steel Taco Holder Stand

Nordic Ware Microwave Tortilla Warmer, 10-Inch

Pinterest image of a hand holding a filled taco and a bowl filled with cooked spiced ground taco beef.
Yield: 4 servings

Saucy Crockpot Taco Meat

A bowl full of cooked spiced ground beef beside tacos and guacamole.

This Crockpot Taco Meat is slow cooked to saucy perfection. Not too dry, not too wet and all of the right spices to make taco night something to celebrate. #tacomeat #crockpot #slowcooker #slowcookertacomeat #beef

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion; diced
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  • 1/2 tbsp ground chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • pepper
  • 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)

Instructions

  1. Saute the diced onion in olive oil until it softens and becomes translucent.
  2. Add the minced garlic, chili powders, cumin, and cayenne and saute for a few more moments, stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from heat and scrape the aromatics and spices into the bowl of a crockpot.
  4. Stir in the rest of the seasonings (chili flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  5. Add ground beef (chicken or turkey) and break it up as much as you can.
  6. Pour in the salsa and mix well.
  7. Cover and set crockpot on low setting. Cook for 6 hours, stirring occasionally if you can.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

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.

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20 comments

  1. Candice

    This recipe is delicious! The perfect blend of spices with that ground turkey… we will be making this regularly…thank you for the great recipe!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Great news! Yes, you can make this with beef, chicken, or turkey!

      Reply

  2. Aleta

    Genius!
    I am crazy about anything TACO yet have never tried adding salsa to my eat mixture. Cannot wait to come home to my crockpot full of this deliciousness!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Yes! What a delicious dinner to come home to. Enjoy!

      Reply

  3. Chef Dennis

    This Saucy Crockpot Taco Meat is making my tummy growl! Just the sight of this makes me really hungry.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Awesome! Thanks for stopping by Dennis.

      Reply

  4. Denise

    Oh yes, this Saucy Taco Meat is incredible! I can’t wait to try it with chicken. Thanks so much for sharing this fabulous recipe!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      I think it will be great with ground chicken.Enjoy!!

      Reply

  5. Veronika Sykorova

    I could eat tacos every day and not get tired of them! There are so many different variations and I wanna try them all haha. These look so delicious!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Oh yes…they are so easy and really delicious I could eat them every day too!

      Reply

  6. Eva

    Here in Sweden taco night is a Friday thing – I guess to justify having a margarita or two with the food! 😀 This taco meat recipe is going straight to next Friday’s menu!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Glad to hear tacos are loved the world over Eva.

      Reply

  7. Ramona

    I would love to make this saucy taco meat as I am going to make tacos this week and this recipe is perfect! it looks super delicious and flavorsome. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Perfect, I hope you really enjoy it Ramona.

      Reply

  8. Moop Brown

    This looks like such a quick and easy meal perfect for weeknights that everyone will enjoy. Thanks!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      It sure is. Even if we’re home, it’s nice to have it bubbling away all day.

      Reply

  9. Debbie

    This has got to be the most delicious taco meat I have ever made. I threw this on early this morning and smelling it all day simmering I couldn’t wait to eat tacos. My family loves soft tacos but I’m a crunchy fan so I always have both . This recipe is a keeper!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      So great to hear Debbie. I’m the same…and depending on my mood nothing beats a crunchy tortilla.

      Reply

  10. Jo

    This is simply delicious. I love toca any day and the meat, the flavors are perfect! This saucy taco meat is simply the best

    Reply

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