Crockpot Beef For Tacos

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Slow and low makes for tender and juicy tacos. Crockpot beef for tacos is a great recipe for taco night, after a long day at work or for a party. Tacos are a favorite weekday meal at my house. Maybe it has something to do with how fast they can be thrown together, or maybe it’s just because I love tacos. Either way, we love tacos and with a busy schedule they are perfect for a weeknight meal.

Crock-Pot Taco Meat

  • SERVES: 8
  • PREP TIME: 5 min
  • COOK TIME: 2 hrs
  • CALORIES: 103
Crock pot taco meat in a bowl with spoon

Just three-ingredients and the use of our trusty slow-cooker make this Crock-Pot taco meat recipe an easy win.

The Best Taco Meat is Slow Taco Meat

A long simmer in the slow-cooker is the secret to our insanely flavorful, 3-ingredient taco meat. Yes it’s true, you can just quickly sauté ground beef in a skillet with some taco seasoning and call that taco meat. But if you really love ground beef tacos and really want the BEST taco meat, it’s all about a long, slow simmer with tomatoes, spices and aromatics. Luckily, store-bought salsa basically has all of those things, so it is our Crock-Pot taco meat secret weapon. Once the meat is cooked, the sky’s the limit! Obviously you’ve got the makings of a really good taco night dinner, but don’t stop there! One bite of this delicious taco meat, and you’ll be dreaming up a zillion ways to use it.

ground beef, taco seasoning and salsa for taco meat in the slow cooker

Taco Meat Seasoning—Shortcut Edition

When we say “taco meat” we mean lean ground beef—we like to use a 90/10 mixture. So, ground beef is one ingredient (and we’re guessing you already knew it was one of the three!). What else is in this taco meat recipe? Just two more things! You’ll need:

  • Store-bought salsa. We like to buy the stuff in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. It’s fresher and much, much more flavorful than the jarred stuff.
  • A taco seasoning packet. Or, you can use homemade! Have you tried our taco seasoning recipe yet? A spiced-but-not-too-spicy blend of cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder and other taco seasonings, it’s the very BEST. However, store-bought is fine, too.
ground beef, salsa and taco seasoning in a crock-pot
taco meat in a slow cooker

How to Cook Taco Meat in a Crock-Pot

Now you know the ‘why’ of cooking taco meat in a Crock-Pot, but now you’ve got to get cooking! Here’s how to make it:

  1. Dump the ground beef, salsa, and taco seasoning into your slow-cooker.
  2. Cook! Either on low for four hours, or high for three.
  3. IF you’ll be close by, every hour or so, stir the meat and then drain off any liquid that accumulated into a heat-proof container. Let the liquid cool before tossing it in the trash. If you won’t be home while the meat cooks, it’s OK to skip this step.
  4. Eat! That’s it—taco meat is ready!
slow cooker taco meat
ground beef taco meat in a bowl made in the crock pot

What To Do With All Of My Delicious Taco Meat?

Eat it straight out of the Crock-Pot? We’re not knocking that option. But why stop there!? Try it:

  • On taco salads! Lettuce, taco meat, avocado, more salsa, some cheese, black olives, maybe even a few tortilla chips—oh yesssss.
  • In breakfast burritos! It could be a filling as simple as taco meat, scrambled eggs, and a little cheddar cheese.
  • Try making a pizza night / taco night hybrid and use it as a pizza topper!

CROCK POT SHREDDED BEEF TACOS

Crock Pot Shredded Beef Tacos are easy to make and absolutely delicious. The flavorful beef slow cooks all day, so you don’t have to worry about it until dinner time!

Shredded Beef Tacos

As the beef slow cooked all day my house smelled fantastic! I couldn’t wait for dinner because of that aroma teasing me all day. haha. Once it was ready I was dying to dig in, but I couldn’t because of course I had to take pictures for the blog first. That is probably one of the hardest things (okay, not hardest) but most annoying things about being a food blogger. Ha!

I couldn’t wait to come blog about this recipe. You guys will love it!

Crockpot Beef Tacos (Instant Pot directions)

The most tender and flavorful beef tacos, made right in the crockpot or Instant Pot! Simmering all day gives the taco meat an amazing texture!

Has school started back up where you are yet?  Ours starts this week, so I’m definitely getting back into easy weeknight meal mode!  Back to school generally comes with homework, reading assignments and extra curricular activities, which leaves verrrry little time to actually cook dinner, let alone sit down as a family.

Admittedly, beef tacos don’t exactly take a TON of time to make.  BUT, there are two main reasons why I love to cook my taco meat in the slow cooker.

  • It makes the lean beef incredibly tender
  • All that slow simmering leads to really flavorful meat

Plus it frees you up to spend time charring your tortillas, chopping veggies, making guacamole, etc.

Big spoonful of beef taco meat in slow cooker

DO I NEED TO BROWN THE BEEF FIRST

I normally do.  My favorite version of crockpot ground beef tacos (this one!) has sauteed onion, so I just add the beef to the skillet and give it a quick brown.  But, I’ve cooked it without browning it first as well.  It comes out very tender, but a tad on the drier side, so I like to stir in a little taco sauce or picante sauce before serving.  Here’s how to do alter this recipe for a non-brown method:

  • Add raw ground beef to crockpot, top with taco seasoning spices, tomato paste, diced green chiles, garlic, and onion.  Use a wooden spoon to combine the best you can.
  • Top with tomato sauce and salsa (increase from 1/2 cup to 1 cup).  Stir, cover, and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, or HIGH for 3 hours.  
  • When finished cooking, drain beef, break up with a fork or wooden spoon and return to crockpot.  Stir in a bit of taco sauce, salsa, picante sauce, etc, and serve.
Taco salad made with crockpot beef tacos

CAN I USE PRE-MADE TACO SEASONING

Absolutely!  I love the flavor of homemade, but if you’re in a rush or don’t have all the spices on hand… packets come in handy!  You’ll need 2 packages for this recipe.

WHAT CAN I MAKE WITH CROCKPOT TACO MEAT

Just about anything you’d like!  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Taco salad – either in the shell, or over tortilla chips (or Doritos like in the photo above!)
  • Soft tacos – char the tortillas for extra flavor!
  • Crunchy tacos – the stand n stuff variety are my favorite!
  • Taco pizza – use taco sauce as the “pizza sauce”, top with taco meat, beans if desired, and plenty of cheese.  Bake and top with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, jalapenos, sour cream, etc!
  • Taco stuffed baked potatoes – turn a regular baked potato into a taco by filling it with everything you’d love on a taco!
  • Burritos – use a large flour tortilla and fill with taco meat, beans, cheese, etc.
Grabbing a soft beef taco filled with crockpot taco meat

WHAT OTHER MEATS CAN I USE FOR TACOS

I love to make this recipe using ground turkey for a lower-fat meal… and I promise you, no one will be able to tell the difference!  Ground chicken would work as well.

DOES THIS GROUND BEEF TACO RECIPE FREEZE WELL

Yes it sure does!  Cool it completely, then store in airtight containers in the freezer for 2-3 months.  Thaw out overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat to serve.

Slow cooker beef tacos on white plate

As written, these tacos do have a little bit of a kick.  To make them more mild, omit the diced green chiles and omit the cayenne pepper.  Also, make sure you’re using mild salsa.

The next time you’re wanting a fabulous Taco Tuesday, give these Crockpot Ground Beef Tacos a try!

HELPFUL TOOLS

  • Slow Cooker – I use this crockpot at least once a week and it’s held up so well!
  • All-Clad Slow Cooker – If your budget is open, this a fabulous model that will let you take the insert over to the stovetop and sear in it!  No need for an extra skillet!
  • Instant Pot – If you don’t have one yet, this is rapidly becoming one of my favorite ways to cook!

Crockpot Beef Tacos

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Total Time: 6 hours 15 minutes

Calories: 188

Servings:8

The most tender and flavorful beef tacos, made right in the crockpot or Instant Pot! Simmering all day gives the taco meat an amazing texture!

Ingredients

  • ▢1 yellow onion, minced
  • ▢2 lbs. lean ground beef (90% or higher)
  • ▢4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ▢4 oz can diced green chiles, drained (mild)
  • ▢1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • ▢8 oz tomato sauce
  • ▢1/2 cup salsa or picante sauce

TACO SEASONING:

  • ▢1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • ▢3 tsp ground cumin
  • ▢2 tsp kosher salt
  • ▢1 tsp paprika
  • ▢1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • ▢1/2 tsp onion powder
  • ▢1/2 tsp dried oregano (Mexican oregano adds a beautiful flavor if you have it!)
  • ▢1/2 tsp black pepper
  • ▢1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ▢dash of cayenne pepper

ASSEMBLING THE TACOS:

  • ▢flour or corn tortillas
  • ▢sour cream
  • ▢lettuce
  • ▢tomatoes
  • ▢sliced jalapenos
  • ▢shredded cheese
  • ▢hot sauce
  • ▢black olives
  • ▢corn kernels
  • ▢or anything else you like on tacos!

Instructions

CROCKPOT DIRECTIONS:

  • To a large skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil and heat over MED heat.  Add onion and cook 5 minutes, until soft and translucent.  Add beef and increase heat to MED HIGH.  Brown, breaking into smaller pieces as it cooks, for another 4-5 minutes, or until no longer pink.  Add minced garlic and cook another minute.
  • Drain grease and transfer to slow cooker.  Add taco seasoning spices, diced green chiles, tomato paste, tomato sauce and salsa.  Stir to combine.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  • Assemble tacos to your liking and enjoy!

INSTANT POT DIRECTIONS:

  • Select saute, then add a drizzle of oil and minced onion.  Saute for 2-3 mintues.  Add beef and brown, breaking it into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon.  Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute.
  • Stir in taco seasoning spices, diced green chiles and tomato paste.  Top with tomato sauce, salsa and 1/2 cup water.  Cover and cook on HIGH pressure for approximately 20 minutes.
  • Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.  Assemble tacos to your liking and enjoy!

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