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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
- 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!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 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
- 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
- sliced jalapenos
- shredded cheese
- hot sauce
- black olives
- corn kernels
- or anything else you like on tacos!
- 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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