How to Make Taco Meat

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Taco Tuesday just got tastier! This easy Taco Meat Recipe will become your new staple. It’s delicious in tacos, burritos, salads and any other dish that you love with seasoned ground beef. And it cooks in your slow cooker with no fuss!

Once you learn how to make taco meat, you’ll have a go-to base for all kinds of dishes. Toss this in a Dorito Taco Salad or whip up a 7 Layer Taco dip with meat!

Wooden spoon with cooked taco meat on it.

Why this Recipe is Best

Your everyday taco meat is simple to make. Rip open a packet of taco seasoning, add it to browned ground beef and serve.

This recipe adds just one more ingredient: SALSA! By adding salsa to the ground beef as it cooks, you fill each morsel of meat with amazing flavor.

The seasoned beef gets an incredible tangy, spicy, garlicky taste that’s hard to beat. It also makes the beef moist and tender. Perfect with flour or corn tortillas!

My family raves about this three ingredient taco meat recipe. And it’s a dish I can make even on the busiest of days!

Make this taco meat on the stove top or in the slow cooker for tasty baked tacos any night of the week. Use this meat in our favorite Doritos casserole recipe!

Ingredient Notes

Three ingredients for slow cooker taco meat.

Ground Beef. Turkey can be used for a lighter taco meat. I prefer to choose a lean ground beef of 90/10 for less grease.

Salsa. Any kind of salsa you like will work. Try out different kinds of salsas to change up the flavor of your taco meat.

Taco Seasoning. Use my Homemade Taco Seasoning for delicious results. Or grab a packet of your favorite store bought mix.

Usually, I make my meat for tacos in the slow cooker. I just mix everything together in the crockpot, cover and cook it on low for 4 hours (or high for 2 hours).

When I’m in a time crunch, I make it on the stove top. It comes out perfectly either way.

Stove Top Instructions

Preheat a skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and use a spatula to break it up. Continue browning until no pink remains.

Add the seasoning and salsa. Cover and let simmer for a few minutes. When most of the liquid from the salsa has evaporated, your taco meat is ready to serve!

Black slow cooker with ingredients to make taco meat inside.

Tips and Tricks

  • Keeping warm. To serve this taco meat at a party, serve it right from the slow cooker. Use the “keep warm” setting for up to 2 hours.
  • Double the meat. For a heartier ratio of meat to sauce, add another pound of ground beef or turkey to the recipe.
  • Change up the heat. The spiciness of your salsa determines the spice level of the taco meat. Use a milder salsa for a mild taco beef. Spice lovers can use their favorite extra hot salsa here!
  • Storing. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Enjoy within 4 days.

Serving Suggestions

Need ideas for how to serve your taco meat? Here are a few of my favorites!

Make your own taco bar. Put out warmed tortillas and all our favorite taco fixings. Shredded cheese, sour cream, hot sauce and chopped cilantro and onion are all delicious ideas. Let everyone assemble their own tacos! Walking Tacos are also a fun dinner idea.

Burritos. Wrap beef in large flour tortillas with Cilantro Lime Rice, roasted peppers and onions, shredded cheese and Guacamole. Better than Chipotle!

Tostadas. Pile meat onto corn tortillas, sprinkle shredded cheese on top and bake until toasty.

Taco salad. Toss beef with lettuce, tortilla strips, corn and beans for a quick and easy lunch. (The best way to enjoy leftover ground beef!) Or try our easy Dorito Taco Salad.

Cooked taco meat in slow cooker.

Recipe FAQs

What spices are in taco seasoning?

Taco seasoning mixes contain a combination of spices. Most include cumin, chili powder, garlic, onion and oregano. You can read the full list of spices I use in my taco seasoning recipe.

How do you break up ground beef?

I use the side of a sturdy spatula or a wooden spoon to break the meat into small pieces. If you’re still struggling to break up the meat, you can grab your potato masher to help out!

Do you brown the beef before adding to the slow cooker?

If you’re using the slow cooker taco meat directions, do not brown the beef first. You add it raw to the slow cooker and it cooks with the other ingredients.

What kind of ground beef to use for taco meat?

I use lean ground beef here. Ground beef with more fat tends to come out greasier than I like in my tacos. Ground turkey works well in this recipe too!

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How to Make Taco Meat

5 from 4 votes
By: Aimee
In as little as 15 minutes, you have the foundation for a delicious Mexican meal! Learning how to make taco meat in the slow cooker or on the stove is a game changer for busy weeknight dinners.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 8 servings


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • ½ cup taco seasoning
  • 24 ounce salsa
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  • Add ground beef to a slow cooker and break it up with a spatula.
  • Add in the taco seasoning and salsa and mix together.
  • Cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.


  • Use different salsa’s to change the heat level.
  • Homemade or store-bought taco seasoning can be used.
  • If you prefer a heartier/thicker meat to sauce ratio, add in an additional pound of ground beef.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Keep on warm for up to 2 hours.
  • Can also be made on the stovetop.


Calories: 313kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 34g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 101mg, Sodium: 1319mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Did you make this recipe?Mention @shugarysweets or tag #shugarysweets!

In as little as 15 minutes, you have the foundation for a delicious Mexican meal! Learning how to make taco meat in the slow cooker or on the stove is a game changer for busy weeknight dinners.

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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

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Posted on August 19, 2021

Comments & Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    This is the best for taco Tuesday! I like to put mine over a salad, but my kids love having it in the hard taco shells!

  2. This recipe has become a new favorite of ours! I love the addition of salsa and it really made a difference, and added so much flavor! Can’t wait to make this again!

  3. Hello there Aimee, is 1/2 cup of taco seasoning a typo or is that the correct amount fir 2 # ground beef? That just seems like a bit much, but what do I know? Just curious.
    Thanx GRB
    PS made your banana cake yesterday in a 9×13 pan…OUTSTANDING

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