It only takes 3 simple ingredients and 15 minutes to make homemade Taco Meat. With this easy taco meat recipe, getting a family dinner on the table quickly that everyone will enjoy is easier than you think!
And I love tacos, because they are quick and easy meal.
One of my go-tos is an easy taco meat recipe that can be used in many different ways so that I can create several meals out of ONE recipe–like I do with my leftover Rotisserie Chicken recipes and Leftover Ham Recipes.
Taco Meat Recipe
It is SO incredibly easy to make perfectly seasoned taco meat at home–without any seasoning packet!
Let me give you some advice–double, better yet triple, this recipe and freeze for the base for an easy dinner ready and waiting for you! And I will show you how to freeze the meat safely at the end of the post!
Ingredients for Taco Meat
- Ground meat–beef, turkey, chicken, or pork
- Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
- Taco Seasoning
Feel free to leave out the diced tomatoes for more traditional taco meat, but I find that addition adds so much flavor and moisture to the taco meat.
How To Cook Taco Meat
Homemade taco meat is one of the first things my mom had me make when I was learning to cook, because it is so SIMPLE. But let me share a few tips to make this truly the best taco meat.
- Heat a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. If using a stainless steel skillet, add in 1/2 tablespoon oil to prevent meat from sticking.
- Add in ground meat and begin to break up in small chunks as the meat browns.
- Stir frequently to evenly brown all the meat.
- Once the meat is browned, drain off excess grease (if you have any). You can even blot with a paper towel to absorb more grease, if desired.
- Return drained meat to skillet and add in diced tomatoes (un-drained) and taco seasoning. Stir well.
- Simmer over medium heat until liquid from tomatoes has been absorbed, about 5-7 minutes.
- Serve as desired.
PRO-TIP: Want to make authentic restaurant taco meat? A great hack I have is cook the taco meat as directed and then pulse lightly in the food processor for a finer texture of taco meat.
Ways to use Leftover Taco Meat
Once you have the 3 Ingredient Taco Meat ready, the options are endless.
A few of my favorite ways to use leftover Taco Meat:
- Taco Meat for Tacos or Burritos–Of course taco meat is most used for tacos or burritos. Simply top tortillas or hard taco shells with taco meat and top with cheese and lettuce–or any of your favorite taco toppings.
- Taco Salad –Make a simple taco salad by starting with a base of lettuce then topping with taco meat, diced tomatoes, olives, onions, corn, cheese and of course some tortilla chips.
- Nachos–Spread out tortilla chips (or homemade sweet potato chips) and top with this recipe for taco meat and cheese. Melt for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven and then top with all the fresh toppings.
- Taco Pizza–top homemade pizza dough with refried beans, taco meat, and cheese. Bake and top with all the taco toppings.
- Wonton Taco Cups–wontons are baked and served as mini taco shells.
- Stuffed Potatoes–I love to use perfectly baked sweet potatoes or russet baked potatoes as a healthy option for serving my taco meat. Simple, hearty, and always a winner at my house!
Slow Cooker Taco Meat
If you want to make slow cooker taco meat, brown the meat and place in slow cooker along with diced tomatoes and taco seasoning. Add in one cup of water and cook on low for 4 hours. Slow cooker taco meat will have a much more developed flavor, but the stove top version is just as delicious!
How to make Taco Meat with Frozen Meat
A lot of people ask me how to make taco meat using frozen ground beef or frozen ground chicken or turkey. I do not recommend try to cook frozen meat in a skillet or defrost in a microwave. However, you can cook frozen meat in your instant pot for Instant Pot Taco Meat.
Once you have followed my directions for Instant Pot Frozen Ground Meat, release pressure, drain fat and then turn Instant Pot to saute function. Add in seasonings and diced tomatoes with chiles and break up meat and cook for 5 minutes or until warmed through. Serve as desired.
A more few more tips
- I love to use ground sirloin for a lean, low fat taco meat, but you can use ground turkey, ground chicken, ground pork or shredded cooked chicken for this taco meat recipe.
- A great money saving tip for making this taco meat recipe is to mix in 2 cups of pinto beans or black beans to bulk up the taco meat. By adding beans you not only are able to use less meat, but you add fiber to the dish as well.
- Be sure to check the label on your canned diced tomatoes and chiles as brand are all different, but most are gluten-free, whole 30 and paleo compliant. And since you are using my homemade taco seasoning, this homemade taco meat would therefore be gluten-free, whole 30 and paleo.
- If you don’t have homemade taco seasoning on hand, use 1 teaspoon of cumin and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt–this combination works well with the flavor from the diced tomatoes.
How to Freeze Cooked Meat to Prevent Freezer Burn
- Double or triple recipe for taco meat.
- Allow meat to cool completely.
- Portion taco meat out into 1 pound or 1/2 pound servings.
- Place each portion into a freezer safe storage bag. Squeeze out excess air from bag and seal until only a small opening remains.
- Place a straw into the small opening, being sure the bag is sealed around the straw. Suck air out of bag through the straw and watch the bag collapse around meat mixture.
- Remove straw and seal quickly.
- Don’t forget to label the bag!
- Store in the freezer for 3 months.
- To Thaw, place in refrigerator night before needed and reheat in microwave safe dish. You can also thaw in the microwave, but a slow thaw is better.
And now you are ready to make any of my favorite meals using 3 Ingredient Taco Meat any night of the week!
Serve Tacos with
Homemade Taco Meat Recipe
3 Ingredient Taco Meat
- 1 10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles mild
- 1 teaspoon taco seasoning
- 1 pound of lean ground sirloin or ground chicken, turkey or pork
- Brown up the ground sirloin over medium-high heat, crumbling the beef up into small chunks. Once completely browned, drain off any excess fat and blot with a paper towel to get any residual grease.
- Return meat to heat and add in tomatoes and taco seasoning and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
- Serve as desired or cool completely and freeze accordingly.
- Slow cooker taco meat: brown the meat and place in slow cooker along with diced tomatoes and taco seasoning. Add in one cup of water and cook on low for 4 hours.
- Instant Pot Taco Meat: follow my directions for Instant Pot Frozen or Fresh Ground Meat, release pressure, drain fat and then turn Instant Pot to saute function. Add in seasonings and diced tomatoes with chiles and break up meat and cook for 5 minutes or until warmed through.
- Feel free to use any ground meat (chicken, pork, turkey, etc) for this Taco Meat recipe.