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Slow cooker taco meat may become your new favorite way to make easy dinners! Making taco meat in a crock pot will save you time and money, because you can use the taco meat for meals all week long! This is one of my favorite slow cooker recipes! Whether you have been slow cooking for years or you’re new to slow cooking meals, check out my slow cooker user’s resource guide for slow cooker tips and some of my best slow cooker recipes!
Yes, I said…you can make your taco meat in the slow cooker. It’s so nice to have it going and have everything ready before the supper hour (ahem…during nap time is the perfect time to get this all done).
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Time Saving Slow Cooker Taco Meat
This recipe is especially convenient on those busy nights when everyone has to eat at different times….or when I don’t get home until it’s time to eat and I really don’t want to have to think about getting supper to the table.
I love using my own taco seasoning mix (it’s cheaper, tastes better, and I know exactly what’s in it), but you can easily use those little packets from the spice aisle.
I usually make a double batch of the taco meat recipe, or even more. Why not?!?!? It’s so easy and then you can freeze the leftovers in zip top baggies in the amounts that your family will use it for easy meals in the future. You could also just cook the meat (without seasoning) in the slow cooker, strain, and freeze for plain cooked beef to use in other recipes, like spaghetti with meat sauce.
How to Make Slow Cooker Taco Meat in a Crock Pot
Edited to add: I have had several people write that cooking meat from frozen in a slow cooker can lead to food poisoning. I’ve been making this slow cooker taco meat in a crock pot for probably 25 years as well as just about every other meal I’ve made since I was about 15 has started with frozen meat. No one has ever gotten sick and everything cooks beautifully.
Anyway, consider this your warning. If you are uncomfortable making taco meat with frozen meat, thaw it in the fridge overnight before adding to the slow cooker. You will need to adjust the cooking times/temps for thawed meat.
If you are fan of using your slow cooker, then check out my Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie and all of my other slow cooker recipes.
Slow Cooker Taco Meat
Simple and delicious taco meat in the slow cooker. Great for making a lot for a party or for planned leftovers.
- 2 pounds ground meat (beef, turkey, or chicken)
- 2 oz. taco seasoning (or use the equivalent of 2 pkgs of my recipe for homemade taco seasoning
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Add all ingredients to slow cooker (my meat is usually frozen when I add it). Cook on high for 3-4 hours, making sure to stir and break it meat occasionally. Turn to the slow cooker to low after the meat looks like it is mostly cooked (just to make sure it doesn't burn) and let it cook another 1-2 hours.
- The taco meat will look really soupy. That's okay, just strain it before serving. Part of it is the fat, part of it is a little extra moisture from the water. To strain, put a colander over a bowl in the sink and dump in the meat or use a turkey baster to remove excess liquid.
You can also just make a huge batch of unflavored, cooked ground beef. Then use or freeze in portions your family will eat for quick meals.
To Freeze: Place drained meat into a freezer zip top bag in portions your family will use in one meal. Squeeze out the air and seal. Freeze flat. Will last in the freezer 2-3 months. Thaw and use in your favorite recipe.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 331Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 615mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 31g
This nutritional information is an estimate may vary, depending on brand and type of ingredients used. It is not intended to replace the advice of a licensed dietician or physician.
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Never again will I try this, way too fatty tasting and I used lean meat, had to add a lot more seasoning after drained. Next time I’ll fry pan it!
Wendy O'Neal says
Sorry you didn’t like it. I’ve never had anyone say it’s fatty. I usually use 90/10 or 95/5 ground beef and never had any issues.
How much of your homemade taco seasoning do you use?
Wendy O'Neal says
The same as 2 pkg worth which would be 4 tbls…or one recipe as written. w-
Do you think it would work to put this on high and only cook it for 4 hours? Possibly if I thawed the meat before putting it in? (Or not, what do you think?) Also, how many grown ups do you think this would feed?
Wendy O'Neal says
I’m sure it would work just fine. As for how many it feeds…just depends on what you are doing with it. But usually I plan for 1/4 lb per person. w-
Michelle Jackson says
Thank you for sharing this crock pot info!. In the old days I used to use the crock on high for 5-6 hours and low for 10-12 hours. These days the recipes say low 6-8 hours and high 3-4 hours. Are crocks more efficient now? Do I use different cook times based on if I’m using my new crock or my old one?
Additionally, I usually make tacos for my family. Tonight I’m making them for a party of 30 people. Do I cook the food longer since I’m completely filling the crockpot? I’m cooking it on high for 6 hours- am I overdoing it? I’ll check it in 3-4 hours and if it’s fully cooked, I can just put it on low or warm. Thanks in advance for any insight!
It also sounds like I need to drain the taco meat before serving- I hadn’t done that in the past, I’ve just used a slotted spoon.
Love this recipe! Have you ever put it in the crockpot in the the morning and put it on low for 7 hours-8hours?
Wendy O'Neal says
Sure have Melissa! It works great and should be ready by supper time! w-
Taco recipe was something I was sure you could do in a crock pot, but it was nice to know just how someone else accomplished it.
I love this idea – do you freeze it before or after you drain the extra liquid? and what do you find is the best way to thaw it? Oven vs. pan vs. back in the crockpot?
Wendy O'Neal says
Hi Megan! I drain it a little with a slotted spoon then spoon into bags and freeze. I dump it back into the slow cooker for a little bit or heat on the stove top. 🙂
kylie maynard says
I was wondering if I am using two pounds of meat how much of your homemade taco seasoning do I use?
Don’t drain the meat in the sink! That’s a surefire way to clog up your sink when the fat solidifies. Ladle out the meat and pour the fat/juice into an empty concentrated juice can and keep in the freezer. When it’s full you can throw it out when you take out the garbage.
She wrote “Put a colander *over a bowl* in the sink”, so she wasn’t suggesting draining it directly into the sink. What is much more concerning is that she suggests slow-cooking meat from frozen–that is very dangerous.
What is the different between using frozen meat versus fresh in the crock pot? I see lots of crock pot recipes using frozen meat of different types.
Wendy O'Neal says
The only difference would be the cooking time. Frozen will take longer to cook. w-
I’m making “walking taco” for our Family Halloween Party. This is the first time I’ll use the slow cooker for ground beef tacos. If I’m cooking 3lbs of meat, should I set it for about 3hours on high? What about a low setting and leaving it all day? What is your best suggestion?
Sounds wonderful! I’ve done both so it really depends on how much time you have to let it cook. I prefer the slow/low method. Just watch it closely if you do it on high.
Sorry to hear your AC was out….it’s been so hot this summer! But I am glad that you liked the taco seasoning! YUM…nachos…my favorite!
I made this last night using your taco seasoning recipe. Our AC is out so I needed something that did not require the stove or oven! It was delicious, I made nachos!
Yummy. I love having extra taco meat ready when we want my enchilada casserole. May add a bag of frozen corn, Kidlet loves corn in tacos. She also likes to coat inside of taco shells with refried beans before warming.
Katie B says
We make this using a carne asada taco meat we get at Winco,which is just fine chopped steak, makes the best steak tacos ever… they come out so tender and juicy!! None of my family are fans of ground meat, so the chopped up steak meat is perfect for us, but it’s always a little tough, the slow cooker takes care of that!
Jen Brown says
Great recipe! I’m going to make this tomorrow for a Hispanic Heritage Buffet I am having at work. For all those leftovers check out my Tupperware web page. We have a 24 piece FreezerMate Set for only $79 which would be perfect for leftovers and organizing all those bags of frozen veggies that I’m sure attack you when you open the freezer door!
Erin @ EKat's Kitchen says
Wendy, this looks great! I love using my slow cooker, and making extra for leftovers! I also really really love the idea of making your own taco seasoning. Off to check that out next!
Awesome idea. I love new ideas for the crock pot.
Your Frugal Friend, Niki says
I usually make big batches to freeze in my frying pan but I love the idea of doing it in the crockpot. One big batch would do itself in there!
I am enjoying my visit to your blog (it's my first time). I hope you can stop over to Free 2 Be Frugal sometime soon.
I love this idea! thanks so much.
wacki04@TheKing'sCourt IV says
Stopping by to say hello! Definitely a great idea… AND I have taco night coming up this week:)
Hope you can stop by What's Cooking Wednesday again to link up one of your recipes 🙂
Tightwad Mom says
Great idea! I love making sloppy joes in the crock pot, so I bet taco meat would be fabulous,too!
oh thanks! great idea! I am always panicking around dinner time.. my kids love tacos but the meat is usually frozen… love this.