Sometimes I just throw random leftovers into a pot or skillet and just see how it turns out. 😜 But you can’t really go wrong with the ingredients that I used this time around. This Beef Taco Skillet isn’t that novel of a concept, but it was quite tasty and has a lot of room for customization, so I thought it would be the perfect “easy fix” meal to share. So tuck this Beef Taco Skillet Recipe into your bookmarks, because I think you’ll get great use out of it!
I had a half pound of ground beef in my freezer, a pint of grape tomatoes that I bought for something else and never got around to using, the ever present half bunch of green onions in my fridge, and a bag of tortilla chips. They all went into the skillet with my homemade taco seasoning, a little cheese on top (I always seem to have random partial blocks of cheese in my fridge, too), and I had an incredibly easy and tasty dinner.
Don’t the Chips Get Soft?
The tortilla chips soak up all the flavor in the skillet and get kind of soft, kind of like they do in chilaquiles, migas, or tortilla soup. It’s not a bad thing, IMHO. But if you’re not a fan of soft tortilla chips, you can always crush them over top of your skillet just before serving to make this more like a taco salad (minus the salad part).
Other Topping Ideas
As I mentioned in the intro, this recipe is ripe for customization and you can throw just about any leftover ingredients that you might have on hand into the skillet. Anything that you might like on a taco, taco salad, or in a burrito would be good in this skillet. So check your fridge, freezer, and pantry for any of these items and toss them into the mix:
- Pickled red onions
- Sour cream
- Corn kernels
- Cumin lime coleslaw
- Corn salsa
- Pico de gallo
- Finely shredded lettuce (like an upside down taco salad!)
Can I Use Store Bought Taco Seasoning?
Yes, if you don’t have all the herbs and spices needed for the homemade taco seasoning in the recipe below, simply substitute one packet of store bought taco seasoning.
Can I Substitute the Ground Beef?
Yep, that’s easy, too! You can use any other ground meat (turkey, chicken, pork), or even just do an extra can of beans of you want to keep it vegetarian (extra black beans or pinto beans).
Beef Taco Skillet
Homemade Taco Seasoning
- 1 Tbsp chili powder* ($0.30)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika ($0.10)
- 1 tsp ground cumin ($0.10)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.02)
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
- 1/2 lb. ground beef ($2.85)
- 1 15oz. can black beans ($0.89)
- 1 pint grape tomatoes (or one large tomato) ($1.49)
- 4 oz. tortilla chips ($0.50)
- 2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese ($0.42)
- 1 green onion ($0.11)
- Combine the ingredients for the homemade taco seasoning in a small bowl (chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne, oregano, salt, and pepper).
- Slice the green onion and cut the grape tomatoes in half (if using one large tomato, cut it into a small dice).
- Add the ground beef to a skillet and cook over medium until it is fully browned. If you're using a higher fat content beef (20% or higher), drain the excess fat before moving to the next step. If you're using a very lean ground beef (<10% fat) you may need to add a touch of oil to the skillet to keep the beef from sticking.
- While the beef is cooking, rinse and drain the can of black beans. Add the black beans to the skillet with the prepared taco seasoning. Continue to stir and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes more, or until heated through.
- Add the tomatoes to the skillet and continue to cook over medium, stirring often, until the tomatoes begin to break down a bit (about three more minutes).
- Finally, add the tortilla chips and stir to combine with the other ingredients in the skillet.
- Top the skillet with the shredded cheese, place a lid on top, and let it heat for 1-2 minutes, or just until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle the sliced green onions over top just before serving.
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How to Make Beef Taco Skillet – Step by Step Photos
Combine the spices for the homemade taco seasoning: 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp ground cumin, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, ½ tsp dried oregano, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper. You can use a packet of store bought taco seasoning in place of the homemade taco seasoning, if needed.
Slice a green onion and a pint of grape tomatoes in half. You can use one large tomato in place of the grape tomatoes (I just happened to have those on hand and they needed to be used). If using a large tomato, cut it into a small dice.
Add 1/2 lb. ground beef to a skillet and cook over medium heat until it is fully browned. If you’re using a high fat ground beef you’ll want to drain the excess fat off before moving to the next step. If you’re using a really low fat ground beef, you may need to add a little oil to the skillet to keep it from sticking. I used 15% fat beef, which didn’t need any extra oil and didn’t need to be drained.
While the beef is cooking, rinse and drain the black beans. Add them to the skillet along with the taco seasoning. Continue to cook and stir over medium heat for a couple more minutes.
Add the tomatoes to the skillet and continue to stir and cook just until the tomatoes begin to break down (about 3 more minutes).
Finally, add about 4 oz. tortilla chips (you don’t have to be exact here. I just looked on the label and it said each serving was 1 oz., or about 12 chips, so I estimated). Stir the chips into the skillet.
Top the skillet with 2 oz. shredded cheddar (about ½ cup). Place a lid on top and let it heat for a couple of minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
Sprinkle the sliced green onions over the beef taco skillet just before serving.
Enjoy this taco-nacho hybrid in a skillet for all its cheesy goodness!
Yummy and easy to make!
I was looking for a new Mexican recipe and this fit the bill. Delish and filling.
This was so delicious. I really appreciate how easy and quick it was to make too. I was super exhausted after some traveling so picked a recipe that required minimal prep. For the grape tomatoes I actually just substituted a drained can of Rotel lol, it worked perfectly. Used ground turkey too since that’s what I had on hand already.
We just had it and loved it! We doubled the meat to a standard 1lb pack, and used 2 whole teaspoons of cayenne pepper to give it a proper balanced heat profile. This is going to be a regular quick meal for us!
This is a very good recipe and it will be part of my inflation fighting bag of tools. It is frugal, flexible, tasty, and easy.
Like this recipe. I use it for casserole potlucks but add the chips last before serving i stick one side of each chip in the casserole and leave 2/3 of the chip sticking up. The kids love it because it is fun food and it always disappears, no left overs of this! I brand it taco casserole. Sometimes if I need to feed lots of kids on a budget, I add cooked rice near the end and they love that too.
This is one our favorite weeknight meals, and we have it almost every week now. I substitute a can of Rotel diced tomatoes and chilies for the fresh tomatoes to make it quicker/cheaper. I’ve even tried it with ground turkey instead of beef and it still holds up.
This is very good, I’ve made it a few times. I add garlic because I love garlic. Also Fritos are a good substitution for the tortillas. Making it again tonight. Thanks for sharing!
This is a great, filling, flexible, and family friendly recipe! I always love to play around and customize recipes. I used ground chicken in place of beef, a can of fire roasted tomatoes in place of fresh and added finely grated zucchini to add veggies! We garnished the dish with homemade pico and avocado.