If you love having a weekly taco night, save yourself the dinnertime rush and learn how to prep and freeze taco meat. This is a great way to keep easy freezer meals on hand - all you need to do is reheat and eat! For tacos, taco salad, tostadas, quesadillas, nachos, and more!
Even if you're like me and you love to cook, it sure is a relief when you have a bit of a break from the dinner-time hustle. While takeout is a treat, the cost can add up and the calories certainly can too!
Enter taco night to save the day! Not only is your basic taco meat super easy to prepare, but it's also tasty and a winner with the pickiest of eaters. I don't know about you, but that makes it a winner in my house.
What if I told you there was a way to meal prep taco meat and make it even easier?
Can You Freeze Taco Meat?
Yes, it's true! Taco meat can easily be prepared and frozen for later use. Not only does it freeze very well, but it also does not need to be thawed when it comes time to use it. Since cooked and frozen meat stays loose in the freezer and does not clump together, it warms easily from frozen and can be used right away - just add a little bit of water while cooking to prevent sticking.
Why You'll Love It:
- It's the best way to prep easy meals for busy weeknights. No thawing is necessary - just reheat and serve it with your favorite fixings.
- Batch-prepared ground beef taco meat is a great starter for an easy and healthy meal. Serve with chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, bell peppers, black olives, and onions for a delicious taco salad.
- You can easily scale the recipe up or down, depending on how much raw meat you have on hand.
- Any type of ground meat can be used - chicken, turkey, beef, or pork.
- Ground beef: Use whatever you like best for your taco meat! I recommend lean ground beef OR grass-fed beef, which is naturally lean. You could also use ground turkey or chicken if you prefer (if you do add some oil to the pan to prevent sticking).
- Taco seasoning: Use your favorite brand of taco seasoning or my homemade taco seasoning. You'll need about 2-3 tablespoons per pound of meat used. If making this for children, opt for a "mild" taco seasoning.
- Water: This combines with the taco seasoning to make a super thick "sauce" for the meat.
- Freezer bags or containers: You'll need something freezer safe for storing your taco meat. Standard freezer bags, reusable freezer bags, Souper cubes, or freezer-safe soup containers all work well.
- Deep skillet: Since the goal is to batch-prepare taco meat you will need a skillet big enough to hold at least 4 pounds. If you don't have one, a Dutch oven or stock pot will work just fine!
Check the recipe card for a full list of ingredients and the quantities needed.
How to Batch Prep Taco Meat
You can prepare as much taco meat as you have room for in your largest skillets or pots. I used an extra-large skillet and cooked 4 pounds, but you can normally get up to 8 pounds in a stockpot.
Scale the recipe up or down according to your needs!
Step one: Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat and drain any excess fat.
Step two: Add the taco seasoning and water to the cooked ground beef.
Using ground chicken or turkey: If you're making your taco meat with ground chicken or turkey you will need to add 1-2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet to prevent sticking. Lean meats do not render out liquid fats and will stick unless oil is added to the pan.
For children: If making this for children, opt for a "mild" taco seasoning.
Step three: Stir the taco seasoning into the ground beef until all of the meat is well coated. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until most of the water is evaporated.
Slow cooker method: Break the ground beef into pieces and place it in a large slow cooker. Add 1 cup of water for 4 pounds, or ½ cup for 2 pounds. Cook on "high" for 2-4 hours, or until no pink color remains. Drain the ground beef, removing the liquid and rendered fat. Return the cooked meat to the crock pot, then add in the water and seasoning called for in the recipe and stir well to combine. Cook on "high" for 30 minutes to help blend the flavors.
How to Freeze Taco Meat
Before you portion out your cooked taco meat into bags for freezer meals, the first step is to allow it to cool to room temperature. This prevents condensation in the freezer bag and helps reduce the chances of freezer burn developing.
Freezing Taco Meat
- Brown the ground beef and add taco seasoning and the required amount of water.
- Cook for another few minutes to combine the flavors.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Portion the ground beef into 1-pound sections.
- Add approximately 1 pound of cooked taco meat to a quart-sized freezer bag.
- Remove any excess air, seal the bag, and label it with the contents, instructions (reheat and add ¼ cup of water), and the date.
- Flatten the freezer bag with your palm and place it in the freezer.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Reheat the taco meat before serving it with your favorite toppings (sour cream, cheese, shredded lettuce, etc).
Storing Leftover Taco Meat
If you don't want to freeze your taco meat, but instead would just like to prep it in advance for meals for the week, you can absolutely do that. Place the cooled meat in an airtight container and place it in the fridge. Store for up to 3-4 days, using it in your favorite recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Taco meat will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for at least 3 months. To reheat frozen taco meat you can thaw it beforehand (not required), then add it to a skillet or saucepan with ¼ cup of water. Cook over medium-low heat until warmed through.
How much taco meat you will need per person depends on the particular appetites of the people you are serving, and whether you are serving side dishes or not. A good estimate is ¼ pound per person, meaning 1 pound will serve 4 people, including a few side dishes.
Tips and Variations
- Choosing the best taco seasoning: There is a great variety of taco seasonings available at the grocery store, or you can even make your own homemade taco seasoning. If you're making these tacos for young children I recommend that you use a mild taco seasoning, or greatly reduce the stronger seasonings in your homemade blend (cayenne, chili powder, and ground cumin).
- With tomato sauce: If you want your beef tacos to have a little more tomato-y flavor, feel free to add a bit of tomato sauce to the skillet. Start with ½ cup, then taste and adjust to your liking.
- Type of meat: You can add taco seasoning to pretty much any ground meat to make an easy taco filling. While lean ground beef is the most popular, you can also use ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground pork. If using leaner meat like turkey or chicken, be sure to add some oil to the pan to help prevent sticking.
Taco Meat Ideas
- Tacos (corn or flour tortillas, hard taco shells, or low carb tortillas)
- Taco salad
- With refried beans on a crispy tostada
- With a good amount of healthy vegetables for a complete meal.
More Easy Dinner Recipes
- Sheet Pan Sausage and Peppers
- Air Fryer Chicken Fajitas
- Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni
- Inside Out Egg Roll
If you loved this recipe for freezer-friendly taco meat, let me know by leaving a 5-star review in the recipe card or comment below! You can also tag me on Instagram @dashfordinner.
- 4 pounds ground beef
- 8-12 tablespoons taco seasoning homemade or packaged
- 2 cups water
- Heat a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat.
- Once the pan is hot, add the ground beef, using the end of a wooden spoon to break it up into smaller pieces.
- Cook the ground beef, using your wooden spoon to crumble it, until no longer pink.
- Drain off the excess fat and liquid.
- Sprinkle in 8-12 tablespoons of your favorite taco seasoning, and pour in 2 cups of water.
- Stir well to coat the ground beef in the seasoning mixture.
- Simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until most of the water is evaporated.
- Remove from the heat and allow the taco meat to cool for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to release steam and heat.
- Label 4 medium-sized freezer bags with the following: “Taco meat. Add ¼ cup of water” and the date.
- Divide the meat into 4 sections, and scoop each section into a labeled freezer bag. Push out any excess air and seal the bag.
- Press the ground beef into a single, flat layer and repeat with the remaining 3 bags.
- Place the bags in the freezer and store them for up to 3 months.
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