Crock Pot Taco Casserole – Real Food Whole Life

Slow cooker taco casserole recipes

This Crock Pot Easy Taco Casserole is a simple slow cooker recipe (my specialty!) that everyone will love. Ground beef doesn’t require pre-browning, so you can easily prepare a plentiful and delicious casserole nice to the crowd or for tonight’s dinner.

Serve spoon by removing taco casserole from a slow cooker.
Serve immediately.

About this

Crock Pot

taco casserole

I’m known for easy slow cooker meals, and this slow cooker taco casserole is as simple (but tasty) as it sounds


The secret to making this a clay pot recipe is to use my slow cooker taco recipe as a base, as ground beef doesn’t need to be cooked before getting into the slow cooker.

Then, all you have to do is add store-bought or homemade red enchilada sauce, black beans, grated cheese, and your favorite corn chips; Cook for a few more minutes, and dinner is ready!

This easy slow cooker recipe with ground beef works just as well as an easy dinner idea, or as an appetizer for a hungry crowd, perfect for game day or big parties.

If you want to get a jump in preparation, be sure to check out my notes, below, for tips on how to prepare this recipe ahead of time, as there are a few tricks you can use to make sure the chips don’t get soaked.

As for serving, I love topping this slow-cooking casserole of ground beef with sliced avocado, easy guacamole, sour cream, fresh tomato sauce, and a shower of chopped cilantro; but feel free to top it with any and all of your favorites.

Visual guide: Crock Pot Taco Casserole

ingredients for clay pot taco meat in a black slow cooker on a white backgroundAdd the ground beef
, sauce and spices to make the taco meat.
wooden spoon with ground beef and a black slow cooker
Cover, cook and then stir.
Ground beef, chips, enchilada sauce, and cheese in a slow cooker.
Add the chips, cheese, and enchilada sauce.
French fries and ground beef in a slow cooker.
Stir gently to combine, being careful not to break the chips.

Beans covering a taco casserole in a slow cooker.

Add the beans and stir again.
Cheese covering a taco casserole in a slow cooker.
Top with remaining cheese.
Melted cheese covering a taco casserole in a slow cooker.
Cover and cook until cheese melts.
Taco casserole in a slow cooker with avocado, cilantro and tomato.
Add ingredients if desired.

Tips for moving forward

During testing, I found that this recipe really tastes and has the best texture if served right away, making it a perfect clay pot recipe for Taco Tuesday for dinner tonight!

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However, if you want to take a leap in preparation, here’s what I recommend:

Make taco meat only (see Part I in recipe instructions, below), then cool and store in a container in the fridge or directly at the base of the slow-cooker, covered, for up to 3 days.

When ready to serve, reheat the meat high in the slow cooker for about 30 minutes, or until it’s hot.

Then proceed with the instructions for making the taco casserole (Part II in the recipe instructions, below).



leftovers won’t have the same texture as freshly cooked ones, this ground beef taco casserole will still taste good and last about 3 days, covered and refrigerated.

Taco casserole in a slow cooker with avocado, cilantro and tomato.

Key ingredients and substitutions

Ground beef: The type of ground beef is up to you, whether it’s 95% lean ground beef or 80% traditional lean ground beef will work. The extra fat from an 80% lean ground beef will give it extra flavor, but if you prefer leaner, the long, slow cooking time will still produce a delicious, tender result.

Sauce: Salsa is a fantastic ingredient in this recipe. I tried it with several different sauces, all of which worked well. However, in general, I preferred a sauce in “thick and thick” style jars (such as Trader Joe’s, Muir Glen), or a store brand that contains no added sugar. I found that the fresh, refrigerated sauce made the meat too watery, but if that’s all you have, you should know that you may need to drain some of the liquid after cooking. Also, since the sauce in jars is stable, this makes for a very easy pantry dinner!

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Garlic powder:

I like the ease of using granulated garlic powder in this recipe, but if you prefer chopped fresh garlic you can substitute 2 chopped garlic cloves instead


Soft chili powder: Chili powder (along with garlic powder, smoked paprika, and cumin) is the basis for making our own homemade taco seasoning. If you prefer to use a pre-made taco mix, substitute the taco seasoning for garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, and salt in this recipe. Use hot chili powder if you like spicy things.


paprika: Smoked paprika gives it a smoky flavor that I love, but if you don’t have it, regular paprika will work.

Kosher salt: Look for kosher salt with regular iodized salt at the grocery store (it has a more subtle flavor). Use less iodized salt if that’s what you have on hand.

Enchilada sauce: I used my homemade enchilada sauce, but this recipe is also a great way to use store-bought red enchilada sauce.

Black beans: Drained and rinsed red or pinto beans will also work in this recipe.

Mexican Cheese Mix

: The grated Mexican cheese blend usually includes spicy cheddar cheese, Colby Jack and Monterey jack cheese. If you can’t find it, feel free to use any grated cheese blend. To be dairy-free, use a dairy-free shredded cheddar cheese.

Corn tortilla

chips: I used tough, smooth, triangle-shaped tortilla chips for this recipe, but round ones would also work. I have not tried it with other types of chips, such as Fritos or Doritos, but if you try it, let me know how it goes in the comments.

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Tip: The heat level of this taco casserole will depend on the type of salsa, chili powder and enchilada sauce you use. For a smooth casserole, use soft sauce, chili powder and enchilada sauce. For a hot casserole, use hot sauce, enchilada sauce, and hot chili powder.

Aerial shot of taco casserole with avocado and tomato.

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