One Pot Cheesy Taco Skillet
Aug 20, 2022, Updated Aug 17, 2023
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One Pot Cheesy Taco Skillet– this easy, delicious, veggie packed beef taco skillet meal is quick and great for a budget- as well as a low carb diet!
Easy cheesy beef taco skillet dinner that is perfect for burrito bowls, salads, skillet tacos, and more with tons of hidden vegetables that kids will eat!
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Cheesy Taco Skillet Dinner
Nothing gets our family to gather around a table faster than two things- tacos and cheese. Mention either one, and my family is ready for a feast! For us, quick, hearty, and secretly-packed-with-veggies meals are our go to options- and this One Pot Cheesy Taco Skillet is one that doesn’t disappoint! This recipe is the perfect beef taco skillet dinner that is packed with vegetables, beef taco flavor, and tons of ooey, gooey melted cheese.
I developed this recipe to be a multitasking powerhouse – it is great for people on a low carb or keto diet, fabulous as a way to get kids to eat more vegetables without complaining, easy to make when time is tight, great for meal prep, and simple to modify for low calorie or other specialty diets, too.
This skillet is delicious topped with cheddar, monterey jack, a mexican cheese blend, sour cream – salsa, guacamole – anything you’d like to help take it over the top even more. It is truly customizable. And thanks to a heaping dose of cheese, it doesn’t taste like diet food at all.
How to Make One Pot Cheesy Taco Skillet
To make this recipe, we will need the following ingredients:
- Ground beef – Ground beef is easy to cook quickly, crumbles easily, and has a meaty flavor everyone loves – with lots of protein and fat, without carbs. If you’d like to use another meat, you can substitute ground chicken, lamb, pork, turkey – or even ground beyond meat substitute. We’ve tested them all in this recipe, and they are all delicious.
- Yellow onion – Onion adds a slightly sweet, earthy, and vegetal flavor that elevates taco skillets. Yellow onions are budget friendly, caramelize well, and hold up to high heat.
- Bell peppers – Bell peppers bring a slightly sweet, grassy, vegetal flavor – as well as bringing a bright pop of color and juicy, crunchy texture to the dish. Fun fact: different color bell peppers come from the same plant – but are picked at various stages of ripeness. You can pick whichever color you love!
- Diced tomatoes with green chilis – Diced tomatoes with green chilies (I buy Ro-tel brand) are an easy, inexpensive way to bring the bright, rich tomato flavor and crisp earthiness of green chilies into a dish, year round. Pick the heat level you like – mild, medium, or hot.
- Zucchini – I like to shred zucchini to mix into ground beef when making tacos, since the vegetable’s mild flavor and light, springy texture compliments ground beef and soaks up taco seasoning well. Zucchini is a great vegetable to “hide” into dishes for picky eaters as it will largely take on stronger flavors cooked with it. Peel the skin with a vegetable peeler, then grate with a cheese grater, for best results.
- Taco seasoning – For this recipe, any taco seasoning you love will work – from store-bought to homemade. Go for whatever you love the flavor of, or try our homemade taco seasoning mix.
- Baby kale/spinach mixture – Kale and spinach are both incredibly healthy – packed with nutrients and fiber – but can be a hard sell, especially for picky eaters. This recipe is the perfect way to incorporate more leafy greens in an easy way – I finely chop kale or spinach (go for whatever you have on hand, or whatever is in season, fresh is best for this recipe, not frozen, as it will throw off the flavor) and add to the skillet and mix in. When finely chopped before cooking, the greens cook down to such a small size, they are hard to tell they are there!
- Shredded cheddar and jack cheese – Cheddar and jack are both excellent choices for melting because of how they are aged – as they age, the casein in the cheese is attacked by the enzymes in the cheese, allowing it to break apart and melt smoothly when heated. Opt for freshly shredded instead of pre-shredded cheese sold in bags, as they are often coated in preservatives that can change the melting properties of cheese.
- Green onions – Green onions are a great garnish for tacos as they provide a milder kick than white onions, while still giving a bit of a sharp, somewhat spicy and peppery “bite”.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use this method:
Prep. Peel skin from zucchini and shred, dice onion and bell pepper, chop kale/spinach, and shred cheese so they are ready to add to skillet as you cook.
Cook. Brown ground beef (I don’t drain off the fat, and instead use it in place of additional oil, but you can drain and use olive oil as needed as you prefer), then add onions to cook to soft, add peppers, greens, tomatoes, and melt cheese. Cook until beef has fully cooked, vegetables have softened, and cheese has melted.
Serve. Serve over rice, in burritos or tacos, over cauliflower rice, inside avocados, as a keto bowl – or just dig in!
Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Cheesy Taco Skillet
Add mushrooms. 8 oz sliced or chopped cremini mushrooms help to boost the meaty skillet flavor and are a great low carb, low calorie option!
Use fresh green chilies. Fresh roasted green chiles make an exceptional addition for a spicy, smoky kick!
Try other greens. Diced beet greens or arugula are lovely, slightly peppery substitutes to kale or spinach.
Add a carrot and jalapeno salsa. Fresh shredded carrots mixed with pickled jalapenos makes an awesome topper when the skillet is done – similar to fresh carrot and jalapeno salsa from a mexican restaurant.
Add root vegetables. Turnips, squash, sweet potatoes, and other root veggies, when shredded or diced into small bites, make an awesome addition if you’re not watching starches or carbs!
Add red pepper. I love red pepper strips in skillet tacos – the red pepper brings a delicious tangy and smoky-sweet flavor.
Use high heat. For this recipe, you want to cook as high enough as you can without burning anything. Since there are so many variations to stovetops, pan choices, and how much moisture is in your veggies and meat, this will vary per person. Keep the pan hot, without burning – on whatever setting that represents on your stove.
Don’t drain the fat. Don’t drain off excess liquid from the breakdown of the vegetables. When you add the taco seasonings, this will help to create a deliciously rich and meaty sauce that packs a huge punch of flavor!
Don’t rush cook time. Don’t rush the cooktime on the vegetables. Getting a nicely browned veggie is crucial for flavor development!
Break up meat if making in slow cooker. If making in a slow cooker, pre-brown the meat, or check on it frequently while meat is browning – or you’ll have a giant lump of meat not too unlike clumps of oddly shaped meatloaf, and less like tacos.
Add carbs if you’d like. Forget low carb – this taco bowl dinner also makes a mean pasta salad or rice bowl- simply dump over macaroni for a delicious cheesy macaroni taco skillet!
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to four days, or frozen for up to four months.
Any ground meat (and even beyond meat substitute) can be used in this recipe. You might need to add a bit of olive oil or another fat if using a lean meat or meat substitute to keep it from sticking to the pan, as ground beef has a higher fat profile and will give off it’s own fat to cook in the pan.
This recipe was developed to be easily customizable – you can swap vegetables, add other vegetables that you love, stir in beans – any flavors you like.
You can omit kale, spinach, or greens if you like – we developed this recipe to be a great way to get picky eaters to eat more vegetables, however, it is really delicious even without the added greens too!
You can pick a spicy version of Ro-tel, stir in cayenne pepper, add hot sauce, or stir in fresh hot chilies to spice up this dish.
What to Serve With Cheesy Taco Skillet
If you love this easy cheesy skillet, be sure to check out some of my favorite side dishes to bring that Southwest flavor you crave – like our Spicy Garlicky Beans, creamy and cool Avocado Tomatillo Salsa, crunchy and delicious Easy Frito Pie Casserole, or some Bacon Wrapped Cheddar and Garlic Jalapeno Poppers!
I also have an incredibly hearty and delicious meaty tasting version of this skillet that is COMPLETELY vegan! I know that sounds hard, but it is so good – and deceptively simple. Get my Meaty Vegan Taco Skillet Recipe here.
And if you’re looking for an even easier and healthier version, check out this Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Bowl recipe!
One Pot Cheesy Taco Skillet Recipe
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- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis
- 1 large zucchini, shredded
- taco seasoning
- 3 cups baby kale/spinach mixture (this sounds like a lot- it cooks down to a small amount)
- 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar and jack cheese
- green onions, to garnish
- In a large pan, lightly brown ground beef and crumble well.
- Drain excess fat.
- Add onions and peppers, and cook until browned.
- Add canned tomatoes, taco seasoning, and any water needed for taco seasoning to evenly coat mixture (up to 1 tbsp- the liquid from the tomatoes will help)
- Add greens and let fully wilt.
- Mix well.
- Cover with shredded cheese and let cheese melt.
- When cheese is melted, serve over a bed of lettuce, rice, or in a taco or burrito!
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Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 341Total Fat 20gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 100mgSodium 626mgCarbohydrates 9gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 30g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.