Healthy Beef Taco Skillet
After a day of running around the bases, we deserve the easy home run. That is when you make this Healthy Beef Taco Skillet. A one-pan pleaser made with lean ground beef, rice, black beans, and whatever other Mexican-ish ingredients you care to throw its way, this recipe is the kind of meal I make when I don’t know what else to make.
Mexican food? Always. Nutritious ingredients? Necessary. One pan to wash at the end? GRAND SLAM.
Lately, I’ve been growing a bit weary of my own cooking, and it’s been harder to find the energy to cook dinner at the end of the day. Are you finding the same?
Whenever I’m not in the mood for anything, Mexican food turns out to be the answer to everything. When I sat down with a plate of this healthy taco skillet with rice, I realized it was exactly what I’d been craving.
This easy, healthy beef and rice recipe is a spinoff of some of my other favorite Mexican one-pan wonders, like this Mexican Chicken and Rice, Fiesta Chicken, and Mexican Shrimp. Healthy ground beef recipes like these Korean Beef Bowls have been adding variety to our routine lately, so I decided to try doing a version of my Tex-Mex faves with ground beef.
Delicious. The ground beef gives this recipe old-school taco flavor, and it hit the spot.
Of course if you prefer, you can swap the ground beef for ground turkey for a turkey taco skillet or use ground chicken if that is what you have around. I have ideas for a vegetarian version below too.
Pile this beef taco skillet with veggies into your bowl as is, or use it in one of the tasty taco and burrito-ish spin offs suggested below.
Highly encouraged: all of your favorite Mexican toppings and a Skinny Margarita to match.
Suddenly, I’m feeling inspired! I hope that you are too.
How to Make an Easy, Healthy Beef Taco Skillet
The prep work here is minimal—just follow the recipe, and it practically cooks itself. The Mexican-inspired ingredients and flavor profile are familiar and comforting, and the more wholesome ingredient line up means you’ll feel good about your choices at the end of the meal.
- Lean Ground Beef. I wanted to make this a healthy ground beef recipe, so I used 93% lean ground beef, which is lower in fat than regular ground beef. You could swap in ground turkey or chicken instead if you prefer to make this taco skillet without beef.
- Bell Peppers. You can use red or green peppers here. I love adding bell peppers to Mexican-style recipes both for their flavor and nutritional value. They’re a great source of Vitamin-C and fiber.
- Spices. I used a combination of chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper for the perfect balance of heat and craveable taco flavor.
- Salsa. Use a 15-or 16-ounce jar of your favorite chunky salsa (we picked a medium spicy one). If you don’t have salsa on hand, you can swap a can of diced tomatoes and green chilis for a Rotel beef and rice skillet or improvise with a can of diced tomatoes, adding more spices to taste. The Rotel cans are usually a bit smaller than 16 ounces, so if you go the Rotel route, you may need to splash in extra water if the beef and rice start to look dry.
- Black Beans. One of my favorite additions to any Mexican recipe. They’re packed with filling protein and fiber. You could use another kind of beans here if that’s what you have on hand; pinto would be especially good, and I think most kinds would work just fine.
- Brown Rice. Helps make this ground beef and rice dish extra filling. Plus, the rice soaks up all the yummy flavors from the spices and salsa. Do not use short grain or instant rice in this recipe, or it will become mushy.
- Cheese. For the delicious, decadent layer of gooey cheesy goodness on top. I used Monterey Jack cheese here, but you could use cheddar, pepper jack, or a Mexican blend.
- Toppings. The sky’s the limit! Our favorites are cilantro, jalapeno, avocado, salsa, and sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.
- Sauté the beef, onion, and peppers in a large ovenproof skillet.
- Once the meat is browned, stir in the spices. Add the beans and rice, stirring to combine.
- Stir in the salsa and part of the water. Bring to a boil, then cover the skillet, and let it simmer. Check it every 10 minutes to stir, scrape up any pieces stuck to the bottom, and add splashes of water if needed.
- Scatter the cheese over the top, then place the skillet in the oven, broiling until the cheese has browned. Serve with your toppings of choice, and DIG IN!
More Ways to Serve this Mexican Ground Beef and Rice Skillet
- With Chips. Use your favorite tortilla chips, and scoop up the gooey, cheesy goodness from plates or right out of the skillet.
- As a Burrito Skillet. Wrap the filling completely inside a flour tortilla, and serve it as a burrito.
- As a Quesadilla. Add the filling to a corn or flour tortilla, and fold it in half for a quesadilla; add some extra cheese to the filling and toast it in a skillet first to give it a nice crust on the outside.
- As a Salad. Place the filling on top of a bed of romaine lettuce for a filling and low-carb take on a taco salad (see this Healthy Taco Salad for some inspiration).
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- To Make Ahead. Chop the vegetables up to 1 day in advance, and store them in the refrigerator.
- To Store. Store leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a large ovenproof skillet in the oven at 350 degrees F until warmed through. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave. Add a little broth or water if it looks like its drying out.
- To Freeze. Place leftover filling in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- Gluten Free Taco Skillet. No changes needed, as this recipe is gluten free naturally.
- Vegetarian Taco Skillet. Swap the ground beef for a crumbled meat substitute or simply omit the beef and use a second can of beans. You could use another can of black beans or change it up with pinto beans or kidney beans.
- Low Carb Taco Skillet. Sauté the beef, onion, and vegetables with the spices, and omit the water and salsa. Serve with cauliflower rice, and top it off with the salsa.
More Healthy Mexican Recipes
- Mexican Stuffed Peppers
- Crockpot Mexican Chicken
- Mexican Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Quinoa Salad
- Mexican Chicken Casserole
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Ovenproof Skillet. This skillet will last a lifetime.
- Measuring Spoons. These use a magnet to stay together during storage.
- Sharp Chef’s Knife. An investment piece that will help you prepare ingredients for every recipe.
Mexican spices, juicy lean ground beef, and hearty beans and rice: if your mealtime desires are anything like ours, no matter when you last had this combination, chances are you’ll be happy to find it on your plate again!
If you make this beef taco skillet recipe, please leave a comment to let me know how it goes! Your comments and 5-star ratings always make my day and really help make this site helpful to others too.
Healthy Beef Taco Skillet
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound 93% lean ground beef
- 1 small yellow onion - chopped
- 2 red or green bell peppers - chopped
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 can low-sodium black beans - 15 ounces, rinsed and drained—or swap kidney or pinto beans
- 1 cup long or medium-grain brown rice - do not use short grain or instant, as it will become mushy
- 1 15- or 16-ounce jar chunky salsa - mild or medium (or swap fire roasted diced tomatoes in their juices and add additional spices to taste)
- 1 ½ to 2 cups water - divided
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese - or swap cheddar, pepper jack, or a Mexican blend
- Optional — for serving: - chopped fresh cilantro, lime wedges, sliced jalapeno, shredded cheese, diced avocado, prepared salsa, sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt
- Optional to make tacos, burritos, or quesadillas - warmed whole wheat flour or corn tortillas
- Heat the olive oil in a large, ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Once hot and shimmering, swirl to coat the pan, then add the beef, onion, and bell pepper. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the beef is browned and cooked through and the onion is beginning to soften.
- Add the chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir to coat the beef and cook 30 seconds. Add the black beans and rice. Stir to coat once more.
- Add the salsa and 1 1/2 cups water. Stir to combine the ingredients. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, then reduce the heat and let simmer 30 minutes. Remove the lid and stir, scraping up any rice that has started to stick to the bottom of the pot. Recover and continue to let simmer with the lid on until the rice is tender, 10 to 20 additional minutes, stirring the pot every 10 minutes or so to prevent sticking. If the rice begins to dry out, splash in the remaining 1/2 cup water as needed.
- Towards the end of the cooking time, place a rack in the upper third of the oven (about 6 inches from the top) and turn the oven to broil. Once the skillet is finished cooking on the stove, sprinkle the cheese on top, then transfer to the oven. Broil just until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes (watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn). Serve hot with any desired toppings or spoon inside tortillas to make tacos, burritos, or quesadillas.
- If white rice or another type of rice is substituted, the cooking time will vary. Consult the package for guidance.
- TO STORE: Store the beef taco filling in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a large ovenproof skillet in the oven at 350 degrees F until warmed through. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Place leftover filling in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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