After a day of running around the bases, we deserve the easy home run. That is when you make this nutritious Taco Skillet. A one-pan pleaser made with lean, healthy 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.

Cheesy beef taco skillet with rice in a cast iron pan

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Mexican food? Always. Wholesome 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 make dinner at the end of the day. Do you find 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, simple 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 and make 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 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.

Easy ground beef and rice skillet topped with cheese

5 Star Review

“I have made this twice, and both times it turned out perfectly, no modifications necessary. This is an excellent, more flavorful, and healthier alternative to basic beef tacos.”

— Andrea —

How to Make a Healthy 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.

It’s certainly going to be one of your favorite healthy ground beef casseroles, made easy in the skillet. If you are looking for a more traditional ground beef casserole that’s baked in the oven, try this Mexican Casserole.


The Ingredients

  • Lean Ground Beef. I love light ground beef recipes, 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).

Ingredient Swap

  • If you don’t have salsa on hand, you can substitute 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 types 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.

Tip!

Do not use short grain or instant rice in this recipe, as they 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.

The Directions

Ground beef and rice with vegetables and beans in a skillet
  1. 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.
Lean ground beef, beans, and rice in a skillet with salsa
  1. 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.
  2. 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!

Cooking Tip

The best way to cook ground beef thoroughly for this recipe is to brown it in a skillet first. To make sure you cook the ground beef safely, use an instant read thermometer before serving to check that it has reached 160 degrees F.

Healthy ground beef and rice cooked in one pan and topped with cheese and avocado

Dietary Swaps

  • 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. For a keto-friendly 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 for flavor.

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.
Healthy Beef Taco Skillet with Rice topped with avocado

Serving & Leftover Ideas

  • 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. Serve this taco skillet with tortillas (corn or flour), and fold them 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. If you prefer your healthy ground beef recipes low carb, 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 additional inspiration).
  • With Pasta. If you follow the directions above for making this a low carb taco skillet, try serving the leftovers as a taco skillet with pasta.

What to Serve with this Taco Skillet

Mexican beef and rice in a gray bowl with a fork topped with avocado

Recommended Tools to Make Beef Taco Skillet

The Best Ovenproof Skillet

This high-quality skillet will take you seamlessly from stovetop to oven.

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.

Cheesy beef taco skillet in a cast iron pan

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Cheesy beef taco skillet in a cast iron pan

Taco Skillet

5 from 10 votes
An easy, healthy ground Beef Taco Skillet made with rice, beans, veggies, and your favorite Mexican flavors. A fast family favorite that cooks in one pan for easy clean up!

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 1 hr

Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 479kcalCarbohydrates: 51gProtein: 31gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 66mgPotassium: 922mgFiber: 10gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1925IUVitamin C: 53mgCalcium: 216mgIron: 5mg

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More of the Best Ground Beef Recipes

No more wondering what you should make with ground beef! Try these other simple ground beef recipes, or check out my entire collection of Mexican-inspired recipes.

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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32 Comments

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    1. Hi Suzanne! Since sodium content can vary so much based on the brands of ingredients used, I recommend using an online calculator like MyFitnessPal, which you can customize based on the ingredients you have to get a more accurate number. I hope this helps and that you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

  1. I tried your beef taco skillet and we really liked it, even my 2 and 3 year old did! Even though I didn’t have the peppers to put in, it was super! Thanks so much for all the wonderful recipes!5 stars

  2. This will definitely be one of my favorites! I made a few substitutions because I did not have all the ingredients. Replaced the garlic powder with garlic salt and went a bit lighter on the kosher salt. Because I did not have enough Salsa, I used a 10 oz can of Ro Tel diced tomatoes with Serrano pepper then added in 6 oz of salsa. I also added a 3.8 oz can of sliced olives to cook with the meat mixture. We used stand and stuff taco shells and topped with a diced avocado, cilantro and lime juice mixture and shredded lettuce. This was plenty for the three of us, Hubby and Son LOVED it and we are enjoying the leftovers. Thank you Erin!5 stars

    1. Gretchen, thank YOU for this lovely review. It’s incredibly helpful to others (and me!) and I am so so glad you all enjoyed it.

      1. I have made this twice and both times it turned out perfectly, no modifications necessary. This is an excellent, more flavorful, and healthier alternative to basic beef tacos from a seasoning packet. Thanks so much for the recipe!5 stars

    1. Hi Lou! Yes, you should rinse and drain your beans first. Both the beans and the onion are listed in the ingredients section of the recipe card above. You can click the “Jump to Recipe” button at the top of the page, and it will take you right to it. I hope this helps!

  3. Another delicious recipe from your site. Thanks Erin! I made it with farro instead of rice, and it worked perfectly. I had it for dinner with some roasted broccoli on the side, and it was a hearty, healthy, and simple meal. I used a jar of hot salsa, so the dish was quite spicy how I like it. I’ll definitely be making this again. 5 stars

  4. Hi Erin,  I had a hard time with this recipe and I know it’s a “it’s not you it’s me” thing — every recipe I’ve ever made of yours has been excellent, so I’m hoping maybe you can help me figure out what went wrong.  After using the full two cups of water and cooking the dish for the 40-50 minutes suggested in the recipe, my rice was still pretty much raw.  I cooked it for an additional 45 minutes covered, and incrementally added another cup and a half of water, and at that point some of the rice was still barely al dente.  The two things I can think of are the rice and the pot I used.  The only brown rice I could find was simply labeled “whole grain brown rice”, but it looks like long grain rice and the cooking time on the package was 45 minutes, so I don’t think that was it.  The pot I used was a 6 quart all in one pan (like a large braising dish or a deep skillet), and what I’m wondering is whether the pot was too large and shallow and if that somehow prevented the rice from properly cooking.  Do you have any ideas?  I know this dish has received very positive feedback from others, and I’m sure my family would love it (if the rice isn’t raw!).  I do have a 12 inch ovenproof skillet (the same Staub you have in your photos), but I was worried it would overflow on the stove (I usually don’t like my pots filled too close to the top).  Thank you so much for any advice you can offer!

    1. Hi Cari, this is so odd! It is difficult for me to say without being there. My best guess is that perhaps the rice was not simmering as much as it should have been or that the rice needed more liquid at the beginning. The size of the pot sounds fine, as does the rice selection. Do you live at a high altitude? Water at high altitudes does boil at a lower temperature, so that could have contributed too. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help and that this didn’t turn out perfectly for you!

      1. Hi Erin, thank you so much for the feedback — I don’t live at a high altitude, and I was pretty sure it the pan size, so I tried again using a 12 inch skillet.  It definitely worked better, but I still had to cook it longer and add more water (although not nearly as much as I did the first time), but parts of the rice were still barely al dente.  I’m going to try it again using a salsa that has more liquid and I might add the full two cups of water upfront, and see it any of that helps.  I think this recipe definitely has potential for excellence if I can just figure out how to cook the rice — hopefully the third time will be the charm!

        1. I have restaurant experience as well as have done plenty of cooking at home. I would say cooking rice with other ingredients can be tricky and hit or miss. Oftentimes the rice ends up al dente as you mentioned and more liquid is called for branding out the the recipe. One simple suggestion is to cook the rice separately as called for and then adding it in at the end of the cooking time. That’s always worked best for me.

  5. I made this recipe for dinner tonight. It turned out wonderfully well. I deviated just a little, I didn’t have the salsa, so I used fresh tomatoes (cut up) and added some green chilies and more onions. I also divided the mixture onto 6 flour tortillas, topped with cheeses, and broiled in oven. The rice was cooked through, I did have to add another cup of water. Can you tell me where to purchase the skillet, name and size please. We are stuffed, and there are leftovers for another meal.5 stars

    1. Carolyn, I am so so pleased to hear it! Thanks for sharing this kind review and your tweaks. It means a lot to me and is so helpful to others! This is the skillet I love and use for meals like this. It’s pricey but will last a lifetime; I’ve had mine for about 10 years and it’s still perfect. I also love and usually photograph with STAUB cast iron (the 10 inch is what you see in the photos here).

  6. I was expecting this to be easy and tasty, and was actually shocked at how delicious it was. My whole family, including picky toddler loved it, and I’m so excited to add it to the rotation. I ran out of time and just made brown rice on the side by itself, and then added that in before broiling the cheese- still delish.5 stars

  7. Yummy!  My whole family enjoyed this meal.  I’m glad I used a Dutch oven. You were right.  You really need to continue to scrape the bottom of the dutch oven to make sure the rice is cooked appropriately. It was well worth keeping a close eye on it and stirring every few minutes. Overall really delicious!  We spiced ours up a bit more with jalapeño slices on top. Thanks sharing this recipe Erin! 5 stars

  8. This was delicious and easy! Love one skillet meals, keep them coming. Only addition I made was a half teaspoon of paprika for the taco seasoning. Get rid of those taco seasoning packets and give this a try, you won’t be disappointed.5 stars