Instant Pot Taco Meat

Tacos are great for any day of the week regardless of if it is Tuesday or not. Tacos are a way life. I even have shirts that proclaim my love of tacos!

Overhead of Instant Pot Taco Meat in a white bowl


Instant Pot Taco Meat is the perfect and fast way to make tender ground beef for tacos. Serve it immediately or freeze it!

Mexican food has got to be one of my favorites cuisines to eat and tacos are pretty high up on the list. But this instant pot taco meat recipe can be used for so much more that just tacos like taco salads, nachos and burritos!

Many of the other taco meat recipes out there use a long list of ingredients. Mine is simple and uses only 3 ingredients, but still tastes great.

ground taco meat in a taco with toppings

The secret? Salsa. Bottled salsas (or homemade if you prefer) have all of the veggies most people like to put in taco meat already chopped up and cooked down. The flavor is there just waiting to be added to something delicious!

And the next is taco seasoning mix. I keep a canister of my homemade taco seasoning in the pantry, but you can also use a little packet. You’ll need about 2 tablespoons.

ground beef for tacos in a white serving bowl

Use taco meat on:

Soft tacos or hard tacos, this is a basic mix for taco filling. Classic recipes use ground beef, but feel free to substitute ground chicken or ground turkey. Sometimes I even use a blend!

A bowl of ground beef

I prefer to use a lean ground beef so draining isn’t necessary at the end. You do need some fat to prevent sticking and keep the mix juicy, but you don’t want grease pooling on the top either.

Why make taco meat in the instant pot?

It is true that this recipe can just as easily be made on the stove top in the same amount of the time, but it will also be more likely to dry out.

taco bar set up for a party

Making anything in a pressure cooker ensures that the liquids don’t evaporate and instead stay in the cooking vessel and with the food. In some cases, like a sauce, you don’t want this to happen, but for taco meat it is perfect!

You’ll swear you won’t make it any other way after you’ve tried it.

Can I freeze instant pot taco meat?

You sure can! Cook it and allow it to cool. Then place it in an airtight container or plastic bag. Free for up to 6 months.

Check out our other tips for freezing food properly.

How to make a taco bar:

ONE. Cook your taco meat and either serve it in the Instant Pot pot on “keep warm” or in another serving bowl.

TWO. Chop up all of your other taco toppings and fixings. Some of our favorites for a taco bar include:

Personalize your taco meat:

If you are looking to make your taco meat special, just add one of these and watch everyone swoon!

  • 2 tablespoons chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh jalapenos, minced
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 cup cooked bacon, crumbed

How much is in a taco seasoning packet?

You might notice I don’t tell you to use a taco seasoning packet. It isn’t that they aren’t convenient or tasty, I just bet that you have all the ingredients already in your pantry.

  • chili powder
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • dried oregano
  • paprika
  • ground cumin
  • fine sea salt
  • ground black pepper

If not and your prefer to buy a little packet, go for it and use just one.

How to make taco meat in the Instant Pot?

  1. Add ground beef to instant pot or other pressure cooker and set to the “saute” function. Brown for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle meat with taco seasoning and add salsa, stir to coat.
  3. Set to manual high pressure for 10 minutes.
  4. Release pressure valve and you are ready to serve!
  5. Drain, if necessary or use a slotted spoon to remove meat.
how to make taco meat in an Instant Pot

Questions you might have about how to make taco meat in the Instant Pot:

Do I have to use an Instant Pot?

No, any electric pressure cooker will work.

Do I need to add extra liquid?

No, it is true that you need liquid to build pressure in a pressure cooker, but the salsa and liquid from the ground meat will provide plenty.

Do I have to brown the meat?

This is one of those steps that you can skip if you want, but it will add more flavor in the long run. The process is called the Maillard reaction and not only cooks food, but adds flavor. You can skip it, but then I recommend adding another pinch of salt.

taco meat for Pinterest

Here are even more fabulous taco recipes!

beef burrito close up

Smothered Beef Burritos

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Smothered Beef Burritos are a cheesy and easy weeknight meal perfect for quick assembly, freezing or making ahead. Loaded with ground beef, vegetables, enchilada sauce and cheese!
See The Recipe!
Overhead of finished skillet nachos

Loaded Chicken Nachos

4.84 from 6 votes
These Loaded Chicken Nachos are the ultimate nacho recipe! Topped with chicken, cheese and lots of veggies, you could make an entire meal out of these loaded nachos.
See The Recipe!
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Chicken Enchilada Casserole Recipe

5 from 7 votes
This Chicken Enchilada Casserole Recipe is a delicious casserole recipe loaded with a cornbread crust, chicken, beans, and cheese, all made in a cast iron skillet!
See The Recipe!
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Taco Bake Casserole Recipe

4.35 from 20 votes
This easy taco bake casserole recipe is a great cheesy recipe for an weeknight meal or potluck. Easily customizable with your favorite taco toppings.
See The Recipe!
ground beef for tacos for Pinterest

A bowl of ground beef

Instant Pot Taco Meat

4.25 from 29 votes
Instant Pot Taco Meat is the perfect and fast way to make tender ground beef for tacos. Serve it immediately or freeze it!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Pressure Building Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 8



  • Add ground beef to instant pot or other pressure cooker and set to the “saute” function. Brown for 4-5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle meat with taco seasoning and add salsa, stir to coat.
  • Set to manual high pressure for 10 minutes.
  • Release pressure valve and you are ready to serve!
  • Drain, if necessary or use a slotted spoon to remove meat.
  • Let us know if you’ve tried this recipe and how it was!


Taco meat can be frozen after it’s cooked.
You can use ground chicken or ground turkey instead of ground beef.
Instructions for taco meat in the slow cooker.


Calories: 173 kcal, Carbohydrates: 4 g, Protein: 25 g, Fat: 6 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 70 mg, Sodium: 525 mg, Potassium: 554 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Vitamin A: 331 IU, Vitamin C: 1 mg, Calcium: 27 mg, Iron: 3 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 173
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: instant pot taco meat, taco meat
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating

Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe sounds great and I can’t wait to try it tonight! One question though, how would you change this if you were to try with frozen beef? Obviously Sautéing it before hand would not really work. There are just some days you forget to put the meat in the fridge and don’t have time to thaw it!

    1. Hi Nick, you can skip the browning part and just go to cooking, add 1-2 minutes to the cook time to account for frozen beef.

  2. 598going to try this recipe for ground beef for tacos using an Instant Pot. Never thought about making taco stuffing using this item. Thanks for posting it. Then I saw your post about stuffed cabbage = will try that one day this week.

  3. My instant pot kept giving me the burn notice. I drained the my ground turkey after. Is that why ? I added 1 1/2 16 oz jars of salsa to my 3 lbs of meat.

    1. Hmmm… it might be the type of salsa- was it a super thick and chunky? It needs a little water/liquid to work.

  4. 5 stars
    we loved the ease of this recipe and will always make this taco meat for our TACO TUESDAY meals! Great recipe!