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For a Mexican-inspired meal cooked in one pan, the family will love digging into this Ground Beef Taco Skillet. Southwestern spices, flavorful meat, hearty rice and beans, and plenty of cheese come together into an easy family dinner that will turn any night into a fiesta. Just add your favorite taco toppings!
Easy Mexican Ground Beef Taco Skillet with Rice
My kids are always asking for Mexican food for dinner. Whether it’s Instant Pot Ground Beef Tacos or Chicken Tostadas, if it has spices and salsa and is begging for a big scoop of guac, they are all over it!
But sometimes I want to change things up from the usual Tex Mex dishes. We love Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas Skillet because it allows everyone to customize the way they enjoy their meal. But when I am short on time, I just want to make one meal in one pan.
That’s where this Taco Skillet recipe comes in. You’ve got your meat and grains and, well, lots of cheese, all in one! Toss a simple salad on the side for some veggies and you are good to go!
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
As I mentioned, the entire dish cooks in one pan, which simplifies prep and cleanup. Cooking the rice with the protein-packed lean ground beef and kidney beans makes it a full and satisfying meal. And once you put the lid on to let it simmer, you have plenty of time to gather some toppings to let everyone personalize it just the way they like it. Or pile all the toppings right in the skillet and give everyone a big scoop.
Plus it is naturally gluten free without needing any special ingredients. There is no taco seasoning packet, which can sometimes be a source of hidden gluten. But it is still plenty flavorful with a mix of southwestern spices you’ll find in your spice cabinet. And it is made with rice, a gluten free grain. Let’s talk about that rice.
What is parboiled rice?
You’ll see that this taco skillet recipe calls for parboiled rice. It is also known as converted rice. This is rice that has been processed by soaking, steaming, and drying it. The process of partially boiling rice has many different advantages. One is to make it quicker to cook than raw rice.
Converted or parboiled rice is available from many common brands, such as Uncle Ben’s Original or Zatarain’s Parboiled Long Grain Rice. Note that converted rice is different from instant rice or minute rice, which is even further processed and cooks in about 5 minutes. Parboiled rice will need about 20-30 minutes.
- Olive oil: Just enough to coat the pan
- Onion: A small one, diced.
- Ground beef: I like to use lean ground beef.
- Garlic: One clove, minced.
- Can of corn: Drain the liquid.
- Can of kidney beans: Drained and rinsed.
- Canned diced tomatoes: Do not drain this one.
- Small bell pepper: You can use any color. I like to use red ones for that hint of natural sweetness.
- Beef broth: I prefer the carton to canned beef broth, or you can use homemade if you have it.
- Spices: No taco seasoning packet here. You’ll need spiced you probably have in your pantry – ground cumin, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, paprika powder, salt, and ground coriander.
- Converted or parboiled rice: Available form many brands, such as Uncle Ben’s Original. It cooks quicker than regular rice. It is NOT instant rice.
- Shredded cheese: You can use any cheese you like that melts well. I like to use sharp cheddar, or combine it with some Monterey Jack.
- Toppings: Sour cream, sliced green onions, tomatoes, avocado, or whatever you like.
How to Make Taco Skillet
Brown the meat: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onion until translucent, then add the beef and garlic and saute until it is cooked through.
Cook the rice: Add the beans, corn, diced tomatoes, bell peppers, beef broth, and spices and stir. Bring to a boil and stir in the rice. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until the rice is cooked and has soaked up the liquid, stirring occasionally.
Add the cheese: Stir in one cup of the grated cheese the scatter the rest over the top. Cover, reduce heat to low and let it melt for 3 or 4 minutes.
Enjoy: Take off the lid, add your favorite taco toppings, and scoop some into a bowl to dig in!
Toppings for Taco Skillet
While you can just spoon some of this Mexican ground beef and rice right on your plate, the best part about tacos and anything taco-related might just be the toppings. Here are some ideas:
- Sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, or even Creamy Southwestern Dressing
- Guacamole or avocado crema
- Salsa or even something like mango salsa
- Sliced green onions
- Chopped tomatoes
- Sliced avocado
- Crushed tortilla chips
How do I store leftovers?
Leftovers can be kept in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days. You can reheat it in the microwave.
Can I make it ahead?
If you want to prepare it in advance, reduce the cooking time by about 5 minutes so that you don’t overcook and end up with mushy rice when you reheat it. And do not add the cheese if you prepare it ahead of time. Cover and store it in the refrigerator.
When you are ready to serve it, reheat it over low heat, adding a bit of water if needed to finish cooking the rice. Then add the cheese according to the directions in the recipe.
Can I freeze it?
Yes, you can. But I recommend omitting the cheese and adding it only when you cook it. Let it thaw completely and heat up in a pan or your microwave. Then stir in and top with shredded cheese as directed.
Make it with chicken: Use about 1-2 cups shredded or chopped leftover for rotisserie chicken or substitute the ground beef with ground chicken and use chicken broth.
Swap or double the beans: Try it with black beans, or even skip the beef and double up the beans for a meatless meal. Just try using vegetable broth.
Spice it up: Add chili powder or swap some or all of the bell peppers for jalapenos.
Add other vegetables: If you add other vegetables than bell pepper and you still have too much liquid after the rice is cooked just cook it without the lid for a couple of minutes on high heat to reduce the sauce or add one tablespoon of tomato paste to thicken it up.
Stuff it in burritos: Add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste to thicken it up and then stuff in large tortillas.
Make a taco bowl: With the rice, it’s definitely not low carb like these Keto Taco Bowls, but you can use the same idea to make it into more of a grain bowl meal.
Make it a Meal
This is definitely a satisfying dinner to make in just one pan, but maybe you want to add some veggies on the side. Here are some ideas:
Mexican Ground Beef Taco Skillet
- Large skillet
- 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 can (15.25 ounces) corn, drained
- 1 can (15.5 ounces) kidney beans. drained and rinsed
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
- 1 small bell pepper, diced (red, green, or and color)
- 2 1/2 cups beef broth
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 cups converted or parboiled rice, such as Uncle Ben's Original, NOT instant rice
- 2 cups shredded cheese, divided (cheddar, Monterey Jack, or your favorite cheese that melts well)
- Toppings such as sour cream, sliced green onions, chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, etc.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 1-2 minutes until they are translucent.
- Add ground beef and garlic and cook while breaking up until the beef is cooked through and no longer pink.
- Once the ground beef is cooked, add the beans, corn, diced tomatoes, bell peppers, beef broth, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, and ground coriander. Stir and bring to a boil.
- Stir in the rice, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until the rice is cooked and has absorbed the liquid. Stir occasionally and check for doneness.
- Stir in 1 cup of the shredded cheese and scatter the additional cheese over the top. Reduce heat to low and cover for 3-4 minute soir until the cheese has melted.
- Serve immediately with your favorite toppings.
More Skillet Recipes
If you love a good one-pan meal, you’ve got to try these: