Jump to RecipeJump to VideoLeave a ReviewPin Recipe

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

This cheesy Taco Skillet with rice is an easy dinner that cooks entirely in one pan! Each bite is loaded with ground beef, rice, tomatoes, corn and gooey, melty cheese in a zesty, flavorful sauce and finished with crunchy tortilla chips. You just can’t beat the variety of flavors and textures in this simple one pot Taco Skillet dinner!

Overhead shot of taco skillet dinner garnished with fresh cilantro.

Taco Skillet Dinner

This easy beef taco skillet recipe is a fun twist on Mexican night! With familiar flavors and simple ingredients, it’s a quick meal that everyone at the table can agree on. Let your family members customize their toppings — from sour cream to avocado, cilantro to sliced olives — anything goes! You can also substitute with ground turkey or ground chicken, use your favorite salsa instead of taco sauce, and add more spice if you want to kick up the heat. Make it your own, and enjoy a Mexican-inspired meal with minimal effort!

Ingredients for Cheesy Taco Skillet with Rice

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need to prepare the taco skillet dinner. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Olive oil: to sauté the beef and onion.
  • Ground beef: you can substitute with ground turkey or ground chicken.
  • Red onion: adds zesty, savory flavor.
  • Garlic: for more flavor.
  • Chili powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin, kosher salt, dried oregano and cayenne: a simple homemade taco seasoning.
  • Taco sauce: or you can substitute with enchilada sauce or a thin (not chunky) salsa.
  • Water: for cooking the rice and thinning the sauce.
  • Diced tomatoes with green chilies: such as Rotel or Red Gold brands. If you prefer a mild option, you can use a can of petite-diced tomatoes instead.
  • Long grain white rice: use uncooked rice, since the rice will cook in the skillet and absorb a lot of the liquid from the sauce.
  • Corn: I use canned corn, but you can substitute with fresh or frozen corn kernels.
  • Lime juice: a nice, bright, acidic touch.
  • Shredded cheese: I like a Mexican blend, but cheddar, Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack or Colby will all work well.
  • Crushed tortilla chips: a perfect crunchy, salty topping for the taco skillet bake. You’ll love this texture with the cheesy beef and rice.
Small bowl of homemade taco seasoning

What is taco skillet sauce?

This skillet recipe calls for taco sauce, which has a similar taste to salsa, but a texture that’s similar to enchilada sauce (completely smooth and pureed). Taco sauce also tends to be a little bit sweeter than salsa. This is the brand that we typically use (it’s very kid-friendly)!

If you can’t find taco sauce in your store, you can substitute with an equal amount of enchilada sauce or salsa. If using salsa, I recommend a very thin salsa (not the “thick and chunky” style).

Front shot of a wooden spoon in a cheesy taco skillet

How to Make a Beef Taco Skillet

You’ll love the convenience of this one pot cheesy taco skillet…and so few dishes to wash at the end!

  1. Sauté the beef and onion in olive oil, then drain off the fat.
  2. Add the garlic and seasonings; cook for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in the taco sauce, water, and diced tomatoes with their juices.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, stir in the rice, cover the pan, and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the lime juice and corn, then sprinkle the top with cheese and crushed tortilla chips.
  6. Transfer the skillet to a 425° F oven to finish cooking the rice and to melt the cheese. This will take about 8-10 more minutes (but this may vary, so keep an eye on the rice). You’ll know it’s done when the rice is nice and tender!
Process shot showing how to make cheesy taco skillet with ground beef and rice
Overhead shot of the ingredients for a taco skillet dinner
Process shot of a wooden spoon stirring corn into an easy beef taco skillet recipe
Square front shot of a cheesy taco skillet with rice in front of a brick wall

Serving Suggestions for a Taco Skillet Meal

Set up a toppings bar and let your family members garnish their individual bowls. Good options include sour cream, diced avocado, guacamole, sliced green onion, sliced olives and fresh cilantro.

You can also serve the cheesy beef taco skillet on top of salad greens (like a Taco Salad), or stuff the mixture inside tortillas with extra cheese to make Taco Quesadillas.

On the side, pair the taco rice skillet with extra tortilla chips for scooping up the cheesy meat mixture, refried beans, ranch-style beans, cornbread, a crisp green salad dressed in a cool Buttermilk Dressing, Healthy and Easy Corn Salad, Black Bean and Corn Salad or Pico de Gallo.

Storage

The leftover taco skillet dinner will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat the cheesy mixture on the stovetop over low heat just until warmed through, or in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Alternatively, you can freeze the leftovers in airtight containers for up to 2 months. The chips will not be as crispy when thawed, but the dish will still be tasty. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat gently on the stovetop or in the microwave when ready to serve.

Overhead image of the best beef taco skillet recipe in a cast iron pan.

Recipe Variations

  • If you can’t find taco sauce in your store, you can substitute with an equal amount of enchilada sauce or salsa. If using salsa, I recommend a very thin salsa (not the “thick and chunky” style).
  • For a turkey taco skillet or a chicken taco skillet, substitute an equal amount of ground turkey or ground chicken for the beef.
  • I have not tested this recipe with brown rice, which has a much longer cooking time than long grain white rice. If you choose to substitute with brown rice, you will need to add some extra liquid (about ¼ – ½ cup more water) and cook the rice for much longer on the stovetop before transferring it to the oven.
  • Do not substitute with instant rice or par-boiled rice, because those types of rice will not absorb enough liquid in the skillet. You will end up with a watery mess.
  • Instead of red onion, use a yellow, white, or sweet onion. Any of these will work — I just like the zesty flavor that the red onion adds to the dish.
Close up front shot of a taco skillet with rice.

Tips for an Easy Beef Taco Skillet Recipe

  • The total cooking time can vary depending on the type of skillet, as well as the heat of the stovetop when first simmering the rice. As a result, just keep an eye on the pan and pull the dish from the oven when the rice is tender. You don’t want it to overcook because the rice will become mushy.
  • If the chips on top start to get too dark before the rice is tender, you can cover the pan loosely with foil during the final few minutes.
  • Serve the skillet dinner with extra tortilla chips for scooping up the delicious, cheesy, beef and rice mixture!
  • Garnish with all of your favorite taco toppings, such as sour cream, avocado, guacamole, sliced olives, sliced green onion or fresh cilantro.
Overhead shot of a one pan taco skillet garnished with crushed tortilla chips

More Taco Recipes to Try

Overhead shot of taco skillet dinner garnished with fresh cilantro.

Taco Skillet with Rice

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings 6 – 8 people
Calories 529 kcal
This cheesy Taco Skillet with rice is an easy dinner that cooks entirely in one pan!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • ½ of a red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of cayenne (or more, for a spicier dish)
  • 2 ½ cups taco sauce
  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • 1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, not drained
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1 (15.25 oz.) can corn, drained
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 ½ cups shredded Mexican blend or cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups coarsely crushed tortilla chips
  • Optional, for serving: fresh cilantro, sliced avocado, guacamole, sour cream, sliced olives

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  • In a large oven-safe skillet or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the ground beef and onion. Cook, breaking up the meat as it cooks, until the beef is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Drain off fat. Add the garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, oregano and cayenne; cook for 1 minute. Stir in the taco sauce, water and diced tomatoes with their juices. Bring to a boil; stir in the rice. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook the rice (covered) for 15-17 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the rice doesn't stick to the pan. The rice will be starting to get tender at this point, but it will still be a bit hard.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice and corn. Sprinkle with cheese and add the crushed tortilla chips on top. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes, or just until the rice is tender and the cheese is melted.

Notes

  • The total cooking time can vary depending on the type of skillet (cast iron is my preference because it conducts heat very well), as well as the heat of the stovetop when first simmering the rice. As a result, just keep an eye on the pan and pull the dish from the oven when the rice is tender. You don’t want it to overcook because the rice will become mushy.
  • If the chips on top start to get too dark before the rice is tender, you can cover the pan loosely with foil during the final few minutes.
  • If you can’t find taco sauce in your store, you can substitute with an equal amount of enchilada sauce or salsa. If using salsa, I recommend a very thin salsa (not the “thick and chunky” style).
  • For a turkey taco skillet or a chicken taco skillet, substitute an equal amount of ground turkey or ground chicken for the beef.
  • I have not tested this recipe with brown rice, which has a much longer cooking time than long grain white rice. If you choose to substitute with brown rice, you will need to add some extra liquid (about ¼ – ½ cup more water) and cook the rice for much longer on the stovetop before transferring it to the oven.
  • Do not substitute with instant rice or par-boiled rice, because those types of rice will not absorb enough liquid in the skillet. You will end up with a watery mess.
  • Instead of red onion, use a yellow, white, or sweet onion. Any of these will work — I just like the zesty flavor that the red onion adds to the dish.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the recipeCalories: 529kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 24gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 1171mgPotassium: 739mgFiber: 5gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1064IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 263mgIron: 4mg
Keyword: beef taco skillet, taco skillet, taco skillet dinner, taco skillet with rice
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

Square overhead shot of hands serving a chicken pot pie recipe with biscuits
Overhead image of a bowl of chili mac on a dinner table with cornbread
Hands serving a platter of sheet pan sausage and potatoes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. This is something that I just KNOW our adult son would enjoy!
    Haven’t seen the taco sauce in the jar in any of the stores around here yet, but El Paso does have it in packets that you can add to recipes, so will use that instead. And, yes, this one is mild in taste as well.
    Will be making this one soon!! Rating to follow.
    Sandra W.

    1. Thanks, Sandra! I hope your son approves! If you want a liquid sauce to use in place of the taco sauce, I would sub with an equal amount of enchilada sauce. I just use the taco sauce for my boys because I know many brands of enchilada sauce can be a little spicy.

      1. 5 stars
        Making this for the family this week! Looks fantastic. Only thing to note – taco sauce and enchilada sauce aren’t really things in the UK (we have salsa but only thick cut usually and El Paso taco seasoning but that’s it). A recipe for either sauce would be very much appreciated!!! Also, is there a way to add cooked rice to this? I try to drain rice after cooking due to arsenic levels.

        1. Hi, Gemma! You can definitely use cooked rice, but you’ll need to leave out the water, since the cooked rice doesn’t need that extra water to absorb. I would start with 3 cups of cooked rice, and then see how the consistency looks with the rest of the ingredients. Add extra liquid if it seems too dry.

          As far as the enchilada sauce or taco sauce goes, you can definitely make your own. I don’t have a specific recipe on my site to point you to, but here is one that looks great: https://cookieandkate.com/enchilada-sauce-recipe/

          Hope you enjoy!

  2. This Taco Skillet with Rice looks very good!! Should be an easy recipe – yeah! We love Tacos, but the time and mess of preparing – fillings, etc. are too much work……. I will be trying this for sure. I, also, like the idea of filling tortillas and rolling them up. Have you ever used the refried beans in the mixture? Sounds good to me!
    Loved the picture of Teddy gazing into the Easter basket-HAHAHAHA! So cute – he was wondering where his Easter “eggs” were??

    1. Hi, Sherrie! I’m so glad that you’ll try this! I haven’t tested it with refried beans. I would worry that stirring the beans into the skillet would make the mixture really thick, so I would serve the refried beans alongside, or spread them in a tortilla and then add the rest of the filling. Just my thoughts, though. Hope you enjoy it!

      And yes…Teddy always wants to get right in the middle of whatever the boys are doing. He definitely had his own little basket with a few toys!