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Taco soup is a classic full of ground beef, beans, corn, and tomatoes. If you like chili, then you’ll love this dinner idea.
You can make everything in one large pot, so cleanup time is a breeze! This recipe is great to serve to a crowd, and having customized toppings makes it a lot more fun to cater to different tastes.
This is similar to chili and is loaded with protein.
- Meat: ground beef
- Aromatics: yellow onion and garlic
- Beans: black beans and chili beans
- Corn: yellow corn
- Tomatoes: crushed and diced
- Salsa: white corn and black bean salsa
- Sweetener: brown sugar
- Liquid: filtered water or broth (beef, chicken or vegetable)
- Spices: chili powder, paprika, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, onion salt
Can I use another meat?
Yes, this recipe is very forgiving. Ground beef is commonly used because it’s higher in fat, but feel free to create your own spin on this recipe by switching out the ground beef with one of the following meats.
- Ground turkey, chicken, or pork
- Shredded chicken
- Chopped rotisserie chicken
- For a vegetarian version, skip the meat and use textured vegetable protein instead.
What toppings can I use?
This recipe can be eaten without any toppings, but the flavor is enhanced with unique topping combinations. You’ll enjoy any of the ones below!
- Sliced fresh jalapeños
- Grated cheese
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Squeeze of fresh lime juice
- Cilantro leaves
- Tortilla chips, whole or crumbled
- Diced or sliced avocado
- Green or red onion
What can I serve with this recipe?
This recipe along with the toppings can stand on its own, but if you are having a dinner party or your family loves all the side dishes, here are some suggestions.
- Tortilla chips
- Rice with cilantro and lime
- Mexican street corn
- Frozen virgin margarita
Can I Make this in the Slow Cooker?
- Brown the ground beef in a skillet on the stove, then drain well. Sauté the onion and garlic.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to a slow cooker, then put the cooked ground beef, onion, and garlic in the crock pot.
- Stir until well combined. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 to 7 hours.
Can this be made ahead?
Yes, this recipe is an excellent choice for making ahead. You can make the whole recipe up to a few days ahead of time if needed, as it keeps in the fridge for up to 7 days. You can also brown the ground beef, onions, and garlic ahead of time and throw it along with the rest of the ingredients into the crock pot the day you are planning on serving it.
How can I thicken this recipe?
Did you accidentally add too much water or broth to make it go further? If you need to thicken it, here are some tips.
- Add a few tablespoons of tomato paste.
- Bulk it up by adding more meat or beans.
- Let it simmer with the lid off to evaporate some of the liquid.
How can I make this without beans?
If you can’t consume beans for dietary reasons, you can still make this recipe.
- Add more meat.
- Add more vegetables, such as green bell pepper, carrots, celery, or zucchini.
How Can I make this healthier?
- Swap out the ground beef for ground turkey or ground chicken to lower the fat.
- Use no salt beans and no salt canned tomatoes to lower the sodium significantly.
- Omit the brown sugar to lower the sugar.
- Increase the vegetables by adding sautéed green bell peppers, carrots, celery, or zucchini to increase the fiber.
- Increase the spiciness by adding some cayenne pepper or a diced poblano pepper.
Can I freeze this?
Yes, this recipe is freezer friendly, so make up a big batch and stash it away in the freezer for your busiest days. Just follow the tips.
- Cool to room temperature.
- Put it into a freezer friendly airtight container or zip-top freezer bags.
- Freeze in family-size portions for 4 people or in individual servings for a quick grab-and-go lunch.
- Label the container with the date. It will keep in the freezer for 3 to 6 months.
- Thaw in the fridge overnight or in the microwave.
- Reheat on the stove top for 25 minutes on medium low or in a microwave.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients. Chop the onion and mince the garlic.
Brown the ground beef over medium-high heat until it is no longer pink. Break up the clumps with a metal spatula as it cooks to improve the texture and to stretch the meat. Drain the ground beef in a colander set over a bowl to catch the fat.
Why do you drain the ground beef? The fat in ground beef gives additional flavor, but too much fat will float to the top while it simmers, making it greasy. Too much fat can upset people’s stomachs too.
Let the cooked ground beef sit in the colander while you sauté the onion and garlic.
Add two tablespoons of the reserved fat from the ground beef back into the Dutch oven. Sauté the onion over medium-high heat until it is soft, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir with a wooden spoon.
Add the chili powder and the other spices (paprika, oregano, garlic powder, ground cumin, and onion salt) to the sautéed onion and garlic. Stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed.
Cook the dried spices over medium-high heat for one minute, stirring constantly, to let the spices bloom.
Add the cooked ground beef back into the Dutch oven and stir well.
Add the jar of salsa, the crushed tomatoes, and the canned diced tomatoes with their juices.
Drain and rinse the canned black beans, kidney beans, and whole kernel corn. (Rinsing the beans and corn reduces the sodium in the soup.) Mix together all the ingredients.
Add the liquid. (I used filtered, room-temperature water.) Stir until well combined.
Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium low and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Taste and adjust the amount of liquid or seasonings. It should be thick and flavorful. Cover and let it simmer another 15 minutes.
Serve hot in individual bowls garnished with tortilla chips, grated cheese, sliced jalapeños, green onion, or sour cream.
Tex-Mex taco soup is a classic. Make a big batch so you can freeze some to use on your busiest weeknight. You’ll be glad you did–this recipe is a keeper!
- Change up the beans to your taste by using kidney beans, cannellini, pinto, or what you have in your pantry.
- Make this vegetarian by omitting the meat, increasing the beans, or adding a textured vegetable protein.
- Can’t have corn? Omit it and add another vegetable like sautéed green bell pepper, carrots, celery, or zucchini.
- Want other ingredients? Try sliced black olives, a can of hominy, or green chili peppers.
- Want it spicier? Increase the chili powder by 1/2 teaspoon, add cayenne pepper, or a minced poblano pepper.
- Try shredded chicken or ground turkey as substitutes for ground beef.
- Rinse the beans before you add them to the pot to reduce the sodium content.
- Drain the excess fat from the ground beef.
- Don’t want to use water? Try using chicken, beef, or vegetable broth.
- Customize the toppings. Garnishes like sour cream, black olives, salsa, chili peppers, shredded lettuce, and lime wedges are tasty additions.
- Pyrex Glass Measuring Cup: a durable measuring cup that we use all the time.
- Emeril Lagasse Dutch Oven: this heavy-bottomed pot cooks evenly and cleans easily.
- Stainless Steel Colander: we love the base on this colander so it stands on its own.
- Cuisinart 15-Piece Knife Set: a good set of economical knives is crucial for any kitchen.
Round out your Tex-Mex meal with these other recipes from our collection.
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Tex-Mex taco soup is an easy one pot meal that is quick to throw together. This simple recipe uses ground beef, beans, corn and tomatoes to make a comfort food soup that’s perfect for weeknight meals. Learn how to make this soup in the slow cooker or on the stove top. Garnish with corn tortilla chips, sour cream, and sliced jalapenos. This will be quickly be a family favorite.
For the Soup
- 2 1/4 pounds ground beef
- 2 cups yellow onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic cloves, minced
- 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 15-ounce cans chili beans, drained and rinsed
- 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed (optional)
- 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 24-ounce jar of salsa
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
- 1 1/2 ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion salt
- 3 cups water (709 ml)
For the Garnish
- extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- green onion, sliced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
- Fresh cilantro
- Tortilla chips
- Brown the ground beef in a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Dump the ground beef into a colander set over a medium-sized bowl and let the fat drain.
- Put a couple tablespoons of the beef grease back into the pot. Heat the grease over medium high heat, then add the chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute more, stirring constantly.
- Add the spices to the cooked onion mixture and cook for 30 seconds to one minute, stirring constantly. Mix in the cooked ground beef.
- Pour in the canned tomatoes with the their juices, the salsa, and the brown sugar. Stir until well combined.
- Drain and rinse the chili beans, black beans, and corn to help lower the sodium content. Stir them into the soup along with three cups of water.
- Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium low and let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Add more water or adjust the seasonings if necessary, then cook for another 15 minutes.
- Serve warm with a selection of Tex-Mex toppings.
- To reduce the sodium content, rinse the beans before you add them to the pot.
- From the ground beef, drain the excess fat.
- Use chicken, beef, or vegetable broth if you don’t want to use water.
- Sour cream, black olives, salsa, chili peppers, shredded lettuce, and lime wedges are ideas for toppings.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: easy dinner recipe, slow cooker recipe, taco soup
This post was originally published on October 31, 2017.