Taco Skillet {Easy, Healthy One-Pan Meal} – WellPlated.com

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.


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

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