This high protein taco chili is one of our favorite meal prep recipes. It’s packed with filling protein from lean ground beef and fiber from beans and vegetables. And if you’re looking for an easy recipe, you’ll be pleased to hear this chili requires virtually zero prep time.
How to Make Taco Chili
Drawing inspiration from my infamous creamy taco soup, this taco chili combines ground beef with frozen vegetables, canned beans and stewed tomatoes, and premade seasoning blends for ultimate convenience. If you’ve never made chili with taco seasoning, you’re in for a treat!
And don’t worry about the spinach pictured below. That’s a totally optional ingredient. I like adding it for a nutrition boost that you’ll never even notice.
Ground Beef and Fajita Vegetables
If you’d rather not use red meat, you could use ground chicken or turkey like I used for my white bean ground chicken soup or Instant Pot turkey chili recipes. The recipe calls for one and a half pounds but if you can only find two pound packages of ground meat, you should be fine using the whole two pounds.
As for the fajita vegetables, the recipe calls for frozen for the convenience factor. Freshly sliced bell pepper on onions would work fine as a substitute. If you’re in our neck of the woods in Texas, you can also find pre-diced bell pepper and onion at H-E-B to save time.
Taco and Chili Seasoning
Go with your favorite seasoning blends here. You can also make your own taco seasoning or chili seasoning if you have a well stocked spice cabinet. A lot of the ingredients are repeats so you probably don’t need as many ingredients as you’d think.
If you wanted to give your taco chili a spicy kick, you could add some chopped chipotle peppers in adobo like in our ground beef vegetable soup recipe.
Chili Beans, Black Beans, and Stewed Tomatoes
Thanks to my buffalo chicken chili, I now know that chili beans aren’t a well known ingredient in some parts of the country. If you’re unfamiliar with chili beans, they’re either pinto or kidney beans in a tomato and chile pepper sauce. Plain pinto or kidney beans work fine, in case you can’t find them.
If you can find Mexican style or fire roasted stewed tomatoes, that’s a must. But as you guess by now, you can make this taco chili with regular stewed tomatoes. If you’re not using chili beans or Mexican style tomatoes, you might consider adding some extra garlic and maybe chopped chipotle peppers in adobo with the taco and chili seasoning.
Spinach in chili?
My original creamy taco soup includes frozen broccoli and cauliflower for a nutrient boost. It might seem weird, but I think soup and chili are the perfect dish for “hiding” veggies. Admittedly, broccoli and cauliflower are difficult to hide. Chopped spinach, on the other hand, is almost indistinguishable.
If you’re looking for a creative way to eat more vegetables, this is the way.
How to Make This Chili in an Instant Pot or Slow Cooker
With the Instant Pot, you have two options. You can use the sauté function the entire time, changing from the high setting to the low setting after adding all the ingredients to simmer for the final 15 minutes. Or you can use the sauté function to cook the ground beef and fajita vegetables before adding all the other ingredients and pressure cooking. I would use high pressure for around 10 minutes with a quick release.
For a slow cooker, you’ll want to brown the ground beef in a skillet before adding the olive oil and fajita vegetables. Cook everything together until the beef is fully cooked and the vegetables are tender before adding everything to the slow cooker. At that point, everything is fully cooked so the slow cooker will just let the flavors get to know one another. I would cook on low or a keep warm function until you’re ready to serve.
Another cooking method option is smoking on a grill. Using our Traeger smoked Texas cowboy stew as a guide, 3 hours at 325ºF on a pellet grill should do the trick. Just give it a stir 2-3 times throughout the cook.
What to Serve with Taco Chili
I’m a sucker for Frito chili pie, and the Trader Joe’s elote corn dippers we used for our corn chip pie are the superior corn chip on the market. Here’s a handful of other ideas:
- chili stuffed air fryer baked potatoes
- chili cheese baked fries
- smothered air fryer frozen tater tots or smashed potatoes
- with healthy cornbread or air fryer buttermilk biscuits
- Texas style smoked cornbread
And there’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple. Some diced white onion, cilantro, and sharp cheddar goes perfectly with this taco chili.
That’s a wrap! I hope you enjoy your taco chili. If you do, please help us out with a recipe review. And if you have a question about the recipe I forgot to cover, drop it in the comments section below.
- 1 1/2 pounds Ground Beef (96/4)
- 1 Tablespoon (16g) Olive Oil
- 1 pound Frozen Fajita Vegetables, or fresh onion and bell pepper slices
- 1 packet Taco Seasoning
- 1 packet Chili Seasoning
- 2 cans (15 oz each) Mexican-Style Stewed Tomatoes
- 2 cans (15 oz each) Chili Beans
- 15 oz can Black Beans
- 2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
- 1-2 cups Frozen Chopped Spinach (optional)
- Set the frozen fajita veggies out to thaw while you cook the beef. Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add a teaspoon of olive oil and brown the ground beef for 2-3 minutes before flipping and pushing to one side.
- Add the remaining olive oil and fajita veggies. Break apart the beef and stir everything together. Continue cooking until the beef is fully cooked, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the taco and chili seasoning packets, stirring until no dry seasoning is visible.
- Add the stewed tomatoes, deglazing the pot with the juices, before adding the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil before reducing to a low heat and simmering for 10-15 minutes before serving.
You can add other frozen vegetables. If you're using larger veggies like broccoli and cauliflower florets, you might want to roughly chop them into bite size pieces.
You can also add other components like fire roasted corn, diced green chiles, or fat free/reduce fat cream cheese at the end for a creamy taco chili.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 1/2 cup (about 12.5 oz)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 270Total Fat: 5gCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 7gProtein: 22g