Can you air fry taco meat? Yes indeed! You can brown meat in an air fryer, and the process is more hands off than using a skillet. This air fryer ground beef recipe cooks in only 5 minutes! Use your air fryer taco meat to make the best taco bowls, or try it in air fryer ground beef tacos. You’re going to love how quick, easy, and versatile making air fried beef mince is.
Getting bored of burgers but have some ground beef (AKA beef mince) on hand? Let’s make air fryer taco beef! It’s packed with protein and is perfect for making beef and black bean taco bowls.
I’m going to give you a recipe for a homemade taco seasoning mix. It’s a lower sodium option than what’s in most taco seasoning packets from the store. That said, you’re welcome to use a store-bought pack of taco seasoning if you need that shortcut.
We’re using lean ground beef in this recipe, an option that even mainstream organizations like the AHA approve. There’s generally no reason to fear or completely avoid nutrient-rich whole foods like beef.
That’s GREAT news, IMVHO. You know I’m all about living an overall healthy lifestyle while continuing to enjoy delicious foods. Beefy taco bowls and tacos definitely count as not-to-be-missed in my book.
The air fryer is a nice little shortcut that’s going to help you cook the beef quicker than using a skillet. However, I’m still going to provide skillet directions for the folks who don’t have an air fryer. (And I hope you can get an air fryer soon, because it’s seriously one of my favorite kitchen appliances ever. Love it.)
- 📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
- ⭐ Benefits
- 🥘 Ingredients
- 🍽 Equipment
- 🔪 How to Make Air Fryer Taco Meat
- ️⏲ Cooking Time and Temperature
- ️🌡️ Leftovers
- 💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- 👩🏻🍳 Other Air Fryer Ground Beef Recipes
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
- 🧂 Homemade Taco Seasoning Ingredients
- 🌮 How to Make Air Fryer Taco Bowls
- 💬 Comments
📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
One serving of Air Fryer Taco Meat has 209 calories, 0.7-gram net carbs, and 22.4 grams protein. This is for the ground beef with homemade taco seasoning only, and does not include other taco toppings.
Why make ground beef in the air fryer? Here are some reasons I think you’ll love this recipe:
- Easy to customize: You can flavor up this air fried ground beef any way you’d like if you don’t want taco meat. Add BBQ seasoning, steak seasoning, liquid smoke, Cajun spice, or anything else that sounds good.
- Enjoy beef with no oven: This is a great recipe for summer, as you don’t need to heat the house with the oven. Plus, it’s quick- the ground beef air fries in only 5 minutes!
- Lower fat: When you air fry ground beef, fat drips away as it cooks. In a skillet, the beef sits in the fat and isn’t drained off (unless you make the effort to do so).
- Keto, low carb: A serving of air fryer taco meat has less than 1 gram net carb per serving. It’s a great fit for very low carb diets.
- Gluten free: This air fryer ground beef recipe is gluten free. Those with celiac disease, NCGS, and wheat allergy can enjoy this one.
- Nutritious: Beef is a rich natural food source of bioavailable heme iron. It also offers a range of other essential nutrients that result in serious consequences when under-consumed, such as zinc.
- Delicious: This air fryer recipe is an easy way to add protein to a variety of tasty meals. Burritos, tacos, salads, soups, stews, and casseroles can all be made more delicious with this air fryer beef.
You need three main ingredients to make air fryer taco meat:
- Lean ground beef (I used 90/10 ground beef)
- Taco seasoning
I make my own taco seasoning with chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. It’s a good way to control the sodium if you are on a low-sodium diet. (It’s also tastier to make your own, but that’s just IMHO.)
If you’d like to join me in creating yummy taco salad bowls with the beef, you’ll also need the following:
- Shredded iceberg lettuce
- Black beans
- Chopped tomato
- Roasted corn (thawed from frozen)
- Chopped avocado
- Lime juice
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Pickled jalapeno
- Sliced scallions
To cook the beef in a skillet, you’ll also need cooking oil spray. If you’ll be air frying beef, no cooking spray is needed.
To make ground beef in an air fryer, you’ll need an air fryer and a metal spatula. If you’re doing the stovetop method, you’ll need a cast-iron skillet.
I use a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven to develop my air fryer recipes. If you're using a Ninja Foodi, Cosori, Pampered Chef Air Fryer, Actifry, Nuwave, Instant Vortex, Cuisinart, Philips, Power Air Fryer, or other air fryer, you may need to make slight adjustments to the cooking time.
My air fryer oven has two baking trays, and I only needed to use one for this recipe. If your air fryer basket has larger holes than my air fryer rack, the meat crumbles may fall through. If you’re having this issue, you may want to cook the beef in an air fryer-safe pan instead of directly in the basket.
🔪 How to Make Air Fryer Taco Meat
Let’s air fry ground beef! Start by preheating your air fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190C) for 5 minutes.
Crumble the raw ground beef and put it on a hot air fryer tray. Carefully put the tray back in the air fryer (top rack for air fryer ovens).
️⏲ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long to cook ground beef in an air fryer? What temp to cook ground beef in air fryer? It took a total of 5 minutes in an air fryer preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190C) to air fry ground beef.
Start by air frying the beef for 4 minutes. This will make mostly brown hamburger meat.
Chop the beef crumbles up even smaller with a metal spatula (or use clean hands), and put the beef back in the air fryer. Air fry for 1 more minute at 375F (190C).
The safe internal temp for ground beef is 160F (71C). To be honest, I never use a meat thermometer for taco meat, I just make sure it is cooked until well-browned.
You can stop at this point in the recipe and use your air fryer ground beef however you’d like. To make air fryer taco meat, put the beef in a medium-sized bowl.
Add ¼ cup water and taco seasoning to the cooked ground beef. Stir, and it’s ready to use. To make taco bowls, follow the directions provided in the recipe card below!
Stovetop directions: Brown the beef over medium heat in a skillet that has been lightly misted with cooking spray. As it cooks, add the taco seasoning. Break the beef up with the spatula to form crumbles and fully incorporate the spices.
As the beef begins to dry out, add ½ cup water. Keep cooking until the water has mostly evaporated. Take the skillet off of the heat.
You can keep leftover cooked taco meat in the fridge in a covered container for 3-4 days. Leftover ground beef also freezes well (vacuum seal it or put it in a freezer bag with the air pressed out). When reheated, it can be used in air fryer tacos, burritos, salads, soups, stews, and casseroles.
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Air fryer taco beef is a lean beef option to add protein to your meals. If you make the taco bowl salad recipe, you’ll have a light and filling meal that’s under 550 calories.
If you have higher energy needs, add whole grain crackers or croutons to your taco salad. You’ll add some additional B vitamins, fiber, and have all of your food groups covered. Alternatively, serve the air fryer taco meat in taco shells with classic taco fixings.
When you serve tacos, you’re getting a relatively large serving of grains and small servings of protein and veggies. With salad bowls, you can really pile on the low-calorie ingredients that can help keep you full. (That would be lean proteins and veggies with minimal added oil.)
Back when I was on my weight loss journey, I would typically make myself a taco salad bowl on taco night. It’s an easy way to create a healthy and filling meal.
Plus, you’re less likely to have leftover veggies like you might when using them as taco filling. I know we can’t be the only ones with tons of leftover shredded lettuce after making tacos. Taco bowls are a great way to use it so it doesn’t end up spoiling in the fridge!
Yes, you can defrost ground beef in an air fryer and cook it. Thaw the ground beef in an air fryer preheated to 350F (175C) for 6 minutes (top rack). Then crumble the beef and follow the directions in this air fryer ground beef recipe. Did you know that you can also cook Frozen Burgers in the Air Fryer?
Yes, you can make Instant Pot taco meat using the “high saute” setting of the Instant Pot. Leave the lid off the Instant Pot during cooking, and follow the stovetop directions for this recipe.
Yes, you can air fry taco shells. Just like when you put them in the oven, you need to watch them closely so they don’t burn. Try air frying hard taco shells from the store for 3-5 minutes at 350F (175C).
If you don’t like taco seasoning, feel free to season your air fryer ground beef however you’d prefer. Aside from adding herbs and spices, you also could stir in barbecue sauce, salsa, steak sauce, or teriyaki sauce.
I would consider ground beef a healthy choice in the sense that it is a nutritious whole food. Ground beef is rich in protein and certain essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. For those that are looking to lower their intake of saturated fat, extra lean ground beef (96/4) is available.
👩🏻🍳 Other Air Fryer Ground Beef Recipes
Want more recipes for cooking ground beef in the air fryer? Here you go:
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All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Air Fryer Taco Meat (Air Fryer Ground Beef)
- 1 lb. ground beef, lean (454 grams; 90/10 ground beef)
- ¼ cup water (½ cup needed for stovetop directions)
- 5 teaspoons taco seasoning (store-bought or use my homemade mix in the recipe notes)
- Preheat the air fryer to 375°F (190°C) for 5 minutes.
- Crumble the raw ground beef (with a spatula or clean hands) and put it on a hot air fryer tray. Carefully put the tray back in the air fryer (top rack for air fryer ovens).
- Air fry the beef for 4 minutes at 375°F (190°C). Then chop the beef crumbles up even smaller with a metal spatula (or crumble using clean hands), and put the beef back in the air fryer. Air fry for 1 more minute at 375°F (190°C).
- Now you have your cooked air fryer ground beef. To make air fryer taco meat, put the beef in a medium-sized bowl. Add the water and taco seasoning to the beef and stir.
- To make taco bowls, follow the directions provided in the recipe notes below!
- Brown the beef over medium heat in a cast iron skillet that has been lightly misted with cooking spray.
- Sprinkle on the taco seasoning as it cooks. Break the beef up with the spatula to form crumbles and fully incorporate the spices.
- As the beef begins to dry out, add ½ cup water. Keep cooking until the water has mostly evaporated. Take the pan off of the heat.
🧂 Homemade Taco Seasoning Ingredients
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
🌮 How to Make Air Fryer Taco BowlsGather the following ingredients:
- 1 prepared recipe Air Fryer Taco Beef
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 1 lime, juiced
- 8 cups iceberg lettuce, chopped
- 3 ounces cheddar, grated (85 grams; about ¾ cup)
- 15½ ounces canned black beans, drained (439 grams)
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 cup frozen roasted corn, thawed (I used Trader Joe's brand)
- 2 scallions, sliced
- ⅓ cup sliced pickled jalapeno
- 8 tablespoons salsa
This recipe has been updated from 2019 to include air fryer directions, new photos, a recipe video, and more nutrition information. Enjoy!
Thank you for this recipe! I just got a new air fryer and was reading how to batch cook hamburger meat to freeze cooked rather than raw which saves meal time prep and it thaws quicker. That blog only showed how to accomplish this in an instant pot or slow cooker which takes more time. Being new to air frying I needed time/temp. Viola! Your complete recipe instructions are awesome!
Summer Yule says
Hi Denise, thank you so much for your kind words! I'm so happy this post helped you out- you completely made my morning! 😀
You don’t explain why it’s ok to just add taco seasoning and water after it’s cooked as opposed to while it’s cooking like you would on the stovetop. I understand that if you’re cooking in a basket or a tray it’s nearly impossible to be adding water and spices but you don’t tell us that it’s OK to add it afterwards because I thought the only way you could get it to really taste right (and not separated) is to have it cooked into the meat and the water evaporates but if you’re doing it afterwards it seems like it wouldn’t come out right..maybe not blended well and too watery?
Summer Yule says
Hi Pepper, I wouldn't have posted it if I hadn't tested it first and made sure it worked out OK! All of the recipes on this site are tested by me, often several times (and sometimes family and friends test them as well). As you probably noticed in the recipe, you're adding less water than you would on the stovetop so it shouldn't be watery. If you're worried about it, you can always add the seasoning and then add water one tablespoon at a time until it is perfect for you. Hope that helps! Summer