If you need ideas for what to do with your leftover taco meat, I have got you covered with the best, quick and easy recipes that use leftover taco meat! Whether you have regular taco meat leftover from taco Tuesday, or leftover chicken taco meat, it makes dinner extra fast to make and you won’t sacrifice flavor, because these recipes are delicious! You won’t even know they were made with leftovers!
Leftovers could be boring, but not here! I love working with leftovers because it is such a easy way to both save time and money, plus when you do it well, your meal will be as good, if not better than the original. No one will even know it is leftovers!
We eat tacos often around here (everything from baked crispy ground beef tacos, to 3 ingredient crockpot chicken tacos, ground turkey tacos, and even brisket tacos!) so we have a lot of leftover taco meat and I have found nearly endless ways to use it!
Leftover taco meat is super versatile to work with and can be made into anything from dinners, to appetizers, and even breakfast! We will cover it all here in this comprehensive list, but first let’s cover a few basics to help decide when to use your leftover taco meat.
How long is leftover taco meat good for?
If you want to use your leftover taco meat to make a new recipe, try to use it within 3-4 days, or freeze it to extend the life of the meat.
Can you freeze leftover taco meat?
Leftover taco meat can be frozen for up to 3 months in a regular freezer, or 6 months in a deep freeze, to maintain the best flavor. Taco meat works very well in the freezer and once thawed it will maintain its flavor and texture well.
If you want to expand the time that you can use your leftover taco meat, I recommend portioning it to the amount you need for your recipe, then placing it in a freezer bag (to freeze flat) or freezer friendly container and freezing.
To summarize, if you want to make something with your leftover taco meat this week, you can generally just pop it in the fridge. If you want to make something next week, or next month. Put the taco meat leftovers in the freezer.
Most Popular Leftover Taco Meat Recipes
These are the top recipes to make with your taco meat leftovers. They are Quick + Easy + Delicious for a big win at the dinner table with your family!
Note: throughout this post, you can use traditional ground beef leftover taco meat interchangeably in the recipes with leftover ground turkey taco meat or leftover ground chicken taco meat.
- 7 Layer Taco Casserole — This leftover taco meat casserole is a HUGE winner with my kids!
- Ground Beef Enchiladas– Leftover taco meat makes these enchiladas SUPER fast, and they get rave reviews! You can use leftover turkey taco meat too if you have that instead!
- Nachos with Leftover Taco Meat– Layer tortilla chips with cheese, leftover taco meat (beef, turkey, or chicken!) Add your choice of corn, black beans, chopped bell pepper, or onion. Top with more cheese. Bake at 425˚F for 8-12 minutes. Serve with your choice of pico de gallo, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.
- Taco Soup– Saute an onion in a large pot or dutch oven. Add 2 cups of leftover taco meat, along with
- 1 can chili beans (with liquid)
- 1 can black beans (drained)
- 1 can sweet corn (drained)
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 2 cans Rotel tomatoes with green chiles
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning (1 packet or use my homemade taco seasoning)
- 2 cups chicken broth
then bring to a simmer for 20 minutes. Serve topped with sour cream and tortilla chips.
- Taco Bowls– These are delicious and can be customized with what you have on hand. Make Cilantro lime rice and add to the base of the bowls. Top with leftover taco meat, and your choice of corn salsa, pico de gallo, black beans (try my recipe for the best canned black beans), salsa, avocado, and sour cream.
Quick + Easy Recipes with Leftover Taco Meat
If you are in a hurry, these recipes are great when you need an extra fast recipe to get out the door! With only a few ingredients and a few minutes required, the leftover taco meat makes these recipes among the easiest!
- Easy Taco Salad– This is one of the best and only recipes that get my son to eat salad. It is SO good! It is extra quick since there is no cooking required thanks to the leftover taco meat.
- Leftover Taco Meat Quesadillas– Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter. Place a large tortilla in the skillet. Add shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese over the full tortilla, then add the leftover taco meat over half of the tortilla. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is golden brown. Then fold the tortilla in half and serve with sour cream and salsa.
- Taco Wraps– This recipe is great for taking on the go! Heat the leftover taco meat. Spread refried beans over a large flour tortilla. Add taco meat, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and shredded cheddar cheese. Mix equal parts salsa and sour cream and drizzle over the filling. Wrap it up burrito style, then eat immediately, or take on the go.
- Leftover Taco Meat Sloppy Joes– Combine 2-3 cups of leftover taco meat with 1 can of sloppy joe sauce, as well as, 1 can of Mexican corn (drained), and 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed). Optional: add extra taco seasoning for a stronger taco flavor.
- Taco Zucchini Boats– this is the perfect light and healthy recipe using leftover taco meat.
- Taco Stuffed Baked Potatoes– Make baked potatoes in the instant pot, oven, or crock pot. Split the potatoes open and fill with leftover taco meat, cheese, sour cream and top with pico de gallo or your favorite taco toppings.
Leftover Chicken Taco Meat Recipes
Chicken taco meat leftovers have just as many great ways to make new meals as ground beef taco meat! We often make crockpot chicken tinga tacos, easy baked chicken tacos, or just season meat with my homemade chicken taco seasoning, and have leftover meat we use to make these recipes.
The leftover chicken taco meat recipes below are best for shredded chicken taco meat. If you have ground chicken taco meat it can be used interchangeably in any of the ground beef taco meat recipes.
- Chicken Taco Casserole– A big hit with the kids
- Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup– The quick version for busy nights
- Chicken Spinach Enchiladas– so much flavor
- Mexican Chicken Casserole– the EASIEST casserole and very highly rated!
- Chicken Enchilada Casserole– Only 5 ingredients!
- Smothered Chicken Burritos– Use leftover chicken taco meat for the filling in these burritos
Leftover Taco Meat Appetizers
If you don’t have much taco meat leftover, or if you have surprise guests, or a bunch of hungry kids that show up, making an appetizer with your leftovers may be the way to go!
- Loaded Taco Dip– My go to party appetizer
- Bean Dip with Ground Beef– combine a can of refried beans with 1/2 cup of sour cream and 1/2 cup of salsa. Top with cheese and heat in the oven or microwave. You can either stir in the leftover taco meat, or my preference, heat it and put it on top of the bean dip.
- Taco Cups– Cut 4 slits on the edges of a small (street taco size) flour tortilla. Arrange them in a muffin tin to make cups. Bake for 8-12 min at 425˚F. Take them out and fill with leftover taco meat, beans and cheese. Bake again until heated through (about 8-12 minutes) then add your choice of toppings: shredded lettuce, sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole etc.
- Taco Lettuce Wraps– Saute diced onion and bell pepper in a skillet with a little cooking oil. Once translucent, add the leftover taco meat and a couple spoonfuls of salsa. Serve with leaves of butter lettuce. Top as desired.
- Leftover Taco Taquitos– Wrap leftover taco meat and cheese tightly in a corn tortilla. Pan fry on each side with cooking oil.
- Taco Stuffed Jalapeños– Mix 2 cups of leftover taco meat with 4 ounces (1/2 brick) cream cheese. Split about 12 jalapeno peppers and remove seeds. Fill each half jalapeno with taco meat mixture and wrap with half slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place in a baking dish and bake at 375˚F for 18-22 minutes.
- Loaded Queso with Leftover Taco Meat– In a crockpot, combine 16 ounces Velveeta cheese with 2 cups leftover taco meat (ground beef or chicken), 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed), 1 can Mexican corn (drained), and 1 can of Rotel tomatoes with green chiles.
- Taco Salad Cups– Use clear small disposable cups to arrange this cute layered salad. Add in layers leftover taco meat, black beans, shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, a tortilla chip.
- Taco Stuffed Mini Peppers– Split mini peppers in half and remove the seeds. Stuff each pepper with leftover taco meat and top with cheese. Bake at 400˚F for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the meat is heated through. Remove and garnish with chopped cilantro and jalapeno ranch drizzle.
- Taco Bites– Use the Tostitos brand scoops chips or other in similar shape. Place these on a baking sheet and fill with leftover taco meat and top with cheese. Bake at 400˚F for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the meat is heated through. Remove and garnish with sour cream and pico de gallo.
Breakfast with Leftover Taco Meat
Don’t overlook breakfast as an options for your leftover taco meat! There are many great options both for chicken taco meat and regular taco meat that make a delicious, easy, and filling breakfast.
- Chilaquiles– One of our all time favorites and works well with any leftover chicken taco meat
- Breakfast tacos– Grab tortillas and add scrambled eggs, leftover taco meat, shredded cheddar cheese and pico de gallo.
- Taco Breakfast Casserole– Make this sausage breakfast casserole, substituting your leftover taco meat instead!
- Breakfast Flautas– Make scrambled eggs and mix in the leftover taco meat. Roll egg mixture with shredded cheese tightly in a taco sized flour tortilla . Lay seam side down on a baking sheet and brush with cooking oil. Bake at 425˚F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Green Chile Egg Bake– This egg bake is terrific and extra hearty when you add leftover taco meat.
- Leftover Taco Meat Biscuit Bake– Add leftover taco meat to this biscuit breakfast casserole in place of the bacon for the best flavor twist!
Pasta Recipes using Leftover Taco Meat
Pasta isn’t a traditional taco recipe, but makes a great way to really stretch leftover taco meat into a dinner that will feed an entire family. There are lots of different pasta dishes you can make with leftover taco meat, and these are a few of our favorites!
- Taco Spaghetti
- Chicken Taco Tortellini – Perfect for chicken taco meat!
- Leftover Taco Meat Pasta Salad– Cook 8 ounces (half a box) of pasta per package directions. Once done drain and rinse with cool water. Combine drained pasta with 2 cups leftover taco meat, 3 cups shredded lettuce, 8 ounces cherry tomatoes (halved), 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, and 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed). Toss salad with a 1/2 cup French salad dressing and 1/4 cup sour cream and crunch corn chips on top.
- Taco Mac & Cheese– Make your favorite Mac & Cheese recipe (or use mine) and stir in leftover taco meat.
- Taco Lasagna– Spread a couple spoonfuls of salsa on the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish. Place corn tortillas over the salsa, layer with leftover taco meat, cheese, and tortillas, then more salsa, taco meat, and cheese. Layer until full then bake at 350˚F for 20-25 minutes or until heated through. If you need a recipe, follow our Beef Enchilada Casserole recipe and use leftover taco meat!
More Recipes for Leftover Taco Meat
- Taco Pizza– On a prepared pizza crust, spread refried beans. Spread salsa over the refried beans. Sprinkle the leftover taco meat over the bean mixture and cover with cheese. Bake per pizza crust instructions. Once done top with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and a dollop of sour cream.
- Taco Pie– Use this chili pie recipe subbing leftover taco meat combined with black beans, corn, and salsa for chili.
- Taco Pinwheels– Roll a prepared pizza crust into a rectangle. Spread salsa over the crust. top with leftover taco meat and cheddar cheese. Add optional toppings: diced onion, bell pepper, or sliced black olives. Roll up tightly and slice into 1 inch slices. Lay flat on a baking sheet and bake for 16-20 minutes or until cooked through.
- Taco Monkey Bread– Mix 2 cups of leftover taco meat with 1 cup of salsa. Cut 2 packages of grands biscuits into bite sized pieces. Mix the biscuit pieces with the taco meat mixture and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese then place in a bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes or until the center is cooked through.
- Taco Crescent Ring– Lay crescent triangles in a circle with the points facing out. Fill the circle with leftover taco meat. If you don’t have enough, combine with black beans and corn. Sprinkle with cheese and wrap the points around to the middle to form a ring. Bake at 350 for 22-28 minutes. Serve with shredded lettuce, sour cream and salsa.
- Taco Stuffed Peppers– This is great if you have leftover taco meat and rice!
This should give you a great start to figure out what to make with leftover taco meat. If you need more ideas, feel free to browse all of my easy dinner ideas here!
Per USDA recommendations, you can keep leftover taco meat in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Yes, taco meat can be frozen for up to 3-6 months.
Try making nachos, a quesadilla, or taco salad for the quickest meals.