Taco Chili (Stovetop, Instant Pot, Crockpot!)

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The best ever taco chili made in 30 minutes or less in the instant pot (pressure cooker)! Plus instructions for cooking this soup in a crockpot or on the stovetop. via chelseasmessyapron.com

This ridiculously flavorful Taco Chili is better than any restaurant version and so simple to make — throw a bunch of cans in a pot and simmer until you’re ready to eat! Load each bowl with your favorite toppings like cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips (or chips), fresh lime, and/or cilantro! This chili can be made on the stovetop, pressure cooker, or slow cooker.

Pair this simple chili with a quick side salad like this Olive Garden salad or a big hunk of homemade cornbread — yum!

Overhead image of the taco chili

Taco Chili

It’s no secret we’re obsessed with chili at my home — it’s filling, hearty, loaded with great ingredients and typically fairly easy to prepare.

This particular chili is one of those recipes that may truly surprise you with just how easily it comes together. After sautéing the onion and browning the beef, all that’s left is opening a bunch of canned ingredients and adding them to the pot. The chili simmers until it’s slightly thickened and flavors have melded into a totally irresistible meal!

Beyond being simple, this taco chili is also packed with flavor thanks to a unique seasoning blend. We start with the typical spices you’d see in a taco seasoning packet, but then we add a unique ingredient that add layers of complex flavors while also perfectly seasoning this chili — ranch seasoning! It may sound strange, but it’s truly the secret to the best taco chili you’ve ever tasted! 🙂 

Process shots-- images of the oil, onion, garlic, and ground beef being added

SHORTCUTS

Taco Chili Shortcuts

  • Pre-diced onions. Most grocery stores sell diced yellow onions in the produce section of the store. Alternatively, frozen diced onions are often found by the other frozen veggies and can be used in this recipe. Or, use a food processor to quickly dice an onion.
  • There are two options for quick garlic. We love Dorot® cubes which have crushed garlic that you can keep handy in the freezer and pop into this (and other) recipes when needed. (Check if your local store carries them; they’re typically found with frozen veggies in the grocery store.) Another option is to use refrigerated minced garlic. 
  • Fire-roasted crushed tomatoes. Here’s why we consider using fire-roasted tomatoes a shortcut: This type of tomato is charred over a flame before being crushed and canned. Contact with the flame brings out the tomato’s sweetness and imparts a distinct, smoky flavor. You get more flavor without any extra work or additional ingredients needed — score!
  • Ranch seasoning mix. Instead of measuring out an additional handful of spices, grab the mix here for a nice short-cut.

Taco Chili Toppings

This Taco Chili really benefits from some creamy additions. We think a ripe diced avocado and sour cream are divine! Plus chips to dip in the chili are a must have 🙂

Below are plenty of ideas for how to top your bowl of chili (pick a few of your favorites!) 

  • Sharp cheddar cheese freshly grated
  • Chopped cherry tomatoes, salsa, or pico de gallo
  • Freshly chopped cilantro or thinly sliced green onions if you aren’t a cilantro fan
  • Fresh lime wedges
  • Avocado or guacamole
  • Taco sauce or hot sauce
  • Creamy cilantro sauce (like the sauce in this Honey Lime Chicken recipe)
  • Sour cream (fat-free or low-fat works great!)
  • Pickled red onions: Try this quick pickled red onion recipe used on these Chicken Tinga Tacos.
  • Jalapeños
  • Crispy tortilla strips or tortilla chips
  • Cornbread muffins

Process shots of taco chili-- images of seasonings and the remaining ingredients being added and mixed together and simmered

Taco Chili Spiciness

We rate this chili as mild with the following in check: using mild green chiles, using mild Ro*Tel (the can will indicate “mild” on it), omit the (optional) red pepper flakes. Additionally, toppings like cheese, sour cream, and avocado will further mute any spiciness quite a bit. 

If you don’t plan on adding some of these toppings and are sensitive to spice, use plain diced tomatoes instead of tomatoes with green chiles. 

If you love the heat and would like a spicer taco chili, use medium or hot green chiles, original or hot Ro*Tel, and the full amount of (optional) red pepper flakes. You can further increase the heat by adding a diced jalapeño with the garlic or adding 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper.

Up close overhead image of the taco chili

STORAGE

Taco Chili Storage

  • How to reheat: This chili (without any toppings) stores nicely in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. To reheat, add the chili to a small pot and heat over low heat until warmed to desired preference. Or re-heat in the microwave (make sure to cover it so it doesn’t splatter!)
  • Freezing: Taco Chili (without any toppings) will freeze well for up to 3 monthsHere are some best methods for thawing frozen soup.

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Taco Chili (Stovetop, Instant Pot, Crockpot!)

5 from 5 votes
This ridiculously flavorful Taco Chili is better than any restaurant version and so simple to make -- throw a bunch of cans in a pot and simmer until you're ready to eat! Load each bowl with your favorite toppings like cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips (or chips), fresh lime, and/or cilantro! This chili can be made on the stovetop, pressure cooker, or slow cooker.
Print Recipe

Taco Chili (Stovetop, Instant Pot, Crockpot!)

5 from 5 votes
This ridiculously flavorful Taco Chili is better than any restaurant version and so simple to make -- throw a bunch of cans in a pot and simmer until you're ready to eat! Load each bowl with your favorite toppings like cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips (or chips), fresh lime, and/or cilantro! This chili can be made on the stovetop, pressure cooker, or slow cooker.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword taco chili
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 246kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $10.42

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup (130g) diced yellow onion (1 medium onion)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 lb. (16 oz.) lean (93/7) ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder Note 1
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Optional: 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes for some heat
  • 3 tablespoons ranch seasoning mix Note 2
  • 2 cans (16 oz.; 454g each) undrained chili beans Note 3
  • 1 can (15.25 oz.; 432g) undrained southwestern corn Note 4
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.; 411g) undrained fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (10 oz.; 283g) undrained diced tomatoes with green chiles Note 5
  • 1 can (4 oz.; 113g) fire-roasted mild diced green chiles
  • 1 can (15.25 oz.; 432g) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Toppings: sour cream (fat free or light), freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese, diced ripe avocado, fresh lime, tortilla strips or chips

Instructions

  • STOVETOP: Add the oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and sauté until tender & turning golden, ~5-7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds to a minute or until fragrant. Increase heat to high and add in the ground beef. Cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until browned. IF there is any grease, drain off here (Note 6 for a shortcut!).
    Reduce heat to medium and add all the seasonings: 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano, 1-1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Add red pepper flakes if using. Add in 3 tablespoons (not the entire package) ranch seasoning mix. Cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
    Now dump in all the other ingredients except for the toppings. Stir, bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer over low heat, uncovered, stirring every now and again, for 30 minutes or until slightly thickened and flavors have melded. Taste and season if needed with salt and pepper to taste. While it's simmering, prepare toppings! Serve in bowls with preferred toppings and enjoy immediately.
  • INSTANT POT: Heat the instant pot on the sauté setting. Once hot, add in the oil and the onion and sauté until tender & turning golden, ~5-7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds to a minute or until fragrant. Increase heat to high and add in the ground beef. Cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until browned. IF there is any grease, drain off here (Note 6 for a shortcut!).
    Add all the seasonings: 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano, 1-1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Add red pepper flakes if using. Add in 3 tablespoons (not the entire package) ranch seasoning mix. Cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Next, add in the canned tomatoes and stir, scraping the bottom of the instant pot to deglaze and ensure nothing has stuck to the bottom (or you'll get a burn notice).
    Once you're sure nothing is stuck, dump in all the other ingredients except for the toppings. Give everything a really good stir and then place on the lid and seal the pot. Select soup and change to 10 minutes. Allow to cook for 10 minutes and then let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes. Then release any remaining pressure. Give it another good stir and taste for needed salt/pepper. While it's cooking, prepare toppings! Serve in bowls with preferred toppings and enjoy immediately.
  • SLOW COOKER: If your slow cooker has a sauté function, you can do this first part in the base of the slow cooker! If not, use a separate pot and transfer to the slow cooker after.
    Add the oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and sauté until tender & turning golden, ~5-7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds to a minute or until fragrant. Increase heat to high and add in the ground beef. Cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until browned. IF there is any grease, drain off here (Note 6 for a shortcut!).
    Reduce heat to medium and add all the seasonings: 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano, 1-1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Add red pepper flakes if using. Add in 3 tablespoons (not the entire package) ranch seasoning mix. Cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Transfer all of this mixture to the base of the slow cooker and then dump in all the other ingredients except for the toppings. Stir and then cover with the lid. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 3-6 hours.
    While it's cooking, prepare toppings! Serve in bowls with preferred toppings and enjoy immediately.
  • TACO CHILI STORAGE: How to reheat: This chili (without any toppings) stores nicely in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. To reheat, add the chili to a small pot and heat over low heat until warmed to desired preference. Or re-heat in the microwave (make sure to cover it so it doesn’t splatter!)Freezing: Taco Chili (without any toppings) will freeze well for up to 3 months. Here are some best methods for thawing frozen soup.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Chili Powder: Be sure to use chili powder — not to be confused with chilli powder which is very hot. We’re using American chili powder (I use McCormick which is very mild).
Note 2: Ranch Seasoning: Don't dump in an entire packet -- only 3 tablespoons here! Depending on the packet used, it can be fairly salty, so I typically wait to add salt until the end. Taste and add salt only if needed.
Note 3: Chili Beans: You can find Chili beans near other beans in the grocery store. They are generally pinto beans in a mild chili-spiked sauce which adds a great flavor to this chili (don't drain or rinse these beans!). If you can’t find chili beans (sometimes called ranch-style beans), I’d recommend using a can of pinto beans instead.
Note 4: Southwestern Corn: This corn has poblano and red pepper mixed in which adds a nice flavor to the chili. If you can't find this particular corn, I'd recommend using fire-roasted canned corn or even plain. Don't drain/rinse the corn, just dump the whole can in!
Note 5: Tomatoes with Chiles: Such as Ro*Tel. If you're sensitive to spice use "mild" Ro*Tel which is indicated on the can. Use original or hot for more heat! If you are super sensitive to spice, use plain diced tomatoes instead.
Note 6: Get rid of grease: I like to grab a few paper towels with tongs and dab the pot and beef and then throw out the paper towel. Easier and quicker than draining off grease!

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 246kcal | Carbohydrates: 22.2g | Protein: 21.3g | Fat: 8.3g | Cholesterol: 46.5mg | Sodium: 697.3mg | Fiber: 5.8g | Sugar: 4.9g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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24 Comments

  1. Taco soup is one of my favorite soups! I can’t decide if it’s because of all the different flavors or because it’s so hearty and filling, unlike some other soups. This recipe looks great, I’ll definitely have to break the crockpot out for this one since it just started getting cold here.

  2. 5 stars
    This chili was delicious. Whole family loved it. I was a bit worried about the amount of ranch powder but it was perfect. So flavorful. Thank you for the recipe. Will be making it often.

    1. So happy to hear that! I’m glad it was a hit and will be made often 🙂 Thanks for the comment Michelle!

  3. Plan on making this for Wednesday and your Sausage and veggies dish tomorrow.
    Very simple recipes that look great and I’m sure taste just as great.

  4. This chili is cooking in my crockpot as I type this. The flavor profile is amazing. Taking this dish to a work Christmas party tomorrow. I just know my co-workers will love it. Thanks!

  5. The instant pot recipe does not work. I have followed it twice now and each time the pot says burn and never gets to pressure. I’m sure this would be great in the crockpot but it is not an instant pot recipe

    1. Hi Katie! I’ve actually made this several times (3-4 times) in my instant pot and never had an issue; so I’d love to troubleshoot with you. Did you select soup and then change it to 10 minutes?

      1. 5 stars
        This is DELICIOUS! My new fav chili.

        I’m rating it 5 stars despite having the same problem as the other commenter. My instapot also said BURN and I made this following directions to a T. Apparently after sautéing anything in the instapot you are suppose to take the meat out and “deglaze the pot” otherwise you are more likely to set off the BURN indicator. When mine went off I opened it and luckily nothing was burned to the pot that I could feel so I just stirred it and put it back to “soup”. Unfortunately, it only cooked for another 2 minutes before the indicator came back on. Luckily it was cooked through so we were able to enjoy this delicious recipe regardless.

      2. I’m having the same problem as well. It has burned twice on me in my new 6-quart instant pot. I think you might need to add water because the newer model instant pots are more susceptible to burning from what I’ve read.

    2. Same! I hope the stir method works b/c I rarely follow recipes to a T and did myself this one but it also claimed BURN. Opened, restored and trying on high, 4 min. Instead.

    3. Same! I hope the stir method works b/c I rarely follow recipes to a T and did follow this one and it resulted in BURN. Luckily, I was still in the kitchen, so opened it and added my forgotten roasted corn and then decided to turn the IP to stew/beans. Maybe for 4 minutes. I bet this will work. The meat is cooked so it’s just melding the flavors together.

  6. Hi Chelsea ☺

    I’ve been making your recipes for the past couple years and they’ve all been great! I want to try this chili recipe next, but I have a couple questions.

    Which brand did you use for the fire roasted diced tomatoes with seasonings? I found a few brands online, however, the seasonings used seemed to vary greatly between brands.

    Also, did you use the fire roasted Ro☆tel for this recipe as well? Or just the original with green chiles?

    Thanks!

    1. Thanks so much Kristy! I’d recommend Muir Glen for the fire roasted and yes fire roasted Rotel works great 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    This was fabulous. My family loved it. Question though, how much is considered one serving for the 355 calories? I measured out one cup as I’m trying to watch the calories, but would like to use the leftovers for meal prep. Thank you for sharing this recipe, it’s definitely a keeper!

  8. 5 stars
    Love the flavor! I added hot Rotel and a bit of cayenne for spice. I think I will drain some things a bit next time, though. It’s a bit runny for me. But it tastes amazing! Can’t wait to try more variations!

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