The next time you want to turn a humble baked potato into dinner, take a cue from taco night. This weeknight wonder is inspired by classic ground beef tacos, where the meat is kissed with garlic and tomato and laced with warm, smoky spices — just the way you remember. Best of all, the beef and potatoes cook together all day in the slow cooker, so all that's left to do when it's time to get dinner on the table is stuff the potatoes and pile on all your favorite taco toppings.
Cook the Meat and Potatoes at the Same Time
Perhaps the only thing better than cooking up a bunch of potatoes in the slow cooker is making classic taco-style ground beef to stuff them with at the very same time. Yes, you read that correctly: The potatoes and beef cook in your slow cooker at the same time. It's an ingenious trick for making dinner as easy as can be.
The potatoes are pierced with a fork, rubbed with just a little bit of cooking oil, and seasoned with salt. But instead of wrapping them with foil, they cook on top of a layer of parchment paper that separates them from the browned beef at the bottom of the cooker. As they cook, the potato skin picks up a deep brown hue and the aroma of the beef and taco seasoning are infused into the potatoes.
Slow Cooker Taco-Stuffed Potatoes
Prep time: 10 minutes ; cooking time: 6 hours to 8 hours
medium russet potatoes (2 to 2 1/2 pounds total)
plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons
kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 pounds
lean ground beef
freshly ground black pepper
1 (8-ounce) can
small yellow onion, finely chopped
low-sodium beef or chicken broth
1 (1-ounce) packet
Topping options: shredded cheddar cheese, shredded romaine lettuce, chopped tomato, sour cream
Turn a 6-quart or larger slow cooker onto the LOW setting to let it preheat while you prep the potatoes and brown the beef.
Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork. Rub each potato with 1/2 teaspoon of the olive oil and season each with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt; set aside.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large (10- or 12-inch) skillet over medium-high until shimmering. Add the beef, season with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper, and use a stiff spatula or wooden spoon to break the meat up into large pieces. Let the meat brown undisturbed for 4 to 5 minutes. Break the meat up into smaller pieces with your spatula and continue to cook until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Transfer the browned meat to the slow cooker. Add the tomato sauce, onion, broth, garlic, and taco seasoning. Stir well to combine. Place a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil on top of the beef mixture. Place the potatoes on top of the parchment in a single layer.
Cover and cook on the LOW setting until the potatoes are tender, 6 to 8 hours.
Remove the potatoes from the slow cooker and remove and discard the parchment or foil. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise down the center without cutting all the way through. Use a fork to fluff the inside of the potatoes. Place the potatoes on plates. Stir the beef mixture in the slow cooker, then spoon it into and over each potato. Top with shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream as desired.
Storage: The beef filling and potatoes can be refrigerated separately in covered containers for up to 4 days.