Easy Ground Beef Recipes You Can Make in a Crockpot

For the times when you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen after a long day at the office, a crockpot is your best friend. While the low-and-slow machines do wonders for tough cuts of meat, they’re also great at turning ground beef into something stellar. That’s great news for penny pinchers because this protein remains one of the least expensive and most versatile ways to get your fill of beef.

Whether you’re looking for the classic comfort of shepherd’s pie or a new twist on chili, we’ve found a recipe to suit your taste. Enjoy every bite of sticking to your budget with one of these 12 fuss-free dishes.

1. Slow-Cooked Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's pie and potatoes and broccoli

Shepherd’s pie | iStock.com

Feed your hearty appetite with this filling shepherd’s pie from Taste of Home. It’s packed with beef, veggies, a savory sauce, and plenty of fluffy mashed potatoes. A little sprinkle of cheese makes the perfect finishing touch. If you typically start your crockpot meals in the morning before heading to work, you might have to set your alarm a bit earlier to allow enough time to mash the potatoes.

Serves: 5

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ to ⅓ cup milk
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1¾ cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ⅓ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 tablespoon parsley

Directions: Place potatoes in a large saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Drain, and return potatoes to same pot. Set over low heat for 1 minute to evaporate excess moisture. Mash potatoes. Add butter and enough milk to reach desired consistency. Add ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until meat is fully cooked. Drain excess fat. Add tomato paste, and cook 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, carrots, broth, wine, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, until most of liquid has evaporated. Stir in peas. Season with remaining salt and pepper.

Transfer beef mixture to a greased 4-quart slow cooker. Spread mashed potatoes over top. Cover, and cook on low 5 to 6 hours, until bubbling. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover, and cook 10 minutes longer. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

2. Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili

Vegetarian chili with sweet potatos

Sweet potato chili | iStock.com

Just about every guy has a basic chili recipe in his back pocket, but it’s nice to shake up the classic every so often. Give the substantial stew a new look with this sweet potato-studded version from One Lovely Life, adapted from Tastes of Lizzy T’s. It’s one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever make, and it’s also really flavorful thanks to some chili powder and the sweet spuds.

Just brown the beef, drain the excess fat, then toss it in the crockpot with all the remaining ingredients. Start it in the morning, flip the switch, and dinner will be ready when you walk in the door at night. Although this dish is already great, feel free to bulk it up with some beans. You can also add any of your favorite toppings. Sour cream, cheese, pickled jalapeños, crushed tortilla chips, and hot sauce are some of our favorites.

Serves: 10

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (14-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, and diced
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano

Optional ingredients

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions: In a skillet set over medium heat, brown beef until fully cooked. Drain excess fat, and transfer to a slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. Serve.

3. Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

sloppy joes

Sloppy Joes | iStock.com

Whip up a nostalgic supper with Center Cut Cook’s simple sloppy Joe recipe. Featuring barbecue sauce, ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce, this recipe is a great way to use up lingering condiments. Though not traditional, this sandwich filling is really great with a little bit of spice. Add a little bit of minced chipotle or a sprinkle of cayenne to the sauce to give the meat some serious kick. It might become your new favorite sandwich.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¾ cup barbecue sauce
  • 10 hamburger buns

Optional ingredient

  • Sliced cheese

Directions: In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, cook beef and onions until meat is nearly cooked and onions are tender. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute longer. Drain fat, and transfer mixture to slow cooker.

Combine garlic powder, salt, pepper, water, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, ketchup, and barbecue sauce in a large bowl and stir well to combine. Pour into slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low heat for 4 to 5 hours. Just before serving, toast buns. Spoon filling onto buns, and top with cheese. Serve.

4. Crockpot Stuffed Poblanos

stuffed poblanos, peppers

Stuffed poblanos | iStock.com

Traditional chiles rellenos are absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, they’re also a huge time investment. You have to make the filling, roast peppers, peel the skins, delicately stuff each one, whip egg whites for batter, coat the chiles, then fry them in hot oil. Oh, and you probably want to make a sauce.

You can seriously speed things along with SparkRecipes’ stuffed poblanos cooked in a crockpot. All you have to do is mix the meat with some seasonings, fill the raw peppers, and top with some canned tomatoes. Easy never tasted so good.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 poblano peppers
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 dashes black pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, divided
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Directions: Slice tops off peppers, and remove seeds and pulp. Mix beef, celery, onions, garlic, pepper, cumin, ¼ cup tomatoes, and salt, to taste. Divide mixture evenly among peppers. Arrange peppers in crockpot, and top with remaining tomatoes. Cover, and cook on low 8 to 10 hours. Sprinkle with cheese, cover, and cook until cheese just melts. Serve.

5. Slow Cooker Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

meatballs

Meatballs | iStock.com

Take the hassle out of making meatballs by cooking them in the slow cooker with Food & Wine’s simple dish. This recipe uses a two-part method to ensure perfect sauce and meatballs every time. You start by simmering canned tomatoes, basil, garlic, and spicy red pepper flakes. Then, add the raw meatballs, and let them cook right in the sauce.

Though this recipe takes four hours as written, you can slow down the process if you want to make it during the week. Mix the meat ahead of time, and store the rolled balls in the fridge. Start the sauce in the morning, and cook it on the low setting. When you get home, crank up the heat to high, then proceed with the regular directions.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 large basil sprig, plus 2 tablespoons sliced basil leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions: Using hands, crush tomatoes into slow cooker, and add juices. Add olive oil, tomato paste, pepper flakes, and half of garlic. Cover, and cook on high for 3 hours, until sauce is flavorful.

Meanwhile, mix meat with remaining garlic, breadcrumbs, egg, Parmesan, 1 tablespoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Roll into 18 meatballs, being as gently as possible.

Add meatballs to sauce. Cover, and cook on high for 1 hour, until meatballs are fully cooked. Discard basil. Add 1 tablespoon sliced basil, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon meatballs into bowls, sprinkle with remaining basil, and serve with extra cheese.

6. Healthier Hamburger Helper

fusilli pasta with meat sauce

Pasta with meat sauce | iStock.com

Mid-century meal fix Hamburger Helper gets a much-needed modern upgrade in this recipe from The Recipe Rebel. Rather than making dinner from a box, this version of the classic one-pot meal is prepared with fresh, healthy ingredients, such as red bell pepper and spinach. Everything (including the pasta) cooks up in the slow cooker for maximum convenience. Tip: Use a slow cooker liner to speed up the cleanup.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh spinach
  • 1½ cups 1% milk
  • 1 cup beef broth, low sodium
  • 1½ cups seasoned tomato or pasta sauce
  • 3 cups dry, uncooked macaroni or other short pasta
  • 1½ cups shredded cheese

Directions: Cook the ground beef and onion in a skillet until the meat is brown and the onion is soft. Add the meat and onion to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker.

Add the red bell pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, spinach, milk, beef broth, and tomato sauce to the crock. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 5 to 8 hours.

About 30 minutes before you want to serve the meal, stir in the pasta. Cover and let cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the cheese and cover again for 2 to 3 minutes to let cheese melt, if necessary. Serve.

7. Beef Stroganoff

Cooking ground beef

Cooking ground beef for stroganoff | iStock.com/vinicef

Budget-conscious cooks will appreciate this recipe for slow cooker ground beef stroganoff from Stockpiling Moms. This six-ingredient dish features common pantry ingredients, such as cream of mushroom soup, and takes just 15 minutes to prep. Serve it over egg noodles and with a fresh salad for a complete, easy meal.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed golden mushroom soup
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • Egg noodles, for serving

Directions: In a large skillet, cook the ground beef until no longer pink. Drain the fat, then add the meat to the crockpot.

Pour the soup over the meat, then add the onion, Worcestershire sauce, and water. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5 hours.

Thirty minutes before serving, stir in the cream cheese. Serve over cooked egg noodles or other pasta.

8. Slow Cooker Enchilada Stack

Enchilada stack with fork and knife in a plate

Enchilada stack | iStock.com

You don’t need to head to your favorite Mexican restaurant to enjoy a plate of delicious enchiladas. Instead, try this recipe for stacked enchiladas made in the slow cooker, courtesy of Damn Delicious, which promise to be the “easiest enchiladas you will ever make.” There’s no rolling required — just layer the ingredients in your crockpot, and you’re good to go. (Note: This recipe will be easier to make if you have a round rather than oval-shaped slow cooker.)

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned, or roasted
  • 1 cup salsa, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 (4½-ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
  • 2 teaspoons taco seasoning mix
  • 1 (10-ounce) can mild enchilada sauce, divided
  • 4 (9-inch) flour tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese, divided
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled, and diced, for serving
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions: Add some olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until no longer pink. Crumble the meat as it cooks. Drain the fat and remove pan from heat.

Stir the black beans, corn, salsa, green chilies, taco seasoning, and enchilada sauce (reserving ½ cup for later use) into the meat.

Coat the inside of a slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place a tortilla at the bottom of the crock. Spread ⅓ of the ground beef mixture on the tortilla, then top with ½ cup of cheese. Repeat 2 more times. Then, top with the remaining tortilla, reserved enchilada sauce, and remaining cheese.

Cover and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours. Serve immediately, garnished with avocado, tomato, and cilantro.

9. Old-Fashioned Meatloaf

traditional meatloaf with ketchup glaze

Meatloaf | iStock.com

Family-friendly meatloaf is virtually effortless to prepare when you make it in your slow cooker. For this dish from Recipes That Crock, all you need are five minutes to mix together the ingredients. Dump everything into your crockpot, top with some ketchup, and that’s it. It might not be the most sophisticated meal in the world, but it will feed hungry kids and make life a little less hectic for busy parents.

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cup oats or cracker crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large onion or 2 small onions, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup, plus extra for topping

Directions: Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.

Coat the inside of a crockpot with nonstick cooking spray. (Use a 9-by-13-inch casserole slow cooker or a 5- to 6-quart regular slow cooker.)

Press the ground beef mixture into the crockpot. Make a groove down the middle. Top with ketchup. (Use as little or as much as you like.)

Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. Serve.

10. Crockpot Ground Beef Stew

tomato soup with fresh herbs

Ground beef soup | iStock.com

This recipe from Eat Well 101 manages to be that rare thing: comfort food that’s actually good for you. Ground beef is cooked in the slow cooker with healthy ingredients, such as carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes, for a simple soup that satisfies. Even better, it’s a one-step dish. There’s no need to brown the beef before you put it in the crockpot. What could be better than that?

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1½ pounds potatoes, diced large, unpeeled
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 5 whole garlic clove, skin on
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Parmesan and fresh chopped flat parsley, for garnish

Directions: Add the diced tomato, diced potatoes, sliced carrots, ground beef, diced onions, whole garlic cloves, oregano, bay leaves, and seasoning to a large slow cooker.

Pour the beef broth over everything and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, without opening the lid during cooking time.

Serve topped with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley, and with a fresh baguette on the side.

11. Crockpot Queso Dip

bowl of cheese dip

Cheese dip | iStock.com

This indulgent dip won’t earn any awards from the health police, but we think your party guests will love it anyway. The cheesy mix of Velveeta, ground beef, and Rotel tomatoes with chilies is perfect for game day, backyard barbecues, and other celebrations. The recipe is from Brown-Eyed Baker.

Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 large (or 2 small) jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely minced
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
  • 32 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 2 (10-ounce) cans Rotel or other tomatoes with diced green chilies

Directions: Add the ground beef and onion to a large skillet. Brown over medium heat until the meat is fully cooked and no longer pink. Add the jalapeño peppers, water, and taco seasoning. Stir to combine. Adjust heat to medium high and cook, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporated. Remove pan from heat.

Transfer the meat to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add the cubed Velveeta and the cans of Rotel. Stir to combine. Set slow cooker to low and cook for 1 to 2 hours, until the cheese is completely melted. Stir again, reduce heat to the “keep warm” setting, and serve.

12. Thai Curry Ground Beef

fresh ginger root with small bowl of dried, ground ginger

Ginger for Thai ground beef | iStock.com

Yummy Thai flavors, such as ginger and lime, elevate this simple crockpot recipe from Slender Kitchen into something delicious. Even better, it’s easy on your waistline, with just 213 calories per serving and 8 grams of fat. You can serve this ground beef curry over rice or wrapped up in cabbage leaves if you’re trying to cut carbs.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound 95% lean ground beef
  • 1 leek, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, raw
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste (or to taste)
  • 1½ cups canned tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ cup canned light coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice

Directions: Add the ground beef to a large skillet. Cook over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain the fat.

Add the meat to the crockpot along with the leek, garlic, ginger, red curry paste, tomato sauce, soy sauce, and lime zest. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.

Uncover and stir in the coconut milk and lime juice. Let cook for 15 minutes longer, then serve.

Additional reporting by Christine Skopec.