Ground Beef and Squash Skillet



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This ground beef skillet cooks up in about 30 minutes and requires just one pan! It’s loaded with grass-fed ground beef, vegetables and a variety of spices all topped with cheddar cheese for a delicious and easy weeknight dinner.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy one pan meal to make for dinner look no further than this ground beef skillet!

It combines ground beef, fresh veggies and Southwestern spices for a flavor-packed meal that the whole family is guaranteed to love.

Ground beef and squash in a large skillet topped with melted cheddar cheese.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • One pan – This dish comes together in one pan. Yay for minimal dishes!
  • Easy to make – From start to finish this recipe comes together in under 30 minutes, making it a great quick and easy weeknight dinner option.
  • Veggie-packed and flavorful – It’s made with lean grass-fed ground beef and veggies and is packed with tons of flavor thanks to the Southwestern spices.
Ingredients measured out to make Ground Beef and Squash Skillet: pepper, soy sauce, cayenne pepper, onion, garlic, chili powder, zucchini, ground beef, oil, salt, cilantro, fire roasted tomatoes, red bell pepper, cumin, sharp cheddar, oregano and paprika.

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • olive oil – to sauté the veggies. Avocado oil is a great substitute.
  • vegetables – yellow onion, garlic, red bell pepper and zucchini.
  • lean grass-fed ground beef – ideally you want to look for lean grass-fed ground beef, as this will contain more nutrients than grain-fed beef. I buy Nature’s Rancher 85/15 organic grass-fed beef. Studies have found that grass-fed beef contains two to six times more omega-3 fatty acids than feed-lot beef.
  • seasonings and spices – chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper
  • soy sauce or tamari – just a splash for a savory, umami flavor.
  • fire roasted tomatoes – the main liquid in this recipe that the veggies and beef simmer in. I prefer fire roasted tomatoes for added flavor, but feel free to use regular diced tomatoes.
  • sharp cheddar cheese – for topping. I recommend freshly grated cheddar cheese vs. pre-shredded cheese as that’ll have caking agents in it.
  • cilantro – I love topping my dishes with fresh herbs and cilantro is the perfect pairing for this beef skillet.
Five photos showing the steps to make a Ground Beef and Squash Skillet: sautéing veggies in a skillet, adding ground beef, tomatoes and cheddar on top.

How to Make

Step 1: Preheat your oven to broil. In a large oven-safe skillet, heat oil over medium heat.

Step 2: Sauté diced onion until fragrant, then add garlic and sauté for another minute.

Step 3: Add zucchini and bell pepper with a bit of salt, and cook until the vegetables are tender.

Step 4: Stir in ground beef and seasonings. Cook until the beef is thoroughly cooked, breaking it into pieces.

Step 5: Mix in tamari and fire-roasted tomatoes and simmer to slightly thicken the sauce.

Step 6: Top with cheddar cheese and broil in the oven for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden. Let it cool for a few minutes before serving, topped with cilantro.

Recipe Tips

  • Prep ahead: Chop all your veggies beforehand to make the cooking process smoother and faster.
  • Hot skillet: Make sure your skillet is nice and hot before you add the beef; this helps it get a good sear and develop more flavor.
  • Use grass-fed beef: Use grass-fed beef for the best flavor and nutrition!
  • Watch the cheese: Keep a close eye on the oven while the cheese is broiling because it can easily go from golden brown to burnt in a matter of seconds!
A serving of ground beef and squash skillet recipe on a plate with a side of brown rice and lime slices.

Substitutions & Notes

  • Veggies: Feel free to customize this dish and swap out the veggies for whatever you have on hand. Just be mindful that you’ll want veggies that cook up at the same speed otherwise some veggies will get too soft. Some ideas: cauliflower, mushrooms, spinach, kale, yellow squash, broccoli, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, etc.
  • Beef: If you’re not a beef eater, ground turkey or chicken will both work as a substitute.
  • Cheese: Any meltable cheese like Monterey Jack, Colby or a Mexican blend can be used in place of sharp cheddar.
  • Vegetarian: Skip the meat and use lentils, black beans or tofu instead!
A serving of ground beef and squash skillet recipe on a plate with a side of brown rice and lime slices.

How to Serve Ground Beef Skillet

A wooden serving spoon holding a spoonful of ground beef and squash over a skillet.

How to Store Leftovers

Refrigerate: Allow the skillet to cool completely to avoid condensation which can make things soggy. Transfer the cooled skillet contents into an airtight container. It’ll stay fresh in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Freeze: If you want to extend its shelf life, you can freeze the skillet meal. Just hold off on the cheese if you know you’ll be freezing it. It’ll freeze well for up to 2-3 months.

Reheat: Warm it up in the microwave or back in a skillet over medium heat. If it’s frozen, let it thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.

Tip! If you froze it without cheese, add a fresh sprinkle of cheese while reheating to revive that just-broiled taste.

Ground beef and squash in a large skillet topped with melted cheddar cheese.


Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

Absolutely! Cook everything up until the cheese step, then cool, cover, and refrigerate. When you’re ready to eat, add the cheese and broil.

How can I make this vegetarian?

Easy! Just omit the ground beef and use beans or some lentils for protein instead.

What if I don’t have an oven-safe skillet?

You can transfer everything to a baking dish for the broiling step or simply cover the skillet with a lid to melt the cheese on the stovetop.

More One Pan Recipes to Try

Be sure to check out more 30-minute meals as well as the full collection of dinner recipes on EBF!

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5 from 7 votes

Southwest Ground Beef and Squash Skillet

This ground beef skillet cooks up in about 30 minutes and requires just one pan! It's loaded with grass-fed ground beef, vegetables and a variety of spices all topped with cheddar cheese for a delicious and easy weeknight dinner.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 lb lean grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Cilantro, for topping
  • Cauliflower rice or regular rice, for serving


  • Bring oven to a broil. In a 10 inch, oven-safe skillet (I used a 10 inch cast iron) heat oil over medium heat.
  • Add onion and sauté for 2-3 min, until it starts to become fragrant. Add garlic and sauté 1 more minute.
    Diced onion and garlic in a large cast iron skillet.
  • Add zucchini, bell pepper and ½ tsp salt and saute for 5-6 min until veggies have softened.
    Diced zucchini and bell pepper in a large cast iron skillet with onion and garlic.
  • Add ground beef, chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, ½ tsp salt, pepper and cayenne, if using. Cook for 5-6 min, until beef is cooked through, breaking it up as it cooks.
    Ground beef cooked in a large cast iron skillet with zucchini, red bell pepper, onion, and garlic.
  • Add the tamari and fire roasted tomatoes. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 5-6 minutes letting the sauce slightly reduce and thicken.
    Roasted tomatoes added to a large cast iron skillet with ground beef, zucchini, red bell pepper, garlic, and onion.
  • Top mixture with cheddar cheese and place it in oven to broil for 2-3 min, watching closely to make sure the cheese doesn’t burn.
    Shredded cheddar cheese added to the top of the ground beef and squash skillet.
  • Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes. Serve over rice of choice and top with cilantro


Serving: 1serving (w/o rice) | Calories: 426kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 616mg | Potassium: 319mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Southwestern
Keyword: ground beef skillet
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

More about Brittany
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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Such an easy and quick recipe and adaptable to what you have on hand. It was a bit hit with both hubby and teen son. We served this with brown rice, so I got that going in the Instant Pot first and then started the prep for this. I didn’t have zucchini, so I used carrots instead and chopped everything up small. I used Penzey’s Chicken Taco Seasoning because it includes most of the separate spices in the recipe. My tomatoes were fire roasted crushed tomatoes. Once the rice was done, so was the meal. Delicious! I think it would be great with ground turkey too.

    1. YUMM! This sounds amazing, Kathy. I am happy you have this recipe a try and it turned out amazing for you. Thank you for your review + star rating, I really appreciate it!

  2. 5 stars
    This was delicious and easy. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef but otherwise followed the recipe as written. Served it with rice and black beans on the side. Thank you for this delicious recipe. My husband and I really enjoyed it.

    1. YAY! I am SO glad you loved this recipe and it turned out amazing for you, Jill. Thanks so much for your review & star rating, I truly appreciate it!

  3. 5 stars
    Well this is something special! Very simple to put together, quick, and so full of flavor! The seasonings are bold but not overwhelming. This will become a staple in our household. I served over cauliflower rice. Yum!

    1. YUM! I am so glad you are loving this one and it is a hit, Heather. Thank you for your review + star rating, I really appreciate it.

  4. Where’s the SQUASH in this “Ground Beef and Squash” recipe?
    Read the article/recipe twice & saw nothing about squash.