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Taco Soup in a Jar

Whether for food storage or just for crazy night dinner emergencies, having this Meal in a Jar Taco Soup can be a lifesaver! Just add water and cook!!

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Picture of mason jar of dry ingredients for Taco Soup in a Jar with instruction label and gift tag

Taco Soup in a Jar

This Taco Soup in a Jar recipe is an easy pleaser!  There’s just something about taco soup that is so comforting, especially on a cold winter evening.  And having it all ready to go as a meal in a jar is even better!

Whether you use this as part of your food storage, for a Christmas gift, or just want to keep some on your shelf for busy night dinner emergencies, these meals in a jar can be a lifesaver!

Taco Soup in a Jar goes from jar to bowl in 30 minutes, and the hardest part is pretty much just getting the lid off the darn jar! 

Table scene showing bowl of Taco Soup in a Jar made into soup, surrounded by ingredients, pot of soup, and meal in a jar.

Items You Will Need:

Collage of four photos showing process of making Taco Soup in a Jar.

How to Make Taco Soup in a Jar

  1. Layer each ingredient, one at a time, into a clean wide-mouth quart mason jar in the order listed in the recipe.  For this recipe, the space in the jar is very tight, so if you find that layering the ingredients is still more than can fit, you can put all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix, and then place back into jar.
  2. If not using a Foodsaver to vacuum seal the jar, place one 100cc oxygen absorber on top of the dry ingredients.  (You can use an oxygen absorber in addition to vacuum sealing the jar as well.)
  3. Wipe rim of jar to make sure it is clean.  Then place new lid on jar.
  4. To seal:
    1. If using a FoodSaver to vacuum seal the jar, carefully place the wide-mouth jar attachment over the top of the jar and lid, attach it to the FoodSaver, and vacuum seal following your model’s instructions (for most newer models you’ll use the Marinate or Accessory option).  Once done, remove the hose from the top of the jar sealer, and then carefully remove the jar sealer attachment off of the jar.  Place ring onto jar and tighten.
    2. If using just an oxygen absorber, place the lid on the jar and screw on the ring.  Allow jar to sit undisturbed as oxygen absorber works.  At some point, the lid of the jar should suck down and seal.  You will know it is sealed when you press on the center of the lid and it does not flex.  (If it flexes, it is not sealed.)
  5.  Attach instruction label to top of jar, or write cooking instructions on lid with sharpie marker.
  6. Store jar in cool, dry place away from direct sun. 

A Note on Storing or Gifting the Meals in a Jar

You’ll need to store the jar(s) where it will not be jostled as this can inadvertently pop the seal.  And you should check on the seal periodically to make sure that it is holding.  Most of the time this has not been a problem for me, but occasionally I find one that loses the seal over time.  Using an oxygen absorber in combination with the vacuum sealing with the FoodSaver will help keep that seal extra tight.

There’s no need to get fancy with these if they are going into your food storage, but you should make sure to label them, and it helps to write the cooking instructions on the lid as well.  If you’d like, my friend Amy at The Happy Scraps has designed printable label stickers that you can use, and she also has gift tags available that you can cut with a Cricut machine if you’d like to give these meals in a jar as gifts!

Closeup shots of the instruction label and optional gift tag for making Taco Soup in a Jar.

Questions and Substitutions

Freeze-dried meat is so expensive, can I substitute something else?

Yes!  Because it is real meat and due to the complicated nature of the freeze-drying process, freeze-dried meats are not cheap!  If you are needing to stay on a budget for these, you can substitute a vegetarian meat substitute known as TVP, or “textured vegetable protein”.  It is soy-based, and made to have a similar taste and texture to the “real” stuff.  For this recipe, if you decide to use TVP, I recommend using Taco Flavored TVP for better flavor.  I have made the recipe with TVP before, and it tastes just fine.  Unfortunately, I can no longer tolerate soy in my diet (thanks to an allergy), so I have to stick with the real (aka “expensive”) stuff.

Update for 2020: As the pandemic has progressed, it has become increasing more difficult to find freeze-dried items, especially freeze-dried meats.  And if you are lucky enough to find some, it is often marked up beyond belief.  SO, for right now, I DO NOT RECOMMEND using freeze-dried beef in this recipe unless you can find it at a reasonable price and have the budget for it.  A great alternative is to use the TVP option above OR make the meal as written, but leave out the ground beef all together.  Then, purchase some canned shredded beef online or at a warehouse such as Costco (although I haven’t seen any at Costco for quite some time now)(, or even can your own, and store that or gift that together with the jarred meal.  You can even make the meal without any meat and then add fresh browned ground beef when you make the meal.  

How long are these Taco Soup in a Jar meals good for?

As long as they are stored properly and the seals stay holding, these jars are shelf-stable for up to 10 years!  Shelf life for the meal is calculated using the shelf life of whichever ingredient in the meal has the shortest shelf life on its own.  In this case, that is the cheese powder, which has a typical shelf life of about 10 years.  

What are quick cook beans?  Can I just use regular beans in this recipe instead of the quick cook beans?

Quick cook beans are ones that have been partially cooked and then dehydrated.  Because of this, they don’t take nearly as much time to reconstitute and soften when using in meals.

Regular dry beans need to be soaked first, and the nature of the meals in a jar makes that hard to do.  You could use dry beans and put them in a baggie to separate them from the other ingredients so you could soak them the night before.  But that’s an awful lot of work, and the recipe has not been tested for that, so you’d need to wing it on cook times and water amounts.  I really recommend just sticking with the quick cook beans here – honestly.  

How do I make the Taco Soup in a Jar to eat?

Stove Top Instruction: To make the meal, empty contents of jar (minus oxygen packet if present) into large stock pot or dutch oven.  Add 8 cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.

This one is great to serve with a little shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla strips or chips!  Add a squeeze of lime juice if you really want to go all out!! 

Overhead shot of table set with two bowls of Taco Soup in a Jar and garnishes.

If you’re looking for other great meal in a jar recipes, be sure to check out these others from the blog:

A quart mason jar, on a gray background, filled with the dry ingredients needed to make Taco Soup, with a printed label tied to the outside of the jar.

Taco Soup in a Jar

Yield: 6 people
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Delicious south of the border flavors you can enjoy any time without all the work - just add water and simmer! Makes a great gift or addition to your food storage!!

Instructions

  1. Place items in layers into mason jar in the following order: beans, beef, onion, seasonings, tomato powder, bell peppers, then corn.  Shake to settle contents.
  2. Lay oxygen absorber on top of ingredients (optional). Wipe off rim of mason jar to allow for a good vacuum seal with the lid.
  3. Place new canning lid on top of jar. Using wide-mouth attachment for a FoodSaver, vacuum seal the lid onto jar following instructions from your FoodSaver manual.  
  4. Once seal is done, remove vacuum attachment and put ring on. Tighten by hand, but don't over tighten.
  5. Label and date. Store in cool, dry location.

To cook:

    Empty contents of jar (minus oxygen packet if present) into large stock pot or dutch oven.  Add 8 cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 6 people
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 213Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 854mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 6gSugar: 2gProtein: 16g

Nutrition information provided as an estimate only.

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