Continuous taste bud cell renewal is essential to maintain taste function in adults; however, the molecular mechanisms that regulate taste cell turnover are unknown. Using inducible Cre-lox technology, we show that activation of β-catenin signaling in multipotent lingual epithelial progenitors outside of taste buds diverts daughter cells from a general epithelial to a taste bud fate. Moreover, while taste buds comprise 3 morphological types, β-catenin activation drives overproduction of primarily glial-like Type I taste cells in both anterior fungiform (FF) and posterior circumvallate (CV) taste buds, with a small increase in Type II receptor cells for sweet, bitter and umami, but does not alter Type III sour detector cells. Beta-catenin activation in post-mitotic taste bud precursors likewise regulates cell differentiation; forced activation of β-catenin in these Shh+ cells promotes Type I cell fate in both FF and CV taste buds, but likely does so non-cell autonomously. Our data are consistent with a model where β-catenin signaling levels within lingual epithelial progenitors dictate cell fate prior to or during entry of new cells into taste buds; high signaling induces Type I cells, intermediate levels drive Type II cell differentiation, while low levels may drive differentiation of Type III cells.