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Mexican Pasta Bake

This Mexican Pasta recipe is a vibrant, spicy twist on a classic comfort food. Infused with traditional Mexican spices and topped with cheese, it’s bound to become a new family favorite! Plus, it only takes 25 minutes from scratch!

Mexican pasta bake in a casserole dish with a serving spoon.
It only takes 25 minutes to make this utterly delicious Mexican pasta!

Video: Watch Us Make This Recipe

Why This Recipe Stands Out

Who doesn’t love a good pasta dish? This Mexican pasta is a unique blend of hearty pasta and vibrant Mexican flavors, all baked to perfection. Here’s why:

  • Quick: This recipe is ready in just 25 minutes, perfect for busy weeknights like our other convenient 30-minute meals.
  • Flavor-Packed: The combination of homemade taco seasoning, salsa, and Mexican blend cheese gives this pasta a bold, exciting flavor.
  • Versatile: You can use either lean ground beef or turkey, making it adaptable to your preferences.
  • Healthy: It’s packed with whole grain pasta, lean meat, and black beans, making it a nutritious choice.
  • Comfort Food: Despite its unique twist, this recipe still delivers the comforting feel of a classic casserole bake.

Key Recipe Ingredients

  • Corkscrew Pasta – The backbone of our dish, whole grain corkscrew pasta not only adds a healthy twist but also holds onto the sauce well, guaranteeing that every bite is packed with flavor.
  • Lean Ground Beef or Turkey – This is the protein of our dish, it adds a hearty element and soaks up the flavors of the taco seasoning beautifully.
  • Homemade Taco Seasoning It brings a burst of flavor and gives the dish its distinctive Mexican flair.
  • Chunky Salsa – We use a jar of chunky salsa to add a tangy kick and to keep the dish moist and flavorful.
  • Black Beans and Black Olives – These add a nice contrast in texture, and their earthy flavors balance out the spiciness of the dish.
  • Mexican Blend Cheese – We top our dish with a generous sprinkle of shredded Mexican blend cheese, which melts into a deliciously gooey layer.
  • Garnishes – Freshly chopped cilantro adds a pop of freshness, while avocado slices bring a creamy element to the dish, perfectly rounding off the flavors.

Substitutions And Variations

This hearty Mexican pasta recipe is a flavor-packed dish that’s guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser. But we know that everyone has their own tastes and dietary needs, so let’s look at some tasty variations and substitutions:

  • Pasta: While we use whole-grain corkscrew pasta, feel free to substitute it with your favorite pasta type. Gluten-free pasta would work great as well.
  • Protein: The recipe calls for lean ground beef or turkey, but you could easily substitute it with ground chicken, tofu, or even a plant-based meat substitute.
  • Seasoning: Homemade taco seasoning is our go-to for this dish, but any store-bought version or your own blend of spices would work wonderfully.
  • Beans: If black beans aren’t your thing, try pinto beans or kidney beans like we use in our Mexican taco salad. Just make sure to rinse and drain them well.
  • Cheese: We love the Mexican blend cheese here, but feel free to use your favorite cheese. A blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack would be delicious, or make it spicy with some pepper jack.
  • Garnishes: The options are endless! Aside from cilantro and avocado slices, consider adding a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of green onions, or a squeeze of fresh lime juice for added zesty flavor.

Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions

  1. Boil pasta in a large pot of salt water until al dente, drain and set aside. 
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and sauté onions and garlic. Add ground meat and cook until brown. Stir in taco seasoning, salsa, black beans, olives, and oregano. 
  1. Combine this mixture with the pasta, stir in cheese, and transfer to the baking dish. 
  2. Top with remaining cheese and bake for 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and avocado before serving.

For full list of ingredients and instructions, see recipe card below.

How To Prep Ahead

This Mexican pasta is not only a crowd-pleaser but also a great make-ahead option. Take a look at our favorite prep-ahead strategies for this recipe:

  • Meat Mixture: You can prepare the meat mixture with onions, garlic, ground meat, taco seasoning, salsa, black beans, olives, and oregano ahead of time. Once cooked, let it cool and store it in the fridge for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to assemble the dish, just heat it up.
  • Cheese: Shred the Mexican blend cheese and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. This way, you’ll have it ready to add to the pasta and meat mixture, and to sprinkle on top before baking.
  • Assemble Ahead of Time: You can also entirely assemble the casserole and store it in the fridge for up to 2 hours. When ready to serve, top it with cheese and bake uncovered in the oven.
Closeup shot of a spoonful of Mexican pasta casserole in a white dish.
This Mexican pasta is easy, tasty, and ready in just 25 minutes for a fuss-free weeknight meal.

What To Serve With Mexican Pasta

Salads

Bread

Chips and Dips

Commonly Asked Questions

What type of pasta is best for this Mexican pasta recipe?

We use whole grain corkscrew pasta for this recipe but you can use any other pasta of your choice such as shells, penne, rotini, or macaroni. The key is to cook it al dente to maintain texture.

Can I use store-bought taco seasoning?

Absolutely! If you don’t have everything at home to make your own homemade taco seasoning, you can use store-bought taco seasoning. It will still give your pasta that delicious Mexican flavor.

How long does Mexican pasta last?

Mexican pasta can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, simply microwave it or warm it up in a pan over medium heat.

What are some good toppings for Mexican pasta?

Some great topping ideas are chopped cilantro, chopped green onions, diced avocado, sour cream, pico de gallo, or queso fresco.

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

mexican pasta bake in a dish

Mexican Pasta Bake

5 from 4 ratings
It only takes 25 minutes to bring this scrumptious Mexican Pasta Bake to the table. It's easy, tasty, and even kind of healthy. Perfect weeknight meal without the fuss.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

  • 12 oz corkscrew pasta, whole grain, or other pasta of your choice
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 lb lean ground beef, or or turkey
  • 1.25 oz taco seasoning
  • 32 oz salsa, your favorite brand
  • 15 oz black beans, canned, rinsed and drained
  • 2.25 oz black olives, sliced, drained
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cups Mexican blend cheese, shredded, divided
  • Fresh cilantro, freshly chopped for garnish, or avocado slices

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F with rack on upper middle position. Grease a 2-quart baking dish and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of generously salted water to boil; cook pasta just to al dente only, taking care not to over cook. Drain immediately. Add drained pasta back to the empty pot and set aside (sprinkle with a bit of olive oil if needed to prevent sticking)
  • While pasta is cooking: In a large heavy skillet, heat 2 TB olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic, stirring 2 min. Add ground meat and cook to brown. Stir in taco seasoning, salsa, black beans, olives, and oregano. Cook 1 minute until mixture is heated through.
  • Add browned meat mixture to the pot of cooked/drained pasta, stirring to combine. Stir in 1 cup of cheese. Transfer to greased baking dish and evenly top with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered 10 minutes just until cheese melts. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and avocado. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Feel free to substitute the corkscrew pasta with shells, rotini, fusilli, or elbow macaroni. 
  • When cooking the pasta, make sure that it’s just al dente, or firm to the bite. This prevents it from becoming losing texture baking. 
  • Generously salting the pasta water makes a notable difference in flavor. 
  • Be sure to drain your black beans and olives well before adding them to the meat mixture. Excess liquid can make your pasta dish too watery.
  • Don’t skip the garnishes! Freshly chopped cilantro and avocado slices not only add a pop of color but also a fresh, vibrant flavor that compliments the rich, hearty ingredients in the pasta.
  • A side of of The Best Guacamole or Best Pico De Gallo are delicious accompaniments to this dish. 
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating. We ❤️ hearing from you! 
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Nutrition (per serving)

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 238kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 443mg | Potassium: 110mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 329IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 658mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Course: Dinner, Main
Cuisine: Mexican, Tex-Mex
Method: Bake, Oven

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Add a comment

Recipe Rating




10 comments

    • Mich

    Looks wonderful! However the recipes in the text and printable card are so different – there is no mention of onions, garlic, beans, or olives on the recipe card (just the powders). I’m having to go to the text and insert what’s missing on the printable recipe. Plus you have shells and green pepper on the card and corkscrews and no pepper in the text. Needs to be proof-read! I will still try the recipe, though!

      • Amy Dong

      Thank you – yes, the recipe card was off for about a week, but now it is back to its restored original! Hope you make and love this!! 🙂

    • kazy
    • 5 stars

    Loved this. I increased the amount to serve 2 people for 4 nights’ dinner. I used my low carb Fiber Gourment brand of rotini pasta. You really can’t tell the difference between it and regular pasta. They’re 48% fewer calories and instead of the usual 41 grams of carbohydrates a serving, they have tons of fiber – 24 grams of fiber, making it only 17 grams of carbs. Highly recommend. I don’t like beans so I subbed them out for mushrooms instead. I also used pico de gallo as a garnish. Would’ve loved to do the avocado but between the pasta and the beef’s calories, I chose not to add more. Definitely a keeper. Will be rotating this for my week-end cheat days.

      • kazy

      I made an error. I did not increase this recipe. Used the same amounts as listed. Sorry.

      • Amy Dong

      So happy you guys loved this! 🙂

    • kazy

    HOW MUCH DOES THIS SERVE? THANKS

      • chewoutloud

      Hi, Kazy! It should serve 6 comfortably, as a main dish.

        • kazy

        Thanks. Making this for New Year’s Eve dinner. 2022-2023. Normally we go out for Mexican on New Year’s Eve, salsa, chips, Margaritas, but with bad weather being forecast, I decided to cook a Mexican dish myself at home. Will let you know how it turned out.

        • Amy Dong

        Thank you, and happy holidays 🙂

    • Corinne

    This lools,great! About how many servings do you find it makes?

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