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Taco Pasta

This Taco Pasta casserole recipe combines all the delicious Tex-Mex flavors we love in a tangy, satisfying dish that’s ideal for a busy weeknight or casual gathering. If your family loves tacos, they’ll adore this dish!

Taco Pasta in casserole dish served with tortilla chips and salsa.

Why This Recipe Stands Out

We all love tacos and pasta, so why not combine them into one delicious casserole? It’s a dish that’s packed with flavor and is incredibly easy to make. Here’s why we can’t get enough of it:

  • Flavors: This dish combines the flavors of classic Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine with a popular Italian staple, just like our Mexican Pasta Bake.
  • Versatile: The recipe can easily be customized to fit different dietary preferences by substituting ground beef with turkey or even a vegetarian option like it is in our Vegetarian Chili recipe.
  • Hearty: With ingredients like ground meat, pasta, and cheese, this dish is sure to fill you up.
  • Simple: The recipe is straightforward and easy to follow, making it accessible for cooks of all levels.
  • Quick: The dish can be prepared and cooked within an hour, which makes it perfect for busy weeknights.
  • Cheesy: The recipe calls for a generous amount of cheese, adding a comforting, savory flavor to this easy casserole dish.

Key Recipe Ingredients

taco pasta ingredients.
  • Pasta Shells – The backbone of our dish, 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 – 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.
  • Salsa and Bell Pepper – Use your favorite salsa to add a tangy kick and to keep the dish saucy and flavorful. Bell pepper provides flavor and texture.
  • Cheese and Sour Cream – Both provide creaminess and cheesy deliciousness to the dish. Low-fat sour cream is fine to use, but avoid nonfat.

Substitutions And Variations

This hearty Mexican pasta recipe is a flavor-packed dish that’s guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser and can easily be varied:

  • Pasta: Feel free to substitute pasta shells with your favorite pasta type. You can use gluten-free pasta as well, but note that rice-based pasta tends to break apart when over-cooked.
  • Protein: The recipe calls for lean ground beef, but you could easily substitute it with ground chicken, turkey, or even a plant-based meat substitute.
  • Veggies: Try sweet corn kernels or black beans in place of bell pepper.
  • 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.
  • 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: From cilantro and avocado slices, to a sprinkle of green onions or a squeeze of fresh lime juice, the options are endless.

Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta until it’s al dente, then set it aside in a bowl.
  2. In a large skillet, cook the ground meat over medium heat. Stir in the taco seasoning, salsa, green pepper, and spices.
  1. Meanwhile, mix the cooked pasta with one cup of cheese and sour cream. Spread this mixture in a baking dish. Top this with the meat mixture and the remaining cheese.
  2. Bake uncovered at 350F for 30 minutes. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and serve.

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. We love it for meal prep!

  • 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 your own 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.
  • Meal Prep: The entire casserole can be made and divided into containers to enjoy throughout the week!
Taco Pasta in casserole dish served with tortilla chips and salsa.

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 used pasta shells for this recipe but you can use any other pasta of your choice. The key is to cook it al dente to maintain a texture throughout baking.

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.

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 flavor variations?

Try adding corn, black beans, or diced tomatoes for added nutrients and flavor. Try different types of salsa, cheeses, and toppings! Some of our favorite garnishes include avocado slices, extra salsa, and chopped green onions.

Did you make this?

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

Taco Pasta with tortilla chips and salsa in a casserole dish.

Taco Pasta Bake

5 from 47 ratings
This Taco Pasta has all the delicious Tex Mex flavors you love. Easy weeknight meal the whole family will devour.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

  • 16 oz pasta, shells, dry
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef , 93% lean
  • 1.25 ounce taco seasoning
  • 32 oz salsa, your favorite brand
  • 1 whole green pepper, chopped and seeded
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 cups Mexican blend cheese, shredded, divided
  • cup sour cream, regular or light
  • Optional Garnishes: chopped cilantro or scallions, diced avocado, chopped tomatoes

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F with rack on lower-middle position.
    Cook pasta in salted water to al dente only. Drain – do not rinse. Transfer drained pasta back to the empty pot and set aside.
  • While pasta cooks: Heat oil in a large heavy skillet. Brown ground meat over medium heat. Stir in taco seasoning, salsa, green pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano. Stir and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat.
  • Meanwhile, add 1.5 cups of cheese and sour cream to the pasta in pot and mix well. Mix in the meat mixture. Use rubber spatula to transfer pasta into a 9×13 baking dish.
  • Bake uncovered 350F for 30 minutes. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.

Notes

  • Cook the pasta in well-salted water to al dente only. This means the pasta will still have a slight firmness to it, and it’s important because it will continue cooking when it’s baked in the oven later.
  • You can use either ground beef or ground turkey for this Taco Pasta recipe. Both are great options, but ground turkey is a leaner choice if you’re looking to cut down on fat.
  • When browning your ground beef or turkey, make sure to break it up into small pieces. This allows the meat to cook evenly and also makes it easier to distribute throughout the dish.
  • After cooking the pasta, remember not to rinse it. Rinsing the pasta removes the starch, which helps the sauce to stick to the pasta.
  • We love this homemade taco seasoning.
  • Feel free to substitute bell pepper with sweet corn kernels or diced tomatoes. 
  • If you’re a fan of meal prepping, this taco pasta is a great candidate for it. It can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until you are ready to bake. We recommend storing it in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating. We ❤️ hearing from you! 
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Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 434kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 1180mg | Potassium: 542mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1067IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 450mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dinner, Main, Past
Cuisine: Mexican
Method: Bake

More to Cook and Eat

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  • One Pot Pizza Pasta – This One Pot Pizza Pasta is a weeknight meal saver. It’s easy, tasty, and sure to please. Kids and adults alike will devour this one.
  • Creamy Tomato and Sausage Pasta – On busy weeknights, this Creamy Tomato and Sausage Pasta will readily come to your rescue. It’s not only easy to prepare and comes together quickly.
  • Lemon Pasta with Smoked Salmon and Asparagus – Lemon Pasta with Smoked Salmon and Asparagus is unbelievably easy, healthy, and mouthwatering! This fabulous dish comes together in just 30 minutes or less.

Add a comment

Recipe Rating




15 comments

    • Joyce
    • 5 stars

    Tasty dish. Used pepper jack and sharp chedder. Would definitely make it again.

      • Amy Dong

      Yay, glad you liked it, Joyce!

    • jnyanydts
    • 5 stars

    Changed it up a bit. Used a jelpeno instead of bell,pepper. Chopped onion and garlic instead of powder. Used enchilada sauce to mix the seasoning in the beef. Baked covered then uncovered for a final 10 mins. Delicious

      • chewoutloud

      Awesome! Thanks for being here and so glad you enjoyed!

    • toni

    Love black beans and mexicorn with ours too…..daughter throws avacado on at end

      • chewoutloud

      Love avocados! Great to see you here today, Toni 🙂

    • Beth Wilson

    I am so glad I found this place! This recipes sounds absolutely DELICIOUS. I LOVE every ingredient. I’m gong to have to try this, and soon. I will definitely report back and I can guarantee it will be a great report! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

      • chewoutloud

      Thanks for coming over and enjoy, Beth! 🙂

    • Laura T (@TheSpicedLife)

    Looks like a great weeknight dish!

    • A Wiener Dog in the Kitchen

    Looks really delicious!! I’ll bet it would make a great, quick, weeknight meal… Bookmarking this one to try very soon!

    • Lori

    Sounds quick and easy! Have you tried freezing it?

      • chewoutloud

      I haven’t tried freezing it. If I had to make ahead, I’d probably just freeze the meat sauce only. Not the pasta, because pasta takes on a weird texture after being frozen. You could make the meat sauce ahead and freeze it, and then just put together with fresh pasta when ready! 🙂

        • Teri

        Good idea and dinner will be ready in a flash

          • chewoutloud

          Thanks for coming over today, Teri! Enjoy

    • thehungrylinguists

    Love the idea of this recipe! Pasta and Mexican are yummy so together they must be amazing! Emily

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