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This taco pasta blends the zesty flavors of taco night with the creamy, comforting flavors of a cheesy pasta bake, all in one pot for maximum flavor with minimal fuss.

Taco pasta in a white pot.
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One Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta

Whip up this taco pasta recipe that combines a hearty pasta dish with the zesty flavors of Mexican cuisine. Perfect for those busy weeknights, this 30-minute meal is like a homemade hamburger helper, with a Mexican twist.

If you love the comfort of Mexican lasagna or the cheesy goodness of cheesy enchilada pasta, then this taco pasta will surely become a new favorite.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Effortless and quick: Embracing the essence of one pot recipes, this taco pasta ensures you get a delicious meal in just 30 minutes. It’s perfect for busy weeknights!
  • Family-friendly flavor: Taco pasta blends the savory taste of ground beef, the creaminess of cheese and mild taco seasoning to create a family-friendly dish!

Taco Pasta Recipe Ingredients

The Mexican-inspired flavors of this dish are easy to create at home!

Taco pasta ingredients on the counter.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Ground beef: I use lean ground beef for the best flavor.
  • Aromatics and Seasoning: Onions, garlic, and store-bought or homemade taco seasoning.
  • Rotel: This is a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles.
  • Pasta shells: The medium shell shape cradles the sauce perfectly. You might like my Mexican stuffed shells recipe if you’re in the mood for large pasta shells.
  • For the creaminess: You’ll need both cream cheese and sour cream.
  • Cheese: Shredded cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese is great for a gooey, melty finish.
  • Optional toppings: Cilantro, tomatoes, green onions, sour cream (or Greek yogurt), and avocados for freshness.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Meat options: Like most ground beef recipes, you can substitute ground turkey for a lighter version.
  • Pasta varieties: Swap the medium pasta shells with penne, rotini, or elbow macaroni to keep every bite interesting.
  • Vegetarian twist: Turn this dish into a vegetarian meal by replacing the meat with black beans.
  • Extra spice: If you like it hot, add a dash of jalapeño, red pepper flakes, or chili powder.

How to Make Taco Pasta

This cheesy taco pasta recipe is quick and easy, it’s the perfect fuss-free dinner for those nights when you need to get dinner on the table in a hurry!

Showing how to make taco pasta in a 4 step collage.
  • Cook the pasta. Start by cooking your pasta to al dente perfection; remember to save some pasta water for later.
  • Brown the hamburger with onions, then stir in garlic, taco seasoning, and a touch of seasoning for depth.
  • Add sour cream and cheese. Off the heat, blend in the cream cheese, sour cream, and a generous sprinkle of cheese until creamy.
  • Assemble and serve. Combine the meat mixture with the noodles, add a final layer of cheese, and let it melt into gooey goodness.

Cooking Tips

  • Reserve some pasta water to adjust the consistency of the sauce, ensuring it’s perfectly silky.
  • Allow the cream cheese to soften at room temperature so it blends easily into the sauce.
  • To prevent mushy pasta, cook it just until it’s al dente, as it will continue to soften when mixed with the sauce.
  • For an added kick, use pepper-jack cheese. If you love it cheesier, add another 1/2 cup cheese.
Taco pasta in a pot.

Recipe FAQs

If I don’t have Rotel, can I use something else?

If Rotel isn’t available, you can use a combination of diced tomatoes and canned green chiles. Alternatively, a can of plain diced tomatoes with a teaspoon of diced jalapeños or your favorite salsa can work in a pinch.

What should I serve with taco pasta casserole?

A fresh green salad would go well with the dish. Don’t forget the toppings like sour cream, green onions, and diced avocado!

Can I make this pasta dish ahead of time?

While best served fresh, you can prepare this dish ahead and then just reheat the taco pasta. Just be aware that the pasta may absorb more sauce upon standing, so you might want to add a splash of water or broth when reheating to loosen it up.

How should I store leftovers?

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The pasta may absorb some of the sauce, so it might be slightly thicker when reheated. Add a splash of water to thin the sauce out if necessary when reheating on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Taco pasta on a plate.

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Taco pasta in a pot.

Taco Pasta Recipe

5 from 1 vote
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
This taco pasta blends the zesty flavors of taco night with the creamy, comforting flavors of a cheesy pasta bake, all in one pot for maximum flavor with minimal fuss.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound lean hamburger
  • ½ onion , chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 Tablespoon taco seasoning , more to taste
  • 10 ounce can Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chile)
  • ½ pound medium pasta shells , about 2.5 cups dry
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar or jack cheese
  • Salt and Pepper , to taste

Optional toppings: cilantro, tomatoes, avocados, sour cream, green onions

    Instructions

    • Cook the noodles al dante according to package directions. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup water.
    • While the noodles are cooking, cook the hamburger and onions in a large skillet over medium heat until browned. Stir in the garlic and taco seasoning and cook for an additional minute. Season with salt and pepper.
    • Remove from heat and stir in the Rotel, cream cheese, sour cream and 1/2 cup cheese. Add more seasoning to taste.
    • Stir in the noodles and bring the heat to low. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese on top and cover with the lid until melted. Then stir in the noodles.
    • Top with your favorite toppings and serve while warm.

    Notes

    Variations:
    • Can sub ground turkey for hamburger meat. 
    • Rotini, macaroni or penne noodles will work too.
    • Add extra spice with some jalepeno or chili powder.  
    Storage: Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. 

    Nutrition

    Calories: 380kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 198mg | Potassium: 502mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 477IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 3mg

    Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: Mexican

    Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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