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Taco Pasta

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overhead shot of Taco Pasta in a pot with a wooden spoon
Our taco pasta is a flavorful and cheesy mash-up between the ever-popular tacos and an easy pasta dish.
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Table of Contents
  1. Taco Pasta Ingredients
  2. How to Make This Taco Pasta Recipe
  3. How To Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE
  7. Even More Easy Recipes

Skip the tough decisions at dinner time and whip up our tasty taco pasta recipe. This genius combination of meaty and cheesy taco ingredients combined with tender pasta shells makes for an easy weeknight dinner.

close up shot of Taco Pasta in a pot

Taco Pasta Ingredients

Taco Pasta raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need:

  • 8 ounces (4 cups) of medium-sized pasta shells
  • 1½ pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 cup finely diced sweet yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
  • 2 (1-ounce) packets of taco seasoning 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup mild chunky salsa
  • 2½ cups Colby-Jack shredded cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro (optional garnish)

PRO TIP:

It’s best to shred your own cheese from the block, as pre-shredded cheese from the grocery store is usually coated with a preservative, meaning it doesn’t melt quite as well.

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

PASTA: You can substitute small pasta shells for the medium size. Elbow macaroni will also work if you cannot find the pasta shells in stock.

CHEESE: In this easy recipe, you can substitute shredded cheddar cheese or a Mexican cheese blend for the Colby-Jack cheese, but we do find that the Colby-Jack melts nicely.

SPICY: For an even spicier version, you can use hot taco seasoning, add hot sauce, red pepper flakes, and garnish with sliced jalapeños. 

GROUND BEEF: You can easily make this taco pasta recipe vegetarian by switching the meat for your favorite vegetarian ground beef alternative or even black beans. You could also opt for ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground pork instead of ground beef.

How to Make This Taco Pasta Recipe

STEP ONE: Prepare the pasta shells until al dente according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

STEP TWO: Add the ground beef, diced onion, and garlic to a 5 to 6-quart heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-high heat. Brown the ground beef for 5 to 7 minutes until cooked through and no longer pink. Drain any remaining grease.

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

For an even quicker cooking time, ground beef can be cooked ahead of time. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to a month.

ground beef cooked with garlic and onions in a pot

STEP THREE: Reduce the heat to medium heat. Add the taco seasoning and the water to the cooked ground beef mixture. Stir well and allow the mixture to cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

taco seasoning and water added to the ground beef in a pot

STEP FOUR: Stir in the salsa and cook on low for another 3 to 5 minutes. 

STEP FIVE: Remove from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese. Continue stirring until the cheese is completely melted.

shredded cheese added to the pasta and stirred in a pot

STEP SIX: Stir in the cooked pasta shells. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve while hot.

PRO TIP:

You can always add your favorite taco toppings such as extra cheese, green onions, and a dollop of sour cream before serving.

cooked pasta shells stirred and garnished with chopped cilantro in a pot

How To Serve

Add a tasty twist to Taco Tuesday with this easy taco pasta. Stick to the Tex-Mex theme and serve it along with Mexican layered salad or Mexican corn salad. If you’d like to go the Italian route, a Caesar salad and garlic bread are always a hit.

Our Italian sausage pasta and Philly cheesesteak pasta are two more good choices for busy weeknight meals.

Storage

IN THE FRIDGE: Store any leftovers of the beef taco pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

IN THE FREEZER: This easy pasta dish freezes well for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the microwave or on the stovetop.

close up shot of a fork with a piece of taco pasta

This fusion of two classic dishes is simple to make and absolutely delicious. All you need is cooked pasta, your favorite taco toppings, and a little cheese for good measure, and you have a tasty meal.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I use a different type of pasta in this recipe?

This cheesy taco pasta recipe will work with any pasta. Either long pasta or bite-size pasta is fine. Just adjust the cooking time depending on how long the package directions indicate.

Can I freeze this dish?

This hearty meal will freeze well in an airtight container for up to three months.

Can I use my own homemade taco seasoning?

If you make your own taco seasoning, you will want to use 3 tablespoons of seasoning to equal one store-bought package.

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overhead shot of Taco Pasta in a pot with a wooden spoon

Taco Pasta

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Our taco pasta is a flavorful and cheesy mash-up between the ever-popular tacos and an easy pasta dish.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces medium-size pasta shells (4 cups)
  • pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 cup finely diced sweet yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
  • 2 ounces taco seasoning
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup mild chunky salsa
  • cups Colby and Monterey Jack shredded cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro, optional garnish

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the pasta shells according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • Add the ground beef, diced onion, and garlic to a 5 to 6-quart heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-high heat. Brown the ground beef for 5 to 7 minutes until cooked through and no longer pink. Drain any remaining grease.
  • Reduce the heat to medium. Add the taco seasoning and the water to the cooked beef mixture. Stir well and allow the mixture to cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the salsa and cook on low for another 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese. Continue stirring until the cheese is completely melted.
  • Stir in the cooked pasta shells. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve while hot.

Notes

  • It’s best to shred your own cheese from the block, as pre-shredded cheese from the grocery store is usually coated with a preservative, meaning it doesn’t melt quite as well.
  • For an even quicker cooking time, ground beef can be cooked ahead of time. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to a month.
  • You can always add your favorite taco toppings such as extra cheese, green onions, and a dollop of sour cream before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 357kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 1066mg | Potassium: 496mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1061IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 206mg | Iron: 3mg
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  1. Melissa Maltais says

    This looks delicious, I will add some corn in it, goes well with taco!!! Yummy! I would also make it not to Spice, since my kids dont like it, but would definitly put some spicy in my plate!