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Easy Taco Pasta

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This Taco Pasta is a must-try quick dinner! Ready in under 30 minutes, this is the perfect cheap dinner idea that will please even the pickiest of eaters!

Looking for more weeknight dinner inspiration? Mix it up with our popular Taco Salad or Taco Stuffed Peppers. Both ready in under 30 and easy to prep ahead!

bowl of pasta sitting on a wooden cutting board with a side of cilantro

RECIPE FEATURES

  • QUICK: You can make the meat in advance, but even cooking everything when you’re ready to eat, this dish is ready for the table in about 20 minutes!
  • Picky Eater Approved: My super picky 13 year old requested leftovers be packed in his lunchbox.
  • Freezer Friendly: Leftovers can be put in a casserole dish and frozen for later.

This is an incredibly quick and easy pasta recipe that is regularly requested in our home. It is the perfect way to use items that are already in the pantry and super simple to customize.

Every time I cook this dish I add a little spin on it. Switch up the seasonings, add extra cheese, or fill it with veggies. You can’t go wrong and it is such a crowd pleaser. I’ve included some of our favorite variations below, but I highly recommend trying it as written. Comforting pasta with a Taco night spin.

taco seasoning, can of diced tomatoes, and dry pasta sitting on a wooden table with a teal napkin

TACO PASTA INGREDIENTS

You only need 7 super basic items to get started. Be sure to read through and see some of our suggested substitutions.

  • Pasta: I use whatever pasta we have on hand, but some of our favorites are rigatoni, macaroni, and medium shell pasta. You could even stuff the beef mixture into jumbo shells for a Taco Stuffed Shell recipe. Smother with enchilada sauce and bake until warm.
  • Beef: Ground beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken will taste great in this dish. Again, we always reach for what we already have and it works out every time.
  • Taco Seasoning: I bought a jumbo box of taco seasoning from Costco that comes in super handy, but if you don’t have that you can always make your own taco seasoning.
  • Tomatoes: Canned diced tomatoes (try fire roasted) or Rotel. Either work. This day I didn’t have Rotel on hand so I mixed in some diced chilies and jalapeno. You can even substitute this with your favorite salsa!
  • Peppers and Onion: Optional, but a great way to add flavor and a spicy kick!
  • Cheese: The most crucial, and best, ingredient. Cheddar cheese is a must but you can also stir in a little cream cheese if you are looking for a creamier pasta dish. I recommend trying the jalapeno cream cheese.

TOPPING OPTIONS

Do you need toppings on this pasta? Technically, no. But what’s a taco without loading it with delicious topping options? Here are a few of our favorite ways to serve this dish:

  • Cilantro
  • Sour Cream
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Extra Cheese
  • Crushed Tortilla Chips
Pan filled with taco pasta ingredients on a wooden table with a teal napkin on the side

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  • GATHER INGREDIENTS: I find it’s easiest to cook a meal quickly when you have everything gathered and measured before you begin cooking. This is also a great time to start boiling water for your pasta.
  • COOK THE PASTA: Boil the pasta according to the package directions, drain and set aside.
  • COOK THE BEEF: While the pasta is cooking, brown the beef with the onion. This is also a good time to add in peppers, if you are using fresh.
  • STIR: Stir the pasta, tomatoes, cheeses and seasonings together with beef.
  • ENJOY: Serve with your favorite toppings.

HELPFUL TOOLS FOR THIS RECIPE

  • Skillet: I prefer to use a deep non-stick skillet (affiliate) but a cast iron pan (affiliate) will work well too.
  • Meat Chopper (affiliate) or Wooden Spatula (affiliate): If you are using a non-stick pan you will need to stay away from metal spatulas. They can break down the protective coating and destroy the life of your pan.
close up image of a white bowl filled with pasta and a bunch of cilantro on the side

TIPS AND FAQS

Can I freeze this recipe?

Yes. To freeze, cook the noodles to al dente. Stir all of the ingredients, except the cheese, and spread into a 9×13 freezer container. Freeze for up to 2 months.
When ready to eat, sprinkle with cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until heated through.

What if I want it cheesier?

My favorite way to give this a more creamy cheesy finish is to stir in 4 oz of cream cheese or velveeta to the ground beef once it is done cooking.

What is the best pasta to use?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. I use whatever pasta we have on hand, but some of our favorites are rigatoni, macaroni, and medium shell pasta.

How do you make this as a stuffed shell?

Cook everything as stated in the recipe, switching the pasta with jumbo shells.
Mix the filling together, stuff into shells, and layer in a 9×13 dish.
Dizzle with enchilada sauce and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

fork with pasta

MORE PASTA TO TRY

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Quick Taco Pasta

Quick Taco Pasta

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This Taco Pasta is a must-try quick dinner! Ready in under 30 minutes, this is the perfect cheap dinner idea that will please even the pickiest of eaters!

Ingredients

  • 8 oz pasta (rigatoni, macaroni, and medium shell pasta)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 pkg (1 oz) taco seasoning
  • 1 can of rotel or diced tomatoes or salsa
  • 1 Jalapeno, diced OR 2 oz diced canned jalapeno (optional)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Strain and set aside.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, add the ground beef and onion to a deep skillet.,
  4. Cook over medium heat until the meat is browned and the onion is soft, using a wooden spoon or meat spoon to break up the beef.
  5. Stir in the taco seasoning, canned tomatoes, jalapeno (if using) and 1 cup of cheese.
  6. Once combined, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and cover for 5 minutes to allow the cheese to melt.
  7. Serve and enjoy.

Notes

Want more cheesy goodness? Stir in 4 oz of either cream cheese or velveeta

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 331Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 668mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 24g
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