This Taco Mac & Cheese Pasta Bake combines two of your favorites into one delicious dinner your whole family will devour!
Tacos + Mac n Cheese. Put ’em together, and what have you got? A family-friendly casserole that blends the southwest yumminess of seasoned ground beef tacos with the creaminess of warm, homemade macaroni and cheese. We eat billions of servings of mac & cheese and tacos every year. BILLIONS. Are you surprised? I’m not! Mac & cheese is the perfect comfort food, and tacos are just the perfect food. Period. My Taco Mac and Cheese Pasta Bake fuses these two favorites, and the result is savory, spicy, and scrumptious!
The Best Taco Mac & Cheese Casserole
The beauty of this delicious dinner recipe is its simplicity. No surprises here! Traditional, seasoned ground beef tacos meet homemade macaroni and cheese. It’s a match made in Tex-Mex heaven!
This taco mac n cheese can easily stand alone. But if you’re looking to round out your dinner table with more fruits and veggies, you should try:
- Mexican Street Corn – this corn-on-the-cob recipe is a crunchy complement to the taco mac & cheese.
- Pineapple Mango Salsa – pair this mouthwatering salsa with chips for a fresh, fruity side dish.
Taco Mac & Cheese Pasta Bake Ingredients
Meat: We’re using lean ground beef for this casserole. I love the way it brings a traditional taco flavor to this recipe. Of course, you can always choose ground turkey or shredded rotisserie chicken if that’s your jam. Whatever meat you use, the result will be tasty!
Veggies: Black beans add loads of protein and fiber, while crushed tomatoes and chopped onion serve as the base for the salsa-like seasoning.
Pasta: Elbow macaroni gives this casserole a classic mac n cheese feel. You could also use any short pasta you have on hand.
Cheese: Ahhh, cheese. Monterey Jack has the perfect mild, milky flavor to balance the slightly spicy taco seasoning. If you love cheddar cheese or a Colby-Jack blend, you can swap it in.
Seasoning: Olive oil, garlic, and taco seasoning push the flavors of this pasta over the top! So good! A little cilantro or parsley sprinkled on the top give it a nice pop of color.
How to Make Taco Mac & Cheese Pasta Bake
You are going to love how EASY this Taco Mac is to make!
STEP ONE: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Then boil a large pot of salted water and cook the macaroni according to the package directions. While the pasta is working, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Then add the onions and garlic and saute them for about 3 minutes.
STEP TWO: Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook until it’s browned and no longer pink. Be sure to break up the meat as it cooks too. Once the meat’s ready, add the taco seasoning to the skillet and mix it in.
STEP THREE: Add the crushed tomato and black beans to the taco meat and let that simmer for a few minutes.
STEP FOUR: Drain the pasta and pour it into a large casserole dish. Then add the beef mixture and half of the shredded cheese before tossing that all together. Top the pasta with the rest of the cheese.
STEP FIVE: Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and bubbly. Once out of the oven, garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley before serving the pasta bake while it’s still warm.
Tips for Success
- Whenever possible, use fresh garlic, onion, and cilantro or parsley. Dried seasonings work in a pinch, but you want fresh for the most delicious flavors.
- Buy block cheese and grate your own. Pre-grated cheese contains cellulose to keep the shreds from sticking together in the package. If you want ooey, gooey meltiness (and trust me, you do!), always choose block cheese.
- You can easily make this a gluten-free recipe simply by using gluten-free pasta. That’s it! Everything else is naturally gluten-free.
What is the Best Cheese for Mac & Cheese?
The answer is: Whichever cheese is your favorite! I’ve tried so many cheeses, and most of them will work, including Velveeta, which many of us grew up on. (Yes, Velveeta Taco Mac and Cheese is a thing.) But for this Taco Mac & Cheese recipe, I love how Monterey Jack adds that perfect mild creaminess.
Can You Freeze Taco Mac and Cheese?
Absolutely! You can divide the pasta bake into two square baking dishes, sprinkle half the cheese over each, and freeze one to bake later. Or you can seal up your leftovers and freeze them for dinner later. Don’t you love cooking one meal and getting the benefit of two? This recipe can easily be doubled to make two casseroles – one for now and one for later. This mac and cheese pasta bake will be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Other Tasty Taco Recipes
- Taco Casserole Bake
- Taco Salad
- Taco Spaghetti
- Taco Pizza
- Taco Lettuce Wraps
- Taco Casserole
- Walking Tacos
*This post was originally posted on 10/03/2016.
- 12 ounces elbow macaroni pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 ounce taco seasoning (1 packet)
- 15 ounces canned black beans drained and rinsed
- 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 2 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese shredded
- Cilantro or parsley chopped, for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook for 3 minutes stirring frequently to prevent the garlic from burning.
- Add beef to the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat as you go, until browned. Add the taco seasoning and mix to coat the beef.
- Add the black beans and crushed tomato to the skillet. Mix and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Pour the cooked pasta into a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish. Stir in the beef mixture and half of the cheese until evenly combined. Then top with the remaining cheese.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish before serving warm.
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