Taco Pasta

Cheesy taco pasta is such an easy family dinner! Filled with juicy ground beef, salsa, and plenty of Tex-Mex seasoning, it’s a 30-minute recipe perfect for weeknights.

This dinner idea combines two of our household favorites: tacos and creamy pasta! For another fun Italian-Mexican spin, try this cheesy burrito lasagna.

Why You’ll Love This Taco Pasta Recipe

We love dinnertime mash-ups like taco pizza and taco burgers. This time, get ready for creamy, cheesy, satisfying taco pasta! This taco pasta is the best kind of weeknight dinner (as in, the whole family goes crazy for it), here’s why:

  • Full of bold flavor. Taco pasta is a hearty and wholesome meal that’s super satisfying! It’s like a Tex-Mex version of my creamy beef pasta, filled with punchy, Southwestern flavors of cumin, cayenne, and chili powder.
  • Cooked (almost) in one pan. This pasta dinner combines tender rotini noodles, juicy ground beef, tomatoes, plus other Tex-Mex staples like corn, black beans, salsa, and spices, all in the same skillet. You just need to boil the pasta separately.
  • Ready in 30 minutes. We’ve all felt the crunch of a busy weeknight, and pasta recipes are some of my go-to family dinners. This taco pasta comes together in a snap and always hits the spot.

If you’re a fan of easy skillet dinners like my skillet taco rice and skillet tamale pie, then this almost one-pan pasta is right up your alley.

The ingredients for taco pasta with text labels overlaying each ingredient.

Taco Pasta Ingredients

This recipe uses simple ingredients, but there’s plenty of big, bold flavor to go around. You can easily adapt the spices for kids, too, for a milder dish. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card for the full ingredients list and recipe details.

  • Pasta – I use rotini noodles, but you can make this recipe with any dry pasta that you have on hand. Other good options are penne, rigatoni, shells, fusilli, or bowtie pasta. You could even use spaghetti!
  • Ground Beef – You can also make this pasta with ground chicken or turkey.
  • Tomatoes – Canned crushed tomatoes work perfectly here. You can also use diced tomatoes.
  • Salsa – Choose your favorite prepared salsa from the store, either mild or spicy depending on what you prefer.
  • Seasoning – You’ll need a packet of taco seasoning, plus additional cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper.
  • Corn and Black Beans – The canned kind. Don’t forget to drain and rinse them first.
  • Cheese – Grated cheddar cheese, or another melty cheese like Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, or a Mexican cheese blend.

How to Make Taco Pasta

Here’s how to have your taco pasta hot and on the table in just a few easy steps:

  • Brown the beef. Start by sautéing ground beef in an oven-safe skillet. You can do this while your pasta boils al dente in a separate pot.
  • Combine. Once your beef is cooked, lower the heat and stir in crushed tomatoes, salsa, taco seasoning, and other spices. Finally, add the corn and black beans.
  • Add the pasta. Drain your cooked pasta noodles, then add them to the sauce and toss to coat.
  • Bake. Sprinkle over shredded cheese and transfer the skillet to a 400ºF oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and your taco pasta is hot throughout.
Close up overhead view of a large pan of taco pasta.

Tips for Success

Below are some tips for the best taco pasta:

  • Use an oven-safe skillet. This recipe goes easily from the stovetop to the oven if you use the right skillet. Make sure the pan you’re using is oven-safe, like a cast iron or stainless steel skillet or similar.
  • Use freshly grated cheese. Cheese that’s grated fresh from the block has the best melty consistency.
  • Cook the pasta al dente. In Italian, al dente means pasta that’s still firm when bitten. Follow the cooking directions on the box, and do your best to not over-boil the pasta before combining it with the sauce (especially since it bakes in the oven afterward, we don’t want it to be mushy!).
  • If your taco pasta looks a little dry, stir in a bit of water as needed, to help loosen up the sauce.
Close up of a wooden spoon stuck into a pan of cheesy taco pasta.

Easy Variations

Looking for a fun way to change up this recipe? Just like a traditional taco, there’s loads of potential to make this pasta your own. Try these ideas:

  • Different protein. As mentioned, you can make this recipe with another type of meat, like ground chicken or ground turkey if you’d prefer. Leftover cooked shredded chicken or pork carnitas are also tasty options, just stir them in when you add the pasta.
  • More veggies. Bulk up this taco pasta recipe with chopped onions, bell peppers, or jalapeños.
  • Vegetarian. For a vegetarian taco pasta, omit the ground beef and replace it with an extra can of black beans or another variety, like pinto beans. Cooked lentils or meatless mince would also work.
  • Creamy. To make a creamy taco pasta, just before baking, take the skillet off the heat and stir in sour cream or heavy cream. Afterward, top with cheese and bake as directed.
Taco pasta in a white bowl next to a fork, with a glass of ice water and a skillet of taco pasta in the background.

What to Serve With Taco Pasta

We love serving our bowls of taco pasta topped with taco toppings like guacamole (or avocado salsa) and a dollop of sour cream. A sprinkle of fresh cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice also go a long way in brightening the flavors of this dish! Start your meal with Tex-Mex-inspired appetizers like chicken flautas and chicken nacho dip, and pair this taco pasta with a crunchy Southwestern Cobb salad. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a classic side of crusty French bread or garlic pull-apart bread for sopping up the extra sauce.

Close up of taco pasta in a white bowl with a fork.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

  • Fridge. Refrigerate leftover taco pasta in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To reheat, warm the pasta in a skillet on the stovetop or in the microwave. 
  • Freeze. You can freeze this pasta in a freezer-safe container for up to 2-3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight before reheating.

More Easy Pasta Recipes

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Overhead view of taco pasta in a white bowl with a fork.

Taco Pasta

  • Author: Shelly
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop, Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This cheesy taco pasta is an easy (almost) one-pan dinner! Filled with juicy ground beef, salsa, and plenty of Tex-Mex flavor, it’s a 30-minute recipe perfect for weeknights.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 pound Rotini pasta
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • 1 (1-ounce) packet taco seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Boil the pasta according to package directions.
  3. While the pasta is boiling brown the ground beef over medium-high heat in a 10-inch oven-safe skillet until no pink remains. Once the meat is cooked through, drain any excess fat from the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium and add in the crushed tomatoes, salsa, taco seasoning, cumin, cayenne pepper, and chili powder. Stir the mixture to combine the seasoning and then add in the corn and black beans and stir again to incorporate ingredients evenly.
  4. When pasta is cooked, drain it well using a colander and add it carefully into the meat mixture. Stir this so it’s combined evenly.
  5. Top the pasta mixture with the grated cheese and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
  6. Serve immediately.

Notes

Store leftovers airtight in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Keywords: taco pasta, taco pasta recipe, cheesy taco pasta

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