Delicious Cheesy Taco Pasta is made in one pot and only takes 30 minutes to make! This quick and easy weeknight meal is a family favorite in our home.
When you are like me and not the best at meal planning, it helps to have some quick, go to meals for easy weeknight dinners.
This CHEESY TACO PASTA has been a go to easy family dinner recipe of mine for years. Everything goes into one pot, cooks, and is ready to eat in less than 30 minutes. It doesn’t get much easier than that! My family would tell you I’m not exaggerating when I say I make this almost weekly.
What Is In Taco Pasta?
Taco pasta is a delicious blend of traditional ingredients you find in tacos, and pasta! It’s all cooked together and the flavors are outstanding.
One of the things I love most about this recipe is that it’s very flexible! There are a few must have ingredients, but you can really get creative with this dish.
Over the years I have made many different versions of this easy, cheesy taco pasta. I’ve found it to be very forgiving as it easily allows for substitutions.
Here is my list of ingredients, and below you’ll find my alternate ingredients and substitution ideas as well.
Ingredients (At A Glance – Full Recipe Below)
- Ground Beef
- Beef Broth
- Enchilada Sauce
- Cream Cheese
- Half and Half
- Green Onions
- Black Olives
As mentioned, this recipe is flexible. Here are some alternate ingredients and substitution ideas.
Alternate Ingredients And Substitutions
In place of GROUND BEEF, ground turkey or ground chicken can be used. Black beans could also be used to create a meatless Monday meal or vegetarian version.
BEEF BROTH can be replaced with beef stock, chicken broth or chicken stock.
When it comes to PASTA, almost any small to medium pasta will work. I typically use a small rotini, but small or medium shells, penne or macaroni noodles will all work just as well. Take note however, that different pasta shapes, sizes and brands cook at different rates. Make sure to keep an eye on your pasta as to not overcook.
While ENCHILADA SAUCE is my choice for this recipe, due to it’s flavor and texture, salsa is also an option. Depending on what salsa you use, you may need to add more seasoning or more liquid if it’s a chunky style salsa. Additionally, we use a mild enchilada sauce (I like Macayo’s or Trader Joe’s) as it keeps the spice level mild for my kids.
CREAM CHEESE can either be left out all together, or replaced with sour cream.
HALF AND HALF can be replaced with heavy cream, whole milk or even left out. Just replace with a little extra beef broth.
CHEESE, while super delicious and creating the “cheesy” portion of this meal, is optional. If you want to leave it out, it will still be delicious, just not cheesy.
TOMATOES, GREEN ONIONS, CORN AND BLACK OLIVES are all optional.
Dairy Free Taco Pasta and Vegan Taco Pasta
TO MAKE DAIRY FREE TACO PASTA leave out the cream cheese, and replace the half and half with a non-dairy substitute. We prefer Ripple Unsweetened Half and Half. Leave off the cheese, or use a dairy free cheese if desired.
TO MAKE VEGAN TACO PASTA make as directed for dairy free taco pasta, but also replace ground beef with black beans or a meat alternative, and replace beef broth with vegetable broth. For extra flavor, decrease the broth slightly and add more enchilada sauce.
How Do You Make Skillet Taco Pasta?
Making this cheesy taco pasta could not be easier. If you use a large enough pan, skillet, stock pot or dutch oven, you can make this completely in one pot. I love easy clean up.
First, brown the ground beef.
Next add beef broth and enchilada sauce to the pan.
Then add in your pasta. If you are adding black beans, add them now as well.
Cover and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes. Then add the cream cheese and half and half.
Now it’s time to add the corn.
Tip – I thaw my frozen corn and bring it to room temperature by running it under hot water in a strainer. Just take the chill off, it can finish cooking with the pasta.
We prefer to add things like the cheese, tomatoes, green onions and black olives after the pasta finishes cooking.
That’s just personal choice, feel free to add it in with the corn if you like.
What Sides Do You Serve With Taco Pasta?
In my opinion, one of the great things about this cheesy taco pasta recipe is that it’s truly a one-pot, all-in-one, meal.
Some things that you could serve on the side, such as black beans or corn, are already in the dish.
However if you are still wondering what sides go with taco pasta, here are a few ideas.
Sides To Serve With Taco Pasta
- Garlicky Refried Beans
- Restaurant Style Spanish Rice
- Skillet Mexican Street Corn
- Mini Seven Layer Bean Dip
- Chips and Pico De Gallo Salsa
- Frozen Margaritas
If you like this recipe, here are some other great taco inspired dinner recipes I think you’ll enjoy.
- Southwestern Chicken And Rice
- Taco Casserole
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
- Mini Taco Bowls
- Dorito Taco Salad
- Easy Taco Soup
- Pizza Casserole
Desserts To Serve With Taco Pasta
I never forget dessert! Here are some great dessert recipes to serve with this meal.
Easy One-Pot Taco Pasta
Cheesy Taco Pasta
- Large skillet, dutch oven or stock pot
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 16 oz red enchilada sauce
- 2 cups beef broth
- 8 oz small to medium size dried pasta rotini, penne and shells work well, approximately 2 cups
- 4 oz cream cheese cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1-2 cups corn thawed if using frozen
- 1 cup shredded cheese cheddar, Monterey or colby jack work well
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup sliced olives
- sliced green olives for garnish if desired
- In a large pot or skillet (large enough to hold contents of entire recipe), over medium heat cook, cook ground beef until throughly browned.
- Once meat is browned, add enchilada sauce, broth and pasta. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for approximately 7-8 minutes than start checking the progress of the pasta*. When pasta starts to reach al dente, add in cream cheese and stir well. Cover and allow to cook for 1-2 more minutes. Stir in corn, and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- When pasta is cooked to the texture you prefer, add in cheese, which can be stirred in or allowed to melt on the top. Sprinkle with any additional ingredients such as tomatoes, green onions or olives. Serve immediately.
I hope your family enjoys this easy, weeknight, skillet taco pasta as much as well do!