Cheesy Taco Pasta

Let’s talk about cheesy taco pasta.

We’ve been doing A LOT of cooking (and eating at home), and that means I’m looking for recipes I can batch cook and eat for lunch and dinner leftovers. But, I don’t want to get tired of eating the same thing – it’s a fine line to walk, folks.

And I’m telling you that this cheesy taco pasta is one of those meals that I just don’t get tired of. In fact, once our last bowl of it was gone, I asked my husband if there happened to be more in the back of the fridge or SOMEWHERE because I wanted just one more taste.

This is no joke.

Cheesy taco pasta on a plate

How to make cheesy taco pasta

It all starts with sauteed onions, ground beef (or chicken or turkey), garlic and homemade taco seasoning. I make my taco seasoning with chili powder, cumin and smoked paprika. If the tacos I’m cooking don’t have onion and garlic added, I’ll throw in some garlic and onion powders to make the taco seasoning.

You could also add a pinch of oregano and something for heat, like crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne, if you’re into that. It’s easy and it’s a much healthier alternative to most of the packets you find on the supermarket shelves. (But P.S., if you don’t want to make your own, I highly recommend Spice Island taco seasoning because it is made of just spices and tastes really, really good.)

The next step to making this one pot pasta is to add the fire roasted diced tomatoes, black beans, stock and evaporated milk to make for a flavorful, creamy sauce.

Then, mix in shredded cheese, cooked pasta and cilantro and voila! You have a magical dinner in just minutes.

Cheesy taco pasta in a white Dutch oven

What toppings can I put on this pasta?

Once the cheesy taco pasta is done, you can serve it up in bowls and top it with all sorts of delicious stuff.

My favorites include diced avocado, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and crushed up tortilla chips. But, you could also add sauteed fajita veggies, guacamole, salsa or pico de gallo, sliced green onion, more fresh cilantro, diced onion, sliced jalapeno, more shredded cheese or crumbled queso fresco, taco sauce, etc.

The sky is really the limit here. Whatever you like on your tacos should certainly go well on top of a pile of this delicious pasta.

What substitutions can you make to cheesy taco pasta?

You may be looking for substitutions for this recipe, whether it be to make it vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, etc. or you may not have everything I’ve included in the recipe on hand and you want to make some quick subs. So, here are some ideas:

  • To make this vegetarian, swap out the ground meat for another can of black or pinto beans. This will up the fiber and carbohydrates, but beans are a great source of plant-based protein, so go for the beans! If you’d like to make it vegan, also swap out the cheese for a vegan cheese sub or leave it out altogether. And, you’ll want to use a plant-based milk instead of evaporated. For toppings, choose vegetarian or vegan options!
  • To make this gluten free, simply use gluten free pasta. There are a ton of great options out there (especially the chickpea and lentil varieties!). Everything else in this recipe should be naturally gluten free (but always check labels).
  • If you’re looking to make this dairy free, use a dairy free milk instead of evaporated and leave out the cheese (there are some dairy free cheese options out there).
  • Or, if you’re just looking to make some quick swaps based on what you have in your pantry and fridge, get creative! You can use up a packet of taco seasoning you already have, just use 3-4 tablespoons of it and alter the amount of salt you add to the pasta if your taco seasoning already has salt in it. Use regular diced tomatoes instead of fire roasted. Use regular milk if you don’t have evaporated. Add a bell pepper or two when you saute the onion. There are so many options, friends!
Cheesy taco pasta on a plate

Now, pull up a seat, grab a bowl and dig in!

Print

Cheesy Taco Pasta

Cheesy taco pasta in a white Dutch oven

Pasta, black beans, ground beef, tomatoes, homemade taco seasoning and cheddar cheese make the ultimate one pot dinner!

  • Author: Julie Andrews
  • Prep Time: 10-15 mins
  • Cook Time: 20-25 mins
  • Total Time: 30-40 mins
  • Yield: Serves 8 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove-Top
  • Cuisine: Mexican, American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1-pound whole grain macaroni or shells
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1-pound lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
  • 34 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 ½ tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup unsalted chicken, vegetable or beef stock
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Diced avocado, sour cream and crushed tortilla chips, for serving

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil to medium. Add the onion and sauté 3-4 minutes or until slightly soft. Add the ground beef and cook 7-8 minutes or until the beef is browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooked. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper and sauté 30-60 seconds or until fragrant.
  3. Add the black beans, tomatoes, stock and evaporated milk to the pot and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese until melted. Add the pasta and cilantro and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  4. Serve taco pasta in bowls topped with avocado, sour cream and crushed tortilla chips.

Notes

Substitution Tips: For a vegetarian version, use 2 cans of black beans and omit the ground beef, chicken or turkey. Use regular milk instead of evaporated milk.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe
  • Calories: 487
  • Sugar: 8g
  • Sodium: 434mg
  • Fat: 17g
  • Saturated Fat: 7g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 10g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 56g
  • Fiber: 11g
  • Protein: 31g
  • Cholesterol: 62mg

Keywords: one pot, family favorite, dinner, quick and easy

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