Taco Pasta Shells are loaded with all our favorite taco flavors with a twist. These Tex-Mex stuffed shells are a hearty, delicious meal loaded with beef, cheese, and delicious taco flavors.
Around here, the only thing we love more than tacos is getting creative with taco flavors. That’s why we love this stuffed shells recipe. It combines the beefy, cheesy, zesty goodness of tacos with our favorite pasta dish – stuffed shells!
Table of contents
❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s a simple, easy recipe that’s perfect for busy weeknights.
- It’s hearty enough to make the perfect addition to any potluck.
- It’s loaded with all your favorite taco flavors.
- A great twist on Taco Tuesday that the whole family will enjoy.
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This is a basic recipe that uses incredibly simple ingredients. You’ll find the complete rundown in the recipe card below, but here are the highlights.
- Jumbo Pasta shells – Look for shells that are labeled jumbo shells at your grocery store.
- Ground beef – I like to use lean ground beef, but you can use any type that you have on hand.
- Favorite Taco Toppings – We like to use cilantro, tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, olives, green onions, taco sauce, or even hot sauce.
- Taco seasoning _ You can use homemade taco seasoning or your favorite taco seasoning packet.
🔪 How to Make Taco Pasta Shells
Making this recipe is super simple. It’s basically stuffed shells, so it’s one of the easiest recipes you’ll make.
Step 1: Prep
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 baking pan or casserole dish with cooking spray. Set it aside.
Step 2: Cook the Pasta
Cook the shells according to the package directions for al dente. Then, drain them and set them aside.
Step 3: Cook the Beef
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the ground beef, stirring occasionally. About halfway through cooking, add the onions and continue cooking until the beef is browned, and the onions start becoming translucent.
Step 4: Season the Beef
Add water and taco seasoning to the beef in the skillet and mix until combined. Then, mix in the salsa and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Finally, mix in half of the cheese and remove the beef from the heat.
Step 5: Fill the Shells and Bake
Fill each pasta shell with the beef mixture using a spoon and place the filled shells in the baking dish in a single layer. Then, top with the remaining cheese and the diced tomatoes and jalapenos. Cover tightly and bake for 20 minutes. Then, bake for an additional 10 minutes uncovered to brown the cheese. Garnish with fresh cilantro and enjoy!
Do you want to change up this recipe and make it your own? Here are some ways that you can do that!
- Mild – For a mild version, omit the jalapenos.
- Extra Cheesy – Combine the beef mixture with a bit of ricotta to make an extra creamy, extra cheesy version.
- Ground Turkey – You can make this recipe using ground turkey if you like.
If you love these Tex-Mex stuffed shells, then we think you’re going to enjoy this cheesy taco pasta.
You’ll only need a few basic pieces of kitchen equipment to make this recipe.
- Pot – You will need a large pot or dutch oven
- Baking dish- I recommend using a glass or ceramic 9×13 casserole dish
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. We think these shells taste even better the next day!
For longer storage, you can freeze these noodles in an air-tight, freezer-safe container or heavy-duty freezer bag for up to 6 months.
We have a couple of tips to help you make this the best dish possible. And really, you only have to keep literally 2 things in mind. This recipe is almost impossible to ruin!
- Cook your pasta only to al dente. Any further, and the shells will fall apart while they bake.
- Be sure to spray your dish with nonstick spray. This is not a super saucy dish, so it can and will stick.
Do you have questions about this recipe? Here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions.
A pasta bake is any dish of pasta baked with sauce topped with melted cheese.
Place it in a baking dish with a bit of water, cover it, and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through.
Serve any of your favorite Mexican sides like nachos, chips and salsa, elote, refried beans, and more. Whatever you love. It all works!
🍽 More Recipes
Do you enjoy tacos? Then, try these delicious recipes:
📌 PIN IT!!
Want to make this recipe? Print the recipe card below, or pin this recipe, so you can find it later.
Taco Pasta Shells
- large skillet
- large pot
- 9×13 casserole dish
- 30 jumbo pasta shells
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- ½ large onion diced
- 1 packet or 3 Tablespoons taco seasoning
- ¾ cup water
- 1 ½ cup salsa I used Cocina Fresca
- 4 cups Mexican cheese blend divided
- 2 – 3 medium tomatoes diced
- 1 jalapeno diced
- Cilantro for garnish
- Sour cream topping optional
- Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 9×13 baking pan or casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and add an optional pinch of salt to flavor the pasta. Once it is boiling, add in the pasta shells and cook as per box directions until al dente. Then drain the water and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet on stovetop over medium-high heat and brown the ground beef, stirring occasionally. Add the onions in midway and then continue to cook until the beef is browned and the onions start to become translucent.
- Then add the water and taco seasoning and mix until well combined. Add and mix in the salsa and then put the heat on a low simmer for about 10 minutes. Mix in half of the cheese and remove from heat.
- Take a spoon and fill each pasta shell with the ground beef mixture and place into the prepared baking pan in a single layer. Top with the remainder of the cheese and add the diced tomatoes and jalapenos. Cover tightly with foil then bake for 30 minutes. If you want to brown the cheese on top, bake uncovered for the last 10 minutes.
- Once it is done baking, remove from the oven and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve, and enjoy!
Make sure to use at least 1 ½ cup salsa otherwise it will be too dry. If it is too spicy, you can use just 1 cup of salsa and add an extra ½ cup water.
Make sure to use lean ground beef otherwise the pasta will be too greasy. If you purchased a fattier package of meat, you can scoop the excess grease out or use a paper towel to help soak some of it up.