Recipe: Ground Beef Taco Casserole

Recipe: Ground Beef Taco Casserole

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Kelli Foster
Oct 18, 2017
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

My love for classic ground beef tacos — you know, the kind with the signature seasoning pack, topped with crunchy romaine, chopped tomatoes, and bright-orange cheddar — runs deep. Until recently, I didn't think there was any way to top them. But then I took all the elements that make them so amazing and turned them into a weeknight casserole. It has a cheesy beef and bean base laced with warm spices, and then is topped as a classic taco should be, with lettuce, tomato, and creamy Greek yogurt.

Beefy Taco Casserole: Watch the Video

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Use Beans to Stretch Your Casserole Further

You can expect an ultra-hearty, meaty meal from this taco casserole, but that doesn't come from ground beef alone. It relies on just one budget-friendly pound of ground beef, then stretches it further to feed all the hungry mouths around the table (with leftovers!), thanks to a can of earthy pinto beans. This pantry staple bulks up your meal and adds an extra punch of protein, while the fresh veggie topping keep it balanced.

Make the Most of Your Taco Casserole

Like all the best casseroles, this one is a crowd-pleaser that comes with the promise of ease and, best of all, some serious versatility. There's really no limit to all the ways you can serve it up. You can never go wrong with keeping it as a classic casserole, although it's also an amazing way to make a warm dinner salad by topping off a bowl of greens. And if you dream of a dinner centered around tortilla chips, this is the best way to make it a meal.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Ground Beef Taco Casserole

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for the baking dish
1 pound ground beef
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
15 ounces tomato salsa
1 1/2 cups shredded mild cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
1 medium tomato, diced
Greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350℉. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with oil; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a plate, then drain any fat from the skillet.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the onion, pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Return the beef to the pan and stir in the beans. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and tomato paste, and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the salsa and 3/4 cup of the cheese. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup cheese.

Bake until the cheese is melted and casserole is heated through, about 20 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Top with lettuce and tomato, and serve with Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
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