Recipe: One-Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta

Recipe: One-Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta

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Patty Catalano
May 1, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

You can quench a taco craving with fish tacos, chicken tacos, cauliflower tacos, or breakfast tacos, but a ground beef taco is the quintessential taco in my book. When weeknight cooking calls for serving a crowd, trade tortillas for tender noodles and serve it hot and bubbling straight from the Dutch oven.

This weeknight pasta checks all the right boxes with family-friendly flavor, a streamlined ingredient list, and simple one-pot prep.

One-Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta: Watch the Video

Flour or corn? Hard or soft? You can skip all the decision-making with this one-pot taco casserole by trading macaroni noodles for traditional tortillas. Pantry-friendly ingredients like store-bought salsa, canned beans, and taco seasoning make weeknight cooking easy.

But just because you take a helping hand from the grocery store does not mean your meal is left uninspired. Customize this cheesy taco pasta by pouring in your favorite salsa. This week, make it with hot and spicy restaurant-style salsa, and next time switch it up with green tomatillo salsa.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

The Dutch Oven Is a One-Pot Dinner Hero

Cooked in a Dutch oven or a high-sided skillet (like a cast iron skillet), this taco pasta goes from stovetop to broiler, then straight onto the table. A Dutch oven is the weeknight hero that takes you from browning meat to boiling noodles all without skipping a beat or switching a pot. The heavy bottom of this pot browns the beef evenly, helping it to develop rich and savory flavors. The dry noodles go in along with a restrained amount of broth and salsa — just enough for the noodles to plump from soaking up the tomato-rich liquid.

After the casserole simmers on the stove, sprinkle with even more cheese and slide it under the broiler. Bubbling and brown, the taco casserole is ready to serve. Scoop into bowls and top with diced avocado, sour cream, and a squeeze of fresh lime. Forgo the assembly line and transform tacos into a one-pot pasta dish satisfying enough to serve a hungry crowd in mere minutes.

One-Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 cup

    diced onion

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef

  • 1 tablespoon

    taco seasoning

  • 1

    clove garlic, minced

  • 1

    (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 3 cups

    salsa

  • 8 ounces

    dry elbow macaroni

  • 2 1/2 cups

    low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 cup

    fresh or frozen corn kernels

  • 2 cups

    shredded Monterey jack cheese (8 ounces), divided

  • Serving options: Diced avocado, lime wedges, chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream

Heat the oil in a 4-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until beginning to brown and soften, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef, taco seasoning, and garlic and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned and no pink remains, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the beans, salsa, and macaroni and stir to combine. Pour in the chicken broth, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack about 6 inches from the broiler (make sure the pot will fit). Heat the broiler to high.

Stir the corn and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese into the pasta. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top. Broil until the cheese melts and turns golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving with your favorite taco fixings.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Make ahead: The beef and onion mixture can be browned and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance.

Taco seasoning substitutions: No taco seasoning on hand? Use 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano instead.

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