Taco Pasta

published Sep 4, 2022
Taco Pasta Recipe

Macaroni & cheese meets a beef taco with all the fixings.

Serves6 to 8

Prep10 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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A photo of a round bowl with pasta shells and taco ingredients tossed together.
Credit: Olivia Mack McCool

If one of your favorite foods is tacos and your idea of comfort is tucking into a big, creamy, cheesy bowl of pasta, then this taco pasta is for you. Imagine macaroni and cheese meets a beef taco with all the fixings. Sounds like a dream, right?

How Do You Make Taco Pasta?

First, boil your pasta. While the pasta is cooking, you make a rich sauce that starts with ground beef, onion, garlic, and taco seasoning. Yep, just store-bought taco seasoning! It gets bolstered by beef broth, sour cream, and two different kinds of cheeses. Sharp cheddar gives a hit of flavor and American cheese lends that unmistakable gooey texture. The pasta gets folded into the sauce and it’s all topped off with a little more cheese, sliced black olives, and a showering of chopped cilantro. 

What Other Kinds of Meat Can You Use?

Any kind of ground meat would be great here. Say you like to make your tacos with ground chicken — that would be a delicious taco pasta. Ground pork and turkey would also fit right in.

Taco Pasta Recipe

Macaroni & cheese meets a beef taco with all the fixings.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    small yellow onion

  • 2 cloves


  • 1 (2.25-ounce) can

    sliced black olives

  • 6 sprigs

    fresh cilantro

  • 4 ounces

    American cheese slices

  • 8 ounces

    sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1 pound

    dried medium pasta shells

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef

  • 2 tablespoons

    taco seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups

    low-sodium beef broth

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can

    diced tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup

    sour cream


  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, dice 1 small yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups) and mince 2 garlic cloves. Drain 1 (2.25-ounce) can sliced black olives. Finely chop the leaves and tender stems of 5 fresh cilantro sprigs (about 2 tablespoons). Tear 4 ounces American cheese slices into big pieces. Grate 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of the box grater (about 2 cups); set aside a small handful for garnish.

  2. Add 1 pound medium dried shells to the boiling water and cook and according to package directions until al dente, about 9 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sauce.

  3. Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large high-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 pound lean ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula into bite-sized pieces, for 3 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, 2 tablespoons taco seasoning, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and the beef is browned and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle in 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and stir until there is no more visible flour, about 30 seconds.

  4. Add 2 cups low-sodium beef broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes and their juices. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat. Add the cheddar cheese, American cheese, and 1/2 cup sour cream, and stir until the cheeses are melted. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed.

  5. When the pasta is ready, drain. Add to the sauce and stir to combine. Garnish with the reserved shredded cheddar cheese, olives, and cilantro.

Recipe Notes

Ground beef substitute: You can substitute the ground beef for almost any ground meat. Ground pork, chicken, or turkey would all be delicious.

Diced tomatoes substitute: The same amount of fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chilies can be substituted for the regular diced tomatoes.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.