Taco Spaghetti

published Aug 1, 2022
Taco Spaghetti Recipe

Mexican-American flavors elope with a red sauce spaghetti casserole.

Serves10 to 12

Prep20 minutes

Cook1 hour 15 minutes

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A photo of a white, rectangular baking dish with taco spaghetti inside, with the corner piece removed.
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

Taco spaghetti is a mash-up of a couple of family-favorite dinners. There aren’t actually any tacos involved. Instead, classic Mexican American flavors are married with a spaghetti casserole that bakes up to feed a crowd.

What Goes in Taco Spaghetti?

Taco spaghetti is made with ground beef simmered in something similar to enchilada sauce. Spaghetti, corn kernels, black beans, and chunks of Monterey Jack cheese are stirred into the sauce and piled into a casserole dish. Everything is topped with more cheese and lots of topping then baked until browned and bubbly. 

Credit: Meleyna Nomura

What Meat Do I Use for Taco Spaghetti?

This recipe uses ground beef, but feel free to use ground turkey or a vegetarian meat substitute. Or just double up on the canned beans for a meatless option.

Tips for Making Taco Spaghetti

  • Stir cubed instead of grated cheese into the pasta to result in pockets of cheesy goodness to spear you fork into.
  • Use tongs to transfer the spaghetti to the casserole dish instead of dumping the whole thing at once. This allows the spaghetti to settle in little nests throughout the dish, making it easier to serve.
  • Toppings are optional, but don’t hesitate to use as many as you’d like to put this casserole over the top in the best way possible.
  • Baking the casserole covered allows everything to get nice and warm throughout, making sure those cubes of cheese melt thoroughly. Removing the foil and returning it to the oven gets the top nice and brown.

Taco Spaghetti Recipe

Mexican-American flavors elope with a red sauce spaghetti casserole.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes

Serves 10 to 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon

    tomato paste

  • 1/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons

    chili powder

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • 2 1/2 cups

    low-sodium chicken broth, divided

  • 1 pound

    dried spaghetti

  • 2 (10-ounce) cans

    Ro-Tel diced tomatoes with green chiles

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    black beans

  • 1/2 cup

    frozen corn kernels

  • 1 pound

    Monterey Jack cheese (not shredded)

  • Optional toppings: sliced black olives, diced tomatoes, jalapeño rings, chopped scallions

  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.

  2. Meanwhile, dice 1 medium yellow onion. Mince 2 garlic cloves. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Break up 1 pound lean ground beef into chunks and place in the pan in one even layer. Let cook until well browned and almost cooked through, about 5 minutes.

  3. Season with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Stir and break up into smaller chunks with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes.

  4. Add the onion and garlic, and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, reducing the heat as needed if the onion starts to brown, about 8 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the paste darkens in color, 2 to 3 minutes.

  5. Sprinkle 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano into the pan. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 of the cup low-sodium chicken broth and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon and making sure no lumps form. Stir in another 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups chicken broth.

  6. Add 2 (10-ounce) cans Rotel tomatoes and their juices. Stir and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, add 1 pound dried spaghetti to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes less than package instructions for al dente.

  7. Meanwhile, drain and rinse 1 (about 15-ounce) can black beans. Measure out 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels. Cut 8 ounces of the Monterey Jack cheese into 1/2-inch cubes. Grate the remaining 8 ounces cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups). Prepare desired toppings.

  8. Drain the spaghetti and return to the now-empty pot. Add the sauce, black beans, corn, and cubed cheese, and stir to combine.

  9. Use tongs to transfer the spaghetti mixture to the baking dish in an even layer. Spoon any sauce left in the pot into the baking dish. Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Sprinkle with selected toppings if desired.

  10. Bake until bubbling and the top starts to brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The sauce can be made up to a day ahead. Add the beans and corn and refrigerate in an airtight container; cube and grate the cheese and refrigerate in separate airtight containers. When ready to finish, boil the spaghetti, assemble, and bake as directed.

Alternatively, taco spaghetti can be completely assembled ahead of time, covered, and refrigerated overnight. Remove from the refrigerator while the oven heats and bake as directed, it may need a few more minutes baking time.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.