Cheesy Taco Pasta

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Cheesy Taco Pasta is easy to make and tastes like the Hamburger Helper you used to eat as a kid except better. Much better.

Cheesy Taco Pasta is easy to make and tastes like the Hamburger Helper you used to eat as a kid except better. Much better.

Cheesy Taco Pasta is my nod to the hamburger helper I grew up eating as a kid. While this isn’t exactly the “crunchy taco hamburger helper” because I skipped adding the tortilla chips on top, the ooey gooey meat and cheese sauce is still the same and with just a few ingredients!

We LOVED this Cheesy Taco Pasta, just like the Hamburger Helper we grew up with!You can certainly add your own fresh vegetables to the mix instead of the salsa, but I used a good jarred salsa and it tasted fantastic. On occasion I’ve also used fresh salsa (I firmly believe that recipe is one of the best ever), but the higher water content of it makes the pasta more watery.

You can also make this Cheesy Taco Pasta as cheesy as you’d like. I added only a single cup of cheese, while some in my family will add additional piles of cheese to their plate. If you want your pasta to be really cheesy I suggest 2 cups of cheese. A giant bowl of Cheesy Taco Pasta is the perfect quick dinner with just five ingredients!

You can also freeze this pasta for a later date. I’d skip adding the cheese and when you defrost it, use a cup of chicken or beef stock. Then once warmed through add the cheese, mix and serve.

Looking for more great cheesy pasta dishes? Look no further:

Just 5 ingredients in this Cheesy Taco Pasta! So delicious!

And yes, you can absolutely add crushed chips to the top! Then you’ll be re-living some awesome childhood hamburger helper memories. Or if you want something a bit different you can also make my Mexican Stuffed Peppers with all the taco flavors but none of the pasta!

Tools Used in the making of this Cheesy Taco Pasta:
Cast Iron Skillet: This is my most used pan in my kitchen, heavy, keeps heat well and gives the BEST sear ever.
Large Shells Pasta: I am linking to this because when I sent my husband to the store to get large shells he brought home the variety you stuff! So for reference here is the size you need!
Jarred Salsa: Cuts the prep time down to just a couple of minutes and the flavors are still outstanding.
Taco Seasoning: I use this to cut down on prep time but still keep quality high. You can use my Homemade Taco Seasoning recipe if you’d prefer not to use a packet.

Recipe

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Cheesy Taco Pasta

5 from 162 votes
  • Yield: 8 Servings
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American Fusion
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Cheesy Taco Pasta is easy to make and tastes like the Hamburger Helper you used to eat as a kid except better. Much better.

Ingredients

Instructions

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Cook the shelled pasta according to the directions on the box and drain.
  2. Add the ground beef to the pan and brown well.
  3. Drain the fat.
  4. Add the taco seasoning and ¾ cup of water, stir and cook until water is gone.
  5. Add the pasta back into the pot with the salsa and cheese.
  6. Stir to combine.
  7. Serve immediately, preferably with crunchy tortilla chips (optional) on top.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 8 Servings, Amount per serving: 316 calories, Calories: 316g, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 55mg, Sodium: 408mg, Potassium: 322mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 355g, Vitamin C: 0.9g, Calcium: 128g, Iron: 1.7g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Cheesy Taco Pasta
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We LOVED this Cheesy Taco Pasta, just like the Hamburger Helper we grew up with!
A giant bowl of Cheesy Taco Pasta is the perfect quick dinner with just five ingredients!
Just 5 ingredients in this Cheesy Taco Pasta! So delicious!

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Comments

  1. Made a big batch to feed a bunch of boys and enhanced it with black beans, green chilies, Rotel tomatoes, and used Medium chunky salsa. This made it have just enough kick where my boys loved it!

  2. I’ve made this a few times and have adjusted it to my tastes. I add some diced onion, jalapeños, garlic, corn, black beans and a can of tomato sauce. I also really love heat so instead of taco seasoning, I use a generous mix of chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, ancho pepper powder, hot sauce and black pepper. Serve with a dollop of sour cream – delish! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  3. This was so good.. I put my own little touch on it.. I added black olives, cut up some fresh green onions and cliantro, and when served I topped with a little sour cream and avocados…. Thank you so much for the inspiration…

  4. This was amazing! I have 3 teenage boys, so I doubled the recipe and almost tripled the cheese (We love cheese). It was packed with flavor and tasted nothing like that crappy Hamburger Helper stuff! This will definitely be added to my list of family favorite recipes.

    I used what I already had on hand: Laura’s lean ground beef (96/4), Kroger brand “salad shells,” (not the small), Kroger brand taco seasoning packets, Tostitos mild salsa, and freshly grated Kroger brand sharp cheddar cheese.

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I will definitely check out some of the others you’ve shared.

  5. This is the 3rd time making this recipe. It is so good!! Everyone in the house loved it as well. Thank you!!

  6. I see that this dish has eight servings, for 316 cal each. However, how much is one serving?? Is it a cup? One and a half cups? I want to make this but I have a daughter counting calories so I always help her with dinners and calorie counts.

    1. I’d say about 1 cup. If you’re looking for exact, you might want to use your own online calculator to get a more precise measurement. I hope you all enjoy it.

    1. Yes, you can freeze it though I might wait to add the cheese until after it’s defrosted and add a bit of beef stock to warm it back up. Once it’s warmed, then add the cheese. Hope this helps!

    2. Not all taco seasoning and/or salsa is the same needless to say, so I went with my tried & true brands here — Herdez Salsa Casera & Tones taco seasoning. Turned out a winner.

  7. I made this exactly as written for a quick dinner on Saturday night. The husband and son are huge pasta lovers and both gave it thumbs up.

  8. Quick, easy, and delicious. I added an extra cup and a half of cheddar; embarrassed to admit how addicted to cheese we are. I agree that the crushed chips add to it. Thanks for a great recipe. I will be making this often.

    1. You might want to increase the other amounts so it’s not too pasta heavy. You want to make sure you have enough of the other ingredients. Good luck!

    2. Yes, I did you will need to extra everything so your ratios are good. I used a box and doubled my taco season to 2 pkts, for my salsa I used 15 oz, for my cheese I used 8oz, for my water I used (2) 3/4 cups, and added a teaspoon of sourcream at end.. personal preference it made it creamer.

  9. I added 1tsp of chili powder and 1.5 tsp of garlic powder, a chopped onion and bell pepper,skipped the pasta, and served it with the cheese, chips and lettuce as a salad. It would also make a good party dip like this.

  10. This was a tasty and hearty meal after a heavy snowfall. I used an entire 12 oz. jar of corn and black bean salsa and it was absorbed into the pasta very quickly. I used finely shredded Mexican cheese in place of cheddar. The crushed tortilla chips added a nice crunch to the dish. I agree with previous comments that this dish is best eaten immediately vs. as leftovers.

  11. The second time I made this, I layered the meat and seasoned shells in a casserole dish with the cheese, which I doubled, and baked for 20 minutes. I liked the flavor better this way as the cheese seems to melt away when I mix it in the pot on the stove top. Excellent recipe, will definitely be making this again.

  12. This is super easy but Awesome! My husband Loves this and loves it leftovers for his lunch. My sons and their friends like this and always empty their plates! It’s always a hit. I double the recipe! Thank you!

  13. I thought this was delicious. However, I did not use salsa, instead I used diced tomatoes & green chilies. Turned out AWE-SOME! thank you for this easy recipe!

  14. Hi ! I once did this recipe but it was not with the same ingredients ! I remember it having philadelphia cheese and some seasonned tomatoes in a can, i was just wondering if you’ve changed the recipe or if its another one ? I love the other version so much !!

  15. Yum! I have made this twice now, and it was a hit both times! Another keeper. Hubby now requests this. So easy and delicious!

  16. Pretty tasty and simple to make, made it twice already. I reccomend buying a high-quality salsa since most of the flavour will come from that, and if you can’t find taco seasoning then paprika, pepper and salt do just fine for a DIY solution.

  17. This was easy, quick and delicious. Perfect weeknight dinner and kid approved! I used 93% lean ground beef and shredded reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese to make it WW friendly and still very delicious!

  18. I have had this recipie pinned for months and I finally got around to make it and absolutely LOVED it! This will absolutely be staple for me going a staple going forward

  19. I have diabetes, and am always looking for dishes that are quick, easy, and reasonably tasty and healthy. This dish meets all of those requirements: It’s SO easy to make; you can cook the pasta and meat in separate pots – at the same time – for time savings; and the seasoning and salsa make the meat very tasty. The cheese is an added bonus and helps fill you up!! Definitely going into the favorites rotation.

    (One caveat: it is definitely best when served right away, but the leftovers do heat up nicely with some chicken or beef stock.)

    Thank you for an awesome website!