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.



Cheesy Taco Pasta

5 from 144 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.



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 3/4 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.

Recipe Video

[brid autoplay="true" video="454140" player="18816" title="Taco Pasta Rec" description="Cheesy Taco Pasta" duration="59" uploaddate="2019-08-22 13:15:15" thumbnailurl=""]

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

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Keyword: Cheesy Taco Pasta
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!

About the Author

Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

See more posts by Sabrina

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Great recipe. Super easy to prepare. Added extra water from noodles to tin out sauce. I also added Tastefully Simple Fiesta Party Seasoning to mine ~ it made the taste over the top.

  2. My 16 yr old daughter found this recipe on Pinterest and asked if I could make it. This was an awesome dish and super easy to prepare. I doubled the recipe, used a whole pack of taco seasoning, a jar of my favorite salsa and it was amazing. Will definitely make this again. 

  3. I found this recipe yesterday on Pinterest just by typing in “dinner” ??. Made it last night because it sounded so simple! It was simple and a huge hit with my family! Even my picky 12 year old!! Thank you for sharing!! 

  4. Made this using ground Italian sausage and ground Turkey. So delicious. This will be my go to, quick fix meal. Family absolutely enjoyed it.

  5. Have you ever added corn to this? Wondering what kind would be best? Frozen or canned? And if canned, do you drain it? Probably stupid questions but I’m a beginner at cooking so I usually don’t edit recipes at all bc I don’t want to mess it up. Lol

    1. Sure, I would add 1 cup of frozen corn. Increase your salsa too though and cheese. Maybe do 1 1/2 cups of each. Add the corn in with the pasta and it’ll defrost easily and quickly.

    1. Yes just skip adding the cheese part. When you reheat it, add a bit of chicken or beef stock. Once warmed through, add the cheese and you’re all set! Enjoy!

    1. The salsa does add to the flavor so if you don’t care for it, you could substitute with enchilada sauce with diced tomatoes. The flavor might be stronger so you could always mellow it out a bit with some sour cream.

    1. Yes, you can make this into a slow cooker version very easily. Add the browned meat with the rest of the ingredients to a slow cooker and add 2 cups of water. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. Once it’s cooked, add the cheese in and stir. Enjoy and have fun at the reunion!

  6. I accidentally bought bow tie pasta. I’m sure that will be though, don’t you think? I’m also going to add a little bit of black beans and corn. Can’t wait to try it!

      1. I think I’ll try it with the shells next time, but the black beans and corn definitely worked well. Great one pot meal for sure. The meat/salsa/cheese mixture is a good base that you probably take in several different directions. I think it might be good to try rice instead of pasta. 

      1. I tried it with the ground chicken and added a little more cheese. I tried it in the slow cooker as well. It turned out awesome.

  7. I added the whole amount of seasoning ? It’s so hot!! I should’ve read the comments. I had no idea it was supposed to be one tablespoon of the seasonings made ?

    1. Oh no! I’m so sorry. My recipe plug in must have not saved my edit. I just edited it again so I hope it sticks. It should read “use 1-2 tablespoons to equal 1 taco seasoning packet”.

  8. I think the ingredient list is deceiving. I opted to make my own taco seasoning. No where did it say how much the recipe needed and I assumed it was all of it! Big mistake!! I noticed some people saying they used 1-2 TB of the seasoning. It should have been explained better. While we ate some of the macaroni, the meat was way too spicy!! 

    1. I’m so sorry! It looks like my recipe plug in didn’t save the edit. I just edited again so I really hope it saves correctly this time.

  9. Husband and I absolutely loved this.  Wish I saw the other comment, adding black beans and sour cream before I served it.  But there’s definately going to be a next time.  

    1. That’s a good question. I’ve never tried it but I would suggest using enchilada sauce with diced tomatoes. The flavor will be stronger so you could mellow it out a bit by adding in sour cream. Let me know how it works out!

    2. Try rotel instead of salsa if you don’t like onion. That’s diced green chilies and diced tomatoes

    3. I don’t like onions either (or peppers for that matter) but I do like salsa, (I just pick out the chunks). So for this recipe. I bought a not too chunky salsa (like restaurant style) and puréed it. Worked great! No onion chunks and kept the salsa flavor!

  10. Hi- this dish was delish! I added a can of black beans for a protein boost and it worked well. And then stirred in sour cream with MORE cheese once served. It was a hit with me and my husband and two out of three kiddos, one of them thought it was too spicy. Thanks for the great and easy recipe!

    1. Hi Sara I have a question. Did you drain the black beans before adding them and also how much sour cream did you use? Thanks for any help 

  11. This looks really good…and easy!! I never use oil to brown ground beef though…it really doesn’t need it??But, to each his own! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!! I tend to tell people to add oil because depending if the skillet they’re using is a non-stick one or how lean the meat is, the meat could tend to stick so adding just a bit of oil will prevent that.

    1. I’ve never used it before but because you’re seasoning it, I would think it would still work. If you decide to try, let me know how it worked out.

  12. Hi Sabrina, just want to make recipe correctly. When should I add the pasta? Should I do it after the water and taco seasoning? Thanks so much looks great!!

  13. Hi Sabrina. This recipe was amazing.  I made it for my family tonight and they LOVED it.  My husband said I will never eat hamburger helper ever again.  This will definitely be in our dinner rotation from now n.  

  14. I just love how easy this is to make! Definitely adding this to the weekly meal plan rotation soon. 🙂

        1. The boxed pasta I used was packaged as a full pound so I used half a box for this recipe. Hope this helps clear up any confusion.

      1. love that you give the recipe for taco daughter always finds it to spicy so we can never have the package stuff ,so now i will be able to tone it down for her and we can all enjoy it.your recipes i have seen so far are amazing and not outlandishly complicated so us average joes can make them.thank you.

      2. I started a long time ago using tomato sauce instead of water with the dry taco seasoning.. I make a lot of taco salads for my family as we all love them.. Keeps the sauce from being watery.. If a little thick for some, you can always add a tablespoon or two of water if needed.. Love the difference…

        1. Sandra, That sounds so good. Would love to try it using the tomato sauce, Could you please tell me what size can of tomato sauce you use? Thank you so much for any help you can give me. 🙂

          1. You can use diced or stewed tomatoes as a substitute though it will change the flavor a bit. I hope you enjoy it!