Cheesy Taco Pasta

8 Servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

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.

Pin this recipe now to remember it later

Pin Recipe

Cheesy Taco Pasta

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



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


Calories: 316kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 408mg | Potassium: 322mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 355IU | Vitamin C: 0.9mg | Calcium: 128mg | Iron: 1.7mg
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.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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.


Leave a comment & rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I made this recipe for the first time three years ago and my family loved it, especially my cousin. This cannot stay in my house long enough. Paired with some sour cream and iceberg lettuce, it’s excellent.

  2. This turned out sooooo good! I didn’t have taco seasoning packet so I ended up making my own. Also instead of salsa I added Rotel!
    Paired with a tostada and sour cream it was AMAZING! 10/10

  3. Excellent! Made this tonight without making any changes or substitutions and my husband requested this to be in our rotation! Thank you for making me look good.

  4. I made this with Prego Traditional pasta sauce since I didn’t have any salsa. One of my kids liked it so much he asked if he could take it to school for lunch. My other child however didn’t like it at all.

  5. Really good! I didn’t have the right type of noodles, so I had to change the measurements up a little bit, but still delicious! I recommend serving with sour cream.

  6. Thanks so much putting this recipe up. I made as I read and my husband and I love it. It came so cheesy and it really taste like a Taco!!! Keep up the great work!!!

  7. Absolutely delicious, will double next time as our family of 5 all came back for seconds! Huge hit, thank you!

  8. This is actually really good it tastes as good as the picture looks. I added diced avocado, Roma tomatoes and red onion as a topper too! Even my toddlers that never eat tacos loved it. Big hit in my house of 7!

  9. Finally reviewing after making this a bunch of times for my family of 6 over the last few years! It’s rare that everyone agrees on food and they all like this! I generally make it as written (using mild taco seasoning and target g&g mild salsa), maybe adding a bit more cheese, or offering additional cheese as a topping for those that want it. Tonight I used ground Turkey and it was just as good as the ground beef – and I’m not the biggest ground Turkey fan! This is easy and tasty and can totally be customized depending on family preferences or what you have on hand. Thanks, Sabrina, for a total winner! (And sorry for waiting so long to give this the 5 stars it deserves!)

    1. Thanks, Brandi! I find it awesome you were able to make this in many different ways! So glad you like it! Thank you for your support!

  10. I tend to make dinner for the adults in the house and my daughter who is extremely picky I always make a second meal for her because she never seems to like anything that we eat. I tried this and she looked at it and saw the ingredients and asked if she could try it of course I was more than thrilled and when she ate it and said she wanted a bowl for dinner I couldn’t have been happier. My picky eater now finally has a dish other than my spaghetti that she will eat with the family and for me that’s always a win!

  11. This was a big hit. I doubled the recipe, cooked it in a casserole and added more cheese on top. I will make it again for sure!

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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…

  15. 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.

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. I made a small batch to test it and it was so good that I then made a double batch. This recipe is a keeper!!

    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.

  21. 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.

  22. I added chopped onions, jalapeños, and some cream cheese. It’s delicious and super easy! Thanks for sharing it!

  23. 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.

  24. Fabulous. I was running out of time so I looked for something I can make quick and this is a perfect recipe!!

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. 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 !!

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

  30. 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.

  31. 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!

  32. 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

  33. 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!