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!
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.
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:
- Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells – the XL version of this recipe!
- Bacon Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper
- Pepperoni Pizza Hamburger Helper
- Philly Cheesesteak Hamburger Helper
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Bake
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.
- 1/2 pound large shells pasta
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning (or 1 packet)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 cup jarred salsa
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 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.
I prepared as is, but after tasting, I decided to add in a freshly diced tomato and some freshly shredded pepper jack cheese. I may use my own Mexican seasoning mix next time instead of the packaged taco seasoning. Super quick meal that goes great with a fresh salad on the side.
Hi Theresa. Thanks for the great review. I created and tested my own Homemade Taco Seasoning recipe (https://dinnerthendessert.com/homemade-taco-seasoning/?swcfpc=1) since I wrote Cheesy Taco Pasta! If you decide to use it with this recipe sometime, I would love to hear what you think!
Made this today. I used half queso and half salsa. So good.
So easy and delish. I didn’t change anything aside from using a tex mex cheese blend instead of just cheddar. The grown up version of Hamburger Helper. This will become a regular staple.
It was still a bit bland using ground beef, even with hot taco mix, so we switched to Chorizo sausage with the casings cut off and cooked like ground beef. Very tasty.
You forgot tha salsa from the directions! When to add the salsa?
It’s in step 5.
Can this be made with ground chicken?
Your question got buried over the holiday, my apologies. With a similar texture, ground chicken or ground turkey can be superb substitutes for ground beef. The poultry is a bit paler than beef, which can change the appearance of some dishes, but they still taste equally delicious.
Hope you’ll try it and let us know!
I make a toppings bar for this recipe. I use halved cherry tomatoes, jalapeños, avocado, sour cream and extra salsa. It’s a huge hit.
This barely fed my family of 3, I have no clue how someone would get 8 servings out of this.
Simple and delicious recipe, and easy to customize to your preference.
Will definitely double the recipe next time.
This was delicious. Fast easy and good.
Very quick. I needed a quick meal and I had everything that the recipe called for. I was a little short on the salsa but it turned out pretty good. I added grated cheddar to the top fir a bit more cheese. Overall a keeper.
Made this for my 11 year old twin grandsons, and they loved it (I used homemade taco seasoning). Made a double batch for them to put in the freezer for future meals. After a football game, they devoured the whole pan … all by themselves!! They like to use tortilla chips and either crush them on top or use the chips to dip into the cheesy taco pasta. This is a definite “win”. Thank you.
Made this for my 11 year old twin grandsons, and they loved it (I used homemade taco seasoning). Made a double batch for them to put in the freezer for future meals. After a football game, they devoured the whole pan … all by themselves!! They like to use tortilla chips and either crush them on top, or use them to dip the cheesy taco pasta. Definitely a “win”! Thank you!
This was a great start. I made home made taco seasoning, added a can of rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles, a litttle beef stock and heavy cream to create a cheese sauce. Thanks for the recipe, my kids loved this.
This recipe is so delicious and my kid loves it.
What is the serving size for the nutrition facts included?
I didn’t have shell pasta, so used some spirals I had on hand. Also, I saw someone’s comment about adding cream cheese, so I threw in some of that. I eyeballed the ingredients really, as I make quite a bit of taco type things. This is my first at taco pasta though, and it turned out good. For my family of 5, it was perfect.
Didn’t have salsa so added onions with the ground beef, and a can of rotel.
Just curious though, I see the nutritional info, but no serving size. I would assume a cup, but wanted to sure.
Excellent recipe! I think we will add the cream cheese for the extra sauce factor. Delicious and for sure will be making again!
I’ve made this several times. It’s very easy and delicious! I always eat way too much of it!! It’s definitely worth it to make the homemade taco seasoning.
All i can say is yummy ?
Absolutely delicious. I used salsa and queso instead of shredded cheese, and I threw some fiesta corn in too…awesome! Thanks for the recipe!
This was a simple and delicious meal. Thanks so much for the recipe!
Quick & Simple. This recipe was very fast to prepare, simple ingredients that mostly everyone will have on hand. While it’s not bursting with lots of flavors, it’s still a good recipe. Next time I make this, I will trying using a “medium” salsa, maybe put some jalapeño and/or hot sauce. I will also try using some velveeta or a combo of Cheddar & monterey jack cheese. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us.
My family loved this! I didn’t have salsa so I used marinara sauce and it was sooo good!
This was easy and tasty. I’m sure it would be a hit with the grandkids. I didn’t have shell pasta so used penne pasta that’s what I had on hand. I didn’t have a packet of taco seasoning mix so used a packet of fajita seasoning. I think next time I’ll only use half the amount of ground beef though. Overall a very easy and tasty weeknight meal. I served it with corn seasoned with chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder and cumin.
I am assuming you add the salsa and mix it all together…. or do you pour the salsa on top?
Tried this and was one of my favorite meals!!! Delicious!! Highly recommend!
This dish was really good! Everyone enjoyed it!
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.
Made this tonight and added some Velveeta. It’s fantastic!
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
What can you substitute for the salsa?
I used Rotel!
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
Absolutely delicious, will double next time as our family of 5 all came back for seconds! Huge hit, thank you!
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!
I added cilantro, mild diced chiles, and onions…it was a hit.
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!)
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!
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!
This is awesome Lauren! So glad she enjoyed it!
Could you leave the salsa out?
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!
This looks good going to try it with veggie meat. What would you suggest adding for sides ?
Maybe beans or a salad?
for our sides we did Rice Roni’s spanish rice and some refried beans! Was a hit with everyone!!!!
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!
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!
Thanks Kenzie! Those additions sound delicious.
Baby I made this for 4 picky eaters(ages:8,4,2,1). The pan was clean. Great recipe
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…
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.
I love seeing this, thank you!
This is the 3rd time making this recipe. It is so good!! Everyone in the house loved it as well. Thank you!!
Love it! Thanks for the 5 stars, Nancy.
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.
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.
Hi. I feel like I missed this some where. Can you freeze this?
The dish looks amazing!
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!
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.
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.
It was not that bad I put some motzerella ok it and it was good
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.
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Debbie!
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!!
Question, can you use a full pound of shells? I’d rather not have to half the box.
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!
I want to make this so bad but all I have is mac n cheese noodles could I still use them?
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.
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.
I added chopped onions, jalapeños, and some cream cheese. It’s delicious and super easy! Thanks for sharing it!
You’re welcome, Ana.
This is an easy go-to dinner for dinner on the fly, delicious too!
Can I substitute shredded cheese with Velveeta cheese. Also add onions, bell pepper, and corn.
I think I will add Velveeta cheese instead of shredded cheese.
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.
Fabulous! I used a different pasta I had.
Easily works with whatever pasta is your favorite! Thanks for the 5 stars, Abby.
Fabulous. I was running out of time so I looked for something I can make quick and this is a perfect recipe!!
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.
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!
It was delicious! Thank you!! Loved it and made it with brown rice noodles.
Thank you . Our son liked it and now he has a meal for lunch as well!!
Can u substitute large shells with medium shells
Much prefer medium shells, which I think are just right.
Picture looks like small shells…?
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!
Can you make it without the salsa
Yes, but I would replace it with canned diced tomatoes. Enjoy!
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 !!
Hmm, I didn’t change this one but I can’t think of another one like this with cream cheese.
Yum! I have made this twice now, and it was a hit both times! Another keeper. Hubby now requests this. So easy and delicious!
I’m glad you loved it enough to give it a 5 star rating, Amanda.
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.
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!
I’m so glad you all enjoyed it!
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
Yay!! Thanks for the 5 stars, Liv.
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!
You’re welcome, Kat.
Amazing recipe and very easy. I did add green chili’s to spice it up. Also I see a green herb that doesn’t look like cilantro, what herb is in the photo?
I just added parsley for the photo and presentation. Completely optional. Enjoy!
Is this a half pound of uncooked or prepared pasta?
Subrina everything you fix looks sooo good. Thanks for being here.
Does it matter what type of salsa i use?
Nope, whatever you prefer. Enjoy!
Seriously, so good! Even leftover it’s great!
I’d love to receive the recipe for baked scallops. Sounds yummy
Here’s the link: https://dinnerthendessert.com/baked-scallops/
Super good base recipe. I didn’t have shell pasta, so I used elbow. Also, the first time I made it I realized IT IS best served right away. I needed a quick meal to whip up for lunch this morning, though, so I added some half and half and stirred the cooked pasta and cheese in before the liquid was all cooked up with the taco meat. It heated up nicely.
This was perfect! I used it as a base recipe to use the odds and ends in the fridge. The left over taco meat that wouldn’t make enough servings for round 2, added green pepper, onion, and cherry tomato to the recipe with the shell macaroni noodles that I had. Perfect way to reinvent the taco left overs, use up that remainder of salsa and sour cream. Its going into the menu rotation for sure!
I love it when it’s quick and tasty! thanks, especially helpful when kids are at home from school due to quarantine.
Didn’t have shell pasta so I used rotini. Super easy and quick. Even the 7 year old skeptic loved it!
This was absolutely delicious and easy to make! My only question is how many calories? It’s important for me to know how many calories I intake.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I do have nutritional facts at the bottom of the recipe card though they are an automated calculation. You may want to input it into your own counter to make sure it’s accurate.
family ? loved it.
Perfect! Delicious, simple, and uses ingredients I always have on hand. I did the pasta and meat at the same time in separate pots and i was done in 25 minutes! Thank you!
Really good – my whole family loved it (and that doesn’t happen often). Next time, I may try fresh salsa (not from a jar) with diced tomatoes. I will definitely make this again. Thank you!!
I was wondering if you could cook this in the instapot, but not sure how? I am a beginner at using the instapot so don’t know conversions yet.
I’ve not tested it before. You might be able to find another recipe online using similar ingredients and use that as a guideline. Good luck!
any jars of salsa should you use for a family of 4? Thanks. Honey from N.Y.
I used 1 cup of jarred salsa for this recipe. Feel free to add more to your liking or if you plan on doubling the recipe.
Love how easy and quick this is! Used elbow macaroni, substituted a can of rotel tomatoes for the salsa, added garlic and topped the dish with sour cream! It was delicious!
Is it ONE cup or ONE jar of salsa? Thanks!
1 cup of salsa. Enjoy!
Made this last night. Super quick and easy with ingredients on-hand. Very YUMMY!
Super easy and delish! Used Velveeta shredded cheddar for that extra oomph! of cheesy goodness. I’m not a big fan of salsa but this recipe is so versatile. I only used a 1/2 jar.
Excellent recipe, I added a can of Rotel Tomatoes , Yum !!!
Just made this for dinner tonight and it is AMAZING! Always looking for fast easy meals. This is a hit! Used the Sargento 4 cheese Mexican blend instead of Cheddar
How much of this equals a serving?
Just made this for dinner tonight and it is AMAZING! Always looking for fast easy meals. This is a hit! Used the Sargento 4 cheese Mexican blend instead of Cheddar.
Do you use mild…..medium or old cheddar ?
I used mild but you can use whatever you prefer. This recipe is very flexible.
No baking needed. Only needed 1 pan. Did not disappoint. Was delicious. To be honest was sceptical with lack of ingredients but it truly was good. Thank you
So glad you decided to give it a try, Nate. Thanks for the 5 stars.
Good sounding, making it as I type.
Unfortunately no baking temperature or size of baking dish.
Guess I’ll wing it.
It goes in one pot on the stove. You don’t bake it.
Made this was good … I used Velveeta cheese.. And elbow macaroni..
So easy, even with a crabby one-year-old on my hip! This was a hit with the little ones! Great use for my ultra-mild homemade salsa. I added a bit of frozen spinach to the sauce for some hidden nutrition. Then I decided to spoon the sauce over the noodles, like you would spaghetti (kid friendlier that way). We added shredded cheese, sliced black olives, sour cream, and crumbled corn chips on top. Awesome!
Glad you liked it! That’s some super cooking one handed juggling a little!
I made this last night but used ground chicken. So very good.
That’s a great swap, especially to lighten it up a bit. Happy you enjoyed!
Made tonight for supper- SO good! I thought about adding some cheddar cheese soup to the recipe, but it was perfect as is. So quick and easy, and full of flavor!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Alysha.
I made This for dinner tonight! It tastes amazing. I added a bit more water at the end to help the cheese melt nice and gooey – plus the pasta will soak up the liquid while it’s in the refrigerator. I also just used penne noodles and used about 3/4 of the box. I just added extra while mixing.
Yay! I am so glad it turned out well for you! Thank you so much for the review.
Awesome. Thanks for sharing you used penne. I was wondering if I could use that type of pasta as I have everything except for the large shells. I may still go buy them fof my first try on this recipe…but good to know it worked with another pasta. Love that it’s just a few simple ingredients.
Delicious! I accidentally used double the amount of pasta (I’m in Canada and failed to convert the measurements properly from pounds to grams) but it still turned out great! It made 5 large servings for me. Delicious meal prep! Will definitely make this recipe again in the future.
Haha guess there’s nothing wrong with doubling the recipe – more for you later! 🙂 Glad you liked it!
Very very good! Added 1/2 can refried beans and 1/2 cup sour cream. Family devoured it. Quick to make. Will make again but will double the recipe.
That sounds like some great additions! So glad you enjoyed!
Very very good. Made it as above but double all ingredients for larger batch.
Thanks for the review! This is a great recipe to double (or triple) for a crowd!!
Just made this tonight with the shells, ground Turkey, salsa and cheese with a packet of taco mix. It was really good. Next time I will add veggies and some beans.
So glad you liked it! Love that you lightened it up with Turkey.
I made a really tasty!!! pot of pasta penne with ground beef, cheese and salsa casera. Made per your instructions , I just had different ingredients available to me. To make a even larger dish, you can add corn or any other veggie you like!
It’s a family favorite – and yes, you can add lots of different veggies. It’s a great adaptable dish.
This is delicious and my family loved it!! I used a jar of black bean and corn salsa along with a jar of mild salsa. I omitted the water and just mixed in my taco seasoning in along with the salsa. This is definitely on my family’s menu!!
Made this tonight with ingredients I had on hand. Everybody liked it very much. I added some refried beans into the meat because I had no corn or bell peppers, came out fantastic! Love the fact that it is so versatile.
Very good and very simple! My kids don’t like tacos, but will happily eat this!
Fantastic! Thanks for the 5 stars Katy.
Do you use a whole box of shells? I know the recipe says 1/2 a pound but when I try to visualize that it seems like there would be a lot more meat than pasta.
I used 1/2 pound but feel free to adjust if you’d like more. Enjoy!
I have made this many times. I am not a fan of jarred salsa so I go to Chili’s and ask them for 2 cups of salsa (I double the recipe). It also freezes very well… which is why I double it.
I make something kind of like this but no salsa I brown the hamburger add some prego meat sauce a packet of taco seasoning mix in the large shells after boiling and put In a baking dish then spoon a mixture of sour cream and onion and chive cream cheese that you mix together before hand and top with cheddar cheese and bake it’s so good
Its really good. I dont drain the fat, there usually isnt that much, or not as much as you would believe. So I just leave that in there and add the seasonings and water. Comes out great. And this is from someone who DOESN’T like tacos lol.
I’m so glad you decided to try it then!
I’m not a fan of using ground meats. Could you substitute with something like chicken or can ot be eaten meatless?
Ground chicken would work. 🙂
You can substitute ground chicken or ground turkey for any recipe that calls for ground beef
You can use cubed meat instead of ground…kind doesn’t matter. Chicken, beef, and pork are all good.
Great my husband loves this
Just made it and thank yuh was easy and better than the box! I added sour cream too
This is a great recipe and quick. Thank you for posting.
Love this recipe! I added about a cup of sour cream to the dish itself, along with the salsa and cheese. So yummy! Thank you! This will definitely be a go-to dinner on busy evenings in our house!
Sounds delicious, Courtnee. Thanks for the 5 stars.
This was really good. I added onion to the ground beef while it was cooking. And used a 1/4 cup of taco seasoning. And garnished it with cilantro, green onions and sour cream. It was delicious.
Thanks for the 5 stars, Robert. So glad you enjoyed it.
I made this a couple nights ago and it was a big hit! I sautéed some red bell pepper and few cloves of minced garlic for extra flavor before adding the meat. I also added a little cumin, garlic powder, and coarse black pepper to the mix. I used half salsa and half picante sauce because it’s what was on hand and it turned out so tasty! Thanks for the recipe…we will be making this again!
It was good will be making this again we put sour cream on ours
Im serving this tonight on a bed of shredded lettuce. Maybe I’ll put warmed refried beans on the lettuce too. Thanks for a simple weeknite recipe!
Made this last night and it was really good. Kids asked me to make it again lol, so that says something. Followed the recipe but did add extra cheese, because we all love cheese. Also garnished it with a sprinkle of cheese, green onions and sour cream. Definite keeper thanks.
I used tomato sauce instead of salsa and added about 2 tablespoons of sour cream and some velveeta
I made this but instead of adding the water I added enchilada sauce and it added extra flavor and turned out fantastic.
Such a great idea!
I want only chicken and vegetarien recipes
So easy and tastes so good! We put the leftovers in a pit of tomato soup. Best tomato soup ever!
We loved this recipe!! We traded out the pasta for a veggie pasta and the beef we traded for ground turkey but it was still so yummy!
This pasta dish was excellent. Thank you so much for this recipe my family thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s simple, delicious, and healthy.
I wanted to like this, but this just was lacking a lot of flavor. I used your taco seasoning recipe, and I really had to amp it up with some sazón, adobo, and double over the other seasonings. It was good once I tweaked around.
I also used leftover pasta water instead of regular water and some tomato paste.
Decent base just needs more seasoning.
Glad you were able to adjust to your liking.
This just replaced my mom’s baked Mac n cheese since as long as I can remember. It was great stop and shop brand fresh salsa is excellent in this recipe!!!!! Will be making later for family holidays. Not dry not watery, flavors mix well. We love extra cheesee
I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it! Thanks for coming back to let me know!
It’s great! Easy to make for my husband if I’m not home! Ladies, give him this recipe, kids LOVE it! He cannot mess up this DISH! IDIOTPROOF LOL
Haha!! Love it!
Absolutely yum! Partner loves it, when reheating to stop it going to dry I add a bit more salsa. Would make a hundred times
Yay!! Thanks for coming back to let me know!
What is a serving size?
About a cup. 🙂
Excellent recipe! I cooked the meat, added the salsa and taco seasoning. I added about 2 cups of water and let it come to a boil. Then I added the uncooked pasta and cooked until the pasta was tender (about 10 minutes) and the sauce was thickened. Great by itself but hubby likes chopped onions, jalapenos, and even black olives on top.
Made this tonight. Really quick meal. I added diced tomatoes & extra salsa (chunky). It was great & will make great leftovers.
Mine turned out perfectly!! I even added corn and black beans (both rinsed before adding) and it was DELICIOUS!! I cannot describe how happy I am that a Pinterest meal actually turned out terrific!! I will absolutely be making this again! ??
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for coming back to let me know!
Can I use ground turkey? Looks delicious & simple as I dont like 2 cook.
Made this with ground pork. A great recipe. Easy and delish!
Just made this! My daughter barely came up for air she enjoyed it so much, and she’s a notorious picky eater. Love this recipe!
Haha, love it!!
My family LOVES “beef taco helper” that I usually re-vamp and bake in the oven. I tried your recipe instead, added corn niblets, onion, doubled the cheese.. baked and topped with sour cream and chives… SOOO good! I recommend anyone add corn and sour cream, for my family it made it perfect 🙂
Sounds like a yummy addition!
This recipe is so quick and easy and full of flavor!!!! Literally takes no time. This recipe feeds plenty!!!! I wish I could give it more stars!
Thank you so much Lindsey!
Wonderfully fast and easy to get on the table in no time, and tasty on top of it. Thanks for sharing!!
Could I substitute the noodles for rigatoni or large elbows? Publix did not have the large noodles from the picture. ?
Also Newman’s Own salsa, mild ok?
Yes, feel free to customize it as you’d like. 🙂
This was very good. My kids actually wanted more! Thank you.
I’m planning on making this, but would like to use regular shells instead of the large ones, but the box we usually get is 1 lb. Can I use the entire box of regular shells for this recipe? Or would I have to double everything in the recipe since the box is 1 lb? Thanks!
If you use the entire box, your dish will be pasta heavy. I would recommend using half the box or doubling the other ingredients.
This recipe is amazing! I make a similar recipe but use jarred marinara sauce instead of salsa. (My son doesn’t like alot of spice). Also add extra cheese to melt on top. I usually make this recipe a couple of times a month, such a quick and easy recipe!!
Quick, easy and delicious! I used spicy taco mix and it was very good. Will definitely make again.
I’ve been looking for recipes my super picky toddler will eat. I made this for lunch today. I subbed turkey for beef, as we don’t eat it and chopped a handful each of carrots and kale. I added them to the meat in the beginning to cook and absorb the flavor of the taco seasoning. She loved it (so did I)! Definitely a keeper. Thanks!
Excellent, quick and easy.
This is delicious and so easy! I’ve given this recipe to several friends and they all enjoy it.
Yall. This is SO GOOD! Im making it again by request (for the third time) from my picky picky 4yr old!
Can you use taco sauce instead of salsa because I have picky eaters who do not like big hunks of tomato ? they do not like hunks of green pepper or they do not like salsa
Do you think I could substitute milk for the water (I’m a dairy lover)? In the alternative maybe I could substitute sour cream for the water and warm up the sour cream in a a small sauce pan then add the taco seasoning and stir until well combined and then dump that mixture into the beef mixture.
I don’t see why not. If you decide to try, I’d love to know how it turned out.
Sooo good! Made it for dinner tonight and my hubby said it’s a keeper for sure!
This is a great way to use up leftover taco meat if you made way too much (like I always do ?)! Thanks for the great recipe!
Perfect! Glad you enjoyed it!
Can you use anytype of salsa
Yes, any type you prefer. 🙂
We made this recipe last night and it was fantastic. I grew up eating the Taco Hamburger Helper and this is so much more delicious. We did add in a small can of green chilis for a little more body and I finished the bowl with a little sour cream. My wife is a very picky eater and she loved it.
Love the addition of green chilis! Yum!!
I just made this, strict to the recipe. It tastes amazing. I used a medium salsa and it has some heat, but not too much. Easy to make and delicious. I will definitely make this a regular on the menu!
Delicious! I also added black beans and cilantro. Thank you for a great recipe!
Large shells? I think not….. ?
You need the jumbo shells for this. 🙂
My whole family loves this recipe that I make every Tuesday.
Yay!! I’m so glad you guys enjoy it! Thanks for coming back to let me know!
Made this Friday night after work. It is sooooo delicious!!! Made it with ground pork and my husband ate four bowls. Making it again tonight…and it’s only Monday!! Thanks for the recipe!
Sounds like winner to me!! Thanks for taking the time to come back and let me know how much you all enjoyed it!
I have made it with beef as well as ground turkey. Both were excellent!
Honestly this is one of the greatest recipes I have found on Facebook! It was absolutely amazing and will be making this again. If I could give it 10/10 stars I would!!!
How sweet of you to say!! Thank you so much!
If i top this recipe with the crushed tortillas and grated cheese and pop back in the oven will this be ok ?
I don’t see why not! Sounds delicious!!
This was a big hit at home tonight. Followed the recipe exactly how you posted it and it did not disappoint. Thank you!!
Yay!! So glad you all enjoyed it!
So delicious!! I read how some added a can of drained black beans and a can of drained corn, so I added both of those, but kept everything else the same – it really made the meal stretch even farther – and best of all, even my picky kids loved it! Definitely a recipe I will make over and over again.
Yay! I’m so glad everyone loved it! I know how hard it can be to please picky eaters!!
This recipe is in our regular rotation we love it so much. In fact, it’s taco Tuesday but it’s snowing, so we decided to make it taco pasta Tuesday instead 🙂 Thanks for another great recipe.
You’re welcome! Stay warm!!
Easy and delicious. I followed the recipe as written and served with salad.
Thanks for dropping by to let me know! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
My husband & I made this, we both like it. One time we made it, my husband wanted to put it on a taco shell. Boy was it good, If you didn’t try that yet, you should. I made it again tonight 2- 16 – 18, a with the taco shells.
That sounds fantastic!
My husband & I made this, we both like it. One time we made it, my husband wanted to put it on a taco shell. Boy was it good, If you didn’t try that yet, you should.
Easy and very good
Made this for my 3 and 6 year olds. Added a half cup of chopped carrots, a chopped small zucchini and a half cup of corn. Kids gobbled it up, even with the sneaky veggies!
Isn’t that the best?!? Love when they eat it up like that! #parentingwin
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.
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.
Thanks for dropping by to let me know! I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it!
This was amazingly yummy!! Sticking with the theme, I’m going to add corn and black beans next time!!
Delicious! My family loved it! This will definitely be added to my list of go to recipes on busy nights. Thanks for making dinner time a tasty breeze!
Thanks for dropping by to let me know, Maria! I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it!
Husband and I really enjoyed this. Will make again.
I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it! Thanks for coming back to let me know!
Delish!! 5 stars
Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for coming back to let me know!
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!!
That is SO AWESOME! Haha. I am so glad it brought you here! And I’m even more glad you loved the pasta!
what if i do not have salsa
You can substitute with chopped tomatoes or a can of diced tomatoes. Make sure both are drained of any extra water.
This recipe was delicious. My family asked for seconds.
I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it! Thanks for coming back to let me know!
Made this dish using ground Italian sausage and ground Turkey. So DELICIOUS! This will be my go to, quick fix meal.
Made this using ground Italian sausage and ground Turkey. So delicious. This will be my go to, quick fix meal. Family absolutely enjoyed it.
Hello I am currently making this, am I using a whole 1oz package of taco season? Just clarifying thanks!
Yes! I am sorry you’re probably way done eating this!
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
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.
Can you freeze this dish?
Absolutely, you may need a bit more liquid when reheating though.
Can you make this the night before and cook the next day?
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!
Can you use the packaged taco mix?
Nevermind,just seeing the “packaged mix” in the recipe .?
Sure, or you can use my homemade option. 1 packaged mix or 2-3 tablespoons of homemade.
Love tacos and anything pasta so this is the best of both worlds.
Couldn’t agree more! Thank you for the 5 stars!!
Does it taste the same without the salsa? Or at least taste good still? I don’t care for salsa.
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.
Delicious! Used medium hot salsa and added a can of Summer corn. Fast, easy!
Thanks for the 5 stars, Julie!
Has anyone used a slow cooker? Love the dish but I want to make it for a reunion.
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!
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!
I say, go for it! I’d love to hear how it turns out.
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.
Yes, very customizable and easy to switch up for sure!
How do you think it would taste with ground turkey or chicken substituted for the ground beef? Ever tried it?
I haven’t tried it yet but either would be a great substitution to switch this dish up!
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.
I just made it with ground turkey, didn’t have any burger, and it is great!
Yummy! This is really good, added some extra cheese, and a bit of sour cream. Will definitely be making it again
How much sour cream did you use?
Fresh Cilantro sounds like it would add a lot!
Go for it! You can customize this dish to your liking!
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 ?
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”.
What kind of salsa do you use?
I use either Newman’s Own or Herdez https://www.amazon.com/Herdez-Salsa-Casera-Mild-16/dp/B000VDYSZ4/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1503333068&sr=1-1&ppw=fresh&keywords=herdez+salsa&linkCode=sl1&tag=dinnthendess-20&linkId=ec60682e970854ba7eb182369316ccac
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!!
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.
Great, easy recipe. Thanks!! We loved it!!
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.
Can you use something other then salsa? I’m not a fan of onions. But this looks so yummy
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!
Try rotel instead of salsa if you don’t like onion. That’s diced green chilies and diced tomatoes
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!
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!
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
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!
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.
Do you think this would work with a meatless ground beef substitute like Quorn?
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.
Really simple and good side note I stuck it in the overn after cooking put some cheese on top it was amazing!
You can never go wrong with more melty cheese! So glad you enjoyed it!!
When do you add back the pasta?
After the taco seasoning is all mixed into the meat, add the pasta back in with the salsa and cheese. Enjoy!
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!!
Yes, after the seasoning is mixed into the meat. Sorry if it seemed confusing. Hope you enjoy it!
Can you leave out the cayenne in the taco seasoning?
Yes, you can customize it to your family’s liking.
It was so easy and very delicious!
So glad you enjoyed it Kerry!
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.
How big is a serving size?
between a cup and a half and two cups.
it’s amazing easy to fix
Very yummy, but I’m wondering the purpose of the water?
The water helps to mix in the taco seasoning.
How many does this feed?
This recipe makes 8 servings. enjoy!
What’s the serving size?
About 1 cup 🙂
How much of the homemade taco seasoning do you use in this recipe?
I’d say about 2 tablespoons or to taste, depending on how spicy you like it.
2 tablespoons per 1 pound beef?
Yes, I use about 2 tablespoons for every pound of beef. You can always add more or less depending on your taste.
The perfect dinner recipe for any day of the week. Easy and tasty.
This looks so much better than the box stuff! And homemade always tastes better too! This is a great dinner for busy weeknights.
I just love how easy this is to make! Definitely adding this to the weekly meal plan rotation soon. 🙂
Love this gooey cheesy pasta! I know what we’ll be having for dinner soon!
My daughter will go CRAZY over this! Love it, love it, love it!
This is a pasta dish I know my family would be excited about. So easy too!
It’s a family favorite, for sure!
Is this 1 box of pasta your using for the recipe ?
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.
love that you give the recipe for taco seasoning.my 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.
You’re welcome Sherry!
I use taco bell seasoning and it is not spicy at all had same issue with my 2 youngest girls
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…
Great suggestion, Sandra!
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. 🙂
If we can’t eat salsa do you have another suggestion for a replacement? ?
You can use diced or stewed tomatoes as a substitute though it will change the flavor a bit. I hope you enjoy it!