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.

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.

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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

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • 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.

Nutrition

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
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.

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 upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being 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.

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Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Excellent recipe! I think we will add the cream cheese for the extra sauce factor. Delicious and for sure will be making again!

  9. 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.

  10. Absolutely delicious. I used salsa and queso instead of shredded cheese, and I threw some fiesta corn in too…awesome! Thanks for the recipe!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!!!

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

  20. 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!

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

  24. 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!

  25. 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!

  26. 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…

  27. 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.

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

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

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

  35. 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.

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

  37. 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.

  38. 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!

  39. 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!

  40. 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 !!

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

  42. 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.

  43. 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!

  44. 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

  45. 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!

  46. 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?

  47. 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.

  48. 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!

  49. I love it when it’s quick and tasty! thanks, especially helpful when kids are at home from school due to quarantine.

  50. Didn’t have shell pasta so I used rotini. Super easy and quick. Even the 7 year old skeptic loved it!

  51. 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.

    1. 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.

  52. 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!

    1. 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!!

  53. 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.

    1. 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!

    1. 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.

  54. 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!

  55. 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.

  56. 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

    1. 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.

  57. 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

  58. Good sounding, making it as I type.
    Unfortunately no baking temperature or size of baking dish.
    Guess I’ll wing it.

  59. 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!

    1. 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!

  60. 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.

    1. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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!

  65. 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!!

  66. 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.

  67. 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.

  68. 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.

  69. 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

  70. 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.

  71. I’m not a fan of using ground meats. Could you substitute with something like chicken or can ot be eaten meatless?

  72. 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!

  73. 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.

  74. 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!

  75. 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!

  76. 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.

  77. I made this but instead of adding the water I added enchilada sauce and it added extra flavor and turned out fantastic.

  78. 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!

    1. 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.

  79. 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

  80. Absolutely yum! Partner loves it, when reheating to stop it going to dry I add a bit more salsa. Would make a hundred times

  81. 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.

  82. Made this tonight. Really quick meal. I added diced tomatoes & extra salsa (chunky). It was great & will make great leftovers.

  83. 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! ??

  84. 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!

  85. 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 🙂

  86. 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!

  87. 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?

  88. Hi Sabrina!

    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!

    1. If you use the entire box, your dish will be pasta heavy. I would recommend using half the box or doubling the other ingredients.

  89. 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!!

  90. Quick, easy and delicious! I used spicy taco mix and it was very good. Will definitely make again.

  91. 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!

  92. This is delicious and so easy! I’ve given this recipe to several friends and they all enjoy it.

  93. Yall. This is SO GOOD! Im making it again by request (for the third time) from my picky picky 4yr old!

  94. 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

  95. 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.

  96. 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!

  97. 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.

  98. 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!

  99. 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!

    1. Sounds like winner to me!! Thanks for taking the time to come back and let me know how much you all enjoyed it!

  100. 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!!! 

  101. If i top this recipe with the crushed tortillas and grated cheese and pop back in the oven will this be ok ?

  102. This was a big hit at home tonight. Followed the recipe exactly how you posted it and it did not disappoint. Thank you!!

  103. 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.

  104. 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.

  105. 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.

  106. 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.

  107. 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! 

  108. 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.

  109. 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. 

  110. 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!

  111. 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!! 

    1. You can substitute with chopped tomatoes or a can of diced tomatoes. Make sure both are drained of any extra water.

  112. Made this dish using ground Italian sausage and ground Turkey. So DELICIOUS! This will be my go to, quick fix meal.

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

  114. 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!

  115. 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.

  116. Yummy! This is really good, added some extra cheese, and a bit of sour cream. Will definitely be making it again

  117. 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”.

  118. 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.

  119. 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!

  120. 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 

  121. 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.

  122. Really simple and good side note I stuck it in the overn after cooking put some cheese on top it was amazing!

    1. After the taco seasoning is all mixed into the meat, add the pasta back in with the salsa and cheese. Enjoy!

  123. 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!!

  124. 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.  

        1. Yes, I use about 2 tablespoons for every pound of beef. You can always add more or less depending on your taste.

  125. This looks so much better than the box stuff! And homemade always tastes better too! This is a great dinner for busy weeknights.

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

  127. Love this gooey cheesy pasta!  I know what we’ll be having for dinner 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 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.

        1. I use taco bell seasoning and it is not spicy at all had same issue with my 2 youngest girls

      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!