Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells

6 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Taco Stuffed Shells made with jumbo pasta shells, salsa, cheese and taco meat are the perfect EASY meal that you can prepare ahead of time!

This recipe takes a classic Mexican Food recipe and reimagines it as a pasta favorite. This is the XL take on this super popular Cheesy Taco Pasta! If you want something a bit different you can also make Mexican Stuffed Peppers with all the taco flavors but none of the pasta!

Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells made with jumbo pasta shells, salsa, cheese and taco meat are the perfect EASY weeknight meal that you can prepare ahead of time too!

Taco Stuffed Shells are an easy dinner of stuffed jumbo pasta shells with ground beef. With just the addition of taco seasoning, salsa and cheese your family will be asking for this dish to go in your regular rotation.

Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells Collage of cooking steps

I love using either Guapo’s Famous Fresh Pico de Gallo in this recipe or incredibly easy, store bought jarred salsa. You can also swap out the salsa in this recipe in a 1 to 1 ratio with my favorite Homemade QUICK Enchilada Sauce to make them taco stuffed shells with enchilada sauce.

If you’re looking for an alternate to the shredded cheese or to mix things up a little you can absolutely make the taco stuffed shells with velveeta or nacho cheese as well. Even better, you could just double the shredded cheddar cheese and have the ultimate cheesy taco stuffed shells.

Serve Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells with your favorite taco toppings like sour cream, olives, and chopped green onions. Add a fresh Avocado Tomato Corn Salad and a delicious Mexican Caramel Flan for dessert and you’ll think you went to a fancy fusion restaurant for dinner.

More Great Cheesy Pasta Dinners

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make Pepperoni Pizza Stuffed Shells?

Pepperoni Pizza stuffed shells can be made with a similar recipe, just swap out the salsa for marinara sauce, and add pepperoni and mozzarella.

How do I make Chicken Bacon Ranch Stuffed Shells?

Make Chicken Bacon Ranch Stuffed Shells with the Cheddar Bacon Ranch Pinwheels filling and baked with alfredo sauce.

How do I make Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Shells?

Make Philly Cheesesteak stuffed shells with the Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes filling but with double the cheese!

How do I make Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Shells?

Make Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Shells with chicken nuggets, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.

Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells on dinner plate with sour cream, olives and green onion toppings

Tools Used in the Making of Taco Stuffed Shells

How to Store Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells

  • Serve: Do not leave stuffed shells at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
  • Store: In an airtight container, store Taco Stuffed Shells in the refrigerator up to 4 days.
  • Freeze: Sealed tightly, Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells will keep in the freezer for 2-3 months. Reheat in the oven covered with foil at 350 until hot and bubbly, adding more salsa and cheese if needed. 
Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells on dinner plate with sour cream, olives and green onion toppings

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Taco Stuffed Shells

Taco Stuffed Shells made with jumbo pasta shells, salsa, cheese and taco meat are the perfect EASY meal that you can prepare ahead of time!
Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Author Sabrina Snyder



  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cook the pasta shells in a pot according to the directions on the box and drain.
  • Add the ground beef to the pot and brown well.
  • Drain the fat.
  • Add the taco seasoning and water, stir and cook until water is gone.
  • Stir in 1 cup salsa and ¾ cup cheese.
  • Scoop into the jumbo pasta shells and top with the remaining salsa and cheese.
  • Bake in a covered pan for 15 minutes.



Calories: 497kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 644mg | Potassium: 534mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 515IU | Vitamin C: 1.2mg | Calcium: 181mg | Iron: 2.6mg
Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells Collage

Photos used in a previous version of this post.

5 Ingredient Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells are an easy weeknight meal!
Done in just 30 minutes and with five ingredients, you'll love these Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells!
Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells made with jumbo pasta shells, salsa, cheese and taco meat are the perfect EASY weeknight meal that you can prepare ahead of time too!
5 Ingredient Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells are an easy weeknight meal!

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.


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  1. I have made these and they are amazing!! I also make dinners once a week for other families and events and these have become the most requested meal lol absolutely awesome!!

    1. I am just seeing this tonight. I am sure the recipe has long been cooked/or not but I still want to try to help.

      So glad you and your son love the recipe!

  2. I had tacos for lunch today & because my oldest son had unexpected company, he couldn’t join us for lunch. He’s 6ft5 260 lbs & a huge eater. Because he wasn’t able to come, I had a ton of leftovers. I was thinking of how good it’d be to use the extra taco meat in stuffed shells and that’s how I ran across your recipe.
    I am going to modify it by using all of my leftovers including meat seasoned with taco seasoning, green chilies & onions, Mexican rice, black beans, homemade salsa. I also have leftover cheese dip that’s made with velveta cheese & rotel. I’ll mix all of that together, stuff the cooked shells, then cover with enchilada sauce and Mexican fiesta cheese. I’ll bake it until cheese is bubbly, then top it with lettuce, diced tomatoes and sour cream. I’m getting hungry already & am actually excited about cooking dinner tomorrow. The best part is that I’ll be using all of my leftovers, which means no waste & no prep. All I’ll have to do is cook the shells, stuff them & bake them! Can’t wait to try it. I think my family will love it.

  3. I am trying these this evening and wondered, is it helpful to spread a bit of salsa in the bottom of the pan before baking, like you would when making lasagna? Also, do you cover with foil when baking? Thank you! Excited to try this!

    1. You could definitely add salsa on the bottom before putting the shells in. I didn’t need to cover it because it’s only in there for a short time, but you can if you’d like. I hope you enjoy it!

  4. Tried it tonight for the first time and it was banging… my boyfriend and son loved it and I will be definitely be making this again and also trying the cheesesteak version as well… yum!!!

  5. Tried this recipe tonight with a few additions. I added cream cheese to the taco cheese and added diced onions to the pan when browning the hamburger.

    It was amazing! The whole family loved it, so I will definitely be adding this recipe to my regular meal rotation.

  6. I made these stuffed taco shells. They were amazing. Very easy to do. This is definitely a keeper. I wouldn’t change a thing. Only next time I think I will cover with foil in oven.

  7. Sooooooo good!!

    I made this for a group of friends LAST YEAR..they still talk about it!
    They want to do it again? easy recipe. You can knock it out quick. We do birthday dinners. Several have said “ i want the stuffed shell thing you made as my birthday dinner”

  8. I don’t usually leave comments but my husband loved this recipe. I LOVE how you give variations with every recipe and often freezer instructions. You have become the website I look up first when trying new recipes and more and more of your recipes have found their way into our regular rotation!

  9. These are great we added some sour cream on top but will be mixing it next time !
    Very messy ! Making into our cook book thank you

  10. I really really like this. I eat a lot of veggies so we added a little red, yellow and orange pepper, red onion, garlic, a tiny bit of zucchini and celery, added a little pasta water and make 12 shells and still have leftover meat/veggies (which I’ll turn into a soup tomorrow for lunch). A great versatile recipe! Thanks!

  11. The end result was good, the recipe needs to be corrected to say to pan fry ground beef in its own pan. The way it’s written is a little confusing. I added black beans to the mixture for a little more substance. Very tasty, will definitely make this again.

    1. Yes, cover tightly with plastic wrap and the foil to keep any moisture out and freeze for up to 3 months. So glad you love it so much.

      1. So I was thinking if I were to make these into individual tins to cook for myself for meal prep. How many would I put in and how long in the oven at what temperature? Would the tins form dollar tree work ?

        1. Yes, that would totally work. I would suggest placing the tin on a cookie sheet while in the oven. Sometimes the cheaper tins don’t hold up when trying to get them in and out of the oven. It might just save you from dropping it. Enjoy!

  12. not crazy about it. shells were dry & not enough meat sauce for all the shells I didnt over fill them wont make it again

    1. Sorry you didn’t like them. If you change your mind and try them again, feel free to add more sauce to your liking.

    2. We add more salsa to ours once we make our plate and my son & daughter like it spicy so they use the hot salsa me & my daughter likes sour cream my son doesn’t so we add it to our plate . i like raw onion’s my kid’s don’t so i add that my plate. My granny once told me when i asked for a recipe that i should always try it once as is then make it my own meaning i know what i do and don’t like and how i like my food so if you made it dry know you’d like it with more sauce that was your mistake not the person posting the recipe.

  13. I just want to say thank you for this recipe my family enjoyed so much will be in my list never did stuffed shell before and this ones OMG and delicious.

  14. Really easy recipe and delicious! I added a little bit of cream cheese to make it bit more rich and savory. My husband loved it!!

  15. It was super good! I added lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream after it was done in the oven!!!
    I’m definitely going to make this again!

  16. I just cooked these and when I tell you I love them. Will most definitely be cooking these again.

  17. Literally just finished making this for the hubby and stepSon. Not as easy as everyone made it seem, however I am definitely not a cooker so maybe that’s my issue. Lots of hand work… all in the dish lol. I am vegetarian, so I substitute black beans for beef on mine… (made 2 separate pans) but still follow everything exactly. In the end came out amazing! Lovely dish! Yummy delicious! Will try again. Thank you for sharing 😉

  18. Just finished making this! Very easy to make and extremely yummy! I used 3/4 of a yellow onion prior to cooking the meat and then used sour cream while eating the stuffed shells. While cooking, I was panicking thinking I did not have enough shells, I ended up having extra shells! Next goal, use chicken instead of beef! The cheesy taco stuffed shell is a good idea as an appetizer for a party since it makes so much and they are small.

    *If anyone has tried chicken instead of beef, did you do anything different outside of the recipe? *

    Thank you Sabrina! Just followed you on Instagram, cannot wait to find something new to try!

    1. Chicken would be amazing! I have a Chicken Bacon Ranch Stuffed Shells recipe if you’d like to try that too.

  19. This recipe is THE BOMB!!

    I loved the taste of the salsa with the cheddar cheese. So when it was time to cover them in salsa, I made cheesy salsa instead and then put it on top of the stuffed shells and then sprinkled the remaining part of cheddar. Amazing!

  20. These were very good but I only ended up using about half of the box of shells and an 8×8 pan. Next time I’ll double the filling part and use a 9×13 pan. It was delicious.

  21. I made the cheesey taco bake and my boyfriend loved it easy to make …were gonna put salad on top with sour cream …yum yum…

  22. Making this tonight! I don’t have salsa or diced tomatoes so I’m doing it EXTRA simple. Except tonight I am going to lightly drizzle Taco Bell Mild Sauce you buy from the store, Fire for the Mr., for a little kick over the taco seasoned meat and cheese. We like our spices!
    Can’t wait to try it out tonight.

  23. I made this tonight… I had high hope’s but my end product looked nothing like yours. I made it exactly but drained my meat as it appears you dont? I’m out on whether I’d make it again. ?

    1. Oh, bummer. I’m not sure what else would’ve made it different besides draining the meat. If you want to troubleshoot, send me an email at contact @ dinnerthendessert .com

  24. This was amazing! I made it using your homemade taco seasoning recipe to season the meat and instead of salsa, which I didn’t have, I added diced tomatoes to the meat mixture, then I made your homemade enchilada sauce (which is SO GOOD) and used it in place of salsa. I made enough for two 8×8 pans. One to freeze and one to eat! It was so full of flavor! Wish I could post a picture. So dang good! Thanks for the winner recipe!

    1. Love that you were able to customize it! You can always post a picture to your instagram and use the hashtag #dinnerthendessert . So glad you enjoyed it!

  25. Made these stuffed shells for dinner last night. They were a success! Everyone in the family loved them. They requested I make extras next time.

  26. I’ve mad these before but I also melt a block of cream cheese into the beef mixture before stuffing the shells!

  27. Looks Yummy!! cant wait to make it!! beside jarred salsa can I use any other brand of salsa?? also I seen someone mention pico salsa is it pico de gallo or a brand name pico salsa? will love to know!

    1. You can use any type of salsa you’d like. 🙂 I haven’t tried it with pico de gallo yet. If you decide to try, I’d love to know what you think.

  28. My family loved this!!!!I made this dish on Saturday and they are already asking for an instant replay!Problem: I intend to double the recipe. There was only enough to stuff half of the shells.The ” save for later” that I poured over the entre dish was too skimpy too, so next time I plan to use two pounds of ground beef (grass fed) and two jars of the pico salsa that I used. That tasted so good!

  29. These were surprisingly good. Much better than I expected from the listed ingredients. It’s a keeper for us and will be made frequently. Thank you, Sabrina.

  30. This looks amazing. I’m going to give it a try. If you were to make this in advance would you freeze it? and if so how would you bake it to reheat. This looks like a great alternative to lasagna for new moms or those friends you want to help out in a hard time.

    1. What a great idea! This one might be a bit trickier to make ahead and freeze but if I were doing it, I would make it up to step 6 and then freeze. When delivering it to someone, I would give them a bag of cheese and jar of salsa with instructions on how to finish. Tell them to pour the salsa over the frozen shells and bake for 25 minutes, then top with the cheese and bake an additional 5 min. Hopefully this makes sense.

  31. I’m currently making this, only I am changing/adding some stuff to it. My family doesn’t care for salsa (I do!) so instead of adding salsa or tomato, I am making this with mild cheddar cheese with a velveeta cheese sauce to cover each of the shells. It looks simple enough to make, and I do believe this will be a hit at our home!

  32. Sooo easy to make! Made me look like I actually knew what I was doing in the kitchen! I? made my test batch for me and my friend as written above. But I? wanted to cook this for my whole family and I have a large family so I doubled the Recipe. I ended up with extra shells with no stuffing. But it worked out because I didn’t have to use any torn shells. But I added 1/3 cup of sour cream in the meat the second time I cooked it. It made it a little more difficult to stuff the shells because it was a little more runny. But it tasted amazing!