Tex-Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta

Tex-Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta is a fun twist on classic comfort food with ground beef, bell peppers, taco seasoning, cheese, corn, and tomatoes.

Macaroni and Cheese is great for a family Dinner or a Side Dish to bring to a potluck. This southwest twist on classic macaroni and cheese is just as cheesy and delicious but has the addition of flavorful spices, filling meat, and veggies.

Tex Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta in bowl with fork

A simple Mac & Cheese dinner is one of those comforting foods that no one can get enough of. Which is probably why there are many variations to choose from for the cheesy comfort food on this site. You can find everything from Bacon Mac and Cheese to Jalapeño Mac and Cheese  to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Mac and Cheese. This Baked Tex-Mex Macaroni Casserole is another amazing alternative to add to the list.

Tex Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta preparation collage

You can make the classic cheesy baked casserole into a Tex-Mex inspired dish with fairly simple ingredients. Just add ground beef, onion, bell pepper, corn, tomatoes, and a taco seasoning mix. You can buy packets of the seasoning for flavor or make your own. You only need chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne powder, oregano, paprika, ground cumin, kosher salt, and black pepper to make Homemade Taco Seasoning.

Once the pasta is done baking, you’ll have bubbly, cheesy, slightly spicy comfort food heaven. Top the dish off with Salsa, sour cream, avocado, and crushed chips to add to the Tex-Mex theme!

Tex Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta in baking dish uncooked

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How to Make Tex-Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta

  • Prep time: If your ground beef is frozen, make sure you give it enough time to thaw before starting the recipe. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Shred all the cheese, if you didn’t buy pre-shredded. Measure out 1 cup of cheddar and set to the side. Finally, cook the pasta for 1 minute shy of the box instructions.
  • Meat Mixture: Add the beef, onion, and bell pepper to a large pan or pot. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring to brown beef on all sides. After the cook time, drain excess fat from the beef and remove it from the pan.
  • Cheese Sauce: Add the unsalted butter to the pot, and let it melt over medium-low heat. Mix in the flour and taco seasoning, and let it heat for another 15 seconds. Then slowly pour in the milk while whisking. Turn off the heat, and measure 1 cup of milk to remove from the mixture. Let the cup of milk cool for 3-5 minutes in a larger glass in the refrigerator. Add the eggs to the cool milk and whisk until fully combined. Add it all back into the pot then add 2 cups of cheddar cheese and whisk in over medium heat.
  • Pasta Mixture: Add the cooked pasta, corn kernels, tomatoes, and the cooked beef mixture. Mix the taco macaroni ingredients until they’re all coated in cheese. Pour everything into a casserole dish.
  • Cooking time: Add the rest of the cheddar cheese to the top, then put the dish in the oven. Cook the pasta dinner for 30 minutes and serve Tex- Mex Macaroni and Cheese while still warm and melty.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of pasta should I use in a baked casserole?

This recipe uses large shell pasta, which will allow the cheesy beef mixture to fill into the shell cavities without the need to individually stuff them. Any larger shaped pasta that holds sauce well will work for this casserole such as penne, rigatone, large elbow macaroni, or ziti. The larger shapes will also prevent the pasta from overcooking when it bakes.

Can I make Tex-Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta vegetarian?

Absolutely, simply substitute the ground beef for your favorite brand of meatless crumbles, or use 2 cans of rinsed and drained beans or cooked lentils instead of beef.

Tex Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta in baking dish baked close up with wooden spoon

Key Ingredients in Tex-Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta

  • Meat: Ground beef is perfect because it’s one of the most common meats used in taco recipes, and it makes the meal more filling and protein-packed, feel free to use a protein of your choosing, chicken, turkey and even Impossible beef is fantastic.
  • Vegetables: For the vegetables, this recipe is a combination of bell peppers, onion, tomatoes, and corn kernels. Not only do the vegetables add some variety to the texture and flavor, but they also go perfectly with the Tex-Mex theme.
  • Cheese Sauce: The cheese sauce gets its flavor from a mixture of melted unsalted butter and taco seasoning mix. Milk, egg, and cheese turn it into a creamy, cheesy sauce to coat the pasta.
  • Pasta: The simple ingredients are all combined and mixed into this delicious pasta dish. The large shell pasta is the perfect filling and comforting food for the base of the dish.

Can Tex-Mex Mac & Cheese be made ahead?

If you want to have an easy dinner ready to pop into the oven, follow the directions until the last step of baking the casserole. Allow to cool to room temperature and cover tightly, then refrigerate up to 48 hours before baking. Bake covered in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, then remove cover and bake an additional 20-25 minutes until heated through.

Tex Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta in bowl with fork

Variations on Tex-Mex Mac & Cheese

  • Lean meat: If you’d like a leaner version, you can use a pound lean ground beef to replace the regular meat. You could also try different kinds of meat like lean ground pork, chicken, or turkey.
  • Tomato sauce: For some extra tomato flavor, you can mix ½ cup of salsa or a can of tomato paste into the cheese blend.
  • Bread crumb topping: You can add delicious crispy bread crumbs to the top of this mac and cheese comfort food dish. Just mix the cup of cheddar cheese with panko bread pieces before popping it in the oven to bake.
  • Peppers: Add some extra Tex-Mex inspired veggies like green chiles, poblano chiles, jalapeños, or chili peppers to the beef mixture.
  • Cheese mixture: Try a different variety of cheeses like pepper jack cheese, provolone, or Monterey Jack. You could also make the cheese sauce extra creamy by mixing in heavy cream, sour cream, or cream cheese.
  • Beans: Add a rinsed can of pinto or black beans to give this Tex-Mex pasta recipe even more protein.
  • Garnishes: Top with your favorite taco toppings such as sour cream, green onions, black olives, avocado slices, or chopped cilantro.
Tex Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta in baking dish baked

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How to Store Tex-Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta

  • Serve: This cheesy pasta dish can be at room temperature for up to 2 hours before it should be cooled and stored.
  • Store: To keep leftovers fresh, cover the dish in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat in the oven in a baking dish until hot and bubbly.
  • Freeze: This pasta dinner recipe also makes a great freezer meal. Cool completely and cover pan with plastic wrap then aluminum foil. Store it in the freezer for up to 8 months, and remove the plastic wrap, then cook with foil in oven until hot all the way through.
Tex Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta in bowl with fork

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Tex-Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta

Tex-Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta is a fun twist on classic comfort food with ground beef, bell peppers, taco seasoning, cheese, corn, and tomatoes.
Yield 16 Servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Tex-Mex
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef , 80/20
  • 1 yellow onion , chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper , deseeded and chopped
  • 8 ounces large shells pasta , cooked 1 minute shy of directions
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 packets taco seasoning
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (divided)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 14 ounces diced tomatoes , drained

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Shred the cheeses, keeping 1 cup of the cheddar off to the side for the topping.
  • Add the beef, onion and bell pepper to the stockpot and cook on medium heat until the beef is cooked through then remove from the pan, draining the fat from the beef.
  • Add the butter to a large stockpot and melt on medium-low heat.
  • Add the flour and taco seasoning whisking together for an additional 15 seconds.
  • Add the milk slowly while whisking to keep the mixture well combined then turn off the heat.
  • Remove 1 cup of the milk mixture and let cool for a 3-5 minutes in the refrigerator in a larger glass measuring cup or bowl.
  • Add the egg to the cooled milk and whisk it well until fully combined then whisk this mixture back into the pot.
  • Add in 2 cups of cheddar cheese and whisk well on medium heat.
  • Add the macaroni, corn, tomatoes and beef mixture and mix well and pour into a 9×13 pan.
  • Top with remaining cup of cheddar cheese and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 304kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 188mg | Potassium: 345mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 692IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 230mg | Iron: 2mg
Keyword: Tex Mex Macaroni and Cheese
Tex Mex Cheesy Beef Pasta in bowl and preparation collage

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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