Taco Mac and Cheese

Looking for a scrumptious dish that combines the best of both worlds – tacos and mac and cheese? Look no further than this mouthwatering Taco Mac and Cheese recipe! Packed with savory ground beef, zesty salsa, and creamy cheese, this dish is sure to become a family favorite. Plus, with optional toppings like sour cream, avocado, and crushed corn chips, you can customize it to suit your taste buds perfectly. Let’s dive into the details and learn how to whip up this delightful meal in just 30 minutes!


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 ½ cups beef broth
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 cups dry pasta shells
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 3 cups cheese, shredded and divided Optional Toppings:
  • Sour cream
  • Crushed corn chips
  • Green onions
  • Diced tomato
  • Avocado


  1. Sauté the Aromatics: Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté the diced onion until soft and translucent, then add in the ground beef, salt, and pepper. Break up the beef with a wooden spoon as it cooks, ensuring it browns evenly.
  2. Flavor Infusion: Once the beef is cooked through, drain any excess fat from the pan. Next, stir in the beef broth, salsa, taco seasoning, garlic powder, and dry pasta shells. Cover the Dutch oven with a lid and allow the mixture to simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If there’s excess liquid after this time, remove the lid and continue to cook until the liquid evaporates, leaving behind a rich, flavorful sauce.
  3. Creamy Indulgence: Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and add the cream cheese and 2 cups of shredded cheese. Stir gently until the cheese is fully melted and incorporated, creating a luxuriously creamy texture that binds all the ingredients together.
  4. Serve and Garnish: To serve, sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the Taco Mac and Cheese, allowing it to melt slightly. Then, top with your favorite garnishes such as sour cream, crushed corn chips, green onions, diced tomato, and creamy avocado slices.
  5. Enjoy!: Dive into this irresistible fusion of flavors and textures, savoring each cheesy, savory bite. Whether you’re enjoying it for a quick weeknight dinner or serving it up at your next gathering, this Taco Mac and Cheese is sure to impress!

Nutritional Information:

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Servings: 4
  • Calories per Serving: (Calories will vary based on specific ingredients and portion sizes)

Serving and Storage Tips:

  1. Serving Suggestions: When serving Taco Mac and Cheese, consider pairing it with a side salad dressed with a light vinaigrette to add a refreshing contrast to the rich and savory flavors of the dish. Additionally, serving it alongside warm garlic bread or toasted tortillas can elevate the meal and provide a delightful texture contrast.
  2. Individual Portions: To make serving a breeze, consider portioning the Taco Mac and Cheese into individual serving dishes before topping with cheese and garnishes. This not only makes for a visually appealing presentation but also ensures everyone gets their fair share of cheesy goodness.
  3. Make-Ahead Option: If you’re planning ahead, you can prepare the Taco Mac and Cheese up to a day in advance. Simply follow the recipe up to the point of adding the cheese and toppings. Allow the dish to cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate. When ready to serve, reheat the dish in the oven or microwave until heated through, then add the remaining cheese and toppings.
  4. Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, transfer individual portions to a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high in 30-second intervals until heated through, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, reheat larger portions in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed to your liking.
  5. Freezing: While Taco Mac and Cheese can be frozen, keep in mind that the texture of the pasta may change slightly upon thawing. To freeze, transfer cooled portions to a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bags, ensuring to remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label with the date and freeze for up to 2-3 months. To thaw, place the container in the refrigerator overnight before reheating as instructed above.

By following these serving and storage tips, you can enjoy the deliciousness of Taco Mac and Cheese whenever the craving strikes, whether freshly prepared or as a convenient make-ahead meal option.


  1. Vegetarian Twist: Swap the ground beef for your favorite meat alternative such as crumbled tofu or plant-based ground “meat” for a vegetarian-friendly version of Taco Mac and Cheese.
  2. Spicy Kick: For those who love a bit of heat, add diced jalapeños or a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes to the dish for an extra spicy kick.
  3. Cheese Lover’s Dream: Experiment with different cheese varieties such as pepper jack, Monterey Jack, or even a blend of Mexican cheeses to create a cheesy masterpiece with unique flavor profiles.
  4. Add Veggies: Boost the nutritional value of the dish by incorporating diced bell peppers, corn kernels, or black beans into the mix. These additions not only add color and texture but also contribute to a well-rounded meal.
  5. Gluten-Free Option: Use gluten-free pasta shells instead of traditional pasta to make this dish suitable for those with gluten sensitivities or dietary restrictions.
  6. One-Pot Wonder: Streamline the cooking process by preparing the entire dish in one pot, eliminating the need for multiple pots and pans. Simply follow the recipe as directed, combining all ingredients in a single pot for easy cleanup.
  7. Creamy Avocado Sauce: For a refreshing twist, blend ripe avocados with lime juice, cilantro, and a pinch of salt to create a creamy avocado sauce. Drizzle this sauce over the Taco Mac and Cheese for a burst of freshness.
  8. Tex-Mex Fusion: Incorporate Tex-Mex-inspired ingredients such as diced green chilies, black olives, or even a dollop of guacamole to infuse the dish with bold and vibrant flavors.
  9. Baked Version: Transfer the prepared Taco Mac and Cheese to a baking dish, top with additional cheese and crushed corn chips, and bake in the oven until bubbly and golden brown for a delightful baked variation.
  10. Breakfast Twist: Enjoy Taco Mac and Cheese for breakfast by adding scrambled eggs and crumbled breakfast sausage to the mix. Top with salsa and avocado for a hearty and satisfying morning meal.

FAQs :

  1. Can I Use a Different Type of Pasta? Yes, feel free to experiment with different pasta shapes such as penne, rotini, or elbow macaroni based on your preference.
  2. Is it Possible to Make This Dish Ahead of Time? Absolutely! You can prepare the Taco Mac and Cheese in advance and reheat it before serving for a convenient meal option.
  3. Can I Freeze Leftover Taco Mac and Cheese? While it’s possible to freeze leftovers, keep in mind that the texture of the pasta may change slightly upon thawing.
  4. What Are Some Recommended Toppings? Popular toppings include sour cream, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado, green onions, and crushed corn chips.
  5. How Can I Make This Dish Spicier? Increase the heat by adding additional spices such as cayenne pepper or diced jalapeños to the dish.
  6. Can I Make a Creamier Sauce? Yes, you can adjust the creaminess of the sauce by adding more cream cheese or incorporating a splash of heavy cream.
  7. Is This Recipe Kid-Friendly? Absolutely! Kids tend to love the cheesy goodness of Taco Mac and Cheese, and you can customize the spice level to suit their taste buds.
  8. Can I Make This Dish Dairy-Free? Substitute dairy-free alternatives such as vegan cheese and cream cheese to make a dairy-free version of Taco Mac and Cheese.
  9. What Side Dishes Pair Well With Taco Mac and Cheese? Side dishes like a crisp green salad, roasted vegetables, or fresh fruit make excellent accompaniments to complement the flavors of the dish.
  10. How Can I Make This Dish Healthier? You can boost the nutritional value by incorporating additional vegetables and opting for lean ground meat or plant-based alternatives. Additionally, using whole grain or gluten-free pasta can enhance the dish’s health profile.

With its irresistible combination of classic mac and cheese goodness and bold taco flavors, this Taco Mac and Cheese recipe is a true winner. Quick and easy to prepare, yet bursting with deliciousness, it’s perfect for satisfying cravings any day of the week. So, gather your ingredients and get ready to indulge in a meal that’s guaranteed to please both kids and adults alike!