Sunday, November 22, 2020

Loaded Taco Mac and Cheese Casserole + Video

Taco mac and cheese has seasoned ground beef and gooey cheese sauce over tender pasta. Make this Mexican-inspired recipe for taco night!

Title text (pictured in a casserole dish): Loaded Taco Mac and Cheese Casserole
Make a complete meal out of your favorite comfort food dish with this spicy mac and cheese casserole.

It has plenty of protein, and you can add extra veggies with a variety of toppings.

Philly Cheesesteak Mac and Cheese is another unique twist to this pasta dish. Caramelized onions and sliced peppers make it taste just like the famous sandwich!

For another spicy mac and cheese recipe, try my Jalapeno Popper Bacon Mac and Cheese. It comes together in just 30 minutes and has an irresistible flavor.

Or make my Cheese Lovers Mac and Cheese With Brocolli for the easiest and cheesiest meal ever! Add some rotisserie or leftover chicken to make it a heartier meal.

Ingredients for taco mac and cheese

How To Make Taco Mac and Cheese

While this recipe does require a bit of prep work, it comes together quickly and goes from oven to table in under an hour!

Start by making the pasta according to the package instructions. While that’s cooking, brown the ground beef and stir in the tomatoes and seasoning.

In a separate skillet, make the cheese sauce. Then, combine everything together in a casserole dish and bake!

ground beef and tomatoes in a skillet

Helpful Tips and Tricks
  • Salt Your Pasta Water: Always use plenty of salt so the noodles are well seasoned and less likely to stick together. Also, bring the water to a boil before adding the salt or it will take much longer to heat.
  • Shred Cheese By Hand: For a smoother sauce, be sure to shred your cheese by hand instead of using pre-bagged shreds. Not only will the cheese melt better, but you’ll get a bolder flavor too!
  • Warm The Half & Half: While it isn’t necessary to heat the dairy itself, it’s a good idea to measure it out and let it sit on the counter while you get everything else started. This removes the chill and prevents any clumping when making the sauce.

cheese cause in a skillet

Kitchen Tools You Will Need
  • 9x13 Baking Dish - This set is one of my favorites! The 9x13 is perfect for casseroles and the smaller size is awesome for making half a casserole recipe.
  • Large Pot and Strainer for the macaroni
  • Heavy Bottom Skillet - To help the sauce cook evenly, a wide skillet works best.
  • Box Grater - As much as I love buying shredded cheese because I'm lazy, freshly grated cheese melts down so much better and creates a smoother sauce.
Taco Mac and Cheese in pot

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
  • Taco Seasoning - Use a packet from your favorite brand or make it yourself.
  • Rotel - Any can of diced tomatoes with green chiles will work if you can’t find this particular brand.
  • Half and Half - This is simply a blend of equal parts milk and heavy cream. If needed, you can just use whole milk, but the sauce won’t be as thick.
  • Cheese - Colby, Pepper Jack, or a blend of Mexican cheeses would all taste great.

Taco mac and cheese in a casserole dish with

Recipe Notes + FAQ

Allow the ground beef mac and cheese to cool completely, then cover and store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Reheat in the oven or warm individual portions in a pan on the stove. Add a splash of milk or half and half as needed for extra moisture.

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Absolutely! Just be sure to choose a noodle with plenty of nooks and crannies for the sauce.

Shell pasta and rotini are popular choices, but penne, ziti, and cavatappi would work as well.

Loaded Taco Mac and Cheese Casserole

How do you freeze mac and cheese casserole?

Allow the dish to cool before wrapping tightly in a layer of plastic wrap and foil. Or, transfer leftovers to a freezer-safe container with a lid.

Freeze for up to 6 months and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.


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spoonful of mac and cheese

Ground Beef Mac And Cheese Recipe Video

To see us make the recipe from start to finish, watch the video at the top of this post!

Yield: 16
Author: Donna Elick
Loaded Taco Mac and Cheese Casserole

Loaded Taco Mac and Cheese Casserole

Taco mac and cheese has seasoned ground beef and gooey cheese sauce over tender pasta. Make this Mexican-inspired recipe for taco night!
Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 25 MinTotal time: 45 Min


  • 16-ounces elbow macaroni noodles
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1-ounce taco seasoning
  • 1 (10-ounce) can of Rotel diced tomatoes & green chilies, drained well
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups half and half
  • 4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • Taco Toppings such as tortilla strips, diced tomatoes, diced avocado, sour cream, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapenos


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Cook the noodles per the directions on the back of the box and drain well, set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottom skillet over medium-high heat brown the ground beef. Drain any excess fat or water off of the beef and add the taco seasoning and Rotel, stir it in well, cook an additional 2 minutes, and set aside.
  3. In a heavy bottom skillet over medium-low heat, add the butter and melt. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, and flour to the pan and whisk to mix into the butter. Cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  4.  Slowly add the half and half to the pan whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Bring to a simmer to thicken. Take off the heat and add 3 cups of the Monterey Jack cheese and 1 cup of the sharp cheddar cheese, whisk to combine and melt the cheese into the sauce.
  5. Mix the cheese sauce with the noodles and the ground beef mixture, pour everything into the baking dish. Smooth out the top so it cooks evenly.
  6. Add the remaining cheeses on top of the casserole. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with your favorite taco toppings!

Collage photo (pictured in a casserole dish): Loaded Taco Mac and Cheese Casserole

Originally published November 2020

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