Taco Mac and Cheese combines seasoned ground beef and gooey cheese sauce with tender pasta. Spice up taco night with this Mexican-inspired taco macaroni casserole! Let the whole family add their favorite taco toppings to enjoy!
Taco Mac and Cheese
Make a complete meal by combing two of your favorite comfort food dishes into one incredible mac and cheese taco bake!
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 the classic macaroni 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 Broccoli for the easiest and cheesiest meal ever! Add some rotisserie or leftover chicken to make it even heartier.
How To Make Taco Mac and Cheese Bake
While this taco mac 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!
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 — just know that the sauce won’t be as thick.
- Cheese – Colby, Pepper Jack, or a blend of Mexican cheeses would all taste great.
- Meat – If you want to use ground turkey or ground chicken instead of the beef, you can easily make the swap. Picky eaters won’t even notice the difference.
Taco Mac Recipe 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.
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- 9×13 Baking Dish – This set is one of my favorites! The 9×13 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 for convenience, freshly grated cheese melts down so much better and creates a smoother sauce.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
Allow the mac and cheese taco bake 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.
Taco Macaroni Casserole FAQ
Absolutely! Just be sure to choose a noodle with plenty of nooks and crannies for the taco mac and cheese sauce.
Shell pasta and rotini are popular choices. Even penne, ziti, and cavatappi would work well!
Just about anything goes with this cheesy pasta. You can add green onions, black beans, chili powder, and anything that you want to get the best results of flavor. It’s already a hearty comfort food, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make this delicious taco mac even heartier.
This recipe is perfect for weeknight dinners because everyone can add their own flair. Sour cream, shredded Monterey jack cheese, spicy canned tomatoes, diced bell peppers, diced white onion, and even hot sauce can be a great option or options to use.
Just about anything pairs well with the meat mixture and creates the perfect recipe for busy weeknights. The best thing about this great meal besides the flavor is that you can add more ingredients than listed on the recipe card!
You sure can! 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 your taco mac and cheese bake for up to 6 months, then thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Mac and Cheese Recipes
Best Taco Mac and Cheese Casserole Recipe + Video
- 16 ounces macaroni noodles
- 1 pound ground beef
- ounce taco seasoning
- 10 ounce can of Rotel, 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
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 9×13 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the remaining cheeses on top of the casserole. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with your favorite taco toppings!
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published November 2020, updated and republished February 2024
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