Are you looking for a fun dinner for taco night that is not only easy, but the family will be raving about time and time again? This taco stuffed shells recipe is the answer! Pasta meets tacos in this super easy weeknight dinner.
This is the perfect weeknight meal that can even be prepped ahead of time! Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells are made with jumbo pasta shells stuffed with taco meat, salsa cheese. Then topped with more salsa and cheese and baked to perfection. Finish it off with your favorite taco toppings and devour!
Taco Stuffed Shells Recipe is a delicious and easy-to-make meal that combines the flavors of tacos with the comfort of pasta. This recipe is perfect for those who love Mexican-inspired dishes and are looking for a new way to enjoy them. The recipe is also versatile, as it can be customized to include your favorite taco toppings and ingredients. Or you can make classic stuffed shells!
I’ve said it many times, but taco anything at our house is always a winner. We love our classic tacos around here, but I also love to come up with twists like these stuffed shells!
To make this recipe, you will need large pasta shells, ground beef, taco seasoning, salsa, cream cheese, and shredded cheese. The shells are boiled and then stuffed with a taco meat.
The stuffed shells are then topped with shredded cheese and baked until the cheese is melted and bubbly. The result is a delicious and satisfying meal that is sure to become a family favorite.
Serve them with chips and salsa for a dinner the whole family will love!
Why You’ll Love Taco Stuffed Shells!
- You only need six ingredients for this recipe, and one of them is water!
- Instead of wrapping taco meat in tortillas, you stuff jumbo pasta shells with it. Add some cheese and salsa, and you get all of the same great flavors served up in a new way.
- You can add all of your favorite toppings – I have lots of suggestions later in the post!
- This is a great make-ahead dinner. You can assemble the shells, refrigerate them, and then bake them later for an easy dinner when it’s busy.
If your family is taco crazy like mine, you are going to love this recipe.
Ingredients for Easy Taco Stuffed Shells
- Jumbo pasta shells – Don’t overcook the past, you want this to be al dente, or slightly firm to avoid the shells splitting while stuffing it. It will cook a bit longer when you bake the casserole.
- Ground beef – We used a lean ground beef is great or try using ground turkey. For the beef a 90% lean ground beef is recommended or it quickly becomes greasy. Remember to drain excess fat off after browning hamburger.
- Taco seasoning – Use your favorite store-bought packet or use homemade taco seasoning. If we used store-bought then we grab the low-sodium seasoning.
- Salsa – Pick your favorite jarred salsa or make my easy homemade salsa.
- Mexican cheese – You can use shredded cheddar cheese or sharp cheddar cheese. Grab the block and grate it yourself for the best melty cheese.
How to Make Taco Stuffed Shells
- Prep – Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
- Make Pasta – Boil the pasta shells according to the package direction until they are al dente. Drain and rinse them under cool water.
- Make Taco Meat – Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once it’s cooked, drain off the grease. Add the taco seasoning and water. Stir and cook the beef mixture for about five minutes or until there is no more liquid in the pan.
- Make Filling – Add one cup of salsa and one cup of cheese to the taco meat and stir to combine.
- Stuff Shells – Fill each cooked pasta shell with the meat mixture. Place the stuffed shells in the prepare casserole dish. I find it easiest to use a cookie scoop to stuff the shells! A spoon would work great too.
- Top & Bake – Top the stuffed taco shells with the rest of the salsa and shredded cheese. Cover the pan with foil and bake the shells for 20 to 25 minutes or until they’re hot and the cheese is melted.
Add Some Garnishes!
Just like tacos, you can add all of your favorite toppings. Here are a few you might like to try!
- Add some sour cream on the side so everyone can help themselves. Or, thin it with a little milk and drizzle it over the shells before you serve them.
- Save some salsa or pico de gallo to serve on the side – add some tortilla chips for an easy side dish!
- Some guacamole or diced avocado would be great.
- Sprinkle some chopped cilantro over the top.
- Try some sliced green onions, diced red onion, or diced jalapenos.
- Sprinkle some diced tomatoes or sliced black olives over the top.
Can I use ground turkey instead of ground beef?
Yes, you can substitute ground turkey for ground beef in this recipe.
How to Make Ahead
This is a great meal to make for friends and family who need a hot meal! Assemble it as instructed, cover it with foil, and refrigerate it. Add a note with the baking instructions so they can just pop it in the oven for an easy dinner.
You can also prep it up to 2 days ahead of time and refrigerate it until ready to bake and serve. A great option for busy weeknights!
If you want to make this a freezer friendly recipe make casserole, but do not bake. Make sure to use an airtight freezer container and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use refrigerate it overnight and bake the next day. You’ll need to add about 10-15 minutes of bake time because the casserole is cold.
How To Store Stuffed Shells
If you have leftovers, keep them in an airtight container. They will keep well for up to four days in the refrigerator.
There are many ways to customize the Taco Stuffed Shells recipe to suit individual tastes. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Meatless: You can make this recipe vegetarian by substituting the ground beef for a plant-based ground meat alternative, such as Beyond Meat or Impossible Meat. You can also omit the meat altogether and add extra beans or vegetables to the filling.
- Cheese Options: While the recipe calls for shredded cheddar cheese, other types of cheese can be used. Try using a Mexican blend, pepper jack, or even a creamy goat cheese for a different flavor profile.
- Spice Level: To adjust the heat level of the dish, add more or less chili powder, cumin, or jalapeños. For those who prefer a milder flavor, omit the jalapeños altogether.
- Toppings: Consider adding diced avocado, sliced black olives, or a dollop of sour cream on top. For a bit of crunch, sprinkle crushed tortilla chips over the dish before serving.
- Sauce Options: While the recipe calls for a can of enchilada sauce, other types of sauce can be used as well. Try using a salsa verde or a spicy tomato sauce for a different flavor twist.
By experimenting with different ingredients and flavors, the Taco Stuffed Shells recipe can be transformed into a completely unique dish that can be enjoyed time and time again.
What to Serve with Taco Stuffed Shells
Here are a few suggestions for what to serve with this easy dinner recipe:
Salad: A fresh salad is the perfect complement to the bold flavors of taco stuffed shells. Consider serving a simple green salad with lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. You can also add some avocado or corn for a little extra crunch.
Spanish Rice: This is a great side dish to serve. It’s a simple and filling option that pairs well with the spices and flavors of the dish.
Guacamole and chips: A classic combination that never fails. The creamy texture of the guacamole pairs well with the crunchy chips and the bold flavors of the taco stuffed shells. You can also try adding some salsa or pico de gallo for an extra kick.
Roasted vegetables: A healthy and flavorful option to serve as a side. You can try roasting some bell peppers, onions, and zucchini for a colorful and tasty side dish. You can also sprinkle some taco seasoning on the vegetables to tie them in with the main dish.
Overall, there are many different sides that can be served with taco stuffed shells. These options are just a few suggestions to get you started. Feel free to experiment with different combinations to find the perfect pairing for your taste buds.
I hope you give this easy stuffed shells recipe a try the next time you get a taco craving! It’s so simple to make and a fun twist on the original. Enjoy!
More Taco Tuesday Dinner Recipes
Looking for more taco-inspired main dishes? I’ve got you covered with a few more recipes you’ll love!
- Taco Stroganoff combines taco flavors with beef stroganoff for a comforting and delicious dinner!
- For a fun dinner make Walking Tacos! Fritos topped with taco meat, cheese, salsa, and other favorite toppings is a fun twist on classic tacos.
- Instant Pot Chicken Tacos are super easy and always a hit! Seasoned chicken piled in taco shells is always a favorite dinner.
- For a lighter dinner, make my Taco Stuffed Zucchini. It has all of the flavors but lightened up for a healthier dinner.
- Taco Muffin Cups Recipe – These little muffins made with pizza dough and filled with ground beef and taco fixings make a perfect easy weeknight dinner idea!
- 12 ounces jumbo pasta shells
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 oz packet taco seasoning
- ⅔ cup water
- 1 ½ cups salsa divided
- 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese divided
- Optional garnishes – Diced tomatoes, sour cream, diced onion, chopped cilantro etc.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
- Cook the pasta shells according to directions on the box, drain and rinse under cool water.
- Meanwhile in a skillet add the ground beef and cook until brown. Drain off grease.
- Add the taco seasoning and water, stir and cook for about 5 minutes or until water is gone.
- Stir in 1 cup salsa and 1 c. cheese to the taco meat and mix together.
- Scoop a spoonful of meat mixture into each pasta shell and place the shells in the prepared baking dish.
- Top with remaining salsa and cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and place in a preheated oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melted.