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!
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!
Serve them with chips and salsa for a dinner the whole family will love!
You Will Love This Easy Dinner
- 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.
- 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.
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 Leftovers
If you have leftovers, keep them in an airtight container. They will keep well for up to four days in the refrigerator.
- Swap beef for ground turkey – they both work great!
- For spicy taco stuffed shells, use your favorite hot salsa or add some diced jalapenos when you brown the meat.
- Want to make this even easier? Grab small pasta shells and instead of stuffing the shells just mix everything up and bake for an easy taco mac and cheese.
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.
- 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.