If you are a fan of easy pasta dishes, you have to try my Easy Taco Pasta Bake with cream cheese. Ground beef is browned then flavored with a taco seasoning mix, stir through the cream cheese then scatter over some shredded cheddar cheese and bake in a hot oven till the cheese is molten and bubbly.
Easy Taco Pasta Bake
My family loves both tacos and pasta, so I thought that combining the two into a Taco Pasta Bake would be a huge hit, and it was!
My Mexican pasta bake uses a taco seasoning mix for convenience but I make this taco pasta bake with no salsa, preferring instead to go down a creamy, cheesy route with the pasta sauce.
What I love most about this taco pasta recipe, is that it requires only 10 minutes actual hands on prep time, which makes this a winning dinner dish any night of the week.
I should also mention that this is a great budget friendly recipe as it uses ground beef and dried pasta.
Once baked, I plated it and served it to my family. They loved every last bite, and in fact, there were NO leftovers for lunch the next day! Why not try out this recipe with your own family.
How to make Easy Taco Pasta Bake
- Start by browning a pound of ground beef. The amount doesn’t have to be exact, my local store never sells exactly one pound. This one was probably closer to 1.25 pounds.
- After the beef is browned, strain off any excess grease.
- Next, put the strained meat back into the skillet and use a taco seasoning packet and 3/4 cup of water to season the meat.
- Let it cook until the seasoning is absorbed and the water has cooked out.
- Add the Cream Cheese until it is mixed through.
- Meanwhile, cook your pasta, and when it is cooked to al-dente, drain off any water.
- Pour the pasta into your baking dish, I used a 9×9 inch pan.
- Add the beef mixture, and stir it all up so it’s mixed well.
- Add your shredded cheese on top.
- Then bake uncovered at 350F for about 30 minutes.
- PASTA: I like to use penne or ziti pasta in this dish, but you can use any shape of dried pasta that you have in your stores at home.
- MEAT: I use about 1 pound of ground beef, don’t worry if it’s not exact, a little over or under will make no difference.
- SEASONING: For ease, I use an envelope of Taco Seasoning Mix to flavor the beef.
- CHEESE: I use cream cheese to flavor the pasta sauce, then add shredded cheddar cheese to the top of the pasta bake before it goes into the oven.
- Swap the ground beef for ground turkey or ground pork, or use a combination of ground beef and pork.
- Add some chopped red or green bell peppers and a red onion or 3-4 green onions to the pasta sauce.
- Add some fresh tomato salsa to the pasta just before you pop it into the hot oven.
- Love chili? Why not stir through some sliced jalapeno peppers or add some red pepper flakes.
- Add a spoon of smoked paprika for an extra smoky flavored sauce.
Pasta bakes are filling so I serve them with some crusty bread or garlic bread alongside, and a green salad of fresh tomato salad.
As this is a Mexican inspired dish, why not serve with some tortilla chips and add a spoon of tomato salsa or sour cream and scatter over some freshly chopped cilantro or parsley.
Recipe hints & tips:
- I had some extra cheese left and wanted to make this dish extra cheesy. So when I pulled the dish out of the oven, I sprinkled it on top and let it melt before serving.
- This recipe serves 6 but can be easily doubled or trebled if you are feeding a crowd.
What is the best pasta for taco pasta?
I like to use tube shaped noodles with a ground meat sauce, so penne, ziti or rigatoni work for me. But you can use any other shape of dried pasta in this dish, use what you have in your stores at home.
Can I make ahead Mexican Taco Pasta Bake?
Yes, this is a great make ahead dish. Prepare the pasta bake right up to the point that you place it in the oven. Allow it to cool, then cover and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake in the oven.
Leftover pasta bake, assuming you have any, can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Can I freeze Taco Pasta Bake?
As this is a quick dish to prepare and cook, I prefer to make it fresh as the freezing and defrosting process breaks down the pasta too much.
Can I cook Taco Pasta in the skillet?
Yes, absolutely. I love to oven bake this dish, but you don’t have to. Instead cook the ground meat a little longer over a low heat, before you add the cream cheese and finish the sauce. Stir through the cooked pasta then serve and sprinkle over some shredded cheese.
Here are a few related recipes you won’t want to miss, here at When is Dinner!
Taco Pasta Bake
- 1 box Penne Pasta or ziti
- About 1 pound Ground Beef
- 1 envelope Taco Seasoning Mix
- 4 oz Cream Cheese about 1/2 box
- 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese. Can divide or add extra according to your preference
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 450Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 381mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 30g
Here are a few items I find helpful in my own kitchen, when preparing this Taco Pasta Bake Recipe:
Anchor Hocking 8-InchSquare Glass Baking Dish with Teal TrueFit LidCuisinart 733-30H Chef’s Classic Stainless 5-1/2-Quart Saute Pan with Helper Handle and CoverOXO Good Grips Ground Meat ChopperStainless Steel Colander With Handle and Legs, Large Metal Green Strainer for Pasta, Spaghetti, Berry, Veggies, Fruits, Noodles, Salads, 5-quart 10.5OXO Good Grips Box GraterMexican Made Easy: Everyday Ingredients, Extraordinary FlavorThe Taco Tuesday Cookbook: 52 Tasty Taco Recipes to Make Every Week the Best EverThe Pasta Friday Cookbook: Let’s Eat TogetherOne-Pot Pasta Cookbook: 65 Super Easy Recipes for One-and-Done Meals
Friday 24th of April 2020
This looks super yummy! I tried to pin it but it was apparently having difficulties. I can t wait to try this your recipes are always excellent. The boyfriend request Mexican night at least once a week this clearly has to make it s way into the rotation :-) Looks so good!
Friday 27th of March 2020
I made this tonight and it was a big hit! The family was skeptical about pasta and taco flavors together, but they quickly changed their tune after one bite. Thanks for a great recipe and it made enough for lunch leftovers! Is that 3 cups of macaroni before cooking or 3 cups after cooking? My grandkids would love it I m sure.
Monday 30th of March 2020
It's 3 cups before cooking :) I'll go back and make sure it's clarified in the recipe! I hope you enjoy it, my kids LOVE IT!!!
Tuesday 29th of October 2013
What a yum idea; everyone loves that 'taco' flavor; so why not!
Tuesday 15th of October 2013
I love this idea because I normally don't mix pasta and mexican flavorings, but this might actually work!
Tuesday 15th of October 2013
This looks amazing I really need to try this out on my family I know they would love it :)