taco stuffed shells

$14.65 recipe / $1.47 serving

But Mom! Everyone else is doing it!

I don’t know who the first person was to stuff pasta shells with taco fillings, but it’s definitely a good idea. I kept seeing taco shells around the internet, so I had to make some, Budget Bytes style.

I made this recipe affordable by using homemade enchilada sauce (takes less than ten minutes), homemade taco seasoning (takes about two minutes), and beans cooked from dry in my slow cooker (cooked ahead of time and kept in the freezer until used). It took a little thinking ahead, but it definitely saved some bucks.

This recipe ended up being a little more work than I anticipated and I dirtied more dishes than I like to, but in the end it was well worth it. It made a HUGE batch of ten large servings, nearly all of which went into my freezer. I’ve been eating these amazing shells for almost a week now and have yet to get tired of them!

I didn’t realize that the ground beef I bought was in a 1.5 lb. package instead of just one pound, so thats part of why it made so much. You could also do this with just beans and no meat if you want it even less expensive!

I paired this with some cilantro lime rice and I was a happy, happy girl.

Taco Stuffed Shells

Taco Stuffed Shells

4.8 from 10 reviews
taco stuffed shells
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $14.65
Cost Per Serving: $1.47
Serves: 10
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 medium yellow onion $0.49
  • 1½ lb. ground beef $6.09
  • 2 cups black beans $0.56
  • 2 cups pinto beans $0.56
  • 1 recipe taco seasoning $0.34
  • 1 tsp salt $0.05
  • 12 ounces jumbo shells $2.78
  • 1 recipe red enchilada sauce $0.77
  • 2 cups shredded cheese $2.50
  • 3-4 whole green onions $0.19
  1. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large skillet over medium heat with the olive oil until soft and transparent (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the ground beef and continue to cook until browned. Mix together the taco seasoning ingredients while the beef is browning. Once the beef is fully cooked through, add the taco seasoning and stir to combine. Drain the beans and add to the skillet. Stir until combined. Taste and season with salt as needed (I used about 1 teaspoon).
  3. Allow the beef and bean filling to sit while you cook the pasta shells. Bring a large pot to a boil, add the shells and cook just until tender. Be sure not to over cook the shells or they will be soft and difficult to fill. While the pasta shells are cooking, prepare the enchilada sauce.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drain the shells in a colander and rinse with cold water until they are cool enough to handle. Spray the inside of a 9×13 inch casserole dish with non-stick spray. Fill the shells with the beef and bean filling and place in the casserole dish. It’s okay if they’re not aligned neatly or if they topple over and spill some filling, it will still be good.
  5. Once all of the shells are filled and in the casserole dish, pour the prepared enchilada sauce over top and then add the shredded cheese. Cook in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and everything is heated through (all ingredients are already cooked, so there is no real danger of undercooking here. You just want to get it all HOT).
  6. Slice the green onions and sprinkle over top after it comes out of the oven. Serve hot!
If you don’t want to make your own beans, taco seasoning, and enchilada sauce, here are the store bought equivalents: 1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, 1 (15 ounce) can of pinto beans, 1 packet of taco seasoning, and one (28 ounce) can of enchilada sauce.

Taco Stuffed Shells

Step By Step Photos

onion garlicStart by dicing the onion and mincing the garlic. Add them to a LARGE skillet with the olive oil and cook over medium heat until soft and transparent.

ground beefAdd the ground beef and continue to cook until it is FULLY browned.

taco seasoningWhile the beef is browning, mix up your taco seasoning (or use a store bought packet).

taco beefOnce the beef is fully cooked, add the taco seasoning and stir until combined.

add beansadd beansAdd the drained beans (because WE LOVE BEANS!). Stir until combined. Taste and add more salt if needed (I added about one teaspoon).

cook pastaNext, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Make sure to not let them get too soft or they’ll be all wobbly and difficult to fill. Also, while the pasta is boiling away, you can quickly prepare the enchilada sauce (because it only takes 5-10 minutes).

fill shellsfill shellsDrain the pasta and rinse it with cool water until it’s cool enough to handle. Spray a LARGE casserole dish with non-stick spray. Fill the shells and place them in the casserole dish. I found the easiest way to fill them is to hold a shell in one hand and fill it with a spoon using the other. Now, the shells WILL topple over and spill their guts, but that’s okay because when you serve it you’ll just be scooping everything up anyway.

pour enchilada saucesmothered enchilada saucePour the enchilada sauce alllll over the whole thing. This is where it starts to get really good. Preheat your oven to 350, too.

cheeseCover that sucker with cheese and pop it in the oven. Cook it at 350 for about 30 minutes or until the whole thing is hot and the cheese is nice and melty on top.

taco stuffed shellsAnd then you’re in taco shell heaven. Oh yeah, sprinkle the green onions over top after it comes out of the oven.

portionAs usual, I portioned the whole thing out before refrigerating. I actually ran out of containers, that’s how much it made. Most of these containers ended up in the freezer after they cooled in the fridge. I also added a scoop of cilantro lime rice to each container. I’ve been having very, VERY happy lunches ever since! :D



  1. Shannon says:

    Wow! We tried this a few weeks ago and we’ll be making it again tonight! What an amazing dish! My favorite out of the recipes I’ve tried from your blog so far! Even my 3 kids who are picky eaters couldn’t resist a second helping!

  2. I made this recipe for the first time tonight, and it was awesome! I even made your homemade red enchilada sauce and cilantro lime rice! The only minor change I made was putting the dish together in two smaller casserole dishes (rather than the 9×13), and wrapping and freezing one (instead of baking). We still have a bit of leftovers for tomorrow, but it also means that we can enjoy this dish later this month. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. Love your website!

  3. LaTrice says:

    My sister and I LOVE the Taco Stuffed Shells. I used one can each of black beans and pinto beans, and it was more than enough to stuff the shells. Since I’m NOT too fond of wasting food, I spread the rest of the filling on top of the shells. Best of all, the shells are good with a dollop of sour cream. I discovered your blog through a Google search engine last year, and always been looking forward to new recipes. Thank you, Beth. :-)

  4. My cousin just a baby this was the meal we brought over to them, to help make life easier with the little one. we all loved it! we ate it with sour cream which i feel is a must.

    To be honest the wife felt it was a touch to bean heavy. next time i will use a bit less beans or more hamburger.

  5. Brittany says:

    I made this tonight and it turned out awesome! The only thing I different was i used ground turkey, and I used spicy Taco seasoning and hot n spicy enchilada sauce! Perfect!!

  6. I made these last night for a dinner party and they were very good. The enchilada sauce really is worth the extra step.

    I would add sour cream to the ingredient list, it really is a must to serve along with the shells.

  7. ReBecca says:

    I made this last night and brought it in today for my works’ lunch potluck. I did it all like you,suggested, first time doing that and I have to say it was Delicious!! Thanks

  8. Katie K. says:

    These are amazing! I froze half of the cooked shells and DH and I ate the rest over the past couple of days. Pasta + Mexican food = awesome!

  9. Barbara says:

    These are really delicious, and wonderful to have on hand in the freezer. I usually freeze them individually on a cookie sheet, then wrap in meal-sized packages. That allows me to pull out just the number I need, for one or for a crowd. Add the sauce (also frozen in portions), and dinner is ready in no time.

  10. Lyndsay says:

    My mom and I made this tonight and it was delicious! It was so easy to make and super filling.

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