Beef Taco Pasta

$10.33 recipe / $1.72 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.75 from 56 votes
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Raise your hand if you grew up on Hamburger Helper. 🖐 Yeah, me too. :) This Beef Taco Pasta is like a homemade version of your favorite childhood dinner in a box with a southwest spin. It has ground beef, a cheesy tomato sauce, green chiles, pasta, a healthy dose of taco seasoning, and tons of delicious comfort all in one bowl. Plus, it all cooks in one pot, which makes dinner time so fast and easy. #WIN

Originally posted 8/25/2013, updated 2/19/2022.

beef taco pasta in a bowl from above

What Kind of Pasta to Use

I used small pasta shells this time around because that’s what I had on hand, but I originally made this recipe with egg noodles. You can use other short pasta shapes as well, keeping in mind that you may need to simmer slightly longer or for less time depending on the type of pasta used. Rotini and penne are also good options.

What Else Can I Add to Taco Pasta?

This is my favorite part of any recipe. I love rummaging through my fridge or pantry looking for leftovers that can be added to whatever I’m cooking to make sure nothing I buy goes to waste. Here are some other ingredients that you can add to your Beef Taco Pasta that would also taste great with this flavor profile:

  • Jalapeños (fresh or pickled)
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado
  • Black olives
  • Black beans
  • Pickled red onions

Swap Out the Meat

This recipe is super flexible, so if you want to use a different type of ground meat, like ground turkey or ground chicken, that would work just as well. Likewise, you could use a vegetarian ground beef alternative, or just skip the ground beef altogether and replace it with a can of black beans. So many options!

Close up of beef taco pasta in the skillet

One Pot Beef Taco Pasta

4.75 from 56 votes
This Beef Taco Pasta is like a homemade version of hamburger helper with a southwest flavor spin. Hearty, delicious, and comforting!
Close up of beef taco pasta in the skillet
Servings 6 1.3 cups each
Prep 5 mins
Cook 25 mins
Total 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.16)
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef ($3.00)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning* ($0.67)
  • 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes ($0.79)
  • 1 4oz. can diced green chiles ($0.67)
  • 1/2 lb. small pasta shells ($0.50)
  • 2 cups beef broth ($0.26)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ($1.15)
  • 2 green onions, sliced ($0.20)

Instructions 

  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion, garlic, and olive oil to a deep skillet or wide-bottomed pot. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft.
  • Add the ground beef and taco seasoning and continue to cook and stir until the ground beef is cooked through.
  • Add the diced tomatoes (with juices) and diced green chiles (with juices) to the beef and stir to combine.
  • Finally, add the pasta and beef broth and stir to combine once again. It's okay if the pasta is not fully submerged under the broth.
  • Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allow the broth to come up to a full boil. Once boiling, give the pasta a stir, place the lid back on top, and turn the heat down to medium-low.
  • Let the pasta continue to simmer, stirring every few minutes and always replacing the lid, for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender. There should be some thick saucy liquid left in the pot once the pasta is cooked.
  • Add the shredded cheddar cheese and stir until it has melted into the sauce. Top with sliced green onions and serve!

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Notes

*You can use one store-bought taco seasoning packet (about 1 oz.) or use this homemade taco seasoning recipe

Nutrition

Serving: 1.3cupsCalories: 360kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 17gFat: 17gSodium: 915mgFiber: 3g
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!

beef taco pasta in the skillet with a spoon

How to Make Beef Taco Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Diced onion and minced garlic in a skillet

Dice one yellow onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add them to a deep skillet or wide-bottomed pot with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft.

ground beef and taco seasoning added to the skillet

Next, add ½ lb. ground beef and one packet of taco seasoning (or homemade taco seasoning). Continue to cook over medium until the ground beef is cooked through.

Diced tomatoes and green chiles added to the skillet

Add one 15oz. can diced tomatoes (with juices) and one 4oz. can diced green chiles (with juices). 

pasta and beef broth being added to the skillet

Add ½ lb. pasta shells (uncooked) and 2 cups of beef broth. Stir everything to combine. It’s okay if the pasta is not fully submerged in the broth.

Lid being placed on the skillet in preparation for simmering

Place a lid on the skillet or pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the broth to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a full boil, give the pasta a stir (put the lid back in place), turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the pasta continue to simmer, stirring once every few minutes and always replacing the lid, for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender.

Cooked pasta in the skillet

Once the pasta is tender there should still be some thick saucy liquid left in the skillet. 

shredded cheddar added to the skillet

Add 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese to the pasta and stir until it has melted into the thick tomato sauce.

taco pasta topped with green onion

Top the cheesy taco pasta with sliced green onions and serve!

Overhead view of a bowl of taco pasta

Try These Other Ground Beef Pasta Recipes:

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  1. This is one of the first recipes I’ve tried and my husband and kids, who are picky and hard to please loved it!!!! I did too-just as described, like Hamburger Helper but healthy, fresh and delicious!!!

  2. I’ve been depressed and my appetite has been shot, but I made this tonight and it really hit the spot. I followed the recipe exactly but used vegan alternatives for the beef/broth/cheese.

    Thanks for the great recipe, Beth.

  3. This was good. A few things in case anyone was debating what to do with this recipe’s quantities like I was.

    1) I used the full pound of beef. It wasn’t overly beefy with the 1/2 lb of pasta and the 2 cups of broth still cooked the noodles just fine. 2) Because of the extra beef, I used about 1.5x the amount of taco seasoning. I used Beth’s recipe and just did heaping scoops of each ingredient. Plenty of flavor. 3) I used extra sharp cheddar and probably closer to 2 cups of it to make sure it tasted cheesy enough. 4) I used fire-roasted tomatoes. 5) If you want to make it a bit creamier, stir some sour cream in it. I did it post-serving, but you could do before too.

  4. This was good. A few things in case anyone was debating what to do with this recipe’s quantities like I was.

    1) I used the full pound of beef. It wasn’t overly beefy with the 1/2 lb of pasta and the 2 cups of broth still cooked the noodles just fine. 2) Because of the extra beef, I used about 1.5x the amount of taco seasoning. I used Beth’s recipe and just did heaping scoops of each ingredient. Plenty of flavor. 3) I used extra sharp cheddar and probably closer to 2 cups of it to make sure it tasted cheesy enough. 4) I used fire-roasted tomatoes. 5) If you want to make it a bit creamier, stir some sour cream in it. I did it post-serving, but you could do before too.

  5. This was good. A few things in case anyone was debating what to do with this recipe’s quantities like I was.

    1)

  6. I like most of Beth’s recipes, but this one, while certainly not offensive in any way, was nothing special. I don’t know if that’s because I used a low sodium taco packet when I usually use Beth’s taco seasoning recipe (we added salt at the table). Also, I used fire roasted tomatoes since that’s what I had, or it would have been even blander. The three of us who ate it all agreed.

  7. Just wondering if this would work in an instant pot? I would think you would need to reduce the liquid slightly, so as not to make the pasta mushy. Otherwise it looks like it would work out. Has anyone tried?

    1. There’s probably a way to do it, but I haven’t tried cooking pasta in an IP, so unfortunately I can’t offer a recommendation.

  8. This was absolutely delicious!! I made it with some bison and doubled the recipe :-) In fact, I think I’ll be retiring my decade old pasta recipe after using this one!!

    I made 12 servings and I have never frozen cooked pasta before. Can you please help me figure out how to do it so we can enjoy it for many meals to come? 

    1. It should freeze well, and keep for up to 6 months, if you make sure to do it in portion sizes. If using a freezer bag, make sure to take out all the air. If using a container, place a layer of plastic wrap right on top of the pasta, to make sure that it isn’t exposed to air.

  9. we made this a month or so ago and its really good. we double the recipe – and quadruple the meat – we’re currently making double the batch for my family because we love it so much.

  10. Did this recipe change from the previous beef taco pasta? I like the original one that didn’t call for packet taco spices and used egg noodles. Maybe they taste the same. Glad I printed out the original- just in case

    1. I did change it slightly. I used the same taco seasoning (it’s linked to the homemade recipe) but listed it as just “taco seasoning” to make sure people knew that you can either make your own or use store-bought. We always keep a pdf of the old versions of updated recipes, in case you ever want or need it. :)

  11. My partner and I loved this recipe. And mine came out true the photos too, which never seems to happen with online recipes.
    I used veg mince in mine but kept everything the same.
    I rate it a 9/10
    My meat eating partner rated it an 8/10