Taco Macaroni and Beef Bake is just a super simple recipe to help you get a big dinner on the table easily and affordably. A creamy taco ground beef layer with noodles, topped with salsa and cheese. This is a kid-approved taco mac casserole that will feed your family well, picky eaters included.
We all have times when we are so over it and just want the food done and our family fed so we can move on, but oh wait we also need to save money so here we are. Taco Mac and Beef Bake feels you and is here to help.
Why this recipe works
This taco bake works very simply because it takes cheesy taco flavors we all recognize and are so happy with, and puts them in a cozy, cheesy, casserole of comfort. It works because it comes together easily with no stress. And it works because all the ingredients can be kept on hand in the pantry, fridge, and even freezer.
About the ingredients
From the pantry
- Taco seasoning. We just use one packet, and it can be mild or medium to suite your taste.
- Dried minced onion. This will rehydrate as the casserole cooks.
- Elbows macaroni pasta. I used elbows, but any pasta shape will work. Egg noodles will also work.
- Salsa. Store in the refrigerator once opened, but until then, this is a pantry ingredient.
From the fridge
- Ground beef. I used 93% lean beef, but you can use whatever ground beef you like.
- Cream cheese. This can be substituted with Neufchatel cheese which is softer and lower fat.
- Shredded Mexican cheese blend. You know the one – it comes in a bag and lists like 4-6 difference cheeses. Taco cheese blend, which has added seasoning, can also be used as can cheddar-Jack mix.
I also topped my son’s serving with crushed nacho Doritos and he was quite pleased about it. yeah, it was that kind of day. He preferred his with the chips, I preferred mine without.
How to make your taco bake
First we make our ground beef layer by browning the meat and combining it with taco seasoning and cream cheese. Then we add the macaroni and layer it in our bake dish.
The ground beef mixture (not including the pasta) can be made a day in advance.
Next we pour salsa over the beefy-mac layer. Then top with cheese and bake.
Yes, with the caveat that I have not done so myself. This recipe is so basic, that there is no reason other ground meats wouldn’t work also.
Yes. Use whatever pasta you like – or whatever you need to use up and clear out the pantry.
This recipe freezes alright, but the cheese on top can loose creaminess is all. If freezing, layer plastic wrap directly on top to protect the cheese from freezer burn and drying out.
Simply zap a portion on a microwave safe dish in the microwave in 30 second increments until heated through. I recommend covering with a paper towel to prevent splatter.
Taco Macaroni and Beef Bake
- 7 oz elbows macaroni pasta
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- ½ Tbsp dried minced onion
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 1-1/2 cups salsa
- 1-1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheeses blend
- garnish: green onion, chopped tomato, cilantro, or flat-leaf parsley optional
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Heat oven to 350°F.
- Add pasta and cook according to package directions to al dente.
- Meanwhile, in a large, nonstick skillet, brown the beef until no longer pink. Drain fat.
- Add the onion, taco seasoning, and cream cheese to the beef and combine. Once the pasta is done, drain and add to the beef mixture as well.
- Layer the beef and macaroni mixture in a 13 x 9 bake dish. Spread salsa over top and top with the shredded cheese.
- Bake at 350°F until heated through and bubbly. Garnish (if desired) and serve.
Calorie count is purely an estimate calculated using an online application to serve as a guide and not to be taken as accurate nutritional information. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.