This Cheesy Taco Pasta is a one-pot meal and similar to the beef Hamburger Helper from our past. This is a quick, 30-minute meal perfect for weeknight dinners.
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I grew up eating plenty of Hamburger Helper. There were so many flavors I liked. Boxed Hamburger Helper is high in sodium, like most pre-packaged seasoning mixes. With this recipe you will make your own spice blend for the taco meat using my Homemade Taco Seasoning filled with ingredients from your pantry. Grab your favorite protein, cheese, and pasta….and you have a delicious weeknight meal.
What Type of Pasta to Use
I like to use rotini in this dish. Rotini is short, corkscrew-like shaped pasta. This shape is also really popular with children. I use rotini when I’m making a dish that will suck up the sauce of the pasta, meaning the pasta and meat will carry most of the flavor of the dish.
Rotini is recommended to be paired with most sauces, like tomato sauces, oil-based sauces, or cream sauces. It also works well in pasta salads. It holds meat and cheese really well and can be used in baked pasta dishes.
However, feel free to use whatever you like! Thin pasta like linguine or spaghetti is better if you want to keep the sauce on your plate, and swirl the sauce and pasta together. If you use rotini, the sauce will adhere to the pasta.
Other types you can use are penne, shells, macaroni, and farfalle.
Add Salt to the Water When Cooking the Pasta
You should always salt your water when cooking pasta. The salt won’t sink into the flavor of the pasta because it doesn’t absorb most of it. The salt will keep the pasta from being sticky and slimy. I usually add a teaspoon.
What Type of Cheese to Use
I use a combination of sharp cheddar and Monterey jack cheese. If you are into spicy, try substituting Monterey jack for pepper jack cheese. It’s the same type of cheese, but with added peppers.
Feel free to use whatever type of cheese you like.
How to Make Cheesy Taco Pasta
Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Cook the pasta in accordance with the instructions on the package.
- Place a large pot on medium high heat and cook the beef.
- Add the onions and garlic. Cook until the ground beef is no longer pink.
- Add in the diced tomatoes and chilies, broth, cream or milk, and shredded cheese.
- Allow the sauce to thicken.
- Add the cooked pasta to the pot.
How to Thicken the Sauce
Create a slurry and combine 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour along with 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl to create a slurry. Add the slurry mixture to the cream sauce and stir until it thickens.
If your sauce is too thick, you can thin it out with additional broth.
What Type of Pot to Use
I’m a huge fan of making this a one-pot recipe. I go for this 7-quart Dutch oven. It’s large enough to cook the pasta in and it can withhold higher heat for sauteeing the vegetables and chicken. If you want to make this using one pot, grab one that’s large enough and retains heat well.
Additional Toppings and Substitution Ideas
- Crumbled Bacon
- Crushed Tortilla Chips (Air Fryer Tortilla Chips)
- Pico De Gallo
- Black Beans (Add this when you add the diced tomatoes and chilies)
- Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt
- Roasted Broccoli (Air Fryer Broccoli)
- Fresh Spinach
- Crunchy Lettuce
How to Store Leftovers/How Long it Will Last in the Fridge
Store leftovers tightly sealed and covered for 3-4 days.
You can freeze this tightly sealed for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight. When you reheat there will likely be some separation due to the dairy and cheese. I file this under, not the best recipe to freeze, but you certainly can.
What to Pair with the Pasta
More Taco Recipes
Taco Bell Creamy Jalapeno Sauce
Pork Belly Tacos
Smoked Salsa Recipe
Taco Bell Breakfast Crunchwrap
Instant Pot Chicken Tacos
Blackened Fish Tacos
Leftover Taco Meat Bowls
Air Fryer Taco Egg Rolls
Southwest Salad Recipe
Steak Stir Fry
Roasted Creamy Poblano Soup
Slow Cooker Crockpot Chicken Taco Soup
More Pasta Recipes
Cheesy Taco Pasta
- 10 oz rotini pasta
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 3 garlic cloves Minced.
- 1 pound ground beef or turkey
- 15.5 oz diced tomatoes and chilies
- 1 cup beef broth Any broth will work.
- 1 cup milk or heavy cream Either will work fine. Any milk type you prefer. Heavy cream is thicker.
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour You can also use cornstarch.
- 1 tablespoon water
- Cook the pasta in accordance with the instructions on the package.
- Place a large pot or Dutch oven on medium-high heat and add the ground beef or turkey. Sprinkle the taco seasoning throughout.
- Break down the ground beef, I use this meat chopper. Add the onions and garlic. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the ground beef is no longer pink. Drain any excess fat from the pot if necessary.
- Add in the diced tomatoes and chilies, broth, cream or milk, and shredded cheese. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat on the stove to medium.
- Combine the flour and water in a small bowl. Stir until the mixture thickens. Pour the mixture into the pot. Stir until combined.
- Allow the sauce to thicken. It may take up to 10 minutes. Stir the pot every couple of minutes while the sauce thickens.
- Add the cooked pasta to the pot. Reduce the heat on the stove to Low. Place a lid on the pot and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the pasta and sauce is well incorporated.
- You can also buy a pre-packaged taco seasoning pack if you don’t want to make your own. Use your judgment for how much to use.
- Feel free to use whatever pasta you like! Thin pasta like linguine or spaghetti is better if you want to keep the sauce on your plate, and swirl the sauce and pasta together. If you use rotini, the sauce will adhere to the pasta.
- If you want a super cheesy dish (similar to my Mac and Cheese recipes), you will need a lot more cheese. I typically use 4-6 cups of cheese in those recipes.
- If you are into spicy, try substituting Monterey jack for pepper jack cheese. It’s the same type of cheese, but with added peppers.
- You can use any type of broth you wish.
- You can substitute any vegetables you wish.
- For me, this recipe works better with a flour thickener than cornstarch. If your sauce isn’t thick enough you can add an additional tablespoon of flour and water.
- If your sauce is too thick, you can thin it out with additional broth.
- You can substitute pasta for zucchini noodles or any low carb pasta you prefer. You can thicken the pasta sauce using 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum. Combine a tablespoon of the cooked sauce with the xanthan gum and add it back to the pot.
- Macros assume ground beef and 2% milk used in the recipe. Feel free to use the macro calculator of your choice when making the recipe with the ingredients you use.
- One of our readers has made this recipe using an Instant Pot. She provided her instructions in the very first comment on this recipe below in the Comment Section.