A Mexican-inspired pasta dish, Taco Stuffed Shells with taco seasoned ground beef in a creamy, cheesy sauce stuffed in shells for an easy family meal.
Taco Stuffed Shells
Pasta and Mexican-inspired dishes are two staples at our house. This Taco Stuffed Shells recipe is a delicious combination of the two, mixing taco seasoned ground beef with a creamy, cheesy sauce inside a pasta shell topped with a savory taco sauce for a full and yummy meal.
And just as with regular tacos, the most fun part is the toppings. Top them with fresh avocado, pico de gallo, salsa, guacamole, red onions, fresh cilantro, sour cream, or even some crushed up tortilla chips for some crunch.
How to Stuff Pasta Shells
The simplest way to stuff shells is just by spooning the filling into the cooked shells. It's fairly simple and doesn't require any additional equipment.
Another easy way to stuff pasta shells is to place all of the filling into a large zip bag. Cut one of the corners, and squeeze the filling out of the bag into the shells, like piping a cupcake.
What to Serve with Taco Stuffed Shells
Serve your taco stuffed shells with traditional Mexican refried beans and rice and a fresh green salad.
More Mexican Inspired Recipes You'll Love
- Chicken Nacho Bake - creamy Mexican casserole with chicken and taco seasoning, topped with crunch tortilla chips.
- Rice and Black Bean Burritos - vegetarian burritos filled with so much comfort food and Mexican flavor. A perfectly delicious and filling dinner.
- Skillet Southwest Smothered Chicken - spicy cheesy chicken, with southwestern flavors, seared and cooked in a skillet.
- Three Cheese Enchiladas - vegetarian version of a Mexican favorite. Super easy, creamy, and cheesy!
- Homemade Restaurant Style Salsa - salsa that's just as amazing as your favorite Mexican restaurant. Make it in just 5 minutes!
Taco Stuffed Shells
- 24 pasta shells cooked to package instructions
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 16 ounce bottle taco sauce
- 1 8 ounce package cream cheese
- 2 cups shredded cheddar divided
- Fresh toppings such as cilantro and avocado for garnish
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef with garlic and onions. Drain and return to skillet.
- Add chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt to taste. Stir to combine.
- Add ¾ cups taco sauce, and stir to combine.
- Bring mixture to a simmer.
- Add cream cheese and stir until smooth and creamy.
- Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup cheddar.
- Spoon mixture into cooked shells (about 2 tablespoons of mixture per shell).
- Place stuffed shells in a lightly greased 9"x13" baking dish.
- Pour remaining taco sauce over stuffed shells, and top with remaining cheese.
- Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and shells are warmed through.
- Top with fresh ingredients such as avocado or cilantro for garnish.
- For a cheesier flavor, you can use 8 ounces of melted Velveeta or nacho cheese instead of cream cheese.
- Top with fresh toppings such as chopped cilantro, avocado, red onions, or pico de gallo to add a little freshness and color.
- To make it vegetarian, use a (15 ounce) can of black beans, drained and rinsed, and a (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained, instead of ground beef.
- Substitute salsa or enchilada sauce for taco sauce.
- Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- Freezer Directions: Prepare and stuff shells, stopping at step 7. Then place shells into a covered freezer dish. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Top with remaining cheese and taco sauce. Bake at 350°F for about 25 minutes (the extra time is to account for the cold baking dish).
UPDATE INFO: This recipe was originally published in January 2016. It was updated with new pictures, video, and tips and republished in April 2021.
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