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Taco Mac and Cheese

This easy taco mac and cheese is the best one-pan comfort food! With savory ground beef, juicy tomatoes, macaroni pasta, and lots of melty cheese, it’s a fun twist on taco night the whole family goes crazy for.

Try more taco-inspired dinner ideas like these cheesy taco stuffed shells and my easy taco casserole.

A bowl of taco mac and cheese with a skillet in the background.

 

It might go without saying, but any recipe that combines tender pasta with plenty of melted cheese wins a stamp of approval in my house. Whether that’s bacon mac and cheese or this cheesy skillet chili mac, we can’t get enough. It doesn’t hurt that dinners like this flavor-packed taco mac and cheese recipe are quick, easy, and made for busy weeknights. Taco mac and cheese is loaded with spicy taco meat, zesty diced tomatoes, and shredded cheddar. It’s cheesy, beefy, and ready on the stovetop in 30 minutes.

Why You’ll Love This Taco Mac and Cheese Recipe

  • Easy ingredients. There’s nothing better than a recipe that turns basic pantry ingredients into something next-level delicious.
  • One pan. Apart from boiling the pasta, this taco mac is a one-pan wonder perfect for weeknight dinners. Cook the taco meat and veggies all in one skillet, then simply stir in your cooked pasta and cheese.
  • Savory taco flavors. This recipe is rich, savory, and packed with taco-inspired flavor. Customize the seasonings in this Mexican mac and cheese to be as bold or as mild as you’d like. 
Ingredients for taco mac and cheese.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Here are the simple ingredients needed to make this skillet taco mac and cheese. You’ll find the printable ingredients list in the recipe card below the post.

  • Ground Beef – I like to use lean ground beef. You can also make this recipe with ground chicken or ground turkey.
  • Onion and Garlic – Chopped and minced to bring flavor to the beef. I use 3 garlic cloves but feel free to adapt the amount to taste.
  • Taco Seasoning – I always have a jar of homemade taco seasoning in the pantry. Feel free to use a packet of your favorite store-bought seasoning. You can also substitute fajita seasoning, as the spices are similar.
  • Tomatoes – Canned diced tomatoes with chilies, like Rotel, work great here. Regular diced tomatoes are also fine. Fire-roasted tomatoes are another great way to add flavor.
  • Macaroni – Elbow macaroni, or you can make this recipe with another type of short-cut, sturdy pasta. Cavatappi, rotini, or small shells are all good choices.
  • Cheese – You’ll want to use a shredded, melty cheese, like cheddar. Monterey Jack also works, as does Pepper Jack or even Velvetta cheese.

How to Make Taco Mac and Cheese

My cheesy taco mac and cheese is a quick stovetop recipe. Check out the easy step-by-step below, and scroll to the recipe card for printable instructions. 

  • Cook the pasta. Start by boiling the pasta al dente according to the package directions.
  • Brown the ground beef. Meanwhile, break apart and brown the ground beef in a skillet along with the onions. Once cooked through, stir in the garlic.
  • Add seasonings. Sprinkle in the taco seasoning (plus any water called for), and add the diced tomatoes to the pan. 
  • Add the noodles and cheese. Simmer for a bit, and finally, add the cooked macaroni and shredded cheese. Stir everything together as the cheese melts.
  • Serve! Serve your taco mac topped with more cheese, fresh cilantro, and more of your favorite taco toppings. See below for ideas.
Taco mac and cheese in a large skillet.

Tips and Variation Ideas

After years of making every variation of mac and cheese under the sun (I even have a recipe for jalapeno popper mac n’ cheese!), I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way. These are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t overcook the macaroni. Boil the pasta until it’s just al dente (firm but with bite).
  • Save time. Instead of cooking the noodles and adding the cheese separately, substitute 2 boxes of your favorite store-bought mac and cheese.
  • Use freshly grated cheese. For best results, shred the cheese fresh from the block when making mac and cheese. Pre-shredded cheese contains anti-caking agents that prevent it from melting as smoothly.
  • More add-ins. Stir in cooked slow cooker black beans, or you can add canned black beans, pinto beans, or sweet corn. Drain and rinse any canned corn and beans before adding them to the meat mixture.
  • Make it spicy. Add in diced jalapeños, chili powder, red pepper flakes, or cayenne to give this taco mac a bit of kick.
Taco mac and cheese in a large skillet.

Taco Mac Serving Suggestions

Just like a traditional taco, it’s fun to get creative with topping ideas for this taco mac and cheese. I love chopped fresh tomatoes, sour cream, and a sprinkle of green onions or cilantro. Here are more easy toppings to try:

Serve this mac and cheese with steamed broccoli or garlic bread for a fast and tasty dinner. I also love taco mac with a side of cool and creamy Mexican coleslaw and a starter of crunchy homemade tortilla chips dipped in salsa. And while we’re on the Tex-Mex theme, wash down the meal with a skinny margarita!

Overhead view of a bowl of taco mac and cheese with a fork.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

  • Refrigerate. Store leftover taco mac and cheese airtight in the fridge for up to 3-5 days. 
  • Reheat. Warm this mac and cheese in the oven at 350ºF for 15-20 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
  • Freeze. Freeze this taco mac in freezer-safe containers for up to 2-3 months. Defrost it in the fridge overnight before reheating.

More Mac and Cheese Recipes

Yield: 5 servings

Taco Mac and Cheese

A bowl of taco mac and cheese with a fork.

This easy taco mac and cheese combines two favorite comfort foods into a cheesy, flavor-packed skillet dinner. This recipe is quick to make and family-friendly!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1-pound lean ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 oz taco seasoning (1 packet or homemade) + water called for
  • 10 oz rotel tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cup elbow macaroni
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. 
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat brown the ground beef and onions, breaking up the ground beef for 5-6 minutes, until the beef is mostly cooked and the onions are soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until you can start to smell it. Drain away any excess grease. 
  3. Add the taco seasoning, water called for on the packet, and rotel tomatoes to the pan. Simmer for a few minutes for the tomatoes to soften. 
  4. Add the cooked pasta and shredded cheese to the beef mixture and stir until the cheese is melted. 
  5. Serve topped with more cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, avocado, sour cream etc. 

Notes

  • Shortcut – Use 2 boxes of your favorite store-bought mac and cheese in place of the macaroni and cheddar cheese. 

Nutrition Information

Yield

5

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 444Total Fat 23gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 114mgSodium 713mgCarbohydrates 21gFiber 2gSugar 4gProtein 37g

Nutrition Disclaimer: All information presented on this site is intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information shared on dinnersdishesanddesserts.com should only be used as a general guideline.

Did you make this recipe?

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Catalina

Tuesday 23rd of April 2024

Wow, the Taco Mac and Cheese was a massive hit at our family game night! It was the perfect combination of creamy and spicy, and so comforting. The kids loved it just as much as the adults, and it was super easy to make.

Sandra

Tuesday 23rd of April 2024

Had this for dinner last night and the kids loved it! Perfect for busy weeknights!

Janelle

Tuesday 23rd of April 2024

Oooohh yeah this was good. My kids devoured it. Mission accomplished, haha!

Beth

Monday 22nd of April 2024

OMG, this stuff is so good! It's everything Hamburger Helper wishes it could be but just can't. LOL. I love all the Tex-Mex flavor with the beef and cheese.

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