Easy Cheesy Taco Pasta

Easy Cheesy Taco Pasta

Easy Cheesy Taco Pasta 

Easy cheesy taco pasta is reminiscent of hamburger helper for me, which brings a certain level of childhood nostalgia to me. But as an adult, I find the boxed mixes to be gross, and just a salt bomb. So I’m always disappointed when I crave that childhood meal, go buy it in the store, and then regret it. 

Anybody else do this? Crave something, buy it, and then remember why you never eat it anymore? It always feels so disappointing! 

This version gives me my childhood meal, but in a simple and elevated way that is delicious, simple to make, and fun. My rendition of this also doesn’t rely on salt as the main flavor either, so it is a healthier version that I feel good about eating and it doesn’t weigh me down the way the boxed mix does. 

I suggested this meal to my husband earlier in the week when planning our week and his response was, “I’m intrigued.” Now, he tells me he will eat it again, and I need to make it several more times. High praise when he asks me to make a meal a second, third, or sixth time, as he said. 

This post contains affiliate links

Have you tried making this easy cheesy taco pasta yet? Come on in and let me tell you about it! 

Easy Cheesy Taco Pasta Ingredients 

Ground beef, 2 pounds 

Large shell pasta, 8 ounces/ ½ pound

Taco Seasoning, 2 tablespoons (1 packet) see my recipe to make your own taco seasoning here

Ancho Chili Powder, 1 teaspoon 

Steak Seasoning, 1 teaspoon  see my recipe to make your own steak seasoning here

Salsa, 1 cup 

Pico De Gallo, 1 small container, optional 

Water, 1 cup 

Cheddar cheese, 1 cup 

Salt and pepper, to taste 

Easy Cheesy Taco Pasta
Easy Cheesy Taco Pasta

Easy Cheesy Taco Pasta Directions 

In a saute or frying pan, add in the ground beef, salt, pepper, and steak seasoning, Brown the meat on medium-high heat until it is done. If your meat isn’t completely cooked through, don’t worry. It will continue to cook as you go. The goal with browning is just the nice outer caramelization of the beef and the flavor development that comes from that. 

Drain any fat or oil used to brown the meat. Add in 1 cup of water, the ancho chili powder and taco seasoning. Simmer on a low heat until the water has evaporated. This is the time I taste things and determine if it needs an extra sprinkle of salt. 

Start boiling the water for the pasta and cook it according to the directions on the box. 

Add both kinds of salsa to the meat and mix to combine and heat up. Keep simmering it on a low heat as you’re waiting for the pasta to cook. The mixture may appear a bit on the watery side from the salsa, but don’t worry. The pasta will absorb that, and the cheese will help to thicken it up as well. 

Once the pasta is cooked, drain, and add into the meat and sauce. Add the cheese in at this time, and stir to combine it all together. I cooked my pasta for 11 minutes and in the sauce for an extra 2 minutes to finish completely. 

It is time to serve! Nothing to do now but enjoy. If you’d like, for an added crunch, crumble tortilla chips over the top. Or add a small amount of sour cream for a creamier texture. 

Easy Cheesy Taco Pasta
Easy Cheesy Taco Pasta

Recipe Notes 

When I first made this easy cheesy taco pasta recipe, I used fresh salsa. One was a refrigerated “restaurant style” salsa, and the other a pre-made pico de gallo that the grocery store I shop at made in-house to sell fresh. If you don’t have these, jarred salsa is just fine, and the pico is completely optional. 

The steak seasoning flavors the meat, keeping it from being bland and boring as it cooks. The ancho chili powder really added a rich, deep, smokey flavor profile into it as well. One of my biggest complaints about store-bought boxed versions of meals like this is the salt content. That is always the primary flavor profile. Using things like the steak seasoning and ancho chili powder are what elevate meals like this and keep it from being too salty. 

If you’re using the pico in this recipe, you can do it two ways. One, saute it all in with the ground beef to caramelize and soften the veggies. Two, is to add it in with the jarred salsa later on, and just let it warm up in the sauce. This will keep the veggies crisp, and add another texture into the dish. Either one works just fine. My personal preference is adding it in with the other salsa to just let it heat up and the veggies staying crisp. 

If you are needing to stretch this recipe (or just want to hide some extra vegetables in it), you can add chopped mushrooms, because they mimic the mouthfeel of meat. 

You can also add crumbled up tortilla chips on top and extra cheddar cheese. Or add a bit of sour cream for a creamy texture. 

Easy Cheesy Taco Pasta
Easy Cheesy Taco Pasta

Why I Love This Recipe 

This easy cheesy taco pasta recipe is simple, and uses ingredients I already have on hand at home, saving me a trip to the grocery store on busy nights, or when the weather is bad and I need to eat out of the freezer and pantry

It is about a million times healthier and more flavorful than the boxed versions of this that our parents made for us as kids. 

It takes just two pans to make it, one for the meat and sauce, and the second for the pasta. I love meals that don’t take a ton of time or dirty up every dish and pan in my house just for a single meal. 

This easy cheesy taco pasta recipe is husband-approved! There are times when I can tell Nathan isn’t a huge fan of a meal I’ve made. He’ll eat it, but definitely doesn’t ask for a repeat performance. This one he told me he would eat again and again, and I was “free to make it anytime I wanted.” 

This recipe can be made with whatever heat level of salsa that you want. Mine was medium in this one, and it provided a nice even heat and spice throughout the entire thing. It wasn’t hot, like it didn’t burn my face off. But created a nice depth of flavor throughout, and I appreciated that. But if you don’t like a lot of heat, use a mild salsa instead of medium. If you want it hot, use a hot salsa, and add in some cayenne pepper as well. The versatility of this easy cheesy taco pasta recipe to fit each individual preference is wonderful. 


Have you tried making this easy cheesy taco pasta yourself? Are you a fan? Would you make any substitutions or additions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

Amazon Notice 

The Cooking Wife is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, at no added cost to you.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!