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This quick and easy one pot taco pasta recipe is perfect for busy weeknights. With ground beef, tender pasta and plenty of cheese, this 30-minute meal is sure to become a family favorite.

taco pasta in cheese sauce on serving spoon.

Easy Taco Pasta Recipe

I first made this one pot pasta dish for dinner years ago. It’s literally something I just threw together, using whatever ingredients I could find.

If you’ve ever stood there, staring in your fridge, wondering what to make for dinner, you get it.  I eventually came up with some ground beef, pasta, a jar of salsa and a few other things. And that, my friends, is how this simple one dish dinner wonder was born!

My whole family loved this easy recipe, and we have been making it for taco night ever since! Serve with your favorite taco toppings for a complete meal.

ground beef, shells, beef broth, cheese, taco seasoning, onion, sour cream, salsa.


You should be able to find these simple ingredients in the grocery store if you don’t already have them at home. Full recipe is in the printable recipe card below.

  • Ground beef — look for lean ground beef.
  • Onion — Adds flavor
  • Taco seasoning — I use my own homemade taco seasoning that contains cumin, paprika, chili powder. You can definitely use a seasoning packet from the store.
  • Pasta — I love shells, but penne pasta or rotini also work. For this skillet meal, I use about 8 ounces of pasta.
  • Beef broth — Look for low sodium broth if needed.
  • Chunky salsa — adds so much flavor to the creamy cheese sauce. Look for mild salsa to keep the heat level down.
  • Sour cream — adds a little creaminess and tang.
  • Cheese — I love a blend of cheddar cheese and Colby Jack cheese, but use your favorite cheese here.

How to Make One Pot Taco Pasta

To make this quick and easy dinner, all you really have to do is cook the onion until soft, brown the ground beef, and add the taco seasoning.

cook ground beef and onion in cast iron skillet.

Then, add the beef broth, pasta and salsa. Let the mixture cook until the pasta is al dente — about 8-10 minutes, depending on the brand and type of pasta you use. You’ll want to keep an eye on it and stir every so often.

mix shells, broth and salsa in skillet.

Next, stir in the sour cream and cheese, and watch this simple ground beef skillet transform into a creamy, cheesy dinner the entire family will love. Even my pickiest eaters have zero complaints!

stir in cheese with pasta mixture.

Substitutions and Recipe Tips

You can sub ground turkey or ground chicken for the beef and water for the beef stock or broth. Chicken broth is another option.

Sub tomato sauce or diced tomatoes for the salsa. You can also use a can of diced tomatoes and green chiles (RoTel).

You may have to add a little more liquid as needed if you feel the mixture needs it. The pasta will thicken as it stands, so don’t worry if it looks too runny.

This recipe is easily doubled in a Dutch oven if you want to use a full pound of pasta. Or, make this Instant Pot Taco Pasta recipe.

taco pasta in skillet on the table.


Refrigerate leftover pasta in an airtight container for 3-4 days. It reheats well in the microwave or on the stove. You can also freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.

More Easy One Pot Pasta Recipes

Check out more one pot meals, including our favorite Creamy Shells and Beef, Ground Beef Stroganoff and Cheeseburger Macaroni Hamburger Helper!

5 from 11 votes

Cheesy Taco Pasta (Easy One Pot Meal)

By: Dee
This quick and easy one pot taco pasta recipe is perfect for busy weeknights. With ground beef, tender pasta and plenty of cheese, this 30-minute meal is sure to become a family favorite.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 pound ground beef (extra lean)
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning or 1 packet
  • 8 oz medium shell pasta about 2 cups
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup salsa thick and chunky, undrained
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
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  • In a large skillet or small Dutch oven, cook onion until soft
  • Add ground beef and cook over medium high heat until no longer pink, and stir in taco seasoning
  • Add penne pasta, beef broth and salsa, and cook until pasta is al dente, (about 10 minutes) stirring occasionally
  • Stir in sour cream and cheeses, 1 cup at a time, and mix well
  • Serve immediately



If not using extra lean meat, drain fat after meat is cooked, and then add taco seasoning.
I use homemade taco seasoning, but you can sub 1 packet taco seasoning.
You may need to add a little more liquid as needed if pasta seems too dry.


Calories: 375kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 22g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 71mg, Sodium: 713mg, Potassium: 390mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 543IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 236mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Like this? Leave a comment below!

You can even throw some extra cheese, lettuce and diced tomatoes on the top — like a taco! Add some tortilla chips if you want!

one pot easy taco pasta skillet with tomatoes lettuce and sour cream

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Recipe first published in 2017 and updated in 2024.

Happy Cooking,

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Recipe Rating


  1. Julie says:

    Haven’t made it yet, had a question…. i’m trying to not have to go to the store, I have everything but the salsa. I don’t have any tomatoes. But I do have spaghetti sauce. Can I use spaghetti sauce as a substitution?5 stars

    1. Dee says:

      That may change the flavor, but it should work.

  2. Tyler says:

    This was great! The kids loved it too! A non messy taco for sure! And only one pan!5 stars