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Easy Taco Stuffed Shells Recipe

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Change up your Taco Tuesday with these Easy Taco Stuffed Shells. A fun and delicious twist on the classic stuffed shells recipe. Jumbo pasta shells filled with all of the taco flavors you love.

easy taco stuffed shells image with text overlay

These Taco Stuffed Shells are full of the flavor you love in tacos with the carbs you crave in the pasta shells. It can’t get any better if you ask me. Tacos and pasta in one easy-to-make casserole recipe. If you’ve had traditional stuffed shells before, it was probably with an Italian flair of ground beef and marinara sauce with ricotta cheese and mozzarella. This is the Mexican-Italian fusion of a classic dish, and it is delicious!

My family loves this taco mac recipe but I wanted to change it up with these jumbo pasta shells. The extra-large shells are the perfect vessel to spoon the seasoned taco meat into. Of course, you need the taco toppings like cheese, salsa, and cilantro. We serve these with extra cheese, salsa, and sour cream.

These Mexican stuffed shells are the perfect easy meal that the whole family will love! Dinner is ready in less than an hour and easily served any night of the week.

Mexican Stuffed Shells overhead view

Easy Taco Stuffed Shells

Recipes that are easy and with a few ingredients are the ones that I turn to make for my family. They tend to be the ones they love and ask for on repeat. These Mexican Stuffed Shells are now a family favorite. The kids love them, we love them, and you will too. I actually think my family loves this version over the classic stuffed shells. As for me, I love them both!

Using a packaged taco seasoning mix is a great shortcut but if you have a little bit of extra time, this homemade taco seasoning is great to have in the pantry. It uses the spices and herbs you most likely have in your spice cabinet. I store the homemade mix in a mason jar.

The spice level of your salsa is entirely dependent on your family’s heat level. We’re a family from mild to OMG spicy. So, I make I use a mild to medium salsa and let those who want it spicier add chopped jalapenos or a hotter sauce to their plates.

Be sure to have everyone’s favorite taco toppings to serve with these stuffed shells.

Can you make taco stuffed pasta shells ahead of time and freeze them?

This easy taco stuffed shells recipe is not only a great weeknight meal but is indeed a make-ahead casserole that can be frozen. Freeze before baking in a freezer-safe casserole dish. Aluminum foil or disposable pans are great for this. Thaw in the refrigerator before baking as directed in the recipe card.

You may just want to double this recipe – One for now, and one for the freezer!

This recipe for taco stuffed shells is perfect for meal-prepping, freezer meals, or just a delicious, hearty meal that everyone will love. It is also great to take taco stuffed shells to potlucks since you can easily double the recipe.

Save the leftovers! Seems like pasta casseroles like this slow cooker lazy lasagna, are even better the next day and these taco pasta shells do too.

close up of stuffed taco shells

Equipment you will need

My favorite skillet and pots are from this set. They’re very durable, nonstick, and sears like stainless steel pans would. Dishwasher safe and oven safe, which both are a must for busy schedules! I’m blessed that they were a gift recently.

Ingredients

  • 20 jumbo pasta shells, about ⅔ of a 12 oz box
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 oz packet of taco seasoning or 3 tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning
  • 24 oz chunky salsa
  • 8 oz Fiesta cheese blend, shredded
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
taco stuffed shells Ingredients

How to this easy taco stuffed shells recipe

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

Step 2

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef over medium heat, breaking the meat apart it cooks. Drain off the grease, and pour the cooked meat into a large bowl.

brown the ground beef in a skillet

Step 3

While the meat is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the jumbo shells, and cook until al dente. Refer to the package directions on the box of noodles for cooking time.

boil jumbo pasta shells in large pot

Step 4

Add the taco seasoning to the meat mixture, and stir well.

add taco seasoning to cooked ground beef in glass bowl

Step 5

Then add half of the salsa and half of the cheese, and stir to combine. Set aside.

adding the salsa and cheese to the meat mixture

Step 6

Once the shells are cooked, drain the water, and rinse the shells with cold water to cool them a bit for easier handling.

Step 7

Spoon the meat mixture into the cooked shells, and place in a single layer in the prepared casserole dish.

stuffing the pasta shells with taco mixture

Step 8

Pour the remaining salsa over the shells and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Add the diced tomatoes and chopped cilantro over top of the cheese.

finish adding the diced tomatoes and cilantro

Step 9

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and serve these Mexican Stuffed Shells with all of your favorite taco fixings.

taco stuffed shells in casserole dish with a serving of pasta on plate
Mexican Stuffed shells ready to eat

Tips, Tricks, and FAQs

  • Try using ground turkey or chicken in place of ground beef.
  • Prefer to use a plant-based meat product? This recipe would be delicious with that and perfect for meatless meals.
  • You can also use enchilada sauce, taco sauce, or spicy salsa in place of chunky salsa in the taco filling.
  • For a creamier filling, add some cream cheese to the hot beef mixture. Combine well.
  • Use your favorite kind of cheese for these stuffed shells. A combination of cheddar and Monterey Jack, or even pepper jack would be super yummy.
  • Don’t forget to have your favorite taco toppings available. Sliced avocado, guacamole, diced onions, more diced tomatoes, pico de Gallo, and sliced green onions are all great options..
  • Store leftover cooled taco pasta shells in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge. This is a perfect recipe to make for meal-prepping for the week.
  • From experience, cook a few more shells than you need. Sometimes they break while boiling.
  • Adding black beans to the taco meat mixture is a great way to add a little fiber.

More Taco-Inspired Recipes for Taco Night

white serving plate with two jumbo pasta shells stuffed with taco meat and cheese

Next time you’re craving Mexican food, but want something different than traditional tacos, try this easy recipe.

Printable Easy Taco Stuffed Shells Recipe

Mexican Stuffed Shells overhead view

Easy Taco Stuffed Shells Recipe

Change up your Taco Tuesday with these Taco Stuffed Shells. A fun and delicious twist on the classic stuffed shells recipe. Jumbo pasta shells filled with all of the taco flavors you love.
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Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beef, Mexican stuffed shells, pasta, stuffed shells, taco stuffed shells, tacos
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Equipment

  • skillet
  • large pot
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • Large bowl
  • wooden spoon
  • 9 x 13 inch baking dish

Ingredients

  • 20 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 package taco seasoning (or use 3 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning)
  • 24 ounce jar chunk salsa
  • 8 ounces Fiesta cheese blend, shredded
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 9×13-inch casserole dish with nonstick spray.
  • In a large skillet, brown the ground beef over medium heat, breaking the meat apart it cooks. Drain off the grease, and pour the cooked meat into a large bowl.
  • While the meat is cooking, fill a large pot halfway with water, and bring it to a boil. Add the jumbo shells, and cook until al dente. Refer to the time chart on the box of noodles.
  • Add the taco seasoning to the meat mixture, and stir well.
  • Then add half of the salsa and half of the cheese, and stir to combine. Set aside.
  • Once the shells are cooked, drain the water, and rinse the shells with cold water to cool them a bit for easier handling.
  • Fill the shells with a heaping spoonful of the taco meat mixture, and place in a single layer in the prepared casserole dish.
  • Pour the remaining salsa over the shells and top with the remaining cheese. Add the diced tomatoes and chopped cilantro over top of the cheese.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and serve.

Notes

  • Try using ground turkey or chicken in place of ground beef.
  • Prefer to use a plant-based meat product? This recipe would be delicious with that and perfect for meatless meals.
  • You can also use enchilada sauce or spicy salsa in place of chunky salsa.
  • Use your favorite kind of cheese for these stuffed shells. A combination of cheddar and Monterey Jack, or even pepper jack would be super yummy.
  • Don’t forget to have your favorite taco toppings available. Sliced avocado, guacamole, diced onions, more diced tomatoes, pico de Gallo, and sliced green onions are all great options.
  • Store leftover cooled taco pasta shells in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge. This is a perfect recipe to make for meal-prepping for the week.
  • From experience, cook a few more shells than you need. Sometimes they break while boiling.
  • Adding black beans to the taco meat mixture is a great way to add a little fiber.

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Blogghetti” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

close up of stuffed taco shells

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