Switch up Taco for Tuesday with these easy, cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells. Giant pasta shells are filled with ground beef, salsa, and cheese for a dinner that’s ready in just over 30 minutes. Guaranteed to be a hit with the whole family!
Easy Mexican Stuffed Shells
If you’re looking to switch up taco night, look no further than these Taco Stuffed Shells. They take all of your favorite taco flavors and add them to a giant pasta shell. Add some extra cheese, bake, and dinner is ready. Easy, cheesy, and oh so flavorful!
We’re pretty big fans of stuffed shells in general, since they can be made with pretty much any filling. You can never go wrong with the classic ricotta and meat sauce but we also love chicken stuffed shells and Philly cheesesteak stuffed shells.
But I have to say, this taco version may be the new famly favorite!
What You’ll Need
Taco stuffed shells are made with just a handful of ingredients, most of which you’d normally use to make your favorite tacos. See the recipe card below for the full list and measurements.
- Ground beef – An 80/20 lean ground beef is ideal to avoid extra grease.
- Taco seasoning – I love to make my own homemade taco seasoning. I think the flavor is just so much better.
- Salsa – Homemade or storebought salsa will work. You can choose your spice level.
- Rotel – Rotel adds a bit of heat and more tomatoes to the dish.
- Cheddar cheese – Every bite of these stuffed shells is cheesy!
Much like tacos themselves, these Mexican stuffed shells can be customized to your heart’s desire. Here are a few easy switches to make.
- Use different meat. Ground pork, turkey, and chicken can all be used to make these.
- Switch up the cheese. A taco or Mexican cheese blend would be perfect here. You can also try Velveeta or nacho cheese for a smooth, creamy twist.
- Make it spicy. Use spicy salsa, add in some diced jalapenos or serrano peppers, or add a splash of hot sauce to kick up the heat level.
How to Make Taco Stuffed Shells
This Tex-Mex-inspired dinner comes together in just a few easy steps. You can have a hearty, filling dinner on the table in under an hour!
- Cook the pasta shells. Cook the shells according to the box instructions. Drain.
- Prepare the filling. Saute the ground beef until no longer pink. Drain any extra fat. Stir in the taco seasoning and water. Cook until the water is gone. Stir in 1 cup of both the salsa and cheese.
- Fill the shells. Fill each shell with the meat mixture and place it in a baking dish.
- Bake. Bake, covered, for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
Tips for Success
For the best taco stuffed shells, keep these tips in mind.
- Drain the taco meat well. If you don’t use a lean meat, you will likely have quite a bit of grease. Be sure to drain it all off before adding the other ingredients.
- Always prepare extra shells. If you can make stuffed shells without ripping at least one, I applaud you. I certainly can’t! So I always recommend making a few more than you think you’ll need.
- Allow to cool a bit before serving. When these taco stuffed shells come out of the oven, they will be super hot. I recommend letting them cool for at least 5 to 10 minutes before serving, just to make it easier.
There are a few options when it comes to serving these taco stuffed pasta shells. You can keep it super simple and just serve them as is or you can get creative and load them up just as you would regular tacos.
Try adding some fresh pico de gallo, guacamole or avocado slices, sour cream, olives, chopped green onions, lettuce, or whatever your other favorite taco toppings are.
If you just want to lighten up the dish a bit, a simple side salad will do the trick too.
How to Store & Freeze Leftovers
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave for the best results.
Taco stuffed shells also freeze beautifully, both before and after baking. In either case, place them in an airtight container or wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and foil. (Reusable aluminum pans are great for this.) Freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, bake from frozen until the cheese is hot and bubbly. Add more cheese and salsa if needed.
More Pasta Recipes:
- Spicy Chicken Chipotle Pasta
- Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Slow Cooker Olive Garden Chicken Pasta
- Meatball Pasta Bake
Taco Stuffed Shells
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 medium onion diced
- 3 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups salsa divided
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese divided
- 10 ounces Rotel tomatoes drained
- green onion (optional garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook the pasta shells in a large pot according to the directions on the box and drain.
- Add the ground beef to the pot and cook until no longer pink.
- Drain the fat.
- Add the taco seasoning and water, stir and cook until water is gone.
- Stir in 1 cup salsa and 1 cup cheese.
- Scoop into the jumbo pasta shells and top with the remaining salsa and cheese.
- Bake in a covered pan for 15 minutes.