Taco Pasta Bake


Taco Pasta Bake is a comforting casserole perfect for any night of the week. 



Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you had a nice weekend!

It was absolutely gorgeous ’round these parts, so Ben and I spent some time outdoors and went out to eat at a couple of fun places, including A Dong (actual name) where I tried Pho for the first time. It was PHOnomenol!


Sorry. We spent the majority of our lunch coming up with hilarious Pho (a Vietnamese noodle soup pronounced “fuh”) restaurant names and taglines, and that was pretty much the only thing clean enough to share on the blog. My Grandma reads this, y’all!


Anyways! My in-laws also got into town from the East coast, and are staying with us for the week, so we’ve been having fun catching up. :)


Most people are surprised to learn that entertaining actually turns me into a NERVOUS NELLY. Don’t get me wrong, I adore having relatives and friends stay over – making up the guest bed with fresh sheets, setting out fluffy towels, and stocking the Keurig carousel – but I panic when it comes time to think about what to feed everybody.


What if I make the one thing they hate? What if it tastes terrible? What if they get sick? Eek!


Don’t even get me started on throwing a dinner party. I’d rather have rickets!


So, what’s a desperate entertainer to do when she’s got a crowd to feed? Make a bake, of course!

DSC_0041 DSC_0046

Featuring homemade taco seasoning, lean ground beef, plus taco and pantry staples like tomato sauce, petite diced tomatoes, pasta, cheese, and tortilla chips, Taco Pasta Bake is filling, satisfying, and will have your guests feeling right at home.

DSC_0032 DSC_0033

While a bake or casserole isn’t ground-breaking or gourmet by any means, they’re total crowd pleasers. When’s the last time you saw someone disappointed by a hot, bubbly casserole being plunked down in front of ’em?


Better yet, Taco Pasta Bake is easy and ready in about 40 minutes with lots of downtime while the dish basically sautes, simmers, and bakes itself.

DSC_0038 DSC_0039

Start by sauteing lean ground beef (I used 90/10 and broke it up with a potato masher when it was still raw) with chopped onion, then stir in homemade taco seasoning, canned tomato sauce and petite diced tomatoes. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, then stir in shredded cheddar cheese and cooked macaroni shells.

DSC_0051 DSC_0052

Finally, stir in slightly spicy chopped green chilies, and frozen or fresh corn (no need to thaw, even!) then pour the mixture into a baking dish.

DSC_0054 DSC_0055

Bake for 10 minutes, top with crunchy crushed tortilla chips and a bit more cheddar cheese, then bake until the cheese is hot and bubbly, about another 10 minutes.


Top with fresh salsa, tomatoes, green onions, or sour cream. Now THIS is entertaining made easy!


Taco Pasta Bake

Print this recipe!

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

1lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup water
1 recipe homemade taco seasoning + 1/2 teaspoon salt
14.5oz can tomato sauce
14.5oz can petite diced tomatoes
few dashes hot sauce
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (frozen, fresh, or canned)
4oz can chopped green chilies
8oz macaroni shells, cooked and drained
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
Toppings: chopped tomatoes, salsa, sliced olives, green onions, sour cream


  1. Cook ground beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Drain, then return to the skillet. Add water, homemade taco seasoning, salt, tomato sauce, petite diced tomatoes, and hot sauce then stir to combine. Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile cook macaroni shells in salted, boiling water until just under al dente, then drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Turn stove off then add 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese to the tomato mixture and stir until smooth. Add corn, chilies, and cooked shells, then stir to combine. Pour mixture into a non-stick sprayed 8×8 baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. Top with crushed tortilla chips and remaining cheese then bake for 10 more minutes. Serve with toppings, if desired.


Zesty, cheesy, hearty – my inlaws and I each devoured a big bowl of bake for lunch.


The crushed tortilla chips on top were our favorite part. I used Tostitos Multigrain Scoops which are thicker and have a more satisfying crunch than regular tortilla chips. Highly recommend!


Believe it or not, another low-stress idea for entertaining is making homemade pizza! My pizza crust recipe is so fool-proof and easy that I know I can count on it to turn out every time. Then everyone can pick and choose what they want on their pie which means they’re (pretty much) guaranteed to love it.

I guess we’ll find out tonight though. I’ve got a few dough balls rising for supper as we speak! :D


Do you like entertaining and hosting?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Jill 08.06.2012

    I’ve been on this CRAZY Mexican kick for the past few weeks and this is perfect! Can’t wait to try it :)

  2. You really can’t go wrong with that blend of seasonings! So yummy!

  3. Nicole N 08.06.2012

    This looks delicious (and good for picky eaters)! I love entertaining, by my biggest fear is that no one will have anything to talk about, and we’ll all sit around in dead silence the entire time. It’s never happened before, but I can’t help worrying about it!

  4. STACY 08.06.2012

    This looks super yummy! I tried to pin it but it was apparently having difficulties. I can’t wait to try this – your recipes are always excellent.

  5. The boyfriend request Mexican night at least once a week – this clearly has to make it’s way into the rotation :-) Looks so good!

  6. I just pinned this and cannot wait to make it for my family! Looks perfect for a quick meal as things get busy again this fall. And I love the way you adjusted the recipe to keep it Clean. Glad to have discovered your blog….

  7. Fallon 08.06.2012

    Yum looks delicious! I’ve been on such a pasta kick too. I can’t wait for winter.

  8. Lindsey 08.06.2012

    Everyone loves Mexican! Especially me… :)

  9. No joke, I was just looking for Taco Pasta dish recipes. Too awesome!

    I love entertaining, especially during the fall/winter/football season!

  10. I’ve been seeing tons of taco pasta recipes on the web lately, yours looks delicious!! I love having people over, but it does stress me out beforehand. My husband knows to steer clear of me in the hours right before people come over :) Definitely something I need to work on, because I’d love to just relax and enjoy the process of preparing a nice meal for family/friends!

  11. Emily 08.06.2012

    Love your blog! It’s great to see HyVee and other “local” labels!!! Obviously, I’m also an Iowan.

  12. Andrea 08.06.2012

    Mexican is a weekly to twice weekly night in my house. Will have to try this soon, it looks great!

    I stress out like crazy about entertaining! I’d love to host a game night or dinner party but it always seems like so much more stress than fun.

  13. karenc 08.06.2012

    Mmmmmm…I pinned this one for sure!

  14. Kristen 08.06.2012

    Homemade taco seasoning! This dish sounds great. I think I’d use ground turkey instead as soon as there’s a cooler night ahead. Thanks!

  15. Mary 08.06.2012

    Vietnamese food is amazing, isn’t it? I just went for Pho last week! Mastering the chopsticks with noodle soup is difficult! The best I’ve ever had though was a traditional place in northern Thailand. Fresh spring rolls, but it’s done family style. All the ingredients come out and you assemble your own each to your liking. We were also able to make up our own dipping sauces. Spicy or peanuty or sweet! You should see if A Dong has something similar. Also, since traveling in Vietnam my husband keeps Dong (their currency) in his wallet just so he can say, “Is that Dong in my wallet?!”

  16. Laura 08.06.2012

    I made this tonight for dinner…it was a hit with my family!

  17. Michelle 08.06.2012

    Love your PHO-to on instagram hehe and this recipe looks delic:-)

  18. When I first started cooking in High School, I made something like this using Velveeta Shells and Cheese. Then I realized how bad Velveeta was so you and never made it again. This seems healthier and I’m sure my Fiance would love it too.

  19. Ahh good luck!! I hate cooking for a crowd too. I get all stressed about trying to make sure they are comfortable and have what they want and sometimes neglect what’s going on in the kitchen. The WORST is when they come in to talk to me while I’m cooking. How can I make eye contact, laugh when they tell me a funny story, and keep my roasted veggies from burning??? AH! Good luck this week lol

  20. Julie 08.07.2012

    Yum! Looks good and the best part about it is I know my boyfriend will eat it! He gets a little cranky when I try to cook vegetarian meals! Have fun with the in-laws :)

  21. LOVE this! Casseroles are so delicious, especially when they’re made with “real” ingredients. Tacos are one of my favorites, so this is totally up my alley.

  22. Trisha 08.07.2012

    I do love entertaining but feel that no matter how prepared I am, when the time comes I’m not as prepared as I’d like to be. I seem to always spend too much time on one project, leaving all of the others to be hurriedly put together as the guests are walking in the door.
    But with a dish like this, I don’t think you can go wrong. :)

  23. Julie 08.07.2012

    That’s so surprising that you get nervous about entertaining! Everything you post on the blog looks SO DELISH! I get pretty anxious about it, too, but I don’t cook much & am certainly not as comfortable in the kitchen as you are. I have a few go-to recipes, though, that I know I make well & seem to be crowd pleasers. It’s def rewarding when everyone raves & cleans their plates! :)

  24. Kelly Ratliff 08.07.2012

    I bet this would make a great crock pot recipe…any thoughts? :)

  25. I have nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award and One Versatile Blogger awards please check out my comments on your wonderful blog at http://browniepoint1.wordpress.com/

  26. I feel your pain. I’m always afraid that whatever I make won’t be enough and then I usually end up with tons of leftovers. Homemade pizza is a great idea. This taco bake looks delish!

  27. Rebecca 08.07.2012

    Aww, your recipes look delicious so I’m sure you’re a stellar hostess! I love entertaining and cooking for people, nothing delights me more than watching a crowd enjoy something from my kitchen. Plus, company gives me just the right motivation to get my apartment sparkly clean! ;-)

    Recently we had friends of ours over with two elementary aged daughters (very few of our friends have kids yet, so this was new territory for us!). I decided to make calzones–I bought Trader Joe’s pizza dough and supplied tons of toppings, and everyone made their own calzone! That way the girls could pick and choose, and wouldn’t end up with something they didn’t like. It was a big hit!

  28. Madison 08.07.2012

    Yum! I am going to try this recipe tomorrow night! Thank you so much!

  29. Barbara 08.07.2012

    I made this tonight for dinner … I tweaked it a lil by doubling The spice for my taste
    Buds ….only after making by the measuremts from the recipe and tasting ! Very …. will make again! Might even try it with. Crumbled Doritos ! Thanks for posting this delish recipe !

  30. […] blogosphere during the past seven days. It’s The Week in Wellness. Enjoy! Check out this Taco Pasta Bake from […]

  31. Lele 08.09.2012

    There is a pho place near me called Pho King. That is their actual name that the state of Virginia allowed them to name themselves.

  32. […] Taco Pasta Bake, courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats. […]

  33. Just made this tonight with my kiddos for dinner….. SO great!!! It’s definitely going to be a regular request around here. :-)

  34. […] – Taco Pasta Bake (omitted the cheese, used gluten-free elbow noodles, added salsa and avocado to the top after […]

  35. […] Taco Pasta Bake: Iowa Girl Eats […]

  36. Samuel Adams 09.30.2012

    Omg.. I literally just made this using your recipe. LOVE it. Thank you so much!!! I did omit the chips on top–but everything else is there! :-) going to take it over to a friends house for dinner tonight, and am sure it will be a HIT.

  37. […] Taco Pasta Bake: Iowa Girl Eats […]

  38. […] I used the recipe from Iowa Girl Eats for inspiration, but tweaked it a bit, to make it my own. Here is the original recipe. […]

Leave a Comment