Are you a fan of both tacos and pasta? Then look no further than our cheesy taco pasta recipe.
This cheesy dish is the midway point between two world-famous delicacies. Although a ground beef and tomato sauce pasta, it tastes like a classic taco thanks to an array of spices. Let’s have a look at how to make this unique combination.
Is Taco Pasta Healthy?
Yes, this cheesy taco pasta is healthy. Believe it or not, a dish can be both healthy and cheesy.
Each serving of taco pasta contains 495 calories, an equitable amount for a dish with cheese.
We also adjusted the ingredients in this pasta to maintain the levels of saturated fat and sodium at 9.4 g and 571 mg, within the limits of our healthy guidelines.
Beef provides 28.7 g of protein, which, aside from supporting lean muscle mass, may play a role in preventing sarcopenia. Also, beta-alanine in beef may help to improve your exercise performance.
Ingredients You'll Need
Conchiglie, little pockets with ridged surfaces, is the pasta of choice for this recipe.
Conchiglie has a very appealing look, and its hollow shape means every mouthful of this dish is full of the rich sauce.
The main protein in this recipe, ground beef also gives the dish that authentic deep meaty flavor. It works extremely well for pasta dishes like Baked Spaghetti and Spaghetti Casserole, try them!
In this recipe, the beef is cooked first alongside caramelized garlic, so all of its flavors are unleashed before the other ingredients are added (pasta and sauce) allowing them to absorb its richness.
The seasoning is what distinguishes taco pasta from other pasta dishes. The selection of spices includes garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne powder, Cajun seasoning, paprika, cumin, oregano, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.
These spices are mostly vegetable-based lending the dish a host of natural flavors: it’s salty, herby, spicy, a bit bitter, and sour.
This is a tomato-based sauce. We use our homemade tomato sauce with chicken broth as the base. The sauce gets its flavors from the seasoning and the essence of beef and tomato paste.
It’s a rich and meaty sauce, hence the use of shell pasta. This sauce is somewhat similar to the classic ground beef and tomato sauce, but the seasoning takes it to a new level.
We use shredded cheddar cheese for this pasta. Cheddar is a common topping in taco bars, so it should be a part of this recipe.
Cheddar cheese has a sharp and bright taste and smooth texture
We sprinkle some parsley and cilantro as the finishing touches for this dish. These two herbs add fresh flavors to a cheesy and rich pasta, creating a beautiful contrast.
1. Types of Pasta You Can Use
This pasta dish has a rich, meaty, and chunky sauce, so hollow-shaped pasta is the go-to choice for this recipe.
Aside from conchiglie or shell pasta, which we used in our recipe, you can replace it with rigatoni, rotini, penne (used in our Rasta Pasta recipe,) or macaroni. If you want your version to look different, farfalle (bowtie pasta) would be a fun option.
2. What Else Can You Add to This Pasta Recipe?
This taco pasta is a hearty dish, but you can add more ingredients to it. Customizing this dish is similar to making a taco. Some popular taco toppings that can work well with this dish are grilled corn, olives, or jalapeños.
How to Store and Reheat the Leftovers
Taco pasta can be refrigerated for up to three days in airtight containers or resealable Ziplock bags. Using the same containers or heavy-duty freezer bags, you can freeze this dish and increase its shelf life to two months.
The microwave or skillet will help you reheat this pasta. Add some water to your pasta to ensure that it stays moist while reheating.
What to Serve With
Yes, you guessed it – the same sides you would normally serve with these two popular dishes.
Some popular side dishes that blend well with the flavors of tacos are coleslaw, grilled vegetables, or tortilla chips with salsa.
All sorts of salads can accompany a pasta dish. Use your imagination and give different vegetable combos a try or stick to your personal favorites. Baked vegetables like asparagus, carrots, or potatoes are also great options to add more fiber to this pasta.
Finely chop or mince the garlic, parsley, cilantro, and oregano.
Conchiglie takes 10-12 minutes to cook. There isn’t an exact number because it depends on the package instructions for your pasta and the thickness of the shells.
We recommend cooking pasta al dente: About one or two minutes earlier than the package instructions, take a bite. If it’s tender but still a bit chewy, it’s good to go. Strain the pasta and let it rest.
Place a pan on medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp of garlic. Stir for 30 seconds. Add 14 oz of ground beef and continue stirring for 2 minutes.
Add the spices: 1/4 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp cayenne powder, 1 tsp Worcestershire, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp Cajun seasoning, and 1 tsp lime juice. Mix well for 30 seconds. Add 1 tbsp tomato paste.
Add 1/2 cup of homemade tomato sauce and 1 cup of chicken broth. Let it simmer for 5 minutes on low heat.
Add 12 oz cooked shell pasta and stir with the sauce for 2 more minutes.
Take it off the heat.
Sprinkle 2 oz cheddar cheese, 2 tbsp parsley, and 1/4 cup cilantro.
Serve and enjoy.
How to Make Cheesy Taco Pasta
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 495Calories from Fat 243
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 9.4g
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Vitamin A 1244IU
Vitamin C 13mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Natalie Butler is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a passion to help others live their best life through food, fitness, safer beauty and a healthy lifestyle. She has expertise with a variety of diets and diseases and believes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for health.
a mouthwatering fusion of Mexican and Italian flavors!