Who says homemade pasta dishes have to be full of marinara sauce and Italian flavors…my taco stuffed shells is a fresh take on your typical pasta recipe. These shells are stuffed to bursting with flavorful taco meat and topped with taco sauce and cheese. It’s all the best parts of a taco without the shell!
Your family will love this unique twist on tacos and pasta! Taco stuffed shells couldn’t be simpler to make and pulls together in less than 30 minutes.
So let’s get started!
This Taco Stuffed Shells recipe has so many great things about it! I’m crazy about anything taco, and these shells satisfy my taco craving. Here are a few more Taco Stuffed Shells best features!
- Simple to assemble
- The taco flavor
- Fun twist on traditional tacos
- Melted cheese layer on top
One of the best things about this taco pasta recipe is that it is super simple! Here are a few tips to make it even easier!
Cooking the Pasta: Since this is going to bake in sauce, make sure you don’t overcook your pasta. Al dente is plenty. It will soften as it bakes in the taco sauce and soak up tons of flavor at the same time!
Allow to cool: Stuffing hot shells with hot meat can be hard on the fingers! I suggest rinsing the pasta to help it cool, and you can put the meat in the fridge if you’re pressed for time. Just make sure everything is cool enough to handle safely!
Ground meat: if you prefer, you can use any ground meat instead of beef. Turkey is a good alternative!
Bring the heat: If you want to spice it up a bit, use spicy salsa and taco sauce. You can also add a diced jalapeno to your meat mixture for a little extra zip!
I suggest baking and storing in a glass pan due to the tomato-based sauce. Cover your dish with a tight-fitting lid or cling wrap.
Can You Freeze This?
Taco stuffed shells will freeze best before baking, but leftovers will freeze well enough to enjoy later. Assemble according to the directions up to the point of baking and hold off on the cheese. Cool completely before you wrap it with cling wrap and a foil layer and put it in the freezer.
To reheat, let it thaw for a day in the fridge if you are able. Bake as directed and don’t forget to add the cheese!
Make Ahead Tips
Taco stuffed shells is a great make-ahead meal. Assemble the shells as directed but hold the taco sauce and cheese. Store it in the baking dish for up to a couple of days in the fridge.
Top with taco sauce and cheese as directed. It will come out as bubbly and delicious as if you made it that day!
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
Leftovers will keep up to 3 days in the fridge– if they last that long! The stuffed shells reheat nicely for a next day lunch or leftover night!
Like with most pasta recipes, the variations on taco stuffed shells are limited only by your imagination. It’s a versatile recipe that is just waiting for you to put your spin on it! Here are some ideas to inspire you!
What Other Pasta Dishes With Ground Beef That I Can Try?
Ground beef, pasta, and red sauce have been a classic trio for decades. Taco stuffed shells is a great way to change it up, but if you’re looking for something a little more traditional, try my Beefaroni. It’s a hearty, simple pasta bake that takes me back to mama’s kitchen.
If you’re looking for something with a little ‘WOW’ factor, try my Ragu Bolognese. Its meaty sauce is thick and rich and tastes like it came out of a gourmet Italian restaurant!
Can I Make This Without Meat?
Not in the mood for meat? Perhaps you’ve got a craving for a meatless dish like the classic cacio e pepe? Instead of trying to make meatless taco stuffed shells meatless (which just won’t be very successful since the meat is the star of the show), I suggest trying my Lemon Garlic Pasta. This creamy, non-meat pasta dish is full of flavor and hearty enough for a meal.
Can I Use A Smaller Type of Pasta?
You can certainly use a smaller pasta like rigatoni or mostaccioli. Of course, you can’t stuff them, so I would suggest mixing the pasta, salsa, and meat together, pasta bake style. Top with a layer of taco sauce and bake. Add the cheese as directed and let it get melted and bubbly. It’ll be a taco bake like none other!
What Other Type Of Pasta I Can Stuff The Taco With?
I like jumbo shells because they are super easy to fill. You can also use cannelloni or manicotti noodles. These tubular noodles might be a little tricky to fill with the meat mixture. They are typically filled with a pastry bag and a soft cheese filling. You can certainly give it a go, but I’d recommend sticking with the jumbo shells!
Can I Use A Different Type Of Pasta?
You can always experiment with recipes, but I don’t think pasta like Fettuccine or Spaetzle would be good options for this recipe. Taco meat really isn’t saucy, and I don’t think it would coat long noodles very well. Of course, who knows, taco spaghetti might be the next big thing!
Taco Stuffed Shells
- 1 heaping tablespoon salt
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 package taco seasoning
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 14-18 from one box large pasta shells
- 16 ounces salsa
- 1 cup taco sauce
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 cup Monterey jack cheese shredded
- 3 green onions chopped
- 1 cup sour cream
- Preheat oven to 350° degrees.
- In a large pot add 4 quarts of water and 1 heaping tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, in a frying pan cook ground beef; add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside and cool completely.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta shells according to directions; drain. Set shells out individually on cutting board/baking sheet so that they don’t stick together.
- Pour salsa on bottom of 9×13 baking dish. Stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place shells in 9×13 pan open side up. Cover shells with taco sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, add shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes, with the foil removed. Top with green onions. Serve with sour cream.
There’s nothing that will bring the family crowding around the table like a homemade pasta meal. They’re simple to make, feed a crowd, and of course, are absolutely delish! Here are several more of my best Homemade Pasta Recipes!
Taco Stuffed Shells create pockets of taco heaven in each delicious jumbo shell. The generous topping of taco sauce and cheese finish compliment it beautifully. It’s so easy to make- which is good since your family is going to be requesting it again and again!
I know you’re going to love the taco flavors and fun presentation. Be sure to let me know how it works for you!