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Cheesy Taco Pasta Shells

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Pasta shells mixed with ground beef, enchilada sauce, and shredded Mexican cheese for an easy and kid friendly pasta dish.

Overhead view of taco pasta on a white plate.

I realize this isn’t an authentic Mexican dish by any means, but sometimes I like to branch out a little and make recipes that my family enjoys eating.

If you have picky eaters, then you feel me! Try this kid-friendly recipe for Crispy Taquitos.

I’m using some shortcuts, like store-bought enchilada sauce to make this Taco Pasta Shells come together quickly for a busy weeknight.

Ingredients Needed

Pasta, Ground Beef, Taco Seasoning, Cream Cheese, Red Enchilada Sauce, and Shredded Mexican Cheese.

Pasta– I’m using a medium pasta shell, but a different pasta shape like elbows or penne work as well.

Other options are a protein pasta like Banza or a Gluten Free Pasta. Prepare the pasta according to the package then add it to the beef mixture.

Ingredients in seperate bowls, pasta, ground beef, shredded cheese, cream cheese, and enchilada sauce.

Ground Beef- If you want a leaner options, try using Ground Turkey or omit the meat for a meatless version.

Taco Seasoning (Makes 1 Tbsp):

  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • half teaspoon Salt
  • half teaspoon Black Pepper
  • half teaspoon Onion Powder
  • half teaspoon Garlic Powder

Cream Cheese– I used half a block or 4 oz of Cream Cheese. Since I’ve been removing dairy from my diet, I’ve tried Vegan cream cheese, and think it’s a great substitute for a dairy free version.

Red Enchilada Sauce– This is my recipe for Homemade Enchilada Sauce. But for a quick option I prefer this store bought enchilada sauce.

Red enchilada sauce in a glass mason jar.

Shredded Cheese– Adding a shredded Mexican cheese blend at the end, makes this Taco Pasta shells extra cheesy. The heat from the pasta melts it perfectly.

How to Make

Start by Cooking the pasta according to the package directions. Use the times for al dente pasta. Most alternative pastas will have you rinse after cooking, so be sure to read the package directions.

While pasta is cooking, brown ground beef in a large pot, I used my cast iron skillet.

Pasta in a white skillet

Add taco seasoning, cubed cream cheese, and enchilada sauce. Mix till everything is combined.

Then add cooked pasta and the shredded cheese. Combine everything and serve with extra toppings of avocado, diced tomatoes, or sour cream.

Can the pasta be reheated?

Absolutely! If you have leftovers, store taco pasta without toppings in the fridge up to 4 days.

Up close view of small pasta shells, ground beef, diced avocado, tomato, and sour cream on top.

Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top. If the pasta is too dry, add a few splashes of milk to get it nice and saucy again.

Try this recipe for Linguine with Clams and Chorizo

Overhead view of taco pasta on a white plate with a gold fork on the side.

Cheesy Taco Pasta Recipe

Pasta shells mixed with ground beef, enchilada sauce, and shredded Mexican cheese for an easy and kid friendly pasta dish.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8



  • Cook pasta shells to al dente according to package directions.
  • Brown ground beef in a large skillet or Dutch Oven. Season beef with Taco Seasoning, and add cubed cream cheese. Combine until cheese is melted then add enchilada sauce and combine.
  • Once pasta shells are cooked, ladle with a slotted spoon into the ground beef mixture. The pasta water will help it thicken.
  • Turn off the heat, add shredded Mexican cheese blend, and combine until cheese is melted. If pasta seems to dry, add ¼ cup of milk to make it creamier.
  • Serve with optional toppings: Tomatoes, Avocado, Green Onion, Cilantro, Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream.



Leftovers will store in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Reheat on the stove or microwave and add a few splashes of milk to make pasta creamier when reheated.
Recipe for Homemade Enchilada Sauce


Calories: 386kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 19gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 454mgPotassium: 264mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 501IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 124mgIron: 2mg

Nutritional information is provided as an estimate only and depends on ingredients and amounts used. Thai Caliente makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.

Keyword Cheesy Taco Pasta, Ground Beef Pasta, Taco Pasta Shells
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