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Taco Stuffed Shells are a family favorite dinner made with jumbo pasta shells, taco seasoned ground beef filling, and topped with enchilada sauce and gooey cheese! All your favorite taco flavors inside tender pasta shells. Serve with your favorite taco toppings!

This recipe takes a classic Mexican Food and reimagines it into a pasta favorite. For more taco-inspired recipes be sure and try this Taco RingLayered Taco Dip, and Taco Casserole

A pan of stuffed shells that have been baked

Taco Stuffed Shells Recipe (Family Favorite Casserole Dish)

Switch up taco night and make these gooey cheesy taco stuffed shells for a family favorite dinner idea.

Normally my kids love traditional tacos for Taco Tuesday but sometimes I like to switch it up and do something different. These stuffed shells combine two of the best dinner options – pasta + tacos!

Serve them with all your favorite taco toppings for a delicious dinner that everyone is sure to love.

Ingredients Needed To Make Taco Shells

  1. Jumbo Shell Pasta
  2. Lean Ground Beef : I use 93/7 ground beef when cooking this shell recipe. 
  3. Taco Seasoning Packet : I use a packet of mild taco seasoning but you could use regular, spicy, or cheesy taco seasoning. 
  4. Crushed Tomatoes : One 15 ounce can is what you will need to mix into the ground beef mixture. If you can’t find a 15 ounce can then buy a larger can (29 oz) and measure out 1 cup + 3/4 cup of crushed tomatoes. 
  5. Enchilada Sauce : I used red enchilada sauce but green chili enchilada sauce can be used also. 
  6. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  7. Favorite Taco Toppings : Chopped Roma tomato, shredded lettuce, sour cream, chopped cilantro, sliced green onions, and fresh salsa or all great options for topping the shells with. 
Ingredients for this recipe

How To Make Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells (Full Instructions & Recipe Card Below)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. 

Cook the jumbo shell pasta in boiling water according to package instructions. You can cook to al dente because they will cook slightly more while baking in the oven, or for softer pasta cook 1-2 minutes past the al dente time. When done, drain the pasta water and place the cooked jumbo shells on top of parchment paper or wax paper on the countertop. If the shells are left in the pot they will stick together. 

Process images

While the shells are cooking prepare the ground beef filling. In a large skillet pan, over medium-high heat, cook and crumble the ground beef until it’s no longer pink. Drain the excess grease from the skillet. Add the taco seasoning, crushed tomatoes, and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Stir together until combined and the cheese is melted. 

Process images
Process images

Spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish (about 1/4 cup). Stuff each cooked shell with a scoop of the ground beef mixture and arrange the stuffed shells in rows, in a single layer, over top the enchilada sauce. 

Process images

Cover the shells with the remaining enchilada sauce and the remaining 1 cup shredded cheese. 

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning and to help the shells cook evenly. 

Process images

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the shells are hot throughout, and the cheese is melted and bubbly. If wanted, remove the foil for the last 5-10 minutes to allow the cheese to brown slightly. 

Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving. 

Process images

Garnish each serving of shells with your favorite taco toppings – shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, avocado, fresh cilantro, sliced green onions, and sour cream. 

Process images
Process images

How To Store Leftovers

Allow the leftovers to cool closer to room temperature, which will help prevent excess moisture in the storage container, transfer the taco stuffed shells to an airtight container. You can also cover the shells with plastic wrap if storing them on a plate. Store in the fridge for 2-3 days. 

The easiest way to reheat the stuffed shells is inside the microwave. Cover the shells with a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying out while reheating. 

Close up of taco shells

Variations & Substitution Ideas

  • Ground Chicken or Ground Turkey : Instead of ground beef try using ground chicken or ground turkey to ‘lighten up’ the recipe a bit. If using ground chicken you may want to add some olive oil to the skillet pan cause ground chicken is very lean and needs something to cook in. 
  • Shredded Cheese : Use any variety of cheese that you want! Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack cheese, Cheddar, Colby Jack, or even a Fiesta or Mexican cheese works. 
  • Make It Spicy! : Use a packet of spicy taco seasoning, add some chili powder or red cayenne pepper in with the taco seasoning and crushed tomatoes. You can also add some chopped jalapeños and/or some hot taco sauce into the taco filling.
A baking dish with the pasta shells inside and a serving spoon.

Make It Ahead of Time

You can easily prepare this stuffed shells casserole ahead of time. Simply follow the directions but instead of baking, cover the dish tightly with tin foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake it. Sometimes I find that the enchilada sauce can thicken in the bottom of the dish and on top of the shells, so I simply pour 1-2 tablespoons of water into the bottom of the dish to help steam the pasta while it’s baking. 

Baking dish of shells with side dishes behind it.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with taco toppings of your choice! Shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, Pico de Gallo, salsa, guacamole, avocado slices, black olives, chopped cilantro, taco sauce, hot sauce, sour cream, sliced green onions, jalapeños, are all great options. 

Great side dishes include this Easy Mexican RiceCilantro Lime Rice, or this Avocado Corn & Tomato Salad.

A serving plate of taco stuffed shells with taco toppings.

More Mexican Food Family Fave Dinners

Southwest Chicken Pasta : A cheesy, creamy meal with tender pasta, chicken, beans, and corn in a creamy cheese sauce. 

Fiesta Chicken Casserole : More noodles, chicken, and beans! An easy one dish casserole recipe that is the perfect way to use up leftover chicken from the fridge or a rotisserie chicken. 

Creamy Ground Beef Flautas : Rolled up beef and bean flautas that bake in the oven and get crispy and cheesy. 

Baked Double Decker Tacos : Create this iconic favorite at home with flour tortillas, beans, and taco filled corn shells. 

Crockpot Shredded Chicken Tacos : Tender shredded chicken that cooks in the crockpot and makes for the best taco filling. 

Ground Turkey Taco Meat : This easy taco meat is made with ground turkey and black beans. Switch up traditional taco Tuesday night and make this delicious variation on taco filling. 

A pan of stuffed shells that have been baked
Together As Family Logo

Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells


Author Jessica – Together as Family
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6
Taco Stuffed Shells are a family favorite dinner made with jumbo pasta shells, taco seasoned ground beef filling, and topped with enchilada sauce and gooey cheesy! All your favorite taco flavors inside tender pasta shells. Serve with your favorite taco toppings!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 box (12 oz) jumbo shells
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 packet seasoning
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (10 oz) enchilada sauce divided
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese divided

Toppings For Serving

  • shredded lettuce
  • chopped tomatoes, pico de gallo, fresh salsa
  • guacamole, avocado slices
  • sour cream
  • chopped cilantro, sliced green onions

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375℉. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. 
  • Cook the jumbo shell pasta in boiling water according to package instructions. When done, drain the pasta water and place the cooked jumbo shells on top of parchment paper or wax paper on the countertop. If the shells are left in the pot they will stick together. 
    * You can cook to al dente because they will cook slightly more while baking in the oven, or for softer pasta cook 1-2 minutes past the al dente time.
    * I like to add 1-2 teaspoons of kosher salt into the boiling water to help flavor the pasta shells while cooking.
    1 box (12 oz) jumbo shells
  • While the shells are cooking prepare the ground beef filling. In a large skillet pan, over medium-high heat, cook and crumble the ground beef until it's no longer pink. Drain the excess grease from the skillet. Add the taco seasoning, crushed tomatoes, and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Stir together until combined and the cheese is melted. 
    1 pound ground beef, 1 packet seasoning, 1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes, 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish (about 1/4 cup). Stuff each cooked shell with a scoop of the ground beef mixture and arrange the stuffed shells in rows, in a single layer, over top the enchilada sauce. 
    1 can (10 oz) enchilada sauce
  • Cover the shells with the remaining enchilada sauce and the remaining 1 cup shredded cheese. 
  • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning and to help the shells cook evenly. 
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the shells are hot throughout, and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
    * If wanted, remove the foil for the last 5-10 minutes to allow the cheese to brown slightly. 
  • Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving. 
  • Garnish each serving of shells with your favorite taco toppings – shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, avocado, fresh cilantro, sliced green onions, and sour cream.

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