One Pot Taco Mac and Cheese is the perfect blend of seasoned ground beef, pasta, cheese and your favorite taco toppings all rolled into one fantastic dish. It’s fast, easy and ready in under 30 minutes!
If one pan meals are your thing too, have I got a treat for you. This One Pan Taco Macaroni and Cheese is the perfect blend of spices and cheesy pasta goodness. It’s one dish that your whole family is sure to love! You should also try out our One Pot Pizza Pasta, One Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice and One Pot Creamy Chicken and Noodles!
One Pan Taco Mac and Cheese
One pan meals are perfect for busy families. They cook in under 30 minutes and use just one pan for easy clean-up. Be sure to check out all of my one pan meals.
When this meal was coming together, I wasn’t sure what my family was going to think. But let me tell you, my daughter LOVED it! She had two helpings and even asked to take the leftovers to preschool for lunch the next day. Lots of cheese and taco seasoning make this a warm and comforting meal that your whole family is sure to enjoy.
This dish calls for ground beef, onion and garlic, seasoned generously with taco seasoning, as well as 2 cups of dry macaroni, beef broth, water, and diced cherry tomatoes. I considered using salsa, but really wanted the taco flavors to come through, rather than the tomato and spice. I opted for fresh cherry tomatoes because I really like the way they hold up in the one pan meals, and the sweetness they add to a spicier dish, like my One Pan Spicy Lemon Chicken Pasta. They are also not as overpowering of a tomato flavor as the canned tomatoes.
What is a One Pot Meal?
One Pot meals are an easy way to completely simplify your dinnertime routine. They are warm and comforting like a casserole, but require minimal prep and clean up and just about 30 minutes to make. You just need a pot or a pan to cook in, plus maybe a knife and cutting board for chopping ingredients. Maybe a measuring cup or two. That’s just a few dishes to wash! One Pot Meals typically include a protein, starch and veggies all rolled into one delicious dish making it a full and complete meal. I’ll usually add a big green salad to round things out but that’s not always necessary.
Here are the tools that I use:
How to Make One Pan Taco Mac and Cheese
Let’s get to cooking some deliciously creamy Taco Mac and Cheese!
- The first steps are to cook the ground beef with the onion and garlic. I scooped the meat onto a paper towel covered plate to drain it, but you could also just mop up the grease with some paper towels. Leaving a little bit is ok and just adds to the flavor.
- Next you’ll add the beef broth and water, pasta, tomatoes and more taco seasoning. I use taco seasoning a lot and sometimes will make my own but I often just use a packet seasoning or the Ortega Taco Seasoning which comes in a larger container so you can use as much or as little as you need.
- Once the pasta and meat mixture is finished cooking, about 15-20 minutes. If there is still too much liquid in the pan, just turn up the heat a bit and stir the pasta as the liquid evaporates. A little bit is ok though, as it will help to form the sauce once you add the cheese. You’re going to add a whole bunch of that shredded goodness to the pan and stir it until its nice and melted. Place the cover on the pan for a few minutes to let it melt completely.
- Once the cheese is completely melted, garnish with diced tomatoes and green onion.
Doesn’t that look amazing?
Can I make Taco Mac and Cheese with Chicken?
Absolutely! If you want to use chicken instead of ground beef, just cut chicken breasts into small pieces and cook in place of the ground beef. You just need to brown the chicken, not cook it all the way through. Then proceed with adding the pasta, liquid, etc.
Another way to change it up would be with different types of cheese. A white cheddar would be delicious or even a gruyere or pepper jack.
Like I mentioned this is a full and complete meal in one, so you could really just serve it on it’s own and be fine for four people. If you want to stretch it a little further, add a green salad and maybe some chips and guacamole or homemade salsa. I like to garnish with more fresh tomatoes and sliced green onions.
What to do with leftovers
Store leftover Taco Macaroni and Cheese in an airtight container in the fri
dge for up to 3-5 days. Reheat in the microwave.
If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to check out:
- Cheesy Smoked Sausage and Pasta Skillet
- Spicy Lemon Chicken Pasta with Tomatoes
- Tortellini and Smoked Sausage
- Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Skillet
One Pan Taco Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 cup diced white onion about 1 small
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoon Taco Seasoning divided in half
- 1/2 pound small, dry pasta about 2 1/2 cups
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese about 6 ounces
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes diced, plus some for garnish if desired
- thinly sliced green onions for garnish if desired
- In a 12-inch skillet or a 3-quart pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the onions until slightly soft; 2 minutes. Add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds before adding the ground beef and 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning. Break up the beef with your spatula. Cook until beef is no longer pink. Drain and return to the pan.
- Add water, broth, pasta, diced cherry tomatoes, and another tablespoon of taco seasoning.
- Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring twice to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove cover, increase heat to medium and stir pasta until most of the liquid is gone. (Note, if the liquid is already absorbed this step is unnecessary).
- Turn off heat and add the shredded cheese, reserving a handful for topping. Stir until cheese is completely melted. Top with remaining cheese and cover the pan, letting it sit for 5 minutes to allow cheese to melt completely.
- Divide into bowls, and garnish with diced tomatoes and green onions. Other optional garnishes include cilantro, sour cream, avocado, olives or crushed tortilla chips.