One Pan Taco Macaroni and Cheese

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 PastaOne Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice and One Pot Creamy Chicken and Noodles!

A close up overhead shot of a pot of taco mac and cheese

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:

A close up of a spoonful of taco mac and cheese being stirred in a large pot

How to Make One Pan Taco Mac and Cheese

Let’s get to cooking some deliciously creamy Taco Mac and Cheese!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Once the cheese is completely melted, garnish with diced tomatoes and green onion.

Doesn’t that look amazing?

A large pot with taco mac and cheese. A wooden spoon lifts a serving up

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.

Serving Suggestions

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.

A bowl of cheesy taco macaroni with two forks and sliced green onion garnish

If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to check out:

For a complete list of my dinner recipes, go here. For a complete list of recipes on the site, be sure to go here.

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One Pan Taco Macaroni and Cheese

One Pot Taco Mac and Cheese is the perfect blend of seasoned ground beef, pasta, cheese and your favorite taco toppings all in one quick and easy dish.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 6 servings
Calories 450kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 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 ½ 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 450kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 33gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 86mgSodium: 663mgPotassium: 637mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 841IUVitamin C: 21mgCalcium: 308mgIron: 3mg
Keyword taco mac and cheese

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One Pan Taco Mac and Cheese

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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Comments

  1. Delicious! All of my teenage girls loved it. I used a can of petite diced tomatoes instead of fresh, added a diced red pepper and omitted the beef broth and used 1 1/2 c of water instead. It was perfect to make on a busy sports night. Thank you!

  2. Love it so easy
    Added kidney beans
    Used diced can tomatoes
    That is all I have
    Cooking now
    Love the smell

  3. New family favorite! We omitted the cherry tomatoes for the little one and swapped the beef broth for chicken broth because that’s what we had on hand. We will make again!

  4. IT WAS GOOD BUT. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND ADDING SEVERAL HERBS AND SEASONINGS AND ONIONS TO BEEF TO BROWN, THEN DRAINING THE BEEF. ALL THE GREAT JUICE FROM THE SEASONINGS AND ONIONS DRAIN WITH THE FAT FROM THE BEEF. I HAVE NOTICED SEVERAL SITES THAT DO THIS WAY. TRY BROWNING THE BEEF, DRAIN THE FAT, THEN ADD ALL THE OTHER INGREDIENTS CALLED FOR. NO LOSS OF FLAVOR.

    1. I hear what you’re saying. The first tablespoon of taco seasoning helps to flavor the meat while it’s cooking, and despite draining some of the liquid will stay behind. Then more taco seasoning is added to flavor the sauce.

  5. I made this last night for my parents and I. I used a can of Rotel tomatoes. Loved how easy it was! Good taco flavor too!

  6. Made this on the weekend, was skeptical at first but was absoultely delishous! Recommended it to my sister 🙂

  7. You did not say to cook the pasta before adding this to the meat, I did not cook the pasta it has been cooking on low heat for 30 minutes and the pasta is not cooked yet!!! Did you omit cooking the pasta in your recipe? Help! Very disappointed!!!! I would give this recipe a zero or less!

    1. The pasta is NOT cooked before adding it to pan. Everything cooks together with the meat, liquid and dry pasta. I’m sorry that it didn’t work out for you, Did you follow the directions exactly as written?

    2. Then you didn’t do something right. I’ve made this half a dozen times and it comes out perfectly every time. There are many other dishes I make where you add the pasta in and cook everything together. Following the directions to a T makes a huge difference. It’s definitely not the recipes fault as much as it is the person who cooked it. Doesn’t seem like anyone else had any problems.

  8. I made this recipe as is, except I used one large white onion and three garlic cloves. I love the one pan thing and the taco seasoning and will make it again, but with a few modifications. I would ditch the beef broth (which gives it a “dinner in a box” taste) and the cherry tomatoes and replace both with a can of diced tomatoes. I would also add some chopped bell peppers. Lastly, I would add some black pepper and fresh cilantro as garnish. It’s a fun recipe, it leaves a lot of room for improvisation.

    1. The whole recipe will feed 4-6 people depending on how much you serve each person. Serving size is probably around 1 1/2 cups.

  9. Have you tried leaving out the beef or adding some black beans or something instead? I’d like to make a vegetarian version of this.