Tacos and pasta are my go-to quick and easy dinners. Why it took me so long to arrive at easy Taco Pasta—a creamy, cheesy, and nutritious mashup that combines the best of the two—I can’t say for certain, but I’m happy to be making up for lost time, especially since this healthy pasta recipe cooks in ONE PAN.

A skillet of creamy taco pasta

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If you didn’t previously believe that tacos and pasta were meant to be together (like tacos and salad in Taco Salad), I’m going to implore you to leave your skepticism aside.

A cheesy blend of whole grain pasta noodles, ground chicken, fresh veggies, and other taco-centric ingredients like spices, salsa, and black beans, this entire dinner cooks in the same skillet, including the noodles.

  • Like pasta, it comes together fast. Hustle and this recipe is ready in 30 minutes. It also reheats beautifully, meaning you can cook it tonight and enjoy the leftovers later in the week.
  • Like tacos, it’s enduringly appealing and tailor-made for dolling up with all of your favorite fixings, like avocados, cilantro, and sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt, our preferred healthy swap).
  • Like tacos AND pasta, it’s an easy meal that is met with 100% enthusiasm and 0% complaints.

Want to cook something easy, quick, and delicious that will earn the approval of every member of your household?

This million-dollar cheesy Mexican pasta is the recipe for you!

Easy taco pasta recipe in a skillet

5 Star Review

“We made this tonight and it was a huge hit! Seriously one of the best meals we’ve ever made, and it was so easy!!”

— Kayla —

How to Make Taco Pasta

Despite being a quick and healthy taco pasta, this recipe is anything but boring.

  • The protein-rich black beans and chicken will leave you full and happy.
  • The fresh vegetables and whole grains will leave you feeling good for treating yourself to a wholesome meal.
  • The addition of Mexican spices, tomatoes, and salsa makes this pasta taste well-rounded and intentional, not like a dinner cooked in a moment of tired desperation (even though that’s what it’s here for, if you need it to be).

The Ingredients

  • Ground Chicken. Ground chicken is a tasty, lean way to pack this dish full of protein. It helps make the pasta more hearty and satisfying.

Substitution Tip

You can also make this into a ground turkey or ground beef taco pasta.

Prefer a vegetarian taco pasta? Omit the meat. Add one additional can of black beans, or try adding pinto beans for variety.

  • Veggies. I incorporated onion and bell peppers to boost the pasta’s nutrition and add flavor.
  • Spices. A mix of chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, salt, and pepper give this pasta its taco-like flare.
  • Salsa. Use any prepared salsa you enjoy. As written, this recipe is not particularly spicy, but if you are nervous, be sure to make taco pasta with salsa that’s mild.
  • Tomato Sauce. Acts as a liquid to help the pasta cook and becomes part of the sauce.
  • Pasta. I used twirly pasta (rotini) for the recipe, but any “short” pasta will work well. Try this as a taco pasta penne, shells, or rigatoni. To make the recipe more healthy, I recommend whole wheat pasta, as it is higher in protein and nutrients than regular white pasta.
  • Black Beans. Creamy black beans help make the pasta more satisfying and delicious.
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese. Forget taco pasta with Velveeta! Real-deal sharp cheddar cheese ensures we have a cheesy, creamy taco pasta that’s less processed.

Taco Pasta Toppings

This Mexican pasta is delicious as it is, but we like to doctor ours up with a variety of tasty toppings.

  • Sliced avocado
  • Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Jalapeño slices
  • Extra salsa
  • Queso (try my Vegan Queso for a healthy version)

The Directions

  1. Brown the chicken with the onion and bell peppers.
  2. Stir in the garlic and spices. Add the water, salsa, tomato sauce, pasta, and beans. Cover the pan and let simmer.
  3. Remove from the heat, then stir in half of the cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. DIG IN!
A skillet of noodles with vegetables and beans and cheese

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate leftover pasta in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days. 
  • To Reheat. Rewarm pasta in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Meal Prep Tip

Up to 1 day in advance, chop the onion, bell peppers, and garlic. Refrigerate each ingredient in a separate airtight storage container until you’re ready to finish the recipe.

Healthy taco pasta in a skillet

What to Serve with Taco Pasta

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Dutch Oven. Perfect for making this easy taco pasta recipe.
  • Measuring Spoons. These measuring spoons are magnetic, so they’ll stay together during storage.
  • Wooden Spoon. A versatile cooking utensil. It’s great for breaking up ground meat.

The Best Dutch Oven

The ultimate cookware workhorse! It’s terrific for one-pot meals like this one, soups, casseroles and so much more.

Healthy Taco Pasta with Twirly Noodles, Cheese, and Chicken in a Skillet

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

What is your go-to meal on busy nights? Might it be this healthy Mexican pasta next time (or maybe this Chipotle Bowl)?

If you try the recipe, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make Dairy Free Taco Pasta?

Yes, you can make this pasta recipe dairy free. Omit the cheese. To make sure the pasta is still creamy and satisfying without it, top the pasta with a generous serving of avocado or prepared guacamole.

How Can I Make this Taco Pasta Spicy?

If you’d like to turn up the heat, use a hot salsa. Also, add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne with the other spices.

Can I Add Other Veggies?

If you’d like to bulk up this recipe’s vegetable content, feel free to add more onion, bell peppers, corn (Grilled Corn would be delish!), zucchini, or any others you enjoy.

Healthy Taco Pasta with Twirly Noodles, Cheese, and Chicken in a Skillet

Taco Pasta

4.94 from 31 votes
Healthy Cheesy Taco Pasta. Easy recipe that cooks in ONE PAN. Made with chicken or ground beef and loaded with Mexican flavor, it's perfect for busy nights!

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins

Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken or ground turkey
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups water plus more as needed
  • 1 cup prepared salsa medium or mild
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta such as rotini, fusilli, penne, or shells
  • 1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese divided (use pepper jack for a kick!)

For serving:

  • Sliced avocado
  • Nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Jalapeño
  • Any taco topping you love

Instructions
 

  • In large, deep skillet with a lid (or a dutch oven), heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot but not yet smoking, add the ground chicken, onion, and red and green bell peppers. Brown the meat, breaking it apart with a spoon, until it is fully cooked through and the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook just until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the water, salsa, tomato sauce, pasta, and beans.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low, then cover the pan. Let simmer gently, stirring occasionally, just until the pasta is al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed (more liquid will absorb as it cools), about 12 to 15 minutes. As you stir the pasta while it cooks, check to make sure it's not becoming dry. If it is, stir in water as needed to keep it moist and simmering.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in half of the cheese, then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Serve hot with any of your favorite toppings.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate leftover pasta in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days. 
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm pasta in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. 
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 442kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 31gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 69mgPotassium: 937mgFiber: 12gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1117IUVitamin C: 47mgCalcium: 138mgIron: 3mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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76 Comments

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  1. So yummy! I used Creole seasoning instead of chili powder because my boys don’t like chili powder. I also left out the salt because Creole seasoning has plenty. This will definitely become a regular for us. The flavor was so good! I’m cautious with while wheat pasta, but in this I couldn’t even tell they were whole grain! When I make it again, I might add a little more pasta because it was a little more soupy than I expected.5 stars

  2. this is by far the easiest to make and best tasting taco pasta i have ever eaten. thankyou for your amazing recipe. followed everything. but left out the black beans. yum yum yum5 stars

    1. Hi Petra! You’ll want to use a can of tomato sauce, which is different from ketchup and tomato paste. It should be a cooked puree of tomatoes. I hope this helps!

      1. Thanks for your reply :) I ended up coming to the conclusion that it was what we Aussies call pasta sauce in a glass jar :) 
        It was super yum !!!! Of course me  being me had sour cream and avocado ? on top ?5 stars

  3. Absolutely delicious! My husband could not get over how delicious it was. As soon as he walked in the door after work he was thrilled by all the amazing smells.  This is a perfect after work quick dinner that does not disappoint. Highly recommend, we enjoy it with a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt on top. Thank you for the great recipe ?5 stars

  4. This was wonderful! It was quick, easy, and a cinch to clean up. What I really loved about it is that this recipe is easily modified based on the individual’s taste. We used a combination of cheddar and pepper jack cheeses to give it a little kick! My partner enjoyed it, as did my 3 year old! Definitely a keeper recipe.5 stars

  5. Just made this for our Sunday night meal and it will be enjoyed again many times here! I used extra lean ground turkey breast and added a cup of frozen corn to the mix. Delicious, healthy and perfect for a busy night. Thank you for this winner!5 stars

  6. Have you tried freezing this after it was prepared for meal prep? I made a double batch and am wondering if it will freeze well.

    1. Hi Erin! First you want to make sure there are no extra toppings, like Greek yogurt, avocado etc. To freeze you would place in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. Hope this helps!

  7. Bravo for the taco pasta recipe! This was outstanding, followed the recipe exactly as written. Flavors were amazing. My 17 year old son came home with two friends and they each had two bowls and finished it off which makes me so happy. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I am looking forward to trying more meals from your web page. Any recommendations on what I should make next?5 stars

    1. Hi Kate! So glad you enjoyed the pasta! Thank you for this kind review! On my homepage (https://www.wellplated.com/) you will find a trending now section. Obviously I love all of my recipes but these are some of the reader favorites that are happening right now that I’m sure you would enjoy! Hope this helps!

  8. I’m trying to use up leftover stuff I have in my house. I don’t have the usual red salsa, but I do have a mild Verde salsa. Do you think it would be an OK substitute for the red? I’m questioning it.

    1. Hi K! I’ve not tried it myself but it could possibly work. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  9. Great flavors, easy to make and adjust to your own liking. I really liked using individual spices rather than a store bought mix. We topped with sour cream and guacamole. I think the leftovers will freeze well for another night (we made a double batch).4 stars

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