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Tacos and pasta are my go-to quick and easy dinners. Why it took me so long to arrive at Taco Pasta—a creamy, cheesy, and hearty 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 easy taco pasta recipe cooks in ONE PAN.

A skillet of creamy taco pasta

Why You’ll Love This Cheesy Taco Pasta Recipe

  • One-Pot Dinner. 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. (My Skillet Lasagna and Taco Skillet are also great ways to put your skillet to use!)
  • Quick Enough for a Busy Weeknight. Like most of my One Pot Meals, this cheesy taco pasta comes together fast. Hustle and this recipe is ready in 30 minutes.
  • Family-Friendly and Kid-Approved. As with Vegetarian Tacos and Burrito Bowls, taco pasta is enduringly appealing and tailor-made for dolling up with all of your favorite fixings. It’s an easy meal that is met with 100% enthusiasm and 0% complaints.
  • Supremely Satisfying. The protein-rich black beans and chicken will leave you full and happy, while the fresh vegetables and whole grains will leave you feeling good for treating yourself to a wholesome meal.
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

The Ingredients

For the Taco Pasta

  • 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. Ground turkey will work too!
  • 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 flair.
  • 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.

For Topping

The Directions

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

Recipe Variations

  • Taco Pasta With Ground Beef. You can also make this into ground beef taco pasta. Want more ground beef? Check out Ground Beef Dinner Ideas.
  • Vegetarian Taco Pasta. Prefer a meatless taco pasta? Omit the chicken. Add one additional can of black beans, or try adding pinto beans for variety. A plant-based ground “meat” will work too.
  • Creamy Taco Pasta. Stir in plain Greek yogurt or sour cream at the end of the cooking time, then season to taste.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate leftover taco 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

  • 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.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Use Wheat Pasta (whole wheat or semolina). Pastas made with beans and rice are fantastic, but they don’t cook the same way as wheat-based pastas, which means they can throw off a one-pot pasta recipe like this taco pasta.
  • Cook Until the Pasta Is Al Dente. The pasta will continue to absorb liquid as it cools, so if you cook it until it’s tender, it will end up bloated and mushy by the time you plate it and eat it.
  • Add Water as Needed. If the pasta looks dry near the end of the cooking time, stir in more water a little at a time to keep it moist.

Taco Pasta

4.96 from 43 votes
This cheesy taco pasta is an easy recipe that cooks in one pan! Made with chicken or beef, it's a 30-minute dish perfect for busy nights!

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes

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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108 Comments

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  1. Added some extra veggies and omitted the salt but otherwise made exactly as written. A wonderful family meal – everyone from the 14 month old to my husband had their fill! Thanks!!5 stars

  2. Great recipe! Tweaked it by using a half pound of ground turkey, veggie base instead of water and added frozen corn at the end. Will definitely be making again, Easy, quick and so tasty! Thanks Erin❤️5 stars

  3. This was delicious!! And one pot dinner is always a bonus. I didn’t have salsa so just threw in the other half of the tomato sauce can and it still turned out great. Will definitely be making again!5 stars

    1. Hi Joanna! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review and glad it worked out for you!

  4. I made this a couple of days ago and it was a hit. BUT, it didn’t look anything like what your photo shows; more an even colored mess. A tasty mess, but nothing like yours. What’s your secret? I’d like it to look more appetizing….

    1. Hi Kees! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review! I’m sure yours looked great! No secret, being a recipe developer and professional photographer for a living it’s just part of the job! Also good lighting helps! ;)

  5. I made this recipe for dinner tonight and it was delicious!!! Wonderful flavors and a mild touch of spice (I used mild salsa). So yummy!!5 stars

    1. Hi Roe! This recipe is for the stovetop not the slow cooker, but you might enjoy this slow cooker recipe: https://www.wellplated.com/taco-casserole/

  6. My 2 year old daughter hates anything with “sauce” and I was dreading giving this to her only for her to refuse is, but to my pleasant surprise, she ate the entire bowl! It was a hit for us! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!5 stars

  7. Made this tonight after trying to find something I had ingredients for. My family liked it quite a bit. I left out the peppers and used gluten free pasta and beef because it’s what I had on hand. I also added corn. The pasta kind of disintegrated and it left the dish a bit runny but it’s probably a combo of the noodles and cooking in a Dutch oven vs skillet. It came out more like a taco chili for us but we still loved it with sour cream and cheese on top.5 stars

    1. Hi! I stopped including sodium info because it can vary so much depending upon what products you used, and I found a lot of conflicting info online, so ultimately I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it because sometimes it wasn’t even in the ballpark. If you’d like to calculate it yourself, there are lots of free tools online (myfitnesspal.com is popular). I hope that helps!

  8. 1 table spoon of chilli is way too much. Nuked the meal unfortunately and family wouldn’t eat it. I’m sure it’d be ok with less chilli

  9. This was super easy and so yummy! I made a few adjustments based on the ingredients I had on hand (used kidney beans instead of black beans, added a can of green chiles, and just substituted all the seasonings with half a packet of taco seasoning since I ran out of cayenne). It was fab! I’ll be adding this to the weeknight rotation for sure.5 stars

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