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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 44 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


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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. 


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 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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  1. I can relate to your go-to’s of tacos and pasta haha! So this makes so much sense! I excited to try this!

  2. Only change I made was to add one teaspoon of sugar (to taste at the end); that dash of sweetness is perfect!5 stars

  3. My husband and I tried similar recipe like this one
    It was the first time we tried pasta in Mexican dish and we found we liked it. Can’t wait to try this one . Like you we have to have our Mexican fix at least once a week or sometime more .
    Thank you and keep them comin.5 stars

  4. I made this last night and it was very tasty! Just 4 stars instead of 5 since it seemed more like a chili with pasta added in. Next time I may increase the amount of pasta.   It will definitely go into rotation.   4 stars

  5. My mom and I share a love for pasta, and were both craving Mexican. We had to try this recipe! We made the beef variation, and it meet all our expectations, hearty, spicy, and it satisfied our Mexican craving! This is a very good recipe. Thanks, Erin!5 stars

  6. Made this with a ground beef and pork mix, but otherwise followed exactly & it turned out delicious. The recipe says it serves 6 but clearly 6 generous portions . Will definitely make this again but maybe with hot salsa to amp up the spice level as we like it hot in our house. A great one pot meal!5 stars

      1. We have made this a couple times, and it is always a winner. The only thing we do differently is that we use Banza chickpea rotini. Love it!5 stars

        1. I’m so happy to hear that this recipe has been a hit, Melissa! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review!

  7. This was so tasty even though I messed up a bit! I made up the spice and salt mixture the day before, but used an entire whole pound (16oz box) of rotelli so that my boyfriend could take the extra to work for lunch. I quickly dumped in extra water and spices to try to compensate as well as replaced the meat with extra beans and pickled nopalito (cactus leaves) and we still loved it. Thank you for a super tasty and seemingly foolproof recipe!5 stars

  8. Tried this dinner tonight. Absolutely great
    Love your recipes and I like that are healthy .
    Thank you Erin.5 stars

  9. We made this tonight and it was a huge hit! Even my picky parents enjoyed it and I have a hard time getting them to eat anything! We followed the recipe exactly with two exceptions: we used ground turkey instead of chicken and mozzarella instead of cheddar. Seriously one of the best meals we’ve ever made, and it was so easy!! Thank you so much for our new weeknight staple! :)5 stars

  10. I made this tonight, and my husband and I loved it. It’s easy to make, delicious and healthy. My husband said he liked the balance of flavors. Another winner we’ll be adding to the mix. Thanks, Erin!5 stars

  11. Thank you so much for giving me a recipe my incredibly picky daughter likes!  I wrack my brain trying to find things she’ll eat.  I added an extra cup of pasta but that was the only change I made.  She even asked for leftovers the next day. 5 stars

    1. I’m SO happy your daughter enjoyed this recipe, Laura! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review!

  12. Delicious twist on pasta. I kicked up the spice with some ancho chile powder and chipotle and left out the cheese. Enjoying have all the leftovers as lunches for the week!5 stars

  13. This was absolutely delicious. My daughter came into the kitchen while I was cooking and said ‘Mom, that smells GOOD. Like, REALLY GOOD!” Thanks so much – will definitely be adding this one into the rotation. :)5 stars

  14. I made this last night and as someone trying to be better about making homemade meals this was was perfect! So delicious, easy to make, and I like that I have leftovers!5 stars

  15. Hi Erin,
    I’m planning on making this tonight and was just wondering if you had any suggestions as to what I could serve with it?  

    1. Hi Nancy! I’m sorry I wasn’t able to respond to your comment earlier. For the future, I think this recipe pairs well with Mexican Cornbread or this Anytime Arugula Salad. I hope you enjoyed the recipe!

  16. This was so yummy and filling but did not feel heavy! We used ground beef in place of the chicken but I do want to try chicken next time. All the great veggies in here and the pasta help to make this such a delightful dish. A great combination of flavors and so easy making it all in one pan! Will definitely be making this again. We followed the recipe as written.5 stars

  17. This was so good! Added a dollop of plain Monday Greek yogurt and diced avocado. YUM! Enjoyed leftovers for lunch the next few days too! Definitely making again!5 stars

  18. I made this last night with double the meat(husband’s idea lol) and it was a success!! Several of your recipes have been successfully made at my house. I love the healthy but easy to find ingredients and the reduced dish use(hate doing dishes!) of your recipes. I will definitely be buying your book when it comes out!5 stars

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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!

  25. 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 ( 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!

  26. 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!

  27. 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

  28. Made it for my friend who experienced a very difficult birth. Was very delicious!! Have made it many times since!5 stars

  29. I made this tonight, but with beef instead of chicken, and it was fabulous!! We loved it and will definitely be making it again!5 stars

  30. This was wonderful! Are used whole wheat macaroni and since I am basically plant-based are used chorizo soy crumbles. Served it with guacamole and chopped romaine and sour cream. So good!5 stars

  31. 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

  32. 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

  33. 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!

  34. 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! ;)

  35. 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:

  36. 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

  37. 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 ( is popular). I hope that helps!

  38. 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

  39. 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

  40. This was delicious and loved by 4 year olds up to 74 year olds. After adding the pasta, we did have to cook it for longer; nearly 25 minutes vs the recommended 12-15 min. to get it to a chewable el dente.5 stars