We get all of our cooking skills from our mom, but today we’re going to give some credit to our dad. True to his bold Leo personality, he likes to add some shock value to whatever he’s making, regardless of the outcome. One time he added Grape-Nuts to meatloaf, a decision he still stands by even though it traumatized our entire family.
One of his creations, which involved adding cooked pasta to chili, was more inspiring than off-putting. Always one for simplicity, he loved that everything could be eaten together in one bowl. Hence, one-pot taco pasta was born.
We took the elements we loved about our dad’s pasta chili and turned it into a more cohesive dish that packs in bold and zesty taco flavor, hearty ground beef, and saucy noodles. With a few fridge staples and pantry items, this one-pot meal comes together easily in just over 30 minutes.
One Pot Wonder
What is better than a satisfying meal made in one pot? You don’t even need to cook the pasta separately when making one-pot taco pasta. Enough liquid is added to cook the dried pasta directly in the pot, and it soaks up tons of flavor in the process. This one-pot meal makes for easy cleanup and minimal stress.
Tips and Tricks for One-Pot Taco Pasta
- Be careful not to overcook the meat. You want it to brown while still remaining slightly pink, as it will continue to cook with the pasta.
- Stir the pasta occasionally while it cooks to make sure all the noodles get submerged in the broth.
- Adjust the seasoning and spice to your liking. Use extra hot sauce if you like your food with a kick.
- Let the pasta sit for a few minutes once it’s cooked and the cheese is melted—it will thicken and the flavors will meld together. Your patience will pay off!
You can use different pasta shapes like shells, rotini, cavatappi, or fusilli when making one-pot taco pasta. You can also add 1 cup of frozen or drained canned corn or 1 1/2 cups drained black beans when you add the tomatoes, or stir in a 5-ounce bag of fresh baby spinach during the last minute of cooking.
Taco pasta is delicious with other cheeses like pepper Jack, Colby Jack, or a Mexican blend. Make it vegan (or vegetarian) by using plant-based ground beef, vegetable broth, and vegan cheese shreds.
Serving and Reheating
This dish makes amazing leftovers! Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days and reheat in a pot on medium-low heat with a splash of broth until it’s warmed through. Cover the pot and stir occasionally as it reheats.
Try serving one-pot taco pasta with your favorite toppings like scallions, sour cream, jalapeños, red onion, lime, extra shredded cheese, and a chipotle-flavored hot sauce.
More One Pot Meals
- Creamy One Pot Pasta with Zucchini
- One Pot Chicken and Orzo
- Root Vegetable Skillet Pot Pie
- One Pot Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Artichokes, and Capers
- Tuscan Chicken Pasta Skillet
Sauté the vegetables and ground beef:
Set a large pot (5 or 6 quarts) on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Once shimmering, add the chopped onion and bell pepper and cook until just softened, about 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and use a wooden spoon to break it up in the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook until most of the pink is gone, 3 to 5 minutes. If desired, spoon off some of the grease. For plant-based meat, this will only take 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the seasoning, tomatoes, pasta, and broth:
Add the taco seasoning, paprika, cumin, canned tomatoes, and green chilis, both undrained. Mix until combined. Add the dry pasta and stir to coat. Pour in the beef broth and mix everything once more.
Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil (this takes 3 to 5 minutes).
Simmer the pasta:
Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid, and simmer until the pasta is cooked, 13 to 15 minutes. Stir a few times while simmering to ensure the pasta cooks evenly.
Mix in the cheese, cilantro, and lime:
Turn off the heat and stir in the shredded cheddar cheese until it melts. Mix in chopped cilantro, lime juice, and hot sauce (if using). Taste and add salt as needed.
Let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes to thicken before serving topped with scallions, sour cream, and lime, if desired.
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