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One Pot Taco Macaroni

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Taco Macaroni is an easy, one-pan dinner the whole family will love. With a few simple ingredients like ground beef, taco seasoning, cheddar cheese, and just 30 minutes of cook time, this easy recipe is destined to be one of your family favorites!

wooden spoon holding ground beef taco mac and cheese over skillet

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You all know that I’m a HUGE fan of easy no-fuss recipes like our taco soup, ground beef stroganoff, Mongolian ground beef noodles, and creamy sausage pasta; and this easy taco macaroni fits the bill perfectly. It is a staple at our house and I’m sure once you try it you’ll love it as much as we do.

Why I love this recipe

  • 30 minutes of cook time makes it perfect for those hectic weeknights
  • one pan makes cleaning up a breeze
  • it is a great variation for taco night!
  • tacos + pasta = what’s not to love??
  • even the picky eaters LOVE this family-friendly meal

Ingredients

  • lean ground beef
  • yellow onion
  • diced tomatoes
  • elbow pasta
  • water
  • taco seasoning
  • salt
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • cilantro for garnish
taco mac and cheese ingredients on marble countertop

Step by step

  1. Brown the ground beef over medium-high heat in a large skillet or dutch oven. You can also cook ground beef in the microwave and then transfer to the skillet.
  2. Add diced onions and cook until translucent.
  3. Stir in diced tomatoes, pasta, water, and seasonings. Scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze all those flavorful bits!
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Top with shredded cheese and cilantro and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted.
skillet with ground beef taco macaroni dinner

Tips for best results

  • Be sure to simmer while covered so the pasta cooks through.
  • If you use higher-fat ground beef, drain the meat after browning before continuing the recipe.
  • Omit the cayenne pepper to reduce the spiciness.
  • For extra cheesy pasta, stir in an extra 1/2 cup of cheese before simmering.
  • For even faster and even easier weeknight prep you can brown the meat ahead of time if you meal prep.

Substitutions and Variations

  • use spiral or pasta shells instead of macaroni noodles (cooking time may need to be adjusted)
  • use ground turkey or ground chicken breast instead of ground beef for the taco meat
  • use beef broth or beef stock instead of water to add a little extra flavor
  • substitute chili powder for the cumin and cayenne pepper to make it a more chili mac-like dish
  • stir in black beans
  • use Mexican blend cheese, Monterey jack cheese, pepper jack, or colby jack instead of cheddar cheese
while bowl with taco macaroni and cheese in it

Serving suggestions

Serve this pasta as is or top with sour cream, chopped green onions, diced bell peppers, or other favorite taco toppings.

Storage

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave. I do not recommend freezing this dish as the texture is off after thawing and reheating.

If you try this recipe please comment and rate it below, I love hearing from you!

Print
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wooden spoon of taco macaroni held over skillet

One Pot Taco Macaroni with Ground Beef

  • Author: Melissa Riker
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: main course
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

Taco Mac and Cheese is an easy, one-pan dinner the whole family will love. With a few simple ingredients like ground beef, taco seasoning, cheddar cheese, and just 30 minutes of cook time, this easy recipe is destined to be one of your family favorites!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups uncooked elbow pasta
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (1-ounce) package taco seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • fresh chopped cilantro for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large pan or skillet on medium heat, brown the ground beef until no longer pink, breaking it up as it cooks.
  2. Add the onion and cook until translucent (about 1-2 minutes).
  3. Stir in diced tomatoes, uncooked pasta, water, taco seasoning, salt, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper into the beef.
  4. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and continue simmering until pasta is tender and cooked through, stirring frequently (about 10-15 minutes).
  5. Sprinkle the top with cheddar cheese and chopped cilantro before serving.

Notes

  • Be sure to simmer while covered so the pasta cooks through.
  • If you use higher-fat ground beef, drain the meat after browning before continuing the recipe.
  • Omit the cayenne pepper to reduce the spiciness.
  • For extra cheesy pasta, stir in an extra 1/2 cup of cheese before simmering.
  • For even faster and even easier weeknight prep you can brown the meat ahead of time if you meal prep.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 302
  • Sugar: 5.2 g
  • Sodium: 723 mg
  • Fat: 10.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 26.7 g
  • Fiber: 2.5 g
  • Protein: 25.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 67 mg

Keywords: taco macaroni

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