I always love tacos but sometimes when Taco Tuesday comes around, the idea of all that work is a little daunting. That’s why I came up with this easy taco casserole that I can quickly make ahead or that night.
Taco casserole is exactly what it sounds like: a taco in casserole form. It has all of the delicious elements of a taco but it takes less time.
I make this one with beef but you can switch up nearly any element of this casserole from what kind of ground meat you use to the spices and the vegetables. You can customize it to whatever you and your family love to have in (and on top of) their tacos.
The next time you’re ready for tacos but don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen, try this easy recipe.
Common Questions about Taco Casserole
What is taco filling made of?
There are a variety of ways to fill a taco. This taco meat mixture is made with lean ground beef.
What are the most popular taco fillings?
For veggies, lettuce, tomato, and onions are at the top of the list and for protein, beef is a favorite. Cheese, sour cream, and avocado are also very popular.
What cheese is best for tacos?
A mild cheese is usually the best type of cheese for tacos. We suggest a shredded Mexican blend or cheddar for this recipe but you can also try other cheeses like queso de Oaxaca or queso asadero.
Making Taco Casserole Ahead of Time
You can make the beef mixture ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator in a casserole dish until ready to bake. Do wait until baking to add the chips so that they do not become soggy.
It’s easy to store this simple casserole.
Refrigerator: You can store the casserole in an airtight container for up to 3 days or use plastic wrap or aluminum foil to cover it in its original baking dish.
Freezing: Store the casserole in individual slices in freezer bags for up to 3 months. Note: the chips may become soggy after thawing.
Tips For The Best Taco Casserole
This taco casserole is nearly foolproof, but there are a few tips to make sure you make the best version.
- Make sure that the onion and garlic cloves are minced and diced so that they are fine and uniform in size to avoid having any large chunks throughout the casserole.
- Be sure to drain the beans. Otherwise, there will be too much moisture.
- For safety reasons, fully brown the beef before baking.
Many of these ingredients you’ll already have in your kitchen cabinets or fridge but they’re easy to find at the local grocery store, too.
- Olive oil
- Onion (finely diced)
- Garlic cloves (minced)
- Ground beef (lean)
- Chili powder
- Ground cumin
- Onion powder
- Black beans (drained and rinsed)
- Corn (whole kernel – drained well)
- Corn chips or tortilla chips (coarsely crushed)
- Mexican blend cheese or cheddar (shredded)
- Shredded lettuce
- Sour cream
- Black Olives
- Pico de gallo
- Your favorite taco toppings
Kitchen Supplies You’ll Need
You’ll only need to pull out a few standard supplies.
- Large skillet
- Colander (optional)
- Baking dish
How to Make Taco Casserole
This casserole comes together so quickly.
- Heat the oil in a skillet and add the onions.
- Cook onions until they are soft and translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook briefly with the onions before adding the ground beef.
- Once the ground beef is in the pan, use a spatula to separate it so that it cooks evenly.
- After the ground beef is browned, drain fat from the pan if desired.
- Transfer the beef back to the pan and stir in the seasonings.
- Add the beans, salsa, and corn and continue to cook until all ingredients are heated.
- Transfer the ground beef mixture to the baking dish prepared with cooking spray.
- Add the crushed chips and shredded cheese to the top.
- Bake the casserole until it is heated through and the cheese has melted.
- Serve with bowls of topping options on the side.
What to Serve With Taco Casserole
You can serve all sorts of sides with this easy casserole.
- Salad – A simple green salad is a nice, light side.
- Chips – Offer more chips for dipping into the meat and veggies.
- Guacamole – Guacamole is great spooned on top of the dish.
- Queso – Drizzle a cheese sauce over top.
- Soup – Vegetable soup or chicken tortilla soup are both perfect pairings.
- Rice – Make some Mexican rice as a quick side dish while the casserole is cooking.
Why You Should Make This Recipe
If you love Mexican food you’ll love this simple casserole.
- Easy – This casserole only requires a little bit of hands-on prep and then the oven does the rest.
- Convenient – All of these ingredients are easily accessible.
- Customizable – There are lots of ways to adjust this recipe’s flavor for your family’s palate.
- Quick – It’s a great weeknight dinner and you can also use it to meal prep.
Variations and Add-ins
There are endless ways to change this casserole up to make it your own.
- Meat – Instead of beef use ground chicken, ground pork, ground turkey, sausage or your favorite plant-based substitute.
- Vegetables – Have leftover vegetables, or want to sneak some extra nutrients in? This casserole is a great way to do it.
- Heat – If you want more spiciness, add crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper powder, green chiles, or diced jalapenos. On the other hand, if you want to lessen the heat, reduce the chili powder.
- Oil – Use any neutral oil like avocado, vegetable, or canola.
- Refried beans – Add them to the casserole or serve them warmed on the side.
- Tortillas – Serve with flour tortillas or corn tortillas and fill them with the casserole — you can also offer hard taco shells. Or, use tortillas to turn leftovers into quesadillas for a slightly different take on the dish later in the week.
- Green onions – Garnish with sliced green onions after baking.
- Bell pepper – Add thinly sliced green, yellow, or red peppers to the mixture.
- Garlic – If you don’t have whole cloves try jarred minced garlic or garlic powder
- Cheese – Instead of cheddar cheese or the Mexican blend try using pepper jack, colby jack, or Monterey Jack cheese for a different flavor. Also, while there is plenty of cheese on the casserole, you can serve more on the side.
- Seasoning – Swap out the seasonings in the recipe for your own homemade taco seasoning.
- Low carb – To lower the carb count, leave out the beans and omit the chips.
If you love this easy cTaco Casserole recipe, you’re going to love these other casseroles too. Please click each link below to find the easy, printable recipe!
Other Mexican-inspired Dishes
Mexican Chicken Bubble-Up Casserole
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion about ½ cup finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound ground beef lean
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 15 oz black beans drained and rinsed
- 15.5 oz salsa
- 10.5 oz corn whole kernel – drained well
- 1 ½ cups corn chips coarsely crushed – or tortilla chips
- 2 cups Mexican blend cheese shredded – or cheddar
Your favorite toppings
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Coat a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil and add the onions.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes or until onions are soft.
- Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Add the ground beef to the pan and break it apart with a spatula, cook until browned, drain if necessary. I like to swap out my spatula once most of the meat is browned to avoid contaminating the cooked beef with the spatula that was touching the raw meat.
- Return the beef to the pan and add the seasonings, stir to combine.
- Stir in the beans, salsa, and corn and then cook until heated through.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
- Sprinkle the top with the crushed corn chips and shredded cheese.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through.
- Serve immediately with your favorite toppings.
- Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
Nutritional information for the recipe is provided as a courtesy and is approximate. Please double-check with your own dietary calculator for the best accuracy. We at Taste of the Frontier cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts as it has been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.
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