This is one of my favorite go-to recipes for an easy weeknight meal, or when I have a lot of kids or teenagers to feed. It seems almost everyone loves tacos!
- 9×13 Casserole Dish
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 2 cups cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese divided
- 3 cups tortilla chips
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 3/4 cup salsa
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 head lettuce
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Dice tomatoes and shred lettuce
- Crush tortilla chips (I like to put them in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin)
- Brown ground beef in skillet over medium-high heat until no pink remains
- Stir in taco seasoning packet as stated on packet directions (including any water)
- Grease bottom of 9×13" pan
- Microwave cream cheese about 30-45 seconds until soft but not liquid
- Combine cream cheese and salsa in a small bowl
- Spread crushed tortilla chips across the bottom of the casserole dish
- Spread ground beef and taco seasoning mixture over tortilla chips in the casserole dish
- Spread cream cheese and salsa mixture over ground beef
- Add 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese on top
- Bake at 350° for 15 minutes
- Remove from oven, sprinkle with remainder of shredded cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes
Why I Love This Taco Casserole
My entire family loves tacos, and they’re easy enough to make. This variation on a simple beef taco combines all of the same ingredients, but in a casserole form. It’s easy to eat with a fork or spoon, and tends to be less messy than a regular taco. After all, you don’t have to worry about the shells cracking or the fillings falling out!
It’s also an inexpensive dish, especially if you shred the lettuce and dice the tomatoes yourself. If you don’t mind spending a little more to save some time, many grocery stores offer diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce that can save you the work. Personally, I split the difference…I hate dicing tomatoes, so I buy tomatoes that are already diced. But I shred the lettuce myself. To each, their own!
If you want to save even more, look into making your own Taco Seasoning. It can save you money (do the math to make sure!) and you can make sure you aren’t getting extra preservatives and MSG that you might find in the regular taco seasoning packets.
Taco Casserole Leftovers
If you want to save some of this for leftovers, you might want portion out the part to save before you add the lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. That’s because the lettuce in particular doesn’t taste as good after it sits in the refrigerator for a day and then gets microwaved. Just keep those ingredients separate, and after you microwave the amount you want to eat as a leftover, add the produce and cheese to the top.
Taco Casserole Variations
There are lots of ways to make this dish your own. You can add black or refried beans as a separate layer, or you can sprinkle sliced black olives over the top. If you aren’t in the mood for ground beef, try some chicken cooked in seasonings, or even get a pack of frozen fajita strips to include instead. You can also add additional toppings, such as sour cream or guacamole.
Cast Iron Pans
This dish is a great time to use a cast iron pan. I know this is a matter of personal taste, but cast iron is my favorite thing to cook on. This dish releases easily from the cast iron skillet, because when you add the taco seasoning and water, it’s almost like it deglazes the pan at the same time. So as long as you don’t have the heat too high or leave the beef on the burner too long, it’s really unlikely you’ll end up with any stuck-on food.
If you love Mexican food, head on over to my copycat recipe for Lupe Tortilla Fajitas. They’re quite a bit more work but SO good! I promise you won’t regret it!
So whether it’s Taco Tuesday or any other night of the week, enjoy this tasty Taco Casserole, a recipe that’s inexpensive, quick, and easy to make.