Our Taco Stuffed Shells are filled with a savory taco-inspired mixture, topped with homemade Enchilada sauce, tons of cheese and baked until golden.
I had so much fun making Taco Lasagna the other week, that I stayed on the same train of thought. My family seriously cannot eat enough Mexican inspired food. This recipe is super simple to make and is similar to the taco lasagna, only we are using large pasta shells, stuffing them with taco meat, enchilada sauce, and cheese and baking them.
This Mexican-inspired version combines the comforting elements of stuffed shells with the classic flavors of tacos and enchiladas. They are simply delicious!
What You’ll Need
How to Make Taco Stuffed Shells
- To prepare this dish, large pasta shells are cooked until al dente and then filled with a savory mixture of seasoned ground beef that has been browned with taco seasonings and enchilada sauce. I prefer to make my own taco seasonings and sauce because I find store bought ones very high in sodium. You can find both of those recipes here and here as well as a link in the recipe card.
- The shells are then placed in a large baking dish, topped with more enchilada sauce and a generous helping of shredded cheese, typically a Mexican blend or cheddar cheese.
- The dish is then baked in the oven until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
Here are a few variations you can try:
- Chicken Taco Stuffed Shells: Replace the ground beef with cooked and shredded chicken. Season the chicken with taco spices and proceed with stuffing the shells as usual. This variation provides a lighter and poultry-based option.
- Vegetarian Taco Stuffed Shells: Skip the meat altogether and create a vegetarian version. Use ingredients like black beans, corn, bell peppers, onions, and spices to create a flavorful vegetarian taco filling.
- Spicy Taco Stuffed Shells: If you prefer some heat, kick up the spice level by adding diced jalapeños, hot sauce, or crushed red pepper flakes to the taco meat filling. This variation adds a fiery twist to the dish.
- Taco Stuffed Shells with Salsa: Instead of enchilada sauce, top the stuffed shells with your favorite salsa before baking. This variation infuses the dish with a tangy and vibrant flavor.
- Taco Stuffed Shells Casserole: Instead of stuffing individual shells, layer the taco meat, shells, and cheese in a baking dish to create a casserole-style variation. Repeat the layers, ending with cheese on top. Bake until golden and bubbly for a comforting and easy-to-serve version of taco stuffed shells.
What to Serve with Taco Stuffed Shells:
Stuffed shells are a satisfying and flavorful main dish on their own, but if you’re looking to create a complete meal, here are some ideas for what you can serve alongside them:
- Mexican Rice: Prepare a side of Mexican rice to complement the taco flavors. The rice can be seasoned with spices like cumin, chili powder, and garlic, and can include ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers for added flavor and texture.
- Refried Beans: Serve taco stuffed shells with a side of refried beans. You can make them from scratch or use canned refried beans for convenience. They provide a creamy and savory element that pairs well with the stuffed shells.
- Guacamole and Salsa: Offer a selection of fresh guacamole and salsa as condiments. They provide a refreshing and tangy contrast to the richness of the stuffed shells. Include tortilla chips for dipping as well.
- Mixed Greens Salad: Serve a simple mixed greens salad with a light vinaigrette dressing as a refreshing and light option to balance out the richness of the stuffed shells.
- Toppings: Add some of your favorite taco toppings like sour cream, olives, cilantro, sliced avocado
TACO STUFFED SHELL RECIPE
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- 20–24 Jumbo Pasta shells
- 1 lb. Ground beef (or ground turkey, chicken, or a vegetarian alternative)
- 1 Small onion, finely diced
- 2 Cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. Taco seasoning + ⅔ Cup Water
- 10–12 oz. Enchilada sauce
- 1 Cup Shredded cheese (Mexican blend, Cheddar, Monterey Jack or a combination)
- Optional toppings: diced tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, sour cream, etc.
For the Meat:
- In a large skillet, add a teaspoon or 2 of oil and cook the ground beef over medium heat until browned.
- Add the diced onion and minced garlic to the skillet and cook until the onion is softened and translucent.
- Stir in the taco seasoning and water, ensuring it is evenly distributed throughout the meat mixture. Cook for a couple of minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
- Add ½ cup Enchilada sauce to the meat and stir to combine.
- Add ½ the cheese to the meat mixture and stir to combine. Set aside
For the Shells:
- Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil.
- Add a generous amount of salt to the water.
- Cook the pasta shells according to the package instructions until they are al dente.
- Drain and rinse under cool water.
Putting it all Together:
- Pour about half of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of a greased casserole dish.
- Take a large spoonful of the taco meat filling and stuff it into each cooked pasta shell, placing the filled shells in the baking dish on top of the enchilada sauce.
- Once all the shells are stuffed and arranged in the dish, pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top, covering the shells completely.
- Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the stuffed shells, ensuring they are evenly covered.
- Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Remove the foil and continue baking for an additional 5-10 minutes to allow the cheese to turn golden brown.
- Once done, remove from the oven and let the stuffed shells cool for a few minutes. Serve hot with your desired toppings like diced tomatoes, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, sour cream, etc.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Serving Size: 2 Shells
- Calories: 478
- Sodium: 312 mg
- Fat: 8 gr
- Saturated Fat: 2.9 gr
- Carbohydrates: 77.2 gr
- Fiber: 4.1 gr
- Protein: 27.9 gr
- Cholesterol: 44 mg