Taco Pasta is half taco, half pasta! This mouth-watering, one-pot Mexican pasta is made for Instant Pot or stove. Juicy beef, black beans, and pasta are taco-seasoned, cheese-covered, and ready in 30 minutes! Add Taco Pasta to your collection of easy dinner recipes.
Taco pasta is a family favorite and always makes me feel like a big kid when I eat it. It reminds me of those boxed meals I loved growing up, only it's made with real ingredients!
This Tex-Mex Mexican pasta is so delicious, we barely have leftovers every time we make it. This frugal recipe is a great way to stretch out inexpensive pantry ingredients, ground beef, and cheese. It's a time-saver too as it's ready in 30 minutes, just like my Instant Pot Spaghetti and my Instant Pot Chicken Burrito Bowl.
- olive oil - or any cooking oil
- onion - white, red, or yellow
- ground beef - can be substituted with ground turkey or chicken
- canned diced tomatoes - or packaged salsa or rotel
- black beans - canned or pressure cooked
- pasta - use any kind of pasta (I use medium shells)
- taco seasoning
- chicken broth - or preferred broth (beef or vegetable)
- cheddar cheese - or preferred cheese combo
How to make Instant Pot taco pasta
- Saute onions and beef in the Instant Pot on 'saute' setting (I use the 6 quart Duo)
- Add other ingredients (except the cheese) and make sure pasta is under the liquid. It's ok to stir everything together like a soup.
- Pressure cook: Select MANUAL or PRESSURE COOK on high pressure for 1 minute followed by a 10-minute natural pressure release.
- Add cheese: Stir in cheddar cheese, add salt if needed, and devour!
Fun fact about TKG: I was afraid of my Instant Pot when I bought it 3 years ago. It sat in the box for a few months. Seemed like total hype about how convenient it was to cook meals. Then, I started testing things. I finally warmed up to it, went ALL in, and never looked back! Even my other half (the non-cook) regularly makes our dinners from my Instant Pot recipe collection. Yeah, nothing hype about that!
How to make taco pasta on the stove
- Saute onions and beef in a soup pot on med-high heat.
- Add all other ingredients (except the cheese) and increase heat to bring everything to a boil for a few minutes.
- Reduce heat to simmer all ingredients until pasta is cooked through.
- Stir in cheddar cheese, salt to taste, and devour!
Keep this taco pasta recipe close and make it often! It quite literally solves ALL the problems of weeknight cooking and makes the whole family happy!
What's the best pasta for Taco Pasta?
The best pasta to use for this Mexican pasta recipe includes your everyday semolina pasta such as shells, rotini, penne, bowtie, or macaroni. These pasta varieties are budget-friendly and available everywhere. You can substitute whole wheat pasta using the same recipe instructions. Several readers have reported that gluten free pasta can be substituted without altering instructions.
Recipe tips & substitutions
Taco seasoning – Reader feedback says that 1 packet makes is kid-friendly and 2 packets makes grown-ups happy. You get to pick.
Add frozen or fresh corn to this recipe. YUM! You can add it before it pressure cooks, or after. Your choice. It's SO delish with corn.
Want it cheesier? Double the cheddar cheese (you might need a splash of broth to help smooth it out).
Add salt to taste. If you use reduced-sodium ingredients (tomatoes, beans, chicken broth), there’s a strong chance you’ll need to add salt to this recipe.
You can use ground turkey or ground chicken in place of the beef.
We like to substitute the cheese with sour cream…or for a healthier twist…plain yogurt.
You can use pinto beans in place of black beans…or no beans, if you prefer.
Feel free to add a can of diced chiles to this to spice things up!
Easy Pasta Recipes
- Instant Pot Chicken Alfredo
- Instant Pot Spaghetti
- Baked Feta Pasta [Tiktok Viral Pasta]
- Instant Pot Tuna Casserole
- Italian Orzo Sausage Soup [Instant Pot or stove]
- Lasagna Soup [Instant Pot or stove]
- Ham Alfredo Pasta [Instant Pot or stove]
- Instant Pot Shrimp Pasta In Lemon Cream Sauce
Taco Pasta [Instant Pot or Stove]
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, or preferred oil
- 1/2 large Onion, diced
- 1 lb. Lean Ground Beef
- 1 15 oz can Diced Tomatoes (drained), or 1 cup salsa picante
- 1 15 oz can Black Beans (or whole pinto beans), rinsed and drained
- 8 oz Uncooked Shell Pasta, about 4 cups
- 2 Tbsp Taco Seasoning, same as 1-oz packet * See footnote
- 2 1/4 cups Chicken Broth, add more for stove version (see note)
- 8 oz Cheddar Cheese, same as 2 cups shredded
- Salt, to taste
- 3.5 quart soup pot (if using stove method)
- stirring utensil
- can opener
Taco Pasta (Instant Pot Method)
- Select "Sauté" on the Instant Pot and add OIL. Allow pot to heat until it the display reads "HOT".
- Add ONION and GROUND BEEF. Sauté until cooked through, stirring as needed. Drain excess fat as needed.
- If any browned ingredients are stuck on the pot's surface, add a splash of broth and scrape them with a flat utensil to release them. This is called deglazing and it's "flavor gold".
- Press "Cancel" on the pot and proceed.
- Add PASTA SHELLS, TOMATOES (or picante), BEANS, TACO SEASONING, and BROTH. Press all ingredients under liquid to submerge.
- Secure lid and set pressure valve to "Sealing". Select "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" for 1 minute for thin pasta (shell pasta) or 2 minutes for thicker pasta (penne, rotini, macaroni, etc).
- When cook cycle ends, let the pot sit undisturbed for a 10-minute (NPR) natural pressure release. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP ... the pasta is still cooking.
- Carefully turn pressure release valve to "Venting" position to release remaining steam (if any). Open the lid.Note: You'll see some excess liquid at first, but it helps incorporate the cheese in the next step. Also, pasta always soaks up liquid as it rests (just like IP Mac and Cheese).
- Stir in the CHEDDAR CHEESE. Add SALT to taste (you might not need it). If you increase the amount of cheese, add a splash of broth as needed to adjust consistency.
Taco Pasta (Stove Method)
- Heat OIL in soup pot over medium-high heat. Add ONIONS and GROUND BEEF. Sauté until cooked through, stirring as needed.
- Stir in DICED TOMATOES, BLACK BEANS, PASTA SHELLS, TACO SEASONING, and CHICKEN BROTH.Note: Add more liquid (broth or water) as needed to cover the pasta.
- Adjust heat to HIGH and bring everything just to a boil.
- Adjust heat to MED-LOW and simmer until pasta is cooked through (about 10 minutes). Add splashes of liquid (broth or water) as needed.
- Just before serving, stir in CHEDDAR CHEESE. Add SALT to taste.
Taco Pasta Serving and Storage Instructions
- Serve taco pasta warm with your choice of toppings: cilantro, lime, jalapeño, cheese, or sour cream.
- Store in an airtight container up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 90 days in the freezer.
Nutrition data provided as courtesy estimates using unbranded ingredients from a nutrition database. Please consult preferred resource for precise data.