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a wooden bowl filled with a pasta recipe topped with sour cream and herbs.

Taco Mac and Cheese Bake

  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x


A savory blend of seasoned ground beef and creamy noodles, this taco-inspired mac and cheese bake is the perfect comfort food mashup. Get the recipe now.


  • 1 pound uncooked elbow macaroni (16 ounces)
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (8 ounces), divided
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces), divided
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, divided (or substitute Greek yogurt)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground beef (preferably 80/20)
  • 1 4-ounce can diced mild green chilies
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder seasoning blend
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (about 1 medium Roma tomato)
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions, green parts only


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare the macaroni according to package directions and cook until al dente. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the starchy cooking water, drain the pasta, and then return it to the pot over low heat.
  3. Add 1 cup of the cheddar, 1/2 cup of the Monterey Jack, 1 cup of the sour cream, the melted butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper. Stir until creamy and combined, gradually adding the pasta water about 1 tablespoon at a time to thin the sauce until it reaches your desired consistency. Season to taste with additional salt and set aside.
  4. In a large cast iron skillet or saute pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and season it with the remaining teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Using a slotted spoon to break up the meat, cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. 
  5. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the green chilies, chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 3-5 minutes, or until the spices have thoroughly and evenly been incorporated into the meat.
  6. Spread half of the mac and cheese into a 3-quart casserole dish and top with half of the beef mixture. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheddar and 1/4 cup of the Monterey Jack on top of the beef. Repeat with the remaining macaroni and cheese, beef, and grated cheeses.
  7. Bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Divide among plates and garnish with even portions of the sour cream, chopped tomatoes, black olives, cilantro, and scallions. Serve immediately.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Casserole
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Comfort Food

Keywords: taco, casserole, comfort food, pasta, macaroni