Taco Casserole Recipe

By Rena Awada | Updated On November 16, 2022

Taco Casserole is such an easy and tasty way to do taco night! It’s made with layers of tortilla chips, ground beef, onion, beans, corn, and tomatoes, all topped with plenty of cheese and baked to perfection. The ultimate Mexican dish that’s sure to get rave reviews from the whole family!

top view of taco casserole on a dish

Looking for an easy family-friendly dinner? Well, look no further. This taco casserole recipe is one of those easy weeknight meals that the entire family gets excited about when they see it come out of the oven, all steamy and cheesy and gooey.

Taco night is always a hit for dinner, but sometimes when we’re in a hurry, we just layer all the ingredients in a dish and bake them together, which is how this taco casserole came to be. This recipe has all of the components of tacos in the form of a cheesy casserole. You can even add your favorite taco fixings on top to take this dish to the next level!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Simple ingredients: This recipe only requires 7 key ingredients that are mostly pantry staples, inexpensive, and easy to find. They all cook together to make this amazing taco bake.
  • Delicious flavors: You have all the flavors of tacos but in layered casserole form! When combined, seasoned beef, Mexican spices, crispy tortilla chips, and melty cheese create an incredible dish that you won’t be able to stop eating.  
  • Family favorite: Everyone loves a cheesy beef casserole! Kids too! This recipe is sure to become one of your family’s most requested weeknight meals. 
Cutting a serving of a Mexican casserole.

Ingredients needed

Taco casserole includes all of the typical ingredients that are found in most Mexican dishes. It’s really versatile too! You can easily change the ingredients based on your taste preferences. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Oil: For browning the meat and cooking the onion.
  • Lean ground beef: We like to use lean ground beef for this recipe, but any ground meat will work great. However, be aware that if you’re using ground beef with higher fat content, you’ll want to drain off any excess grease after it’s cooked.
  • Onion: A must for almost any Mexican dish!
  • Spices: For delicious Mexican flavor, we’re using a blend of chili powder, garlic powder, and ground cumin.
  • Black beans: Beans give this recipe a tasty boost of protein and fiber. Sub with kidney or pinto beans, if you’d like.
  • Corn: We typically use canned corn, but frozen or fresh will work.
  • Crushed tomatoes: One can of crushed tomatoes add the perfect amount of sauciness.
  • Cornflakes or tortilla chips: Use cornflakes or tortilla chips for the crispy taco shell-like layer.
  • Cheese: Any favorite shredded cheese works great. We like cheddar or pepper jack in this recipe.
  • Optional garnish: Top servings with your favorite taco toppings – avocado, tomatoes, and cilantro or any other Mexican toppings that you love!
Ingredients to make taco casserole divided into small portions.

How to make this easy casserole recipe

This Mexican casserole seriously could not be easier to throw together! Here’s the simple process:

For the full, printable recipe, reference the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

  • Prep: Preheat the oven to 350ºF and spray a baking dish with cooking oil spray.
  • Brown the meat: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook while mincing it with a wooden spoon.
  • Sauté the onion: Stir in the onion, chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin and cook for 5 minutes longer.
  • Add the veggies: Stir in the beans, corn, crushed tomatoes, and 1 cup of cheese. Continue to cook for 3-4 minutes more.
Cooking beef, corn, black beans and tomatoes in a skillet.
  • Assemble the casserole: Add a layer of crushed cornflakes or crushed tortilla chips of choice to the bottom of your prepared baking dish. Spread a layer of taco meat mixture, followed by a layer of cheese. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up. Finish by topping the casserole with the remaining cheese.
Layering beef mixture, cornflakes and cheese in a baking dish.
  • Bake: Place in the oven, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is golden on top.
  • Serve: Enjoy with toppings of your choice and dig in!
Spooning out a serving of a taco bake.

Tips for recipe success

Even though this recipe is really quite simple, here are a few tips for the best results.

  • Freshly grated cheese: If you have the time, we recommend grating your own cheese. The bagged pre-shredded cheeses are coated in anti-caking agents and just don’t melt as smoothly.
  • Pre-cut onion: To save a bit of time and effort, buy pre-cut onion from the produce department or the frozen food aisle.
  • Crushing tortilla chips: An easy way to crush the tortilla chips is to place them in a resealable bag and use a rolling pin or meat mallet. You want your chips to be coarsely crushed (not really fine crumbs), about 1/4-inch-sized pieces.
top view taco casserole in a white dish, topped with sliced jalapenos

Variations

Taco casserole is super versatile and easy to customize with different ingredients, depending on what you like and have on hand. Here are some options:

  • Meat: Ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground bison all work fine instead of beef.
  • Beans: Feel free to swap the black beans with pinto beans or kidney beans. You could even add in veggies, like diced red bell pepper or green chiles.
  • Cheese: Use any favorite cheese – cheddar, Colby, Monterey jack cheese, or pepper jack are all great options.
  • Spice it up: If you love spicy, you have a few options to kick up the heat: 1) add about 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper when adding the other spices, 2) add chopped, pickled jalapeños to the filling, or 3) add minced chipotle peppers to the filling. Alternatively, you can allow everyone to control the spice level of their own portion by offering hot sauce or “hot” salsa as a topping option.
Beefy casserole topped with cheese and sliced jalapeños.

Frequently asked questions

What side dish is good with taco casserole?

This is hearty enough to serve on its own and doesn’t really need any sides, especially if you load it up with toppings! However, some good options are light, fresh green salad with chopped tomato, diced avocado, and dressing. We also love to pair Mexican dinners with chips, salsa, guacamole, and a skinny margarita!

Can you make taco meat ahead of time?

The taco meat can be made a couple of days ahead of time. You can also prep all of the toppings and store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can make the entire casserole in advance. Assemble all the layers, then cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for up to one day. When it’s dinner time, follow the baking instructions as written in the recipe, but add 10 to 15 additional minutes to the baking time, since you’ll be starting with a cold casserole.

How many calories are in a taco casserole?

Calories will vary a bit, depending on the exact ingredients used. However, this recipe has about 211 calories per serving with almost 20 grams of protein, and there are 8 servings.

top view of taco casserole dish

Storing leftovers

Store any leftovers in an airtight container for no more than four days and serve with extra tortilla chips for added crunch.

More Mexican recipes to try

Taco casserole in a white baking dish.

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top view of taco casserole on a dish

Easy Taco Casserole

Taco Casserole is such an easy and tasty way to do taco night! It’s made with layers of tortilla chips, ground beef, onion, beans, corn, and tomatoes, all topped with plenty of cheese and baked to perfection. The ultimate Mexican dish that's sure to get rave reviews from the whole family!
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Diet: Gluten Free
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 211kcal
Author: Rena

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef may use lean ground turkey
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 tsp chili powder or to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 (12 oz) can corn drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups shredded cheese use lite or fat-free
  • 2 cups corn flakes or crushed tortilla chips of choice
  • Optional toppings: tomatoes, green onions, avocado, cilantro, black olives, sour cream or plain yogurt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray a baking dish with cooking oil spray.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook while mincing it with a wooden spoon.
  • Stir in the onion, chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin and cook for 5 minutes longer. Add the beans, corn, crushed tomatoes, and 1 cup of cheese. Continue to cook for 3-4 minutes more.
  • Meanwhile, add a layer of crushed cornflakes or crushed tortilla of choice to the bottom of your prepared baking dish. Spread a layer of taco meat mixture, followed by a layer of cheese. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up. Finish by topping the casserole with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is golden on top.
  • Serve the taco casserole with toppings of your choice and enjoy!

Notes

  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container for no more than four days and serve with extra tortilla chips for added crunch.
  • Healthier corn flakes of choice can be used, or any taco chips of choice.
  • Use lite or fat-free shredded cheese

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 211kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 57mg | Sodium: 274mg | Potassium: 267mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 465IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 153mg | Iron: 4mg
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