This easy Taco Pasta recipe is made in one pot for fast clean-up with melty cheese in every bite, packed with flavor and healthy ingredients like lean ground beef, black beans, corn, and bell peppers. You’re going to want to make this crowd-pleasing 30 minute meal every week!
One pot pasta is such a timesaver and such an easy way to make a flavor-packed pasta dish. It’s one of my favorite weeknight dinner hacks.
The dry pasta cooks right in the pot with all the other ingredients, rather than boiling it separately in water and then adding it in. This does two things:
- The pasta absorbs all the delicious flavors from the spices, broth, and veggies.
- All the starch from the pasta stays in the pot, creating a thick and luxurious sauce that sticks to every bite.
Plus, fewer dishes!
Ingredients and substitutions
- Veggies: Onion, red bell pepper, garlic, and frozen corn. I prefer using yellow onion, but a red, white, or sweet will do in a pinch. Any color bell pepper will do. Fresh corn may be substituted for frozen.
- Taco seasoning: I used a homemade taco seasoning blend, which is cheaper than store-bought mixes, but you can use the pre-made stuff if you like!
- Salsa: Your favorite store-bought red salsa will work perfectly. You can use mild, medium, or hot depending on your preferences. Or for extra credit, you can whip up a homemade salsa.
- Ground beef: I recommend extra lean or lean, since everything cooks in one pot so you don’t want too much fat left in there. You can also use ground turkey or ground chicken for a leaner option, or omit and double the beans or use a substitute for a vegetarian version.
- Black beans: you can use another kind of bean, like pinto, or omit them if you prefer.
- Pasta: I recommend farfalle (bowtie) pasta. You can use another shape similar in size and density, but keep in mind that you may need a little less or more liquid depending on the shape.
- Chicken broth: you can use vegetable broth as an alternative, or even water in a pinch. If you use water, I’d season the recipe a bit more liberally.
- Shredded cheese: I used a Mexican cheese blend, but you can use shredded Monterey jack, cheddar, or another mild tasting melting cheese of your choice.
- Fixings for serving: I love topping this off with fresh chopped cilantro, diced avocado, sour cream, and hot sauce!
You’ll need a large pot with a lid to make this one pot cheesy taco pasta.
I personally love using a Dutch Oven for this- it’s heavy, and it retains heat and cooks everything really well. Plus, once you’re done making it, you can cover the pasta and it will stay warm for a good half hour or so with the residual heat, in case you (or let’s be honest, your family) isn’t quite ready to sit and eat right away.
Here’s the Dutch Oven I used for this– the Lodge Enameled Dutch Oven is quite affordable compared to other brands, and it’s huge and comes in all kinds of colors! Perfect for roasting a whole chicken or baking crusty artisan bread.
How to make one pot taco pasta
- First, sauté the diced bell pepper and onion in oil. I almost always use olive oil but you can use another cooking oil that you prefer.
- Add the ground beef, taco seasoning, and garlic. Use a wooden spoon to crumble apart the beef as it cooks, browning and cooking completely.
- Pour in the chicken broth and salsa. Stir and bring everything to a boil.
- Add the dry pasta, stir, turn down the heat to low, cover, and simmer until pasta is fully cooked. Stir it occasionally so each piece of pasta gets equal treatment and cooks evenly.
- Once the pasta is cooked, add the black beans and frozen corn. Stir together, and heat for another couple of minutes until it’s all heated up.
- Finally, stir in the shredded cheese until it’s all melted and a thick sauce forms.
Tips and tricks
If the sauce seems too liquidy, you can just let it sit, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes. As it cools, it will thicken. If this doesn’t do the trick or it seems WAY too liquidy, you can simmer it on low, uncovered, stirring every couple of minutes, until enough liquid evaporates and the sauce is thickened.
This taco pasta recipe does not add extra salt. It assumes that the taco seasoning you use already has salt in it. If your taco seasoning doesn’t have salt, or has low salt, you will need to add some.
Like things spicy? Use a spicy salsa, add some hot sauce, add a fresh jalapeño or two, or add some crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper to the mix.
Other easy recipes with Southwest and Mexican-inspired flavors
- Make Ahead Breakfast Tacos
- Veggie-Packed Southwestern Meatloaf
- Green Chile and Corn Chowder
- Avocado Salsa
- One-pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Chorizo and Black Bean Huevos Rancheros
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One Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta
- Dutch Oven (or large heavy pot with lid)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or other cooking oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning see notes
- 1 cup salsa
- 1 lb. ground beef (preferably extra lean or lean)
- 2.5 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth, or water in a pinch
- 8 oz. farfalle or other similar shape- see notes
- 15 oz. canned black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen corn or fresh corn kernels
- 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese such as cheddar, Monterey jack, a blend, etc.
- chopped cilantro, diced avocado, lime wedges, sour cream or any other taco fixings, for serving (optional)
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil (1 tablespoon) over medium high heat. Add the diced onion and bell pepper and sauté until softened and starting to brown (about 3 minutes).
- Add the ground beef (1 lb.), minced garlic (2 cloves) and taco seasoning (1 tablespoon). Cook until ground beef is fully cooked, breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon, (about 5 minutes).
- Add the chicken broth (2.5 cups) and salsa (1 cup). Bring to a boil. Add the pasta (8 oz.) and stir together. Cover and cook on low for 10-12 minutes, or until pasta is cooked all the way and liquid has mostly been absorbed, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the drained and rinsed black beans and frozen corn (1 cup). Continue heating for 2 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until corn and beans are heated through. Stir in the shredded cheese (2 cups) until melted. Serve, garnished with fixings if desired.
- Other pasta shapes: While I haven’t tried this with any other pasta shape, I do think you can substitute rotini, large macaroni, penne, or a pasta shape of a similar size and density for the farfalle. Something like spaghetti might not do as well with this timing and liquid amounts, since it’s thinner and may require less liquid.
- If it seems too liquidy, allow it to sit for about 5 minutes to cool in the pan after adding the cheese. It should thicken as it cools. Alternatively, if it seems like there isn’t enough liquid and the pasta seems dry and undercooked, you can add 1/4-1/2 cup more toward the end of the pasta cooking step.
- About the taco seasoning: I used a homemade taco seasoning mix that had ample salt, so no more salt was needed. If you don’t have taco seasoning on hand, you can use 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon smoked (or regular) paprika, and 1 teaspoon chili powder in this recipe. If you use a taco seasoning without salt, be sure to adjust seasoning if necessary.