Taco Stuffed Shells | The Recipe Critic


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These taco stuffed shells are bursting with taco meat and melty cheese and loaded with all your favorite toppings. Your family will love the fun twist of Mexican flavors baked inside tender jumbo pasta shells.

This recipe is a quick and easy weeknight meal and you can never go wrong with pasta. Adults and kids love pasta, that’s why these shells are a no-brainer. For more easy pasta recipes I have you covered. I have delicious pasta recipes with shrimp, chicken, and sausage because I’m all about keeping everyone happy!

Close view of a wooden spoon lifting up a taco stuffed shell from the baking dish. Cilantro and tomatoes are garnished on top and on the side of the baking dish.

What Are Taco Stuffed Shells?

Classic stuffed shells are an Italian-inspired dish, but these shells are stuffed with delicious taco flavors instead! Pasta is a perfect base to take on any flavors you pair it with. Swap out your hard taco shells with soft pasta…it’s unexpectedly tasty! Your family will love this new take on taco night, I can’t wait for you to try this recipe!

Everyone knows and loves these classic stuffed shells, but it’s fun to explore new flavors with pasta. These taco stuffed shells do not disappoint! For more taco-inspired meals try this soup or this salad. They are both so yummy and bursting will tasty taco vibes!

Ingredients Needed

Everything about these shells is amazing. It starts with a ground beef mixture with tomatoes and taco seasoning. Then you mix in shredded cheese which gives the meat such delicious flavor! Follow the recipe card below for exact measurements and you’re all set.

  • Jumbo Pasta Shells: Boil your shells according to the package and have them all ready to assemble for your meat.
  • Ground Beef: Ground beef or ground turkey works here.
  • Water: Helps moisten the taco mixture for spooning into shells.
  • Taco Seasoning: My homemade seasoning is amazing but you can use storebought.
  • Crushed Fire-Roasted Tomatoes: One can of fire-roasted tomatoes adds great flavor and texture.
  • Mexican Cheese: Shredded Mexican-style cheese is the perfect cheese for these shells.
  • Cilantro, Sour Cream, and Green Onions: Top your shells with chopped cilantro and a dollop of sour cream! Green onions and olives would be delicious too!

Taco Stuffed Shells Recipe

Stuffing shells are easy and fun to make! The best part is that it’s a one-pan meal and it comes together quickly on busy weeknights. Follow my instructions below on the recipe card and make this recipe a part of your weekly dinner rotation.

  1. Cook the Shells: Cook your pasta shells al dente, according to the package instructions. Set aside.
  2. Preheat Oven and Prepare Pan: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a 9X13 inch baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray.
  3. Add Beef, Water, and Seasoning to Skillet: In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, cook your ground beef until it is all browned throughout, drain the fat from the beef, and add in your water and taco seasoning. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the taco seasoning into the ground beef, stirring continuously until it is all coated.
  4. Add Tomatoes and Cheese: To the pan, add the crushed tomatoes with juice and 1 cup of cheese. Continue stirring and cook until the ingredients are incorporated and the cheese is melted.
  5. Stuff Shells and Top With Cheese: Spoon the meat mixture into the cooked pasta shells then place them into the prepared baking dish. Once all the shells are in the dish, cover with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.
  6. Bake Shells: Cover your filled pan with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes. You want the shells to be warmed throughout and the cheese to be melted on top.
  7. Broil: If you want to brown your cheese, remove the foil and set your oven to broil on high, for just a couple minutes.
  8. Serve: Enjoy fresh with chopped cilantro, sour cream, and green onions!
First photo of the taco meat mixture in a skillet. Second photo of the cooked shells. Third photo are all the shells stuffed with the taco meat. Fourth photo is shredded cheese sprinkled on top of the shells.

What to Serve With Taco Stuffed Shells

Taco stuffed shells are a one-pan meal, but you can make the meal complete with some delicious sides. I have some yummy ideas for you. I also have some dessert ideas that go along with this taco theme. Your family will love this meal so much that they will be begging you to make it all the time.

  • Salad: A beautiful green salad would make this meal complete! You can keep it simple green salad, or stay with the theme and make this yummy Mexican corn salad.
  • Vegetable: Fresh corn on the cob or broccoli would be perfect with these shells.
  • Fruit: You can never go wrong with fruit. It’s a healthy delicious side to any dinner.
  • Salsa: I love a salsa that can be enjoyed both as a topping and a side! Try this amazing avocado salsa.
  • Dessert: If you have time, you have to make dessert and I highly recommend this churro cheesecake or classic tres leches cake!

Top view of taco stuffed shells in a baking dish and garnished with diced cilantro and tomatoes. A wooden spoon is lifting up some cooked shells.

Storing Leftovers

Leftover taco stuffed shells make a great lunch the next day! They reheat perfectly and can be enjoyed at a later time or whenever you want. Follow my storing instructions below and you’re all set.

  • In the Refrigerator: Place leftover taco stuffed shells in an airtight container and then in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • In the Freezer: Seal cooked shells in an airtight container. Place them in the freezer then freeze for 2-3 months. Thaw before reheating.
  • To Reheat: Reheat the shells in the microwave for 2 minutes. You can also reheat them in the oven by placing them in a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until hot and bubbly. Sprinkle more shredded cheese on top if desired and bake until melted.

Close up view of taco stuffed shells on a plate. A gold fork is resting on the plate next to the shells.


  • Cook your pasta shells al dente, according to the package instructions. Set aside.

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a 9X13 inch baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray.

  • In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef until it is all browned throughout, drain the fat from the beef, and add in your water and taco seasoning.

  • Reduce the heat to medium and cook the taco seasoning into the ground beef, stirring continuously until it is all coated.

  • To the pan, add the crushed tomatoes with juice and 1 cup of cheese. Continue stirring and cooking until the ingredients are incorporated and the cheese has melted.

  • Stuff your cooked pasta shells and place the stuffed shells into the prepared baking dish. Once all the shells are stuffed and in the dish, cover with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.

  • Cover your filled pan with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes. You want the shells to be warmed throughout and the cheese melted on top.

  • If you want to brown your cheese, remove the foil and set your oven to broil on high, for just a couple minutes.

  • Enjoy fresh with chopped cilantro, sour cream, and green onions!



Serves: 6

Serving2shellsCalories555kcal (28%)Carbohydrates47g (16%)Protein30g (60%)Fat27g (42%)Saturated Fat12g (60%)Polyunsaturated Fat1gMonounsaturated Fat10gTrans Fat1gCholesterol89mg (30%)Sodium465mg (19%)Potassium367mg (10%)Fiber3g (12%)Sugar4g (4%)Vitamin A687IU (14%)Vitamin C2mg (2%)Calcium295mg (30%)Iron3mg (17%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Dinner

Cuisine Mexican

Keyword taco stuffed shells





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