Taco Mac & Cheese

Active Time: 15 Mins
Total Time: 50 Mins
Yield: Serves 8 (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups)

When taco night meets mac and cheese, magic happens. Melty cheese, hearty ground beef, and a creamy Tex-Mex inspired sauce come together in this taco-mac skillet for a maximum comfort food meal. You can absolutely prep this cheesy dinner bake ahead of time to make for even easier weeknight prep; simply assemble (following the recipe through step 4), then cover tightly and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake (add a few minutes to the bake time if you’re going from the fridge to the oven). You can typically find taco skillet sauce shelved near the dry taco seasoning and tortillas in the supermarket.


  • 12 ounces uncooked elbow pasta
  • 1 pound 80/20 ground chuck
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (from 1 onion)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (from 1 bell pepper)
  • 1(8-oz.) pkg. ground beef taco skillet sauce with mild red chile and cumin (such as Frontera Brand)
  • 2(8-oz.) blocks Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
  • 4 ounces mild Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (about 2 1/8 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • Toppings: sour cream, halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced fresh jalapeños, fresh cilantro leaves

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare pasta according to package directions, cooking to al dente; drain well, and set aside.

Step 2

Combine ground beef, onion, and bell pepper in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until beef is thoroughly cooked and onions and peppers are soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, and drain off any liquid. Stir in taco sauce and cooked pasta.

Step 3

Toss together shredded cheeses in a medium bowl; reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture. 

Step 4

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low; whisk in flour and salt until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; increase heat to medium, and cook, whisking constantly, until milk mixture is thickened and bubbly, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir sauce into pasta mixture. Stir in remaining 3 1/2 cups of cheese. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased (with cooking spray) 12-inch ovenproof skillet or a lightly greased (with cooking spray) 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top evenly with reserved 1 1/2 cups cheese. 

Step 5

Bake in preheated oven until bubbly and golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve immediately with desired toppings.

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