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Taco Stuffed Shells

Taco Stuffed Shells Recipe


Taco Stuffed Shells combine the best of both worlds: the beloved flavors of Mexican cuisine with the comfort of Italian pasta. This dish features jumbo pasta shells stuffed with a flavorful ground beef and refried bean mixture, topped with cheese and salsa, and baked to perfection. It’s a hearty and satisfying meal that’s perfect for family dinners or entertaining guests. Let’s dive into this delicious recipe!



  • 16 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
  • ¾ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar salsa, divided
  • ¼ cup sliced green onion
  • ¼ cup shredded Cheddar cheese (for topping)
  • ½ cup sour cream (Optional)


1. Preheat and Prepare

  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Cook Pasta Shells: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the jumbo pasta shells and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside to cool.

2. Cook the Ground Beef

  1. Brown the Beef: In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef until browned and fully cooked. Drain any excess fat.
  2. Add Seasoning and Water: Stir in the taco seasoning mix and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.

3. Prepare the Filling

  1. Add Refried Beans: Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the can of refried beans until well combined.
  2. Add Cheese: Mix in ¾ cup of shredded Cheddar cheese until melted and evenly distributed.

4. Stuff the Shells

  1. Stuff the Shells: Spoon the beef and bean mixture into each cooked pasta shell. Arrange the stuffed shells in a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. Add Salsa: Pour half of the salsa (about 1 cup) over the stuffed shells.

5. Bake

  1. Bake: Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  2. Add Cheese: Remove the foil, sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of shredded Cheddar cheese over the top, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

6. Serve

  1. Garnish: Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Garnish with sliced green onions and additional salsa if desired.
  2. Optional: Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top.

Cook’s Notes and Variations


  • Cheese Options: Feel free to use a mix of cheeses like Monterey Jack or Mexican blend for added flavor.
  • Vegetarian Option: Substitute the ground beef with a plant-based meat alternative or more refried beans for a vegetarian version.


  1. Spicy Kick: Add diced jalapeños or hot sauce to the beef mixture for an extra spicy kick.
  2. Vegetable Additions: Mix in some diced bell peppers or corn kernels to the beef and bean mixture for added texture and flavor.
  3. Taco Toppings: Top the baked shells with classic taco toppings like shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, or sliced black olives.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I use a different type of pasta?

A: Jumbo pasta shells work best for stuffing, but if you can’t find them, try using manicotti shells as an alternative.


Q: Can I make this dish ahead of time?

A: Yes, you can prepare the stuffed shells and refrigerate them before baking. When ready to serve, bake as directed, adding a few extra minutes to the baking time.


Q: How do I store leftovers?

A: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave before serving.


Q: Can I freeze Taco Stuffed Shells?

A: Yes, you can freeze the stuffed shells before baking. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet to freeze, then transfer to a freezer-safe container. When ready to bake, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake as directed.


Q: What should I serve with Taco Stuffed Shells?

A: Serve with a side of Spanish rice, a fresh green salad, or tortilla chips with guacamole for a complete meal.

Taco Stuffed Shells are a delightful fusion dish that brings together the comforting elements of pasta with the bold flavors of tacos. This easy-to-make recipe is sure to be a hit with family and friends, offering a fun twist on traditional stuffed shells. Enjoy this dish as a satisfying weeknight dinner or a crowd-pleasing party dish. Happy cooking!