Tex-Mex Taco Bake

If it is Tuesday, chances are pretty good that I’m going to be making tacos. They’re easy, they’re fast and they’re a vessel for lots and lots of cheese. What’s not to love?

Even when you love something a lot, you can get a little tired of it. Sometimes you just need a change.

That’s how I was feeling when I set out to shake up Taco Tuesdays. I wanted something a little different that would still be a hit with the girls. I found a lot of taco casseroles online, but they all used taco seasoning packages. I came up with this Tex-Mex Taco Bake that uses spices you’re likely to have on hand. It takes a little longer to prepare than standard tacos, but it’s a nice change of pace. The tacos lose most of their crunch in the process, but you still get a little bit of crunch along the edges.

But you don’t have to wait until a Tuesday to make this—it is a great meal any day of the week.

As you can see by this photo, breaking up the shells is a great job to delegate—especially to princesses!

Tex-Mex Taco Bake

  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro (optional)
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 cup Mexican small red beans (or black beans)
  • 1.5 cups mild salsa
  • 2 tbsp roasted red peppers, diced (jarred)
  • 12 taco shells, broken (156 g box)
  • ½ cup light sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese


  1. Spray a 9” square pan with cooking spray and preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line bottom of pan with half of the broken taco shells.
  3. Saute onions in a large skillet three minutes until soft; add ground beef and sauté for 10-12 minutes until browned.
  4. Combine spices in small bowl (chili powder, paprika, salt, cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, cumin and cayenne) and add to beef. Saute one more minute. Stir in Mexican small red beans, roasted red peppers and salsa until combined well.
  5. Layer half of the meat mixture on top of the broken taco shells.
  6. Spread the sour cream over the meat.
  7. Sprinkle one cup of cheese over the sour cream.
  8. Layer the remaining half of taco shells.
  9. Add remaining half of meat mixture over shells.
  10. Sprinkle last cup of cheese on top of casserole.
  11. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until dish is brown and bubbling hot.
  12. Serve with your favourite taco toppings such as sour cream, green onions, jalapenos and salsa.


  • To lighten this dish, you can use ground turkey in place of ground beef.
  • Given that fresh cilantro has such a distinctive flavour, you may want to avoid substituting fresh cilantro for the dried cilantro if preparing this for kids. The dried cilantro is widely available in supermarkets.
  • I have used mild salsa because this is for kids. Feel free to spice up the recipe to suit your tastes!

27 Comments on “Tex-Mex Taco Bake”

  1. I love your little Princess:) This looks like a deluxe version of my fav appetizer (nachos).. what a treat to have it for dinner!!

  2. I am sure a vegetarian version can be made of this divine dinner! It looks so scrumptiously cheesy and delicious 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

    • Yes, very cheesy indeed. You could create a veggie version of this, adding in other veggies like corn, and perhaps using black beans as well. I used the roasted peppers to sneak them in there on my daughters (they like to pick things out), but using fresh peppers would work well in a veggie version.

  3. Eva Taylor says:

    This looks great Barb. If you still wanted some crunch, you could break up some additional tacos and sprinkle on top…or even natchos!
    It does looks very cheesy indeed. Lucky you to have a princess helping you!

    • Great idea to add some nachos on top — my girls would like the way you think! When did we stop dressing like a princess when we cook? What holds us back anyway?

      • Eva Taylor says:

        I know I stopped when my train caught fire while I stood on a ladder reaching to the cabinet on top of the stove. I was lucky, it didn’t happen years earlier.
        When did you stop?
        BTW, I’m really peeved about the way wordpress now limits access to your blog address if you are commenting on another wordpress account. I now sign my comments like this to have the link.
        Eva http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com

  4. Beth says:

    This sounds delicious! I love that you’ve made it without a mix.

  5. Sissi says:

    Barb, these gorgeous tacos make me think Mexican food can be luscious without swimming in fat (difficult to believe if one visits the local restaurants). I haven’t cooked anything Mexican for ages. Time to change! Thank you for the inspiration.

    • The restaurants can really add a lot of fat, can’t they? This version uses more cheese than I would when I make regular tacos, but this is worth the splurge once in a while. Do you ever get stuck making the same things a lot?

      • Sissi says:

        Oh, yes… I do make certain dishes all the time, my favourite ones, but I think I would die if I didn’t make a new modification or a completely new dish at least once a week. Some of my recent discoveries are becoming staples… The Japanese savoury omelet (okonomiyaki) is the obligatory Sunday dish now (and I have discovered it only a couple of months ago)! And I usually make a double batch and have it once more on Monday or Tuesday, so I feel that going out of routine might be getting into another routine until it’s replaced by a new routine… (I hope you understand what I mean 😉 )

        • I definitely understand what you mean Sissy. I love the fact that a recent discovery has become a staple for you. Your blogging must really help to keep you trying new things every week, since there’s an endless supply of great ideas out there!

  6. Charles says:

    I love tacos so much – My wife introduced me to the joys of meatless “fried bean” tacos recently… SOOO good :D! I love your list of ingredients – cheese, cilantro, roasted pepper, oh my! All the things I adore 🙂

    • Looks like we like the same flavours Charles! I’d love to try the meatless tacos — but alas my husband complains when I leave out the meat. He even complains when I try to swap the beef with ground turkey!

  7. Norma Chang says:

    Perhaps you could substitute frozen tofu for part of the ground beef.

    • Thanks Norma. Sounds like a good idea. Can I ask why it should be frozen? Just curious to know the benefits of using it versus fresh?

      • Norma Chang says:

        The texture of tofu changes after freezing and once thawed and squeezed dry can be crumbled and use as substitute for ground meat. Don’t know about the benefits, my guess is (ounce for ounce) it may have a more concentrated protein content.

  8. hotlyspiced says:

    Taco Bake! That sounds so good. I love that list of ingredients. So many flavours there. What an awesome family dinner this would be. Love it! xx

  9. Kristy says:

    Oh my goodness! Your princess and my princess would have a blast in the kitchen. Love it! 🙂 These look delicious and you’re right, they are perfect for any night of the week.

    • Kirsty, I really think they would have a blast — especially if there were some of those peanuts and shells involved!!! I’ve been struggling with meals that make everyone happy these days — so this is one that they all agree on. Here’s to cooking with princesses!

  10. This sounds like it would be an instant crowd-pleaser! I think everyone in my family might enjoy this dish… And trust me, it’s rare that we can all enjoy the same thing. A few small tweaks and it can be veganized in a snap, too. 🙂

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