If your Cinco de Mayo menu usually consists of some sad tacos, try kicking it up a notch this year with a cheesy taco pasta. It’s become a favorite in my household because it goes from stove to table in less than 30 minutes. Plus, I don’t mind that it only dirties one pot!

But don’t just save it for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta. Make it for Taco Tuesday or anytime you want a simple, tasty meal that can feed a crowd. Top it with some chopped tomatoes and cilantro or avocado for a fresh kick.

Use any bite-sized noodle from your pantry. I’ve tried rotini, large shells, radiatore, and even farfalle — all do a delicious job of soaking up the flavorful Mexican-inspired meat sauce.

For the jarred salsa, I think Herdez adds the best flavor. I like a little kick so I used medium or spicy salsa and even add a dash of cayenne pepper. If you like things milder, or if you’re serving this to a mixed-age crowd, maybe skip these heat enhancing steps.

Easy, Cheesy Taco Pasta_meghan_rodgers_1

Easy, Cheesy Taco Pasta


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp homemade taco seasoning (or 1 store-bought packet)
  • 1 tsp cayenne (optional, if you like a bit more heat)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup jarred salsa
  • 8 ounces dried pasta (I like radiatore, but you can use rotini, large shells, or any bite-sized shape you choose)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (Mexican blend or cheddar)
  • 1 slicing tomato, chopped (optional)
  • Small handful of cilantro (optional)
  • Sliced avocado (optional)


  1. Add ground beef to a large, deep skillet set to medium heat. Season beef with salt and pepper. Crumble beef as it browns. Cook until no more pink is visible. Drain grease.
  2. Sprinkle in taco seasoning and water and stir. Add salsa and pasta noodles. Bring skillet to a boil. Stir then cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Let cook for 15 more minutes, or until pasta is tender.
  3. Remove from heat and add in cheese. Stir until melted.
  4. Top with tomato, cilantro, or avocado, and serve!

Easy, Cheesy Taco Pasta_meghan_rodgers_1

Easy, Cheesy Taco Pasta_meghan_rodgers_1

Cooking a fiesta at home? See, Easy chicken enchiladas recipe.

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.