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Spice up Taco Tuesday with a shell-free twist! This easy taco casserole recipe brings together all the irresistible flavors of a classic taco, but in casserole form. It’s similar to my low carb taco casserole and Mexican casserole, except this taco bake recipe features additions like beans and corn that make it even more filling and satisfying. It’s the perfect healthy dinner for busy weeknights!
Why You’ll Love This Taco Casserole Recipe
- Traditional taco flavors
- Layers of textures
- Fresh, simple ingredients
- Quick prep time with hands-off cooking
- Versatile and customizable
- Healthy and naturally gluten-free
- Perfect for weeknight dinners, feeding a crowd, or meal prep
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for taco bake casserole, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
You can make taco casserole recipes in many different ways. I’ll show you what I put in my easy version, plus substitution options:
- Olive Oil – Used for sauteing the meat and veggies in this taco bake. You can use avocado oil or any neutral cooking oil you prefer.
- Ground Beef – I prefer 85/15 lean ground beef for this taco casserole recipe, but you can use any kind you like. Feel free to switch up the protein and use ground turkey, Mexican chorizo, ground chicken, or even shredded chicken.
- Taco Seasoning – I like to make my own taco seasoning recipe, which takes just 5 minutes with simple spices: chili powder, ground cumin, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. However, store-bought works if you prefer. You’ll need to add extra salt to the meat if your seasoning is unsalted.
- Bell Peppers – I used red and orange bell peppers, but any color will work. You can also use other types of peppers, such as poblano peppers or even add some jalapenos for extra heat.
- Beans – I chose black beans, but you can substitute with pinto beans, kidney beans, or even lentils for a different twist.
- Corn – I used organic canned corn. You can also use frozen corn kernels instead.
- Salsa – Make fresh homemade salsa in just 5 minutes for the best flavors, or use store-bought for convenience. You could swap in salsa verde instead. Salsas that are not pureed are not ideal here, but you can use pico de gallo, mango salsa, or pineapple salsa for topping if you like.
- Sour Cream – You can use Greek yogurt, avocado crema, or dairy-free alternatives like coconut cream or cashew cream for a similar creamy and tangy taste.
- Mexican Blend Cheese – This shredded cheese blend works perfectly with the Mexican flavors, but you can also use cheddar cheese, Monterey jack cheese, or really any cheese you like.
VARIATION: Add onions!
I didn’t include them to keep the prep time minimal, but you can throw in a diced onion at the same time that you add the bell peppers. The cook time for that step might take a little longer with the onions added.
Toppings are not required to make a taco casserole, but I think it tastes so much better if you add them! Feel free to use any combination of these that you like:
- Sour Cream
- Fresh Cilantro – For a burst of freshness and color on your taco bake. If you’re not a fan, feel free to omit it or use other fresh herbs, like parsley.
- Lettuce – You can also use shredded cabbage as a topping.
- Roma Tomatoes – I topped this dish with diced roma tomatoes, but you could also use cherry tomatoes, vine-ripened tomatoes, or even more salsa.
- Black Olives – Top it with sliced black olives for a briny and savory addition, or substitute with sliced green olives, Kalamata olives, or even pickled jalapeños for a unique twist.
- Avocado – Top it with creamy avocado slices, or substitute with guacamole.
How To Make Taco Casserole
This section shows how to make taco bake, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Cook the beef. In a large skillet (I recommend a cast iron skillet), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and brown. Drain off any excess grease.
- Add the taco seasoning. Stir in the taco seasoning and water. Let simmer until the water evaporates.
- Add the diced bell peppers, black beans, and corn. Stir and continue cooking until the peppers are soft.
- Assemble the taco casserole. Spread a thin layer of salsa on the bottom of a casserole dish. Add the beef and vegetable mixture on top of the salsa. Add dollops of sour cream over the ground beef mixture, spreading evenly. Pour the remaining salsa evenly over the sour cream.
- Bake. Place the taco casserole in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and browned, and the casserole is bubbly.
- Add toppings. Sprinkle toppings of your choice over the taco bake before serving.
- Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
- Meal prep: Prepare and assemble the taco casserole in a baking dish, cover it tightly with foil or a lid, and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. Bake when ready to eat. You can also portion out individual servings into meal prep containers for easy grab-and-go meals throughout the week.
- Reheat: Place individual portions in a microwave-safe dish and heat in 1-minute intervals until warm, or heat the entire casserole in the oven oven at 350 degrees F.
- Freeze: You can freeze this taco bake before or after the oven step. Cover the baking dish tightly in plastic wrap (cool completely first if already baked) followed by a layer of foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. You can reheat in the oven from frozen, but it will be much faster if you thaw overnight in the fridge. You can also freeze individual portions in zip lock bags or containers.
What To Serve With Taco Casserole
Taco casserole recipes make the perfect meal all on their own, but they can also pair easily with sides. Here are some ideas:
- Chips & Dip – Serve your favorite tortilla chips (or make almond flour tortilla chips for a healthier choice) with fresh salsa, creamy guacamole, or cheesy queso dip.
- Rice – Make a side of Mexican rice, or cilantro lime cauliflower rice for a lighter option, to go with your taco casserole.
- Salads – For the full taco experience, pair this taco bake recipe with fresh taco slaw, or simply pair it with a simple wedge salad for an easy weeknight dinner.
- Soup – For a complete Mexican themed meal, serve this casserole after a Mexican chicken soup.
- Drinks – Whip up a quick skinny margarita for the ultimate Mexican night!
More Taco-Inspired Recipes
No shells needed! If you like this Mexican casserole, here are some other quick and easy taco-inspired recipes for next time:
Taco Casserole Recipe (Taco Bake)
Taco Casserole Recipe (Taco Bake)
Make an easy taco bake for dinner! This taco casserole recipe is packed with savory flavors from beef, black beans, salsa, and melty cheese.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook for 8-10 minutes, breaking apart with a spatula, until it's no longer pink. Drain off any excess grease.
Stir in the taco seasoning and 3/4 cup of water. Let it simmer until the water evaporates, about 5 minutes.
Add the diced bell peppers, black beans, and corn to the skillet. Stir and continue cooking for 5 minutes, until the peppers are soft.
Spread a thin layer of salsa on the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Add the beef and vegetable mixture on top of the salsa.
Add dollops of sour cream over the beef, then spread evenly.
Pour the remaining salsa evenly over the sour cream. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.
Bake taco casserole for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
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Serving size: 1 1/2 cups
Nutrition info does not include optional toppings.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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