Let’s talk this creamy taco pasta recipe! This recipe. Y’all, this recipe is pretty much my idea of comfort food. I love mac and cheese, pizza, and ice cream as much as the next gal, but if I need comfort, a big, steaming bowl of this spicy, creamy taco macaroni is where I’ll go every. single. time.
We probably eat this taco pasta skillet at least once a week. Not only is it super delicious and good for you, but it also comes together in a flash. This is one of those one-pot wonders that leaves your belly full and your kitchen clean. It’s the perfect dish to eat on a crazy school night.
Wait, do I really need to add THAT much water?
When you go to make this, you’re probably going to think I’m a little crazy, because at one point, I tell you to put three whole cups of water into the skillet. You’ll stir it around, and it’ll look like the pasta and other ingredients are drowning in a lake. It’ll look like it will never, ever come together to be the creamy taco macaroni skillet you see in these photos. You’ll get nervous. But fear not.
After a few minutes of boiling, the macaroni softens and absorbs some of the liquid, and the sauce becomes super rich, velvety, and, well, dreamy. We can call it dreamy, right?
What do I need to make this taco pasta recipe?
To make this simple skillet recipe, you’ll need:
- Olive oil
- Green bell pepper
- Ground beef
- Canned diced tomatoes with chiles
- Black beans
- Store-bought or homemade taco seasoning
- Whole-wheat elbow macaroni. Other small noodles, like small or medium pasta shells, will also work.
- Full fat coconut milk (the stuff in a can) or plain Greek yogurt
- Sour cream, shredded cheese, or fresh cilantro, for serving
What else makes the sauce of this taco pasta skillet so creamy?
The second part of getting the sauce to be creamy is a cup of full fat coconut milk (the stuff that comes in the can). It lends just a little bit of sweetness, and a ton of velvety texture to the dish. If you don’t have coconut milk around, you can also sub in about half a cup of plain Greek yogurt. Just make sure to let the dish cool for a few minutes before mixing the yogurt in. Greek yogurt tends to break down and get clumpy and lumpy if it is mixed with too hot of food. Just take the pan off the burner for 5-10 minutes before you mix your yogurt in, and you should be good.
What if I don’t have macaroni noodles?
If you don’t have elbow macaroni, you can substitute in any other small pasta instead. Larger noodles may not cook through well enough in this recipe, but other small noodles should be just fine!
How do I make this taco pasta skillet meet my dietary needs?
If you’re a vegetarian or gluten-free or dairy-free, this taco macaroni skillet will take a lot of adaptation and keep on keepin’ on. Leave out the beef and instead try lean ground turkey, more beans, or even cubed tofu. Use gluten-free pasta if that’s your bag. And if you don’t top the dish with sour cream, you’ve got a totally dairy-free dinner. Adapt away!
How can I make this into a school lunch?
If your kid loves this taco pasta as much as mine does, then take advantage of the leftovers by packing them for lunch. We heat up a portion in the morning and pack it in a thermos, which keeps it warm until lunchtime. Pack a condiment cup of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt to top the pasta if your kid likes it that way!
Also pictured with this school lunch:
- Apple slices treated with Ball Canning Fruit Fresh
- Avocado, also treated with Ball Canning Fruit Fresh
- Cheese cubes
- Greek yogurt to go on top of the pasta