Taco Stuffed Shells

Ingredients ( 4 servings ) 8 jumbo pasta shells ½ pound ground beef ½ (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix ½ cup water ½ (16 ounce) can refried beans ⅓ cup shredded Cheddar cheese ½ (16 ounce) jar salsa, divided 2 tablespoons sliced green onion 2 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese ¼ cup sour cream

Taco Stuffed Shells combine the best of both worlds: the flavors of a classic taco and the comforting appeal of stuffed pasta shells. This dish is perfect for a fun family dinner or a gathering with friends. With seasoned ground beef, refried beans, and cheese all nestled in jumbo pasta shells and topped with salsa and more cheese, it’s a meal that’s sure to please everyone. Let’s dive into this delicious recipe and learn how to make Taco Stuffed Shells step-by-step.

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 8 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 (16 ounce) can refried beans
  • 1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 (16 ounce) jar salsa, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onion
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese (for topping)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream


Step 1: Cook the Pasta Shells

  1. Boil Pasta:
    • 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.

Step 2: Prepare the Beef Filling

  1. Cook Ground Beef:
    • In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef until browned, breaking it apart with a spoon as it cooks. Drain any excess fat.
  2. Add Taco Seasoning:
    • Stir in the taco seasoning mix and 1/2 cup of water. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens.
  3. Add Refried Beans:
    • Stir in the refried beans until well combined. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Step 3: Assemble the Shells

  1. Fill Shells:
    • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Spread half of the salsa in the bottom of a baking dish. Fill each cooked pasta shell with the beef and bean mixture and place them in the baking dish.
  2. Top with Cheese and Salsa:
    • Sprinkle 1/3 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese over the filled shells. Spoon the remaining salsa over the top.

Step 4: Bake

  1. Bake:
    • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Step 5: Serve

  1. Garnish:
    • Remove the baking dish from the oven and let it cool slightly. Garnish with sliced green onions, the remaining 2 tablespoons of shredded Cheddar cheese, and dollops of sour cream.
  2. Serve:
    • Serve the taco stuffed shells hot, with extra sour cream and salsa on the side if desired.

Cooking Notes and Tips

  • Pasta Shells: Be sure to cook the pasta shells al dente, as they will continue to cook slightly when baked.
  • Cheese: Feel free to use other types of cheese such as Monterey Jack or a Mexican blend.
  • Beans: You can use black beans or pinto beans instead of refried beans for a different texture.


Chicken Taco Stuffed Shells

  • Use Ground Chicken:
    • Substitute ground beef with ground chicken and follow the same instructions.

Vegetarian Taco Stuffed Shells

  • Use Vegetables:
    • Replace the ground beef with a mixture of sautéed vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and zucchini, and use vegetarian refried beans.

Spicy Taco Stuffed Shells

  • Add Spice:
    • Add diced jalapeños to the beef mixture or use a spicy salsa for an extra kick.

Serving Suggestions

With Sides

  • With Mexican Rice:
    • Serve with Mexican rice or cilantro lime rice for a complete meal.
  • With Salad:
    • Pair with a simple green salad or a Mexican-style corn salad.

With Toppings

  • With Guacamole:
    • Serve with guacamole or avocado slices for added richness.
  • With Extra Salsa:
    • Have extra salsa or pico de gallo on the side for additional flavor.

With Beverages

  • With Margaritas:
    • Enjoy with a classic margarita or a cold beer.
  • With Lemonade:
    • Serve with lemonade or iced tea for a refreshing drink.


Q: Can I make this dish ahead of time? A: Yes, you can assemble the stuffed shells ahead of time, cover, and refrigerate them. When ready to bake, follow the baking instructions, adding a few extra minutes to the covered baking time if needed.

Q: How do I store leftovers? A: Store any leftover stuffed shells 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 assembled taco stuffed shells. Cover tightly and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking.

Q: What if I don’t have jumbo pasta shells? A: You can use regular-sized pasta shells and make mini stuffed shells, or use another type of pasta like manicotti.

Q: Can I add other vegetables? A: Yes, you can add vegetables like corn, black olives, or diced tomatoes to the filling for added texture and flavor.

Taco Stuffed Shells are a fun and delicious fusion dish that’s perfect for any occasion. With their savory beef and bean filling, topped with cheese and salsa, these stuffed shells are sure to be a hit. Whether you stick to the classic recipe or try one of the variations, Taco Stuffed Shells are easy to make and always satisfying. Enjoy making and sharing this delightful dish with your family and friends!

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