Taco Casserole with Ground Beef

4.39

Jump to Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

With layers of seasoned ground beef, tortillas, enchilada sauce, and cheese, Taco Casserole is a fun weeknight meal that can be made ahead and is freezer-friendly. It’s taco night with everything baked together in a single dish. 

Taco Casserole in a clear baking dish

For even more taco fun, you can finish the dish with your favorite taco toppings like sour cream, black olives, fresh tomatoes, or shredded lettuce or serve it with chips for dipping. 

This recipe came about after two things happened. First – so many of you made and liked Chicken Enchilada Casserole (including me – I make this all.the.time) that I knew we all needed another Tex Mex Casserole in the rotation. 

Second – I wanted a use for leftover Slow Cooker Taco Meat. That delicious, flavorful, slow cooker taco meat makes enough for our family taco night with just enough leftovers for this casserole. Make this a two meal combo – slow cooker tacos one night and taco casserole set aside for the end of the week. 

But even if you just want to make this casserole on its own – I’ve got you covered. Here’s how to do it!

[feast_advanced_jump_to]

taco casserole in a clear dish with a spoon

Ingredients for Taco Casserole

  • Corn or Flour Tortillas – I have a soft spot for flour tortillas, but love the flavor and texture of corn tortillas in this dish. It works well either way. Keep in mind that this is a true casserole-style dish, so the tortillas are surrounded by liquid and change texture / get tender as they cook. After cooking, the corn tortillas are a bit crumbly and the four textures are a bit more tender / soft.
  • Seasoned Ground Beef – To make the taco meat for this casserole, brown ground beef in a skillet with tomato paste, ground cumin, chili powder, salt, ground coriander, and black pepper. 80% lean ground beef works well here and has a good amount of fat for flavor without being too greasy. A more lean beef works fine, but will have a slightly drier texture. It’s worth nothing that my taco meat in a slow cooker is a great place to start and you can skip the seasoning in this recipe if you start with that flavorful cooked beef.
  • Red Enchilada Sauce – Be sure to use a mild enchilada sauce unless you like a lot of spice. Homemade Enchilada Sauce tastes even better than store-bought and uses pantry staples you may already have in your kitchen!
  • Shredded Cheese – Monterey Jack Cheese or Mexican blend are great here. I buy the pre-shredded cheese for this recipe but you can, of course, shred it yourself too.
  • Tortilla Chips – While you can totally skip these, tortilla chips add a great crunch to contrast the softer texture of the casserole. Crumble them over top or serve them on the side for scooping.
taco beef mixture, shredded cheese, tortilla strips, and enchilada sauce on a white table

Gluten-Free Taco Casserole 

This dish can easily be made gluten-free. Just be sure to grab gluten-free certified corn tortillas, enchilada sauce (or make it yourself using the recipe linked above), and tortilla chips. 

What to Serve with It

A fun way to serve this meal is to set out all the toppings like a taco bar. Put any or all of the following ingredients in bowls on the table and serve the casserole hot out of the oven. Because the casserole has a soft texture after baking, it’s great with chips for some crunch / scooping power.

  • Sliced Black Olives
  • Chopped Fresh Tomatoes
  • Chopped Green Onions
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa
  • Shredded Romaine or Iceberg Lettuce
  • Tortilla Chips
layering ingredients for taco casserole in a clear baking dish
taco casserole in a clear baking dish before going into the oven

Freeze This Meal

To Freeze This Meal: To freeze this meal, assemble the entire casserole in a freezer-safe 8×8 pan (disposable aluminum baking pans are great for this), leaving out the final ½ cup Shredded Cheese. Tightly cover the dish. Freeze for up to 4 to 6 months.

To Cook the Meal: Defrost the casserole in the refrigerator for 48 to 72 hours. (Be sure to give this enough time to defrost before baking. Once the casserole is frozen solid, it takes a long time to fully defrost.) Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake at 425°F for 20 minutes (add 10 to 15 minutes if the casserole was still chilled / baked from the refrigerator). Remove foil and add reserved ½ cup shredded cheese. Bake, uncovered for 10 minutes more. 

Print the recipe below for a label with reheating instructions you can attach to the top of the meal!

How to Deliver This Meal to Someone Else

This would be a fun meal to deliver to someone who could use a little extra TLC because it is super easy to bake and serve.

Deliver with:

  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Tortilla Chips

More Make-Ahead Casseroles

  • Chicken Enchilada Casserole – The original inspiration for this recipe. Made with similar ingredients, with chicken, black beans, and corn. 
  • Spicy Breakfast Strata with Chorizo, Red Pepper, and Cheddar – A few years ago, if you came over for brunch at our house, this is what we were serving. Strata is just an egg casserole, but the combination of spicy chorizo, creamy melted cheese, and hearty bread cubes in this version makes it my all-time favorite. It’s as good for dinner as it is for breakfast or brunch.
  • Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta Bake – Sweet potatoes mixed into the creamy cheese sauce of this baked pasta make it a bit healthier than classic macaroni and cheese, but also add a ton of flavor and creaminess.

Favorite Tools

taco casserole in a clear baking dish on a white table

Pin this now to save it for later

Pin It Now
Taco Casserole in a clear baking dish
4.39 from 18 votes

Taco Casserole with Ground Beef

With layers of seasoned ground beef, tortillas, enchilada sauce, and cheese, Taco Casserole is a fun weeknight meal that can be made ahead and is freezer-friendly. It’s taco night with everything baked together in a single dish.
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • Skillet
  • 8×8 Square Baking Dish

Ingredients 

  • 6 Taco-Sized Corn or Flour Tortillas, sliced into strips (be sure to use gluten-free tortillas if needed)
  • 1 Tablespoon Cooking Oil (I use avocado oil or grape seed oil)
  • 1 pound Ground Beef (80% lean; see note)
  • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder (this casserole isn’t super spicy, but if you don’t want any spice at all, use paprika instead of chili powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 3/4 cup Frozen Corn
  • 1 1/2 cups Mild Red Enchilada Sauce (store-bought or make homemade enchilada sauce)
  • 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, divided (sub shredded Mexican Blend)
  • Tortilla Chips, for serving

Optional Toppings (anything you like on tacos will work)

  • Sliced Black Olives
  • Chopped Fresh Tomatoes
  • Chopped Green Onions
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa
  • Shredded Romaine or Iceberg Lettuce

Instructions 

  • Heat oven to 425°F. Spray an 8×8 square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or rub it with some cooking oil.
  • Slice tortillas into strips (about 4 to 5 strips per tortilla).
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and when it begins to shimmer, add beef. Saute beef, breaking it apart as it cooks, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain off any excess fat or liquid from the pan. Add tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, salt, ground coriander, and black pepper and stir it into the beef, cooking for 3 minutes more.
  • Stir frozen corn into beef until fully defrosted. Set aside.
  • In the prepared baking dish, layer ingredients as follows:
    – Beef / Corn (use 1/3 of the mixture)
    – 1/2 cup Enchilada Sauce
    – Tortilla Strips (use 1/2 of the tortillas)
    – Beef / Corn (use 1/3 of the mixture)
    – 1/2 cup Enchilada Sauce
    – 1 cup Cheese
    – Tortilla Strips (use 1/2 of the tortillas)
    – 1/2 cup Enchilada Sauce
    – Beef / Corn (use 1/3 of the mixture)
  • Cover the enchilada casserole tightly with aluminum foil. Place it on a sheet pan (in case it bubbles over).
  • Bake, covered, for 20 minutes (add 10 to 15 minutes if the dish has been refrigerated before baking).
  • Remove foil and add the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.
  • Return casserole to oven and continue baking, uncovered, until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes more.
  • Let casserole rest for 5 min before slicing. (The slices will hold together better if it’s slightly cooled before serving.)
  • Serve immediately with chips and any toppings you’d like!

Notes

Slow Cooker Taco Meat is a great meat to use in this recipe. If you want to make this a two-part meal, make a batch of slow cooker taco meat. Use half of the cooked meat for tacos, nachos, or burritos one night. Use the remaining half of the cooked meat for this casserole.
Gluten-Free: This dish can easily be made gluten-free. Just be sure to grab gluten-free certified corn tortillas, enchilada sauce (or make it yourself), and tortilla chips.
Make Ahead / Freeze : If you want to make this meal ahead, take it to someone else, or freeze it, assemble the casserole, leaving off the final 1/2 cup of cheese topping.
Print and attach the label below so cooking instructions are ready when you are!
 
taco casserole with ground beef freezer label

Nutrition

Calories: 336kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 957mg | Potassium: 435mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 792IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 242mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $10.75
Calories: 336
Keyword: casserole, easy freezer meal, gluten free, make-ahead meal, tex mex
Like this? Leave a comment below!Jump to Comments

Want to save this recipe?
Get it emailed to you directly! Enter your email below.

About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at InquiringChef.com. She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

4.39 from 18 votes (16 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This has been my go-to recipe to take to a friend since COVID started. The best part is that I make 2 at a time — one for my family to eat that night and one to a sick friend. It’s so easy to print out the recipe label and put it on top, in case they want to freeze it. Before I started taking it to friends, I froze one myself because I am kind of picky about texture after something is frozen (don’t want soggy!) and it was delicious. My kids love helping make the layers too!

  2. I dont understand slicing shells “thick”. Do you mean stack like 5 of them, then cut up? Sorry..really want to try this but dont want tomes it up. TY.

    1. Yes! Sorry if that is confusing Doreen – I’ll go back and see if I can write that instruction in a more clear way. Just stack them all up and then cut into strips. When you add them to the casserole, you’ll just put the strips down in a single layer. But don’t worry about this step too much. You can cut the tortillas into any size or shape and then, as long as you just add them to the casserole in a single layer, they’ll be just fine.

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe was so great! I am all about tacos and anything Tex-Mex; my husband, not so much. But I made this today and I swear hubby ate more than I did! I liked that it wasn’t a huge casserole and more for 2-3 people (hey, we like to eat!). Definitely a keeper!