Taco Stuffed Shells

Add a Mexican flair to your stuffed shells! Loaded with beef, beans, salsa and cheese, these Taco Stuffed shells are ready for the table in under an hour.

After you all went crazy for our taco lasagna we shared last month, we were inspired to create more traditional dinners with a Mexican flair. My family devoured a more traditional Mexican lasagna (that uses pasta sheets) and then these taco stuffed shells were next.

overhead shot of stuffed shells casserole with tortilla chips and garnishes

Take that same filling that you love in the taco lasagna and use it to stuff jumbo pasta shells. This untraditional Taco Tuesday recipe feeds a crowd. Bring it to your next family gathering or church potluck…your friends and family are sure to love it!

What you’ll love about Mexican stuffed shells:

Here’s what we love about stuffed shells:

  • FULL of Flavor. The tomatoes, the taco seasoning, the cheese and beef…your taste buds will love you!
  • Mild or Spicy. Use hot or mild salsa…and add some pepper sauce if you’d like an even hotter flavor.
  • Serves a Crowd. This serves about 10 people (more or less, depending on how many shells each person eats. And it is the perfect potluck recipe!
  • Freezes Well. In case you don’t need to feed a crowd!

How to Make Stuffed Shells

  • Prepare the pan. Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Spread ½ cup of the salsa in the bottom of the pan.
  • Cook the shells. Set a pot of water to boil. Follow the instructions on the back of the jumbo shells box to cook them. Drain the stuffed shells and rinse them with cool water so you can handle them.
  • Prepare the meat filling. While the shells are cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat. Brown the ground beef, poblano pepper and onion together until the meat is totally cooked and the onion is translucent. Drain off any fat. Add the rinsed and drained beans, Rotel (with juice), taco seasoning and 2 cups of cheddar cheese. Mix well.
  • Stuff the shells. Stuff each shell with the ground beef mixture. The beef mixture filled about 44 shells, which was a whole 12 ounce box. As you fill the shells, place them in the prepared pan.
unbaked stuffed shells casserole
  • Top the shells. Top the shells with the remaining salsa, then sprinkle with the remaining 2 cups of cheese.
  • Bake. Cover the baking pan with foil. Bake for 20 minutes covered, then 10 minutes uncovered or until the shells are heated through.

Can you freeze stuffed shells?

Yes! Assemble the shells and freeze them instead of baking them. We freeze them in a 9×13 or 8×8 foil pan, depending on how many shells we have. Wrap in plastic wrap, then again in foil.

You can freeze stuffed shells for up to 6 weeks.

cheese topped taco stuffed shells in casserole

How to Cook Frozen Pasta Shells

There are two methods to cooking stuffed shells after they’ve been frozen.

  • Bake after defrosted. If you are planning ahead, allow the shells to defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the casserole from the fridge 1 hour before baking, then bake as the recipe suggests. (Don’t forget to remove the plastic wrap!) We like this method the best.
  • Bake from frozen. If you decide at the last minute to serve the stuffed shells and they are frozen, remove them from the freezer (don’t forget to remove the plastic wrap!). Bake as the recipe suggests, but you’ll need to bake them longer with the foil covering them so that they don’t dry out. It will take at about 45 minutes covered, then another 5-10 minutes uncovered to heat through. Remember…the ground beef is already cooked so you are just heating them through.

Note: If you’ve frozen the stuffed shells and think they are looking too dry during baking, simply add more salsa to the shells.

3 mexican stuffed shells on a plate with tortilla chips and guacamole

What to Serve with this Mexican Casserole

With this hearty main dish, you can serve one or two of the following:

Taco Stuffed Shells with spoon
Taco Stuffed Shells with spoon

Taco Stuffed Shells {Mexican Casserole}

5 from 2 votes
Add a Mexican flair to your stuffed shells! Loaded with beef, beans, salsa and cheese, these Taco Stuffed shells are ready for the table in under an hour.
Servings 10
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 12 ounces jumbo pasta shells (about 44 shells)
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef (at least 85% lean)
  • 1 poblano pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 cup onion (white or red)
  • 15 ounces black beans (1 can) (rinsed and drained)
  • 20 ounces Rotel Mexican tomatoes
  • 2 packages taco seasoning (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 15.5 ounces salsa (or picante sauce) (divided)
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (divided)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Spread ½ cup of the salsa in the bottom of the pan.
  • Set a pot of water to boil. Cook the shells as the box suggests.
  • While the shells are cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat. Brown the ground beef, poblano pepper and onion together until the meat is totally cooked and the onion is translucent.
  • Drain off any fat.
  • Add the rinsed and drained beans, Rotel (with juice), taco seasoning and 2 cups of cheddar cheese. Mix well.
  • Drain the stuffed shells and rinse them with cool water so you can handle them.
  • Stuff each shell with the ground beef mixture. The beef mixture filled about 44 shells, which was a whole 12 ounce box.
  • As you fill the shells, place them in the prepared pan.
  • Top the shells with the remaining salsa, then sprinkle with the remaining 2 cups of cheese.
  • Cover the baking pan with foil. Bake for 20 minutes covered, then 10 minutes uncovered or until the shells are heated through.

Notes

The calories shown are based on the recipe making about 40-44 shells, with 1 serving being 4 stuffed shells. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**
  • Use your favorite salsa…any kind is fine!
  • You can easily halve this recipe for smaller amounts.
  • This recipe freezes well. Freeze the shells after you stuff them in an airtight container or a pan that is wrapped in plastic wrap, then again in foil. You can freeze for up to 6 weeks.

Nutrition

Calories: 530kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 1224mg | Potassium: 849mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1431IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 386mg | Iron: 5mg
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 530
Keyword family dinner, potluck, taco tuesday

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Deborah Poole
1 year ago

We make this but put 8oz cream cheese in with the ground beef, and onion. Super creamy!