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Taco-Filled Pasta Shells Recipe

Taco-Filled Pasta Shells Recipe

I've been stuffing pasta shells with different fillings for years, but my family enjoys this version with taco-seasoned meat the most. The frozen shells are so convenient, because you can take out only the number you need for a single-serving lunch or family dinner. Just add zippy taco sauce and bake. —Marge Hodel Roanoke, Illinois
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. + chilling Bake: 45 min. YIELD:12 servings


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 envelopes taco seasoning
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
  • 24 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS (for each casserole):
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup taco sauce
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 3 green onions, chopped


  • 1. In a Dutch oven, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.Stir in taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in cream cheese until melted. Transfer to a bowl; cool. Chill for 1 hour.
  • 2. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Gently toss with butter. Fill each shell with about 3 tablespoons of meat mixture. Place 12 shells in a freezer container. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • 3. To prepare remaining shells, spoon salsa into a greased 9-in. square baking dish. Top with stuffed shells and taco sauce. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheeses and chips. Bake 15 minutes longer or until heated through. Serve with sour cream and onions.
  • 4. To use frozen shells: Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours (shells will be partially frozen). Spoon salsa into a greased 9-in. square baking dish; top with shells and taco sauce. Cover and bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with cheeses and chips; proceed as directed. Yield: 2 casseroles (6 servings each).

Nutritional Facts

2 each: 0 calories, 0g fat (0g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 0g carbohydrate (0g sugars, 0g fiber), 0g protein

Reviews for Taco-Filled Pasta Shells

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Reviewed May. 31, 2016

"Great recipe. I also added refried beans to the meat to act as a binding agent and to add more protein."

Reviewed Feb. 19, 2016

"These were a big hit at our house. I'm looking forward to using the rest of them when I need a convenient, healthy meal.

I am always looking for ways to add more veggies to my meals. To this I added diced onion, celery, and red bell peppers. With the additional bulk I had left over filling.
I used a cookie scoop to fill the shells, it worked very well."

Reviewed Jan. 10, 2016

"At our house we call this Pastaco. My daughter chose these for part of her graduation party which was a Mexican menu."

Reviewed Dec. 3, 2015

"This is a go-to recipe for me - great way to make lots of lunches ahead of time too!"

Reviewed Oct. 22, 2015

"so easy to make, very tasty."

Reviewed Sep. 13, 2015

"We LOVE this dish! I have made it many times and often make it for friends, neighbors and family , it s always a favorite to anyone who has it!"

Reviewed Dec. 13, 2014

"These are great! Made for a potluck and everyone liked them."

Reviewed Sep. 11, 2014

"My family loved this dish!!! It was so easy to make- and the flavors were incredible. Easy enough to add your own touch to spice it up even more!"

Reviewed Aug. 25, 2014

"Do yourself a favor. If you decide to try this, make your own taco seasoning. The package stuff is way too salty. Ruined my dinner."

Reviewed Aug. 15, 2014

"Made this the first time following the recipe except to add a small can of diced mild chilies and a bit of chopped onion to the meat mixture, and it was a success at my table. When making it again last night I found I had no taco sauce, so poured over a can of enchilada sauce from the pantry- family declared it even better than the original- saucy and delicious! This will become a regular in my recipe rotation."

Reviewed May. 8, 2014

"Loved This!!! Easily adaptable for any family's taste. Best part of all, I can whip it up in the morning, clean the kitchen and have the rest of my day not worrying "what's for dinner"! Thanks for sharing!"

Reviewed Feb. 9, 2014

"Tastes great and easily modified to personal preferences"

Reviewed Jan. 31, 2014

"I think this was such a great idea! I used a whole jar of salsa...enough to have the bottom of the dish covered. Then a few weeks after I made the frozen batch and it tasted just as good as the first one"

Reviewed Jan. 21, 2014

"My family & friends just love this recipe!!!"

Reviewed Nov. 18, 2013

"This was fantastic! We are vegetarian, so I did a bag (almost 1 pd.) of our veggie burger, and one can of black beans (only because our veggie burger is quite pricey!). The rest I did exactly as the recipe stated. I baked all so we have left-overs for tomorrow. Thanks for sharing - my husband said it is his favorite meal now!"

Reviewed Oct. 29, 2013

"I loved this! especially that you can freeze a batch for a liter date!"

Reviewed Oct. 19, 2013

"Very tasty - next time I will use low sodium taco seasoning, because it was just a touch salty."

Reviewed Oct. 13, 2013

"My kids and wife loved it. I thought it was very good also and will add it to our list of favorite recipes."

Reviewed Oct. 8, 2013

"I just finished dinner and I have to say DELICIOSO!!!!! I loved it! Thank you for sharing this recipe, my mouth loved savoring each and every bite! I have been meaning to try this for about 3 weeks and today, I did it. I had some interruptions and forgot to butter the shells, also to cover the pan when baking for 30 min. It was still scrumpdiddlyishious! If you like spicy Tex-Mex style food DONT MISS OUT ON THIS!"

Reviewed Oct. 2, 2013

"Delicious! My family loved it! Made this recipe and put in freezer and pulled out on a busy evening."

Reviewed Aug. 29, 2013

"My menfolk are still complimenting me on this dish. Be sure to allow a couple of hours to make before serving. I give it a 5 star."

Reviewed Aug. 28, 2013

"We do these often, very good!!!"

Reviewed Aug. 12, 2013


Reviewed May. 14, 2013

"There are about 36 shells in a box, so I used 3 lbs hamburg and adjusted the other ingredients accordingly. I put 12 in an 11x7 casserole for dinner and the other 24 fit into a 9x13 casserole, which I froze."

Reviewed Apr. 18, 2013

"Haven't tried this but will grandkids will love this"

Reviewed Mar. 8, 2013

"This is really good, I'm glad I found the recipe again. I made this once while I was still living at home and my Dad even liked it, he was kinda iffy at first but it went over quite well. I plan on making it for my husband."

Reviewed Oct. 4, 2012

"My family loved this recipe! I can't wait to make it again."

Reviewed Aug. 11, 2012


Reviewed Jun. 16, 2012

"i made this for my family one day and now they request it over n over . they even tell their friends and there i go making a bunch. this is a really good recipe and really easy to make... think i'll make some this weekend ha ha h"

Reviewed Mar. 10, 2012

"Easy to make and tasty too. I substituted low-fat cream cheese and it turned out well."

Reviewed Jan. 27, 2012

"I've made this several times and everyone loves them. D-Licious"

Reviewed Jul. 24, 2011

"My friends and family LOVE this recipe! I was intimidated by the number of ingredients, but it really is a very simple and easy recipe. These pasta shells have become a staple in our home!"

Reviewed Jul. 19, 2011

"I love the flavor and ease of these shells. I used a little more taco sauce on top because I like them saucy."

Reviewed Jul. 12, 2011

"These are terrific! I love that we can freeze one batch for a later. This is a great recipe to have on hand when taking a meal to a friend."

Reviewed Apr. 18, 2011

"I have made this recipe countless times. It's always a hit. In case you need it, I found the nutritional information FOR SIX (not 12, as the recipe directs). I have never made this recipe for 12 people. Also, if you don't have taco seasoning, just use a few teaspoons of chili powder and a dash of cumin powder.

Calories: 735
Total Fat: 44.2g
Cholesterol: 136mg
Sodium: 1054mg
Total Carbohydrates: 47.6g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3g
Protein: 35.7g"

Reviewed Mar. 23, 2011

"Made this tonight. Really good."

Reviewed Jan. 25, 2011

"A little time consuming but so worth it-glad i have more to make when the need strikes. I did forget to the cream cheese in the meat mixture so I had to melt it and mix it in and i mixed the sauce and salsa parts up but it still turned out delish! wonderful"

Reviewed Jan. 23, 2011

"This is on of my families favorite dishes. I can not count how many timew I have made it. It is wonderful to have a dish the whole family enjoys."

Reviewed Jan. 22, 2011

"One of my kids favorite meals. The request it everytime they come home from college."

Reviewed Jan. 17, 2011

"WAY better than your average taco! After eating these I don't know if I will eat a taco in a taco shell again... They are VERY good! My husband actually ate all but two in one sitting he thought they were so good. I have made them twice now and the second time I doubled the recipe so we would have some leftover, but it didn't work too well... we didn't have as many leftover as I thought we would they were even better the second time I made them! Next time I will triple it! Thank you for the GREAT recipe!"

Reviewed Jan. 12, 2011

"I have made this twice and it is delicious. This freezes well except I forgot to thaw in the refrigerator so I just thawed it in the microwave and then baked it. It turned out fine."

Reviewed Dec. 18, 2010

"Very easy to fix in a hurry"

Reviewed Dec. 17, 2010

"I've been making this recipe for several years now from a book from 30 Day Gourmet. I love, love this! It freezes GREAT! My kids love it which makes it earn extra stars!!!"

Reviewed Sep. 3, 2010

"If I could give this recipe 10 stars, it wouldn't be a difficult task. My mum and I found this last year, and we have made it several times ever since, for birthdays and special events, and are always asked to make it at least once when we visit family. My boyfriend recently came up to Canda from New York to visit me, and when we made this, he nearly ate the whole second casserole that was to be put away, and he now calls it his favourite. I am telling you; DO NOT PASS UP ON THIS DISH.

The only thing I change when making it is I use tomato paste instead of taco sauce. I just don't like it as much with the taco sauce. I also once crunched guacamole chips up and sprinkled them over the casserole, and it was the best version I have ever tasted, but I haven't been able to find any other chips like those. Canned tomatoes also are a good substitute for half of the salsa."

Reviewed Aug. 4, 2010

"My kis absolutely LOVE this recipe. I have made it so many times. However I've changed it up a bit to suit my families tasts. I put a layer of seasoned canned diced tomatoes on the bottom and spoon the salsa on top of the shells. Try guacamole chips for extra flavor!!"

Reviewed Apr. 29, 2010

"I made this receipe using ground turkey. I like it but next time I use half of the cream cheese. I will add more chips for the crunch"

Reviewed Apr. 9, 2010

"We love this recipe. Wasn't sure about mixing pasta with taco meat but it was great. i added extra chips and cheese. I called a few friends and family about this recipe and everyone loved it. This is my kids favorite dish and hope to have it again soon. I do agree with someone else post about turning this into a casserole, I think it would be great."

Reviewed Feb. 26, 2010

"Made half of this recipe for my husband and I. I made it with chicken instead of beef (used cooked chicken breast that I processes), it was surprisingly really good. It has lots of cheese so how can you go wrong. You could use less cheese. I used reduced fat cheeses and sour cream. I under cooked the pasta shells to make them easier to stuff."

Reviewed Feb. 22, 2010

"This was a good dish. However, think that it would be easier to make a casserole out of it by adding cooked macaroni or some other pasta to the meat mixture, rather than stuffing the pasta shells."

Reviewed Jan. 27, 2010

"This is one of my favorite recipes. My children and usband love this dish. It is easy to make and tastes spectacular."

Reviewed Nov. 30, 2009

"Everyone loved this! I left out the chips since I didn't have any. Tastes great love that it freezes well."

Reviewed Mar. 8, 2009

"This is a great recipe! The only thing I would change next time is to use only 1/2 cup crushed chips. Definitely a keeper."

Reviewed Dec. 3, 2008

"This recipe of great. It is fun to prepare and tastes delicious."

Reviewed Apr. 28, 2008

"when I make this recipe we never have leftovers to freeze! :-)"

Reviewed Jan. 26, 2008

"This is a wonderful and enjoyable recipe. I have made it many times for company and family. Everyone really likes it. I enjoy making it and freezing half of it for another day, or when surpise company comes."

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