Taco lasagna is a fusion dish that blends Mexican-inspired flavors into a classic lasagna recipe. We take a deep departure from tradition here and ditch the lasagna noodles. Instead, we separate the layers in this dish with flour tortillas. To give it the right flavor profile, we season the beef with taco seasoning and mix in other Tex-Mex ingredients like black beans and Mexican-style diced tomatoes. To really make this dish unique, we skip the ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Instead, a melty Mexican cheese blend takes center stage, and refried beans become the creamy element in the dish. The end result is a dish that tastes like a taco but eats like lasagna.
My mother used to make this dish all the time when I was a kid. In those days, I was an extremely picky eater. I’m told there was a week where I refused to eat anything outside buttered noodles, cereal and grilled cheese. My parents must have been so relieved when I finally branched out and accepted Tex-Mex flavors. However, I refused to eat taco lasagna the first time it landed on the dinner table. You see, I wasn’t a fan of saucy pasta, so the name turned me off. (I know, I know, I was the worst! I assure you that I’ve apologized to my lovely mother for my childhood antics.) My mother was smarter than me, though, so she called the dish “taco pizza” the next time she made it. Apparently, the name mattered because I gobbled it up without a second thought.
Ingredients for Taco Lasagna
- Flour tortillas: We skip the traditional lasagna noodles and use flour tortillas instead. These tortillas have a soft, bread-like texture that holds up well in a layered pasta. Store-bought tortillas work just fine, but homemade tortillas also taste fantastic.
- Meat mixture: This layer is packed with taco-style flavors. We simmer ground beef, green pepper and chopped onion with taco seasoning to infuse every bite with smoky, spicy flavors. Mexican-style diced tomatoes bring the acidity, while black beans bring an earthy flavor and chewy texture. Remember to drain and rinse the black beans to cut the sodium content.
- Refried beans: A layer of refried beans takes the place of creamy ricotta in this taco lasagna recipe. If you only have whole beans in the pantry, this is the perfect opportunity to learn how to make refried beans (you might be surprised by how easy it is!).
- Mexican cheese blend: This pre-shredded cheese blend typically contains cheddar, Monterey Jack, queso quesadilla and asadero cheeses. You can make a custom blend if you prefer to grate your own cheese.
Step 1: Prepare the meat mixture
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef, green pepper and onion over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink. Drain and discard the grease. Add water and taco seasoning, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for two minutes. Stir in the drained and rinsed black beans and undrained Mexican-style diced tomatoes. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Editor’s Tip: Mexican-style tomatoes typically contain green chiles, chopped onions and spices. You can substitute a can of petite diced tomatoes in a pinch. After cooking, taste the meat mixture, and add extra spices and a spritz of lime juice as needed to create a robust flavor.
Step 2: Layer the lasagna
Grease a 13×9-inch baking dish. Place two tortillas into the dish. Spread half of the refried beans over the tortillas using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Sprinkle on half of the beef mixture and 1 cup of cheese. Repeat the layers once. Top the dish with the final two tortillas and the remaining cheese.
Step 3: Bake the lasagna
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the layers are heated through.
Taco Lasagna Variations
- Change up the tortillas: You can use whole-wheat tortillas if you prefer whole wheat vs. white bread. Or, to make this a gluten-free taco lasagna, use corn tortillas instead.
- Swap in different cheeses: Use shredded cheddar cheese to give the dish a sharper flavor, or spice it up with pepper jack cheese.
- Lighten it up: To make a light Mexican casserole, substitute ground turkey or chicken for ground beef.
- Use leftover chicken: Looking for a way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken? Swap in shredded chicken instead of ground beef, and turn this dish into a chicken tortilla bake.
How to Store Taco Lasagna
Store leftover taco lasagna covered in the fridge, where it is good for two to three days. Reheat the leftovers in the microwave.
How to Freeze Taco Lasagna
You can freeze taco lasagna baked or unbaked. To freeze baked taco lasagna, wrap individual portions in aluminum foil. Store them in a freezer-safe bag in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw the slices in the refrigerator overnight, or reheat them from frozen using the microwave’s defrost function.
To prepare make-ahead taco lasagna, cover the unbaked taco lasagna with foil, and transfer it to the freezer. To use, thaw the dish in the refrigerator overnight. Remove it from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake taco lasagna as directed, increasing the time as necessary to heat through until a thermometer reads 165°.
Taco Lasagna Tips
What is the best way to serve taco lasagna?
Serve taco lasagna with your favorite garnishes. Some of our favorite toppings include shredded lettuce, chopped fresh tomatoes, pickled jalapeno slices, sour cream, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, and avocado slices or guacamole.
How do you make taco seasoning?
You can make homemade taco seasoning by combining a few common household spices. Mix together 4 teaspoons dried minced onion, 3 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Store the mixture in an airtight container for up to one year.