One Pot Taco Mac: A taco lover’s dream meal! A gigantic family-favorite, this creamy taco pasta, made with 3 kinds of cheese, is a sure fire winner for an easy weeknight meal!
I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for one pot recipes. My one pot creamy sausage pasta ultimately did me in and made me cave to ease of the one pot meal after rebelling against the movement for at least a year.
But let’s be real here also. One pot meals are nothing new. Chili is a one pot meal. And so is chicken and dumplings. Soup? Of course!
It’s the method of cooking pasta in the same pot as the rest of the meal’s ingredients that is the novel idea. And I’m completely on board with one pot pasta recipes!
In that same vain, I’m also about converting some of my older pasta recipes into one pot meals. The one pot method streamlines these older recipes and gives me a chance to give them a modern spin. It also makes the cooking method easier and definitely reduces the number of dishes used.
A great example of this is my version of the Cheesecake Factory’s Louisiana chicken pasta dish. It was an outstanding meal but a bit heavy, being made with nuggets of fried chicken. And I used what felt like every pot and pan in my kitchen which annoyed me to no end.
So I updated the recipe, using the one pot method along with sauteed chicken to what recently became my one pot Cajun chicken pasta. It’s still every bit of a cozy pasta meal but it’s now a little lighter and it’s ready to eat in less than 30 minutes!
I’ve also been meaning to update my creamy taco mac recipe for like, 5 or 6 years now. The photos somehow disappeared during one of my website updates and my back up photo files were lost when an old laptop died years ago.
What’s a great recipe without photos?? So, enter the one pot pasta cooking method for this taco mac!
What is One Pot Pasta?
In the most basic terms, a one pot pasta is a meal that’s cooked entirely in one pot or pan. Or a crock pot. Or an Instant Pot. You get what I mean, right?
The pasta in a one pot pasta recipe is cooked in the sauce along with your other meal ingredients (usually some type of meat and some chopped veggies).
I updated my old creamy taco mac recipe so that the pasta could cook right in with the ground meat and taco sauce. This helps to flavor the pasta while it cooks so it’s a double-duty benefit!
How to Make One Pot Taco Mac
To make this easy taco mac recipe, you’ll start by sautéing some onions in a pan and then you’ll crumble in the ground meat to cook with the onions. Then you’ll stir in some taco seasoning to flavor up the dish.
I used my ever-reliable homemade taco seasoning which I beg you to try making since it’s so easy and gives you enough seasoning mix for 4 recipes. You could also use 1 packet of store-bought taco seasoning though.
From here, you’ll add a can of Rotel (or fire roasted) tomatoes, a can of black beans and your liquid ingredients: tomato sauce, chicken broth, and water. Add the pasta, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook for around 17 minutes.
After the pasta is cooked through, you’ll mix in some cream cheese, shredded cheese, and a little cream to loosen the sauce up just a bit. You could certainly use milk or half-and-half here in place of the cream.
I added a handful of sliced scallions to the top of the pasta before serving but cilantro would work well in addition to or in place of the scallions. And of course, there was sour cream too. In my book, there’s never enough sour cream!
So that’s it, friends! This is an easy meal to pull together and you’ll have a hearty and truly satisfying meal on the table in under 30 minutes!
I liken it to a REALLY good homemade Hamburger Helper meal and if you have taco fans in your life – and I’m sure you do if you’re reading this – they will LOVE this one pot taco mac just as much as we do.
And that’s saying a lot because we absolutely devoured this meal!! Enjoy!
One Pot Taco Mac
One pot taco mac is an insanely delicious homemade hamburger helper recipe. Cooked in one pan under 30 minutes, the pasta simmers away in a flavorful taco meat sauce for a delicious weeknight meal that the whole family will absolutely love. Ground beef, chicken, or turkey all work well here (I've tested them all) so feel free to use the kind of meat you prefer, or leave it out for a vegetarian version (using veggie broth instead of chicken broth, of course).
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb ground beef, chicken, or turkey
- 2 ½ tbsp (or 1 packet) store-bought or homemade taco seasoning
- 1 (10 oz) can Rotel or fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (14 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 to 3 cups water
- 8 oz dry small pasta shapes like elbows or shells
- 4 oz cream cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces
- ¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 3 oz)
- ¾ cup shredded Monterey jack cheese (about 3 oz)
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 scallion (green and white parts), sliced, for serving
- Sour cream, for serving
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and saute the onions along with a good pinch of salt and a few cranks of black pepper until they start to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes. Crumble the ground meat into the skillet and cook with the onions until browned. Mix in the taco seasoning until the meat is fully coated and cook until the seasoning become fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the Rotel tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, chicken broth, 2 cups of water into the skillet and then stir the pasta into the mixture until well-combined.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover. Allow the liquid to simmer, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently towards the end to prevent the pasta from sticking, for about 15 to 17 minutes. Every 5 minutes or so, stir in a little of the remaining cup of water. If the liquid starts boiling over, reduce the heat to low.
- When the pasta is cooked through, mix in the cream cheese until fully blended. Stir the cheeses until melted into the pasta, and then stir in the heavy cream. Allow the cream to heat through for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Let the dish to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving to allow the sauce to thicken up. Sprinkle the scallions over the pasta, if using, and serve with a dollop of sour cream on top.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 593
The recipe never says when to put in the beans or Rotel. I assumed it went in with the tomato sauce based on the order of ingredients.
Thanks for the feedback, Heidi! I fixed this error as soon as I saw your comment last week. You added them at the right time. I hope you loved this recipe!