This easy Taco Casserole recipe is one of those melt in your mouth goodness recipes that I could make continuously, and my family would never complain.
I first shared this recipe a few years ago in my Mexican Freezer Recipes post. It’s a recipe that you want to double or triple since it freezes and reheats so well.
This recipe creates fond memories. It was the first casserole I made for my husband when we were newly married, and memories of a fire alarm and fire engines come to mind. Read it, not only will it give you many quick meal ideas, it will make you all feel better about “those” bedlam cooking moments.
Since I typically cook up ground beef in bulk either in the crock pot or use my Power Cooking Tip to brown it and drain it easily, I “should” have ground beef already cooked and ready to go for this recipe, which makes it an easy Ten Minute Dinner.
Depending on how much you want to stretch this meal and make it incredibly budget friendly, I’ve added some of the tweaks I have made over the years in parenthesis. And as always, have fun creating to make this your family’s favorite.
I love to whip up this easy Taco Seasoning Recipe in bulk. It’s cost effective, but also healthy – you can pronounce all the ingredients. 🙂
Recipe: Taco Casserole
Summary: This Taco Casserole blends all the Mexican flavors you love in an easy casserole. It’s never met someone that doesn’t love it.
- 1 pound ground beef
- (Optional cup of rice, if I want to stretch the ground beef)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 envelope of taco seasoning or make some easy homemade taco seasoning
- 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1 cup sour cream (light sour cream works perfectly)
- 1 cup cottage cheese (I have made this with all cottage cheese in a pinch, when I was missing sour cream or vice versa)
- 2 cups crushed tortilla chips (this is how I use up our crushed stale remnants in the pantry)
- 2 cups (8 ounces) grated Monterey Jack cheese (or whatever cheese you have on hand)
- (Variations: I have added minced garlic, chopped peppers, tomatoes, and various shredded garden veggies to make it a really healthy option, along with the addition of black beans.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a skillet, brown the beef, drain off extra fat; remove from heat. (Add a cup of cooked rice if you are trying to save money on meat)
- Add onion, garlic powder, taco seasoning mix, and tomato sauce to beef; mix and set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese; set aside.
- Place half the crushed chips in the bottom of a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish that has been coated with a nonstick vegetable spray.
- Add enough meat mixture to cover the chips, then cover the meat with half of the sour cream mixture.
- Sprinkle with half the grated cheese. Repeat layers.
- Bake uncovered, for 30-35 minutes, until cheese melts and casserole is heated through.
I highly recommend doubling or tripling this recipe for an additional freezer meal (or it’s great as left overs.)
* For a healthier, lower fat option, substitute the ground beef with a ground turkey/rice mixture. Use low fat sour cream or only lower fat cottage cheese and add the veggie options mentioned above.
** If using this as a freezer meal, follow all the directions exactly, but you may omit the additional layer of tortilla chips and just sprinkle them on top before baking. I have never done this because my family loves it “As Is,” but if soggy chips are a concern, still use the chips as the crust, but omit the second layer.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s) (Less if your ground beef is pre-cooked)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4 – 6
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It seems when I cook casseroles with tortilla chips, leftovers aren’t very good because the chips are soggy. Is that the case with this casserole, particularly as a freezer meal?
@Kim, Hmm….I have never thought of that, and I do make it all the time, but you are kind of right. They won’t be as crispy as the first day, but since they are kind of a “crust” and this casserole is so flavorful, we have never minded it.
If you do it as a freezer meal, and this is something that has bothered you in the past, maybe you could layer it without the chips and then just sprinkle some fresh chips on top before you bake it?
@Kim, I just went straight to the kids and asked them. They said, it’s still so good, even if the chips aren’t as crispy. My 16 year old who loves his food said, “I never even thought of that.” 😉 But I am going to add to my post to keeps chips in a separate baggy for freezer meals. I still think the layer on the bottom is totally fine in the freezer.
I wondered if having them on the bottom helped–I guess so. I have usually put mine on the top or left them separate to be applied at the table so they’re not soggy on any leftovers.
I make something really similar but we call it “Mexican Lasagna!”
Yep, I make that a lot too. They are all yummy. 🙂
This sounds so good!
It’s funny, last night I was browsing your blog and happened to notice this recipe and printed it out. This morning, here it is in my inbox! Must be “meant to be!”
Then that recipe is meant to be on your dinner table. I realized that I never did it in print form. It was from earlier in my blogging when I didn’t have the recipe feature set up and it’s too yummy and easy to not be able to print. 🙂
Yum.. I make one similar too.. We love it! Planning on making your version soon. Looks yummy for sure. Thanks!
Oh wow, this looks DELISH! I’m pinning this and trying it soon. My husband LOVES Mexican, and I LOVE Mexican and EASY. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this! Can’t wait to try it. Perhaps I will photograph and blog my review of it.
Yum. That sounds great. I am not good about freezing meals these days, but I totally should get back into it. Thanks for the inspiration.
How would this turn out without the sour cream and cottage cheese (possibly a dollop on top/on the side)? My husband does not like either ingredient, although the children and I would love this as is!
Does he like cream cheese? It would still be yummy, it would just lack a little “depth” without that cheesy layer. If he doesn’t like the cream cheese either, then I would add in corn or seasoned rice to fill it in.
@Jen, No cream cheese, but it’s a great idea to add corn! Just assembled one for tonight that way! I’ll probably make one for the freezer with the cheesy layer to save for a night when he’s away.
Hi Jen! I just wanted to let you know that I made this for dinner tonight and it was great and it was g-o-n-e, nothin’ left! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I’m sure I’ll be making it again!
So glad your family enjoyed it. It’s so easy, yet soooo good. 🙂
I made this last week for the family – it was quickly eaten up! The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the crushed tortilla chips. I might try this again with just rice in lieu of chips. Thanks for the recipe!
Can I come over for dinner? -your hungry nephew
You could always sub plain greek yogurt for some of the sour cream, as well. Some brands taste more like light sour cream than others, I have found. It makes it lower fat, higher protein as well!
Scotty Van Eerden That cracked me up. Sorry I didn’t see it for two hours. Full confession.I am still trying to finish painting my kitchen. I got started and never finished it. They had Taco Pinto Beans for dinner. haha Oh, and it was on the run. No sit down dinner for us tonight, but you can still hop on over. 🙂
I always made double ingredients when we were having tacos & made what i called TACO Lasagne
a couple of days later. I have been doing that for about 30 years … 🙂
We made this last night, it was really good! We added a can of drained black beans instead of the rice and will definitely make again. Thanks for a good and easy recipe!
So glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I LOVE black beans in it. You could do the rice and beans too. So many variations. 🙂
Just wondering what are the additional shredded veggies you add? I am always looking to sneak in extras but don’t wanna compromise on flavor. This looks great!! On the menu for this week! 😀
I’ve put in shredded zucchini, squash and carrots, all without changing the flavors at all. 🙂
Quick question….if I freeze it, would I need to thaw it first? Or just cook it for a bit longer?
You could bake it frozen and then cook longer, but I try and thaw it a bit first.
Jen, this sounds so good…….I wondered if it would work with cooked chicken, and if it could be frozen after assembling for a future meal? I’m sorry if this has already been addressed before! Thanks so much! 😀
Actually, it helps to read all the comments before asking redundant questions! The comments were helpful re:freezing, and I still wondered if anyone had used chicken instead…?
I’ve done it with shredded chicken as well as ground turkey. It’s yummy. 🙂
I make this recipe all the time, but I have a new question! I want to take it to a potluck, but I want it to stay warm if I can manage it, so I was wondering if you have ever tried making this in a crock pot with success?
I haven’t, but i bet it would work since Ive done layered things before in crock pot and this would be similar.
@Jen, Awesome! And thanks for the fast reply on an older post! I’ll try to report back on how it goes.