Easy Taco Casserole, or Taco Bake, is a great option for family dinner. It combines all the flavors of tacos into an easy cheesy casserole!
Easy taco casserole makes an appearance on our family dinner table weekly. Seems like it's one of my favorite go-to recipes. That, and of course, spaghetti. As much as I like to try new things, I always revert back to our old favorites. I've been serving this taco bake for years and it has slowly evolved over time.
I've always made my taco casserole with crushed chips on the bottom, taco meat in the middle, and cheese on top. I started making taco bake as an easy casserole instead of serving tacos for two reasons: 1) my tacos never seemed to be very hot by the time I served them and 2) I like so many toppings on my tacos that they got soggy and fell apart. Throwing all of my taco ingredients plus the things I used to serve on the side, like refried beans and corn, right into the taco casserole seemed like a great idea.
Now, the one trick that I've only recently started doing is incorporating minced mushrooms in with the meat. Trust me on this one. I learned this trick when I made meatball mushroom sliders. If you pulse the mushrooms and onion in the food processor until they resemble the consistency of ground beef, they cook up just like ground beef! My kids swear they hate mushrooms, but when I incorporate them into things like my taco casserole, they can't even tell they're in there. The mushrooms only add flavor and texture to the meal.
How to make an easy taco casserole:
- This dinner starts off with crushed tortilla chips. I don't often have taco shells on hand, but I almost always have a bag of tortilla chips ready to go. My taco seasoning has a fair amount of salt, so I prefer to use unsalted chips, but that's completely a matter of preference.
- The next thing you want to do is cook the ground beef with the mushrooms and onion. This is how I make my secret ingredient taco meat. You can totally omit the mushrooms, but once you try it, you'll never go back. The trick is to basically pulverize it in the food processor. No one will ever know you're sneaking all that vitamin D into your taco bake!
- On top of your crushed tortilla chips, you'll layer the ground beef/mushroom/onion/taco seasoning layer along with refried beans, olives, corn and salsa. Layer them in any order that pleases you. It will all taste the same in the end.
- Top your taco casserole with some grated cheese. I don't think you'd be doing anything wrong if you added even more than I recommend in the recipe. One can never go wrong with too much cheese. Or bacon. These are words I live by.
- I like to top this easy taco casserole with freshly sliced jalapeno. I like the taste and color it adds to the dish.
- Finally, you stick the taco bake in the oven until it is completely heated through and the cheese is melted. You can turn this into a make ahead meal by preparing the entire taco casserole and waiting to heat in the oven until you're ready to serve. That's why this also makes an outstanding meal to prepare for someone else. Say, like a friend who just had a baby. Can you imagine how happy you'll make your starving and sleep deprived friend by delivering this taco bake to her front door step?
- I highly recommend serving this along side some purple cabbage cole slaw. It compliments this easy taco casserole perfectly and adds gorgeous color to your plate.
Kitchen tools used to make this taco bake:
Food Processor - I have a big one. Sure it's heavy and can sometimes be a pain to clean depending on the recipe, but it does the job and it does it well.
Fry pan: I've been using Staub cookware for years. It gives your food a great crispy outside and distributes the heat evenly.
Casserole Dish: This one is on my wishlist!
Easy Taco Casserole
- 1 pound ground beef
- 8 ounces mushrooms
- 1 small red onion
- 2 cups tortilla chips
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 15 ounces refried beans
- 15 ounces whole kernel corn (drained)
- 15 ounces sliced olives (drained)
- 1 cup salsa
- 2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar or Mexican blend recommended)
- 1 fresh jalapeno (sliced)
- Combine mushrooms and red onion in food processor and pulse until all ingredients resemble ground beef. Combine with the ground beef in a large saute pan and cook over medium high heat until the meat has browned and the liquid has cooked off of the mushrooms. Add taco seasoning and a couple tablespoons of water, stir, and cook until water has evaporated. Remove from heat.
- To assemble taco casserole, add chips to the bottom of a 13x9 casserole dish. Crush with hands. then, layer remaining ingredients. It doesn't really matter what order you choose, but I always prefer the cheese to be on top along with the fresh jalapeno.
- Cover taco bake with aluminum foil and bake in 3500 F preheated oven until heated through, about 25-30 minutes. Remove foil during last 5 minutes of cooking time to fully melt cheese.
- Serve hot, garnish with sour cream and cilantro, and serve with sliced avocado and Cilantro Lime Slaw.