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Mexican Italian fusion at its best! These delicious Mexican stuffed shells are packed with flavor and please the whole family.
Step by step photos and instructions below!
This stuffed shells recipe is so easy to make and the results are seriously delicious. The perfect blend of Mexican flavors poured into an Italian vessel.
This takes taco night to a whole other level! Ever have disagreements over dinner plans? We have them all the time! Someone wants pasta and someone else wants tacos.
So, I just make this and everyone is happy! Taking plenty of creative liberty from two cuisines, Mexican Stuffed Shells is one dinner that everyone loves.
We basically make taco meat using just onions, garlic ground beef and taco seasoning. Then we stuff the meat mixture into pasta shells, bake for a bit then add cheese on top. Bake a little more until melty and delicious. Then we add toppings, as we choose.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Family friendly. There are almost zero complaints about this whenever I make it.
- Easy to make. We’re just putting a yummy taco meat into pasta, people. And adding cheese.
- Delicious. See above. What is not to love? (The answer is “nothing”. You’re welcome.)
- Make ahead. This is actually a great recipe to make TODAY and bake tomorrow. It also freezes well (see notes)
I have included step by step photos and instructions, as well as tips and tricks in the post. If you’d rather skip all that, scoot right on down to the full recipe card located at the bottom of the post.
The full list of ingredients and quantities is found in the printable recipe card below.
- Ground beef. I use a lean blend for this. If yours is 80/20 and renders a lot of fat when cooking initially, drain it off before adding the taco seasoning.
- Onion. This goes in to make your meat super flavorful.
- Garlic. Minced. Add more if you like!
- Taco Seasoning. Make your own or grab it from the store.
- Cream cheese. I leave this out while prepping to cook, so it’s a bit softer and easier to melt. You can use full fat or reduced fat versions.
- Jumbo pasta shells. These are usually on the top shelf in the pasta section of the grocery store. If you can’t find them, manicotti tubes can also be used.
- Salsa. Grab your favorite kind.
- Enchilada sauce. This is a smooth tomato-based sauce found in the Mexican section.
- Cheese. I use cheddar, and sometimes a Mexican blend. Whatever you have is great!
- Cilantro. We will add this to the meat filling, and sprinkle over the top.
- Lime zest. Totally optional, I add it to the sour cream that I add to the top of mine.
- Sour cream. Full fat or reduced fat. You do you!
How to make this recipe
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The full list of ingredients, quantities and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.
Fill a large pot with water, and bring to a boil (for the pasta shells).
While ground beef is cooking, cook the pasta shells according to directions; drain.
Chop your onions, mince your garlic, zest your lime and chop your cilantro.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Make the filling
In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook garlic and onion in a little cooking oil until onion is soft.
Add the ground beef and brown, then add taco seasoning and about half a cup of water.
Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted.
Add cilantro. Mix well. Set aside and cool completely.
Stuffing the shells and baking
Pour salsa on bottom of 9×13 baking dish.
Stuff each shell with the beef mixture.
Place shells in 9×13 pan open side up. Cover shells with taco sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, add shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes, with the foil removed.
Serve with sour cream (mixed with cilantro and lime zest), guacamole, salsa, and extra cilantro or green onions.
What to do with leftovers
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat until it is piping hot!
This recipe can also be frozen before baking. Cover tightly with foil and wrap with plastic wrap. Freeze. When you want t
You can use taco sauce if that’s what you can find at the store.
Adding black beans, or pinto beans to the taco meat mixture is also a great way to add a little fiber, and will make your meat go further. Which means more shells. And more leftovers. I call this a win.
What to serve with Stuffed Shells
More delicious pasta dishes
Want more Easy Pasta Recipes?
- Chili Mac with Turkey. We’re bringing childhood back! Lightened-up with turkey vs beef, and made in one pan – this one is a family favorite!
- Skillet Mac & Cheese. Comfort food at its finest, this skillet mac & cheese is so easy! Just the skillet and a pasta pot, the and a quick broil, and this is ready FAST!
- Florentine Chicken Lasagna Rolls Spinach, garlic, and cheese are all winners for this weeknight dinner! Delicious homemade Alfredo sauce is the key to these!
- Ham Tetrazzini. A super-fast weeknight dinner, this Ham Tetrazzini is a spin on the traditional version and is sure to please the whole family.
- Easy Cheesy Chicken Tomato Pasta. Quick to make, and super tasty – this recipe uses just 6 ingredients (mainly pantry staples) is yummy and kid-friendly to boot! The whole family will enjoy this one!
Mexican Stuffed Shells
- 1 lb ground beef
- 3-4 Tbs Taco Seasoning
- 1 small onion (diced)
- 1-2 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 4 oz cream cheese (softened)
- 14-16 jumbo pasta shells
- 1.5 cup salsa
- 1 cup enchilada sauce ((This is a smooth tomato based sauce found in the Mexican section))
- 2 cups cheddar cheese
- Cilantro to taste (chopped, divided)
- Lime zest
- Sour cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- In a frying pan cook garlic and onion until onion is soft. Add ground beef and brown, then add taco seasoning and about half a cup of water.
- Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Add cilantro. Blend well. Set aside and cool completely.
- While ground beef is cooking, cook the pasta shells according to directions; drain.
- Pour salsa on bottom of 9×13 baking dish. Stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place shells in 9×13 pan open side up. Cover shells with enchilada sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, add shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes, with the foil removed.
- Serve with sour cream (mixed with cilantro and lime zest), guacamole, salsa, and extra cilantro.
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.
SOURCE: Adapted from The Way to His Heart
Update: This recipe was originally published in May of 2017. It was republished with updated photos in June of 2022.