This Taco Bake Recipe is made with ground beef, diced tomatoes, black beans, corn, onions, bell peppers, seasonings, and lots of cheese.
Imagine the mouthwatering combination of seasoned ground beef, vibrant bell peppers, hearty black beans, and sweet corn, all layered with gooey melted cheese and topped with creamy avocado, fresh cilantro, and a kick of jalapeños. This easy-to-make casserole takes the beloved flavors of tacos and transforms them into a satisfying and comforting bake that the whole family will love. Whether you're hosting a casual gathering or simply craving a delicious weeknight meal, our Taco Bake recipe is sure to become a staple in your kitchen. So, grab your apron, gather your ingredients, and get ready to dive into a fiesta of flavors that will leave you craving for more.
This is a Tex-Mex dish that really is comfort food to me. I absolutely love the end product, especially when you serve yourself and the melted cheese pulls. You can modify this any way you prefer and serve with tortillas or tortilla chips. This is absolutely kid friendly and can feed a family of 6 people.
What is a Taco Bake?
A Taco Bake is a flavorful and hearty casserole that takes inspiration from the popular Mexican dish, tacos. It typically consists of layers of seasoned ground beef, bell peppers, onions, beans, corn, and cheese, all baked together to create a delicious and satisfying meal. The dish is often assembled with tortilla chips or tortillas, which become soft and soak up the flavors of the ingredients during the baking process. Taco Bake is a versatile dish that can be customized with various toppings and garnishes like avocado, sour cream, salsa, and cilantro. It offers all the familiar flavors of tacos in a convenient and comforting casserole form, making it a favorite among families and taco enthusiasts alike.
Why you will love this recipe
Versatile: Feel free to use any variety of beef, beans, pepper, onion, corn, and cheese.
Full of flavor: The taco seasoning used in this recipe is so full of flavor and fully compliments the beef, beans and vegetables.
Hearty: The portion size is very big and the beef and beans combination make this dish super hearty.
Kid Friendly: I grew up eating taco casserole so this is such a delightful recipe to introduce to your children.
Great for all weather: I grew up eating this in the winter and summer evenings. It is perfect for every season.
Serves a crowd: The portion size for this is already big and serves a huge crowd.
Taco Bake Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Olive oil
- Bell pepper
- Ground beef
- Taco seasoning
- Diced tomatoes
- Black beans
See recipe card for Mexican Keto Taco Bake quantities.
How to make Taco Bake
In a large cast-iron skillet over medium high heat, add the oil and wait for it to shimmer. Add the onions, bell peppers, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the ground beef and cook, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the taco seasoning, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
Pour in the diced tomatoes, corn, black beans and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, until liquid has reduced. Sprinkle the cheese over the meat mixture.
Cover and turn the heat off and leave for a few minutes for the cheese to melt. Serve with avocado, cilantro, and tortillas.
What to serve with Taco Bake
- Mexican Rice: Serve Taco Bake with a side of flavorful Mexican rice. The combination of the savory rice with the bold flavors of the Taco Bake is a winning combination. Check out my Cilantro Lime Rice.
- Refried Beans: A classic side dish in Mexican cuisine, refried beans add a creamy and satisfying element to the meal. Serve them alongside the Taco Bake for an extra dose of protein and flavor.
- Guacamole and Salsa: Fresh guacamole and salsa are perfect accompaniments to Taco Bake. The creamy and tangy guacamole pairs well with the rich flavors of the casserole, while the salsa adds a refreshing kick.
- Cornbread: Serve warm, fluffy cornbread as a side to complement the Taco Bake. Its slightly sweet and crumbly texture adds a nice contrast to the savory and spicy flavors of the casserole. Check out my Air Fryer Corn Bread.
- Olive Oil: You can substitute olive oil with vegetable oil, canola oil, or avocado oil.
- Onion: If you don't have onion or prefer a milder flavor, you can use shallots or leeks instead.
- Bell Pepper: Swap the bell pepper with poblano pepper, Anaheim pepper, or cubanelle pepper for a different flavor profile.
- Ground Beef: Ground turkey, ground chicken, or vegetarian meat substitutes like textured vegetable protein (TVP) or lentils can be used as alternatives to ground beef.
- Taco Seasoning: If you don't have taco seasoning, you can make your own by combining spices like chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Diced Tomatoes: Substitute diced tomatoes with tomato sauce, tomato puree, or crushed tomatoes. You can adjust the consistency by adding a little water if needed.
- Corn: If corn is not available, you can use canned or frozen mixed vegetables or diced zucchini as a substitute.
- Black Beans: Kidney beans, pinto beans, or chickpeas (garbanzo beans) can be used instead of black beans.
- Cheese: Cheddar cheese can be substituted with Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, or a blend of Mexican cheeses for a similar flavor.
- Avocado: If avocados are not available, you can omit them or substitute with a dollop of sour cream or a spoonful of guacamole.
- Cilantro: If you're not a fan of cilantro, you can use parsley or chopped green onions for a fresh garnish.
- Jalapeños: Adjust the level of heat by using milder peppers like poblano or Anaheim peppers. Alternatively, you can use a dash of hot sauce or crushed red pepper flakes for some spice.
- Scallions: Thinly sliced red or white onions can be used as a substitute for scallions.
Taco Bake Recipe Variations
- Chicken Taco Bake: Substitute ground beef with cooked and shredded chicken. Season the chicken with taco seasoning and layer it with the other ingredients for a flavorful twist on the classic.
- Vegetarian Taco Bake: Skip the meat and make a vegetarian version by replacing the ground beef with plant-based meat alternatives or using a combination of beans and vegetables like diced zucchini, mushrooms, or sweet potatoes.
- Seafood Taco Bake: Experiment with a seafood twist by using cooked shrimp, diced fish, or a combination of seafood as the protein. Add some lime juice and cilantro for a fresh and zesty flavor.
- Cheesy Taco Bake: Load up on the cheese! Use a combination of different cheeses such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Mexican blend for an extra cheesy and gooey Taco Bake.
- Enchilada Taco Bake: Add a touch of enchilada sauce to the layers of the Taco Bake to infuse it with a rich and tangy flavor reminiscent of enchiladas. You can also drizzle some extra sauce on top before baking. Check out my Chicken Tinga Enchiladas.
- Taco Pasta Bake: Incorporate cooked pasta, such as penne or rotini, into the Taco Bake for a fusion of flavors. The pasta adds an extra element of comfort and heartiness to the dish.
- Stuffed Pepper Taco Bake: Fill hollowed-out bell peppers with the Taco Bake mixture, top with cheese, and bake until the peppers are tender and the cheese is melted. This variation combines the flavors of stuffed peppers with the essence of tacos.
- Breakfast Taco Bake: Transform the Taco Bake into a breakfast delight by adding scrambled eggs, crumbled bacon or sausage, and your favorite breakfast ingredients. Top it off with some salsa or hot sauce for an extra kick.
Check out my friend Kristi's Vegan version of this!
- Skillet or Frying Pan: A skillet or frying pan will be used to cook the ground beef or other protein, onions, and bell peppers.
- Baking Dish: Choose a baking dish that is large enough to hold all the ingredients for the taco bake. A rectangular or square baking dish with a capacity of around 9x13 inches is commonly used.
- Mixing Bowl: Use a mixing bowl to combine the cooked ground beef, taco seasoning, diced tomatoes, corn, black beans, and any other ingredients you plan to include in the taco bake.
- Spoon or Spatula: A spoon or spatula will be needed for stirring and mixing the ingredients in the skillet and mixing bowl.
- Cheese Grater: If using cheese, you'll need a cheese grater to grate the cheese for topping the taco bake.
- Optional: If you choose to garnish your taco bake with avocado, cilantro, jalapeños, or scallions, you may need a knife and cutting board for slicing and chopping these ingredients.
- Serving Utensils: Have serving utensils ready, such as a spatula or large spoon, for portioning and serving the taco bake.
How to store Taco Bake
- Allow it to Cool: Let the taco bake cool completely before storing it. This helps prevent condensation and keeps the dish from becoming soggy.
- Portion and Wrap: If you have leftover taco bake, portion it into individual servings or family-sized portions based on your needs. Wrap each portion tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
- Refrigeration: Place the wrapped portions in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. Taco bake can be refrigerated for up to 3 to 4 days.
- Freezing: If you want to store taco bake for a longer period, it can be frozen. Wrap the portions tightly with aluminum foil or place them in freezer-safe containers or freezer bags. Ensure there is minimal air exposure to prevent freezer burn. Frozen taco bake can be stored for up to 2 to 3 months.
- Thawing and Reheating: When ready to enjoy the stored taco bake, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight if frozen. Reheat individual portions in the oven at a low to medium temperature until heated through. You can also reheat it in the microwave, but be cautious as the texture may not be as crispy as when baked fresh.
- Toppings and Garnishes: Keep in mind that toppings like avocado, cilantro, and fresh salsa are best added just before serving rather than during the initial storage, as they can become wilted or lose their freshness when stored with the taco bake.
Taco Bake Recipe Top tip
- Start with a Base: Begin by spreading a thin layer of the taco meat mixture on the bottom of the baking dish. This creates a solid foundation for the layers to come.
- Cheese Layer: Sprinkle a generous amount of shredded cheese over the tortilla chips. This creates a melty, cheesy layer that binds the ingredients together.
- Final Toppings: Finish off with a final layer of cheese on top. This will create a golden and bubbly crust when baked.
- Bake with Care: Bake the taco bake according to the recipe instructions. Keep an eye on the top layer of cheese to ensure it doesn't burn. If needed, cover the dish with foil during the last few minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove