This recipe for Mexican stuffed shells is jumbo pasta stuffed with taco meat, then covered with cheese and baked for perfection. A fun twist on classic stuffed shells that the whole family will love!

Stuffed shells are a family favorite in my house, including chicken alfredo stuffed shells and pizza stuffed shells. This latest addition is full of zesty Mexican flavors and makes for an easy and hearty meal.

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A baking dish of Mexican stuffed shells filled with ground beef and cheese.

Stuffed shells are one of those recipes that never goes out of style, they’re comfort food at its finest! These Mexican stuffed shells are filled with ground beef, topped with plenty of cheese, and baked in a Mexican style salsa sauce for a fun and unique take on pasta night.

How do you make Mexican stuffed shells?

The first step is to cook your filling, which is made up of ground beef, onions and taco seasoning. The meat mixture gets stuffed into pasta shells, and then the shells get nestled into a zesty sauce made from salsa and taco sauce.

A pan of taco seasoned ground beef and onions.

You can cook your filling up to one day before you plan to bake your shells. I always put my shells in boiling water at the same time as I start cooking the beef, that way everything is done at the same time.

Jumbo shell pasta stuffed with Mexican beef.

Tips for Mexican stuffed shells

  • You can use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef if you prefer.
  • The sauce is a mixture of mild salsa and taco sauce. You can also use enchilada sauce or a spicy salsa for a different flavor take.
  • These shells can be assembled up to 8 hours before you plan to bake them. Simply cover the pan and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to heat them up. You will have to increase the bake time accordingly.
  • You can use your favorite kind of cheese for these stuffed shells. I used a combination of cheddar and Monterey jack, but other great choices are pepper jack or colby jack.

Unbaked Mexican stuffed shells topped with shredded cheese.

After the Mexican stuffed shells come out of the oven, they get topped with a sprinkling of cilantro and dinner is served! You can add more toppings if you like, some other great choices are

  • diced avocado
  • chopped tomatoes
  • green onions
  • sliced olives

I typically serve this dish with a simple steamed vegetable on the side. If you’re looking for a heartier side dish option, try pinto beans and Mexican rice.

Mexican stuffed shells on a serving plate.

Mexican stuffed shells are a super unique and filling dinner that’s perfect for feeding a crowd. I often take a pan of these shells to potlucks and they’re always the first thing eaten. You will have everyone asking for the recipe!

More Mexican favorites

5 from 27 votes

Mexican Stuffed Shells

AuthorSara Welch
A baking dish of Mexican stuffed shells filled with ground beef and cheese.
This recipe for Mexican stuffed shells is jumbo pasta stuffed with taco meat, then covered with cheese and baked for perfection. A fun twist on classic stuffed shells that the whole family will love!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Mexican
Serves 6


  • 1 cup mild taco sauce
  • 1 cup mild salsa
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef I use 90% lean
  • 3/4 cup onion finely diced
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 12 ounces jumbo shell pasta cooked according to package directions
  • 2 cups shredded cheese I use a blend of cheddar and Monterey jack
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • cooking spray


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9" x 13" pan with cooking spray.
  • Place the taco sauce and salsa in a bowl and stir until combined. Spread the salsa mixture in an even layer at the bottom of the prepared pan.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until translucent. 
  • Add the ground beef and taco seasoning to the pan. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spatula, for 5-6 minutes or until beef is cooked through.
  • Fill the pasta shells with the beef mixture and place them in the pan on top of the salsa sauce.
  • Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the shells.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.
  • Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve.


Calories: 536kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 99mg | Sodium: 736mg | Potassium: 699mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1275IU | Vitamin C: 5.7mg | Calcium: 228mg | Iron: 4.4mg

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This is one of our favorite meals! The only thing I do differently is I add the taco seasoning AFTER browning the ground beef. And I leave in oven a bit longer as we like the top to be slightly crispy. YUM!! Great flavor and even good the next day for leftovers!

  2. 5 stars
    This was delicious. I did cook the whole box of pasta as some shells always tear. But did 2/12 pounds beef and added 1cup frozen corn for a hint of Sweet. Shredded some lettuce and diced tomatoes for toppings. I filled about 36 shells so have a pan in the freezer for another meal. Basically doubled the recipe. Not the salsa base though. Even at mild was too much for me. Might try a layer of refried beans next time. Dinner at the zoo has so many good recipes. Thank you

  3. 5 stars
    These were great!! I really stuffed them too, and man did the family like them. Need to find bigger shells ( if they make them), so I can stuff them even bigger. Wonderful dish.

  4. 5 stars
    Are these freezer friendly as well. I’ve made stuffed shells before an they were freezer friendly.

  5. 5 stars
    Stuffed shells are always a family favorite and I know we will love these with a Mexican twist. I mean who wouldn’t love their favorite Mexican flavors in a pasta shell. Great idea!

  6. 5 stars
    My mom made stuffed pasta shells quite a bit growing up and I haven’t made them is so, so long! I love the Mexican twist here and the great ip to make the filling the day before!

  7. 5 stars
    I love stuffed shell recipes already but this Mexican stuffed shells recipe is a break from the ordinary. I love it!

  8. 5 stars
    These stuffed shells look wonderful. I love all the flavors. I bet my husband would love this. Saving!

  9. 5 stars
    Wow. This looks delicious. Meats and pasta are a favorite in my home. Will try making it this way in our next pasta dinner rotation. Yum!!

  10. 5 stars
    These stuffed shells look bonkers good!! My husband would go nuts for them. Adding them to my list of “must make” recipes right now.

  11. 5 stars
    These look really good I bet my toddler would love this! Her favorite food is pasta but the rest of the family gets tired of eating it the same way all the time. I will definitely have to try this recipe!

  12. 5 stars
    These are wonderful!
    I’ve been looking for something new to add to the menu on #TacoTuesday. This dish is perfect.
    Everybody loves stuffed shells, don’t they?

  13. 5 stars
    I actually cooked this dish last night… with a bunch of help from my 10 year old daughter! Everyone that tried it loved it! I just have to see what mmt 6 year old granddaughter thinks of it next!!! It was a success! A decent amount of ingredients, inexpensive, fun to make, and totally delicious! Thanks a bunch! It’s a new dish in our household! 😍💝💞💞💝