This taco casserole is layers of tortilla chips, refried beans and beef, all topped with plenty of cheese and baked to perfection. Add your favorite taco fixings such as lettuce, tomato and olives for a hearty and family friendly meal!
My family loves a hot cheesy casserole, they’re always requesting beef noodle casserole, chicken and rice casserole and this festive taco casserole. You can never go wrong with tacos!
I love to do taco night for dinner, but sometimes when I’m in a hurry, I just layer all the ingredients in a dish and bake them together, which is how this taco casserole came to be. This recipe has all of the components of tacos in the form of a cheesy casserole. You can even add your favorite taco fixings on top to take this dish to the next level!
How do you make taco casserole?
This recipe starts with ground beef, which is cooked in a skillet with onions, tomatoes and taco seasoning. A layer of crushed tortilla chips goes into the bottom of a casserole dish, and is topped with refried beans. The next step is to add your layer of beef, and plenty of shredded cheese. Bake your casserole until it’s bubbling and the cheese is melted, then add some fresh toppings and serve.
Tips for taco casserole
- I typically use 90% lean ground beef, it has plenty of flavor but is not overly greasy.
- I recommend grating your own cheese instead of using the pre-shredded variety. The bagged grated cheese is often coated with anti caking agents and does not melt as well as freshly shredded cheese.
- This dish can easily be doubled for a crowd and makes for great leftovers.
- To crush your tortilla chips, place them in a resealable bag and use a rolling pin or meat mallet. You want your chips to be coarsely crushed, about 1/4 inch sized pieces.
Taco casserole variations
There are so many different ways to customize this casserole to your tastes.
- Protein: Use cooked diced chicken or ground turkey instead of beef.
- Cheese: Try pepper jack instead of cheddar for a bit of a spicy kick.
- Chips: Instead of regular tortilla chips, try a flavored chip such as nacho cheese chips, or you can use a layer of flour or corn tortillas on the bottom.
- Beans: Use black or pinto beans instead of refried beans.
- Vegetables: You can add extra vegetables to your beef mixture such as bell peppers or corn.
- Toppings: You can top your casserole with sour cream, avocado, more crushed chips, pickled jalapenos, green onions or cilantro.
This casserole is such a fun and easy way to do taco night. I find myself making it on a regular basis because my kids can’t get enough of it! Add some steamed vegetables on the side and you’ll have a dinner that will earn you rave reviews.
More great Mexican food recipes
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef I use 90% lean
- 1/2 cup onion finely diced
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes do not drain
- 1 1/4 cups tortilla chips crushed
- 16 ounce can refried beans
- 1 1/4 cups cheddar cheese shredded
- Toppings such as shredded lettuce, diced tomato and sliced olives
- cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 inch square pan or 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and cook for 5-6 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spatula.
- Add the onion and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until onion is translucent.
- Stir in the taco seasoning and diced tomatoes. Simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Place a layer of tortilla chips in the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread a layer of refried beans over the top.
- Pour the beef mixture over the beans and top with the cheese.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
- Add toppings if desired, then serve.
Looks yummy! I know you mentioned that the refried beans are the “glue”, but my kids wont eat if they notice the refried beans (eye roll). Any good substitute for refried beans?
Maybe try a layer of cheese over the chips to hold them together?
Those three girls of yours have got to be the apple of your eyes. I wish I had little helpers in the kitchen. As for the Taco Casserole it was easy & quick to make. It taste great! Will include it in the Menu rotation.
Even my picky husband liked it.
Do you bake this covered or uncovered?
It is uncovered!
Do you think I can substitute fire roasted corn for the beans?
The beans are the glue that holds the filling together, so if you omitted them the filling might be crumbly. I would also use less corn, maybe 1 cup.
Ahhhh. That makes sense. Perhaps I’ll just sprinkle in some corn.
Thanks so much!
How many does this serve ? 1 pound ground beef seems like it would not be enough for 3 hungry adults at my house . But, maybe with all other ingredients it is. Also, with adding tomato to the meat and then again as a topping, is that too much ?
It should feed 4 hungry adults or 6 if you’re including kids/smaller eaters. It’s fine to add more meat if you don’t think a pound is enough.
Hi! Can this be made without tomatoes? Trying to figure out how I can make a variation for my kids that don’t eat tomatoes LOL?
That should be fine but you’ll want to add something else to keep it from getting dry. Would they notice a can of tomato sauce with no chunks?
I forgot to buy chips so I used corn tortillas and it still came out so good!
could this recipe be made to freeze?
The tortilla chips will be soft if you freeze and thaw but the other ingredients should hold up fine!
This is a keeper! My family loved it!
It was good – better than I expected, but I don’t think I added enough tortilla chips. When I see 1 1/2 cups tortilla chips crushed, I read that as starting out with 1 1/2 cups and then crushing them. If it said 1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips – I would read that as crush enough to get to 1 1/2 cups – which is it? Thanks for the all the great recipes.
I use 1 1/2 cups of pre-crushed tortilla chips, I will edit to clarify!