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 comfort food dinner, they’re always requesting crockpot meatloaf, Instant Pot pot roast, turkey casserole, beef noodle casserole, chicken and rice casserole and this festive taco casserole. You can never go wrong with tacos!

Taco casserole in a baking dish topped with melted cheese, lettuce, tomato and olives.

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!

Taco Casserole Ingredients

To make this recipe, you will need olive oil, ground beef, onion, taco seasoning, diced tomatoes, tortilla chips, refried beans, cheddar cheese, and whatever toppings you’d like to add after the casserole is baked.

Crushed tortilla chips in a casserole dish.

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.

A layer of refried beans on top of a crushed tortilla chips.

Tips For Taco Casserole

  • I typically use 90% lean ground beef, it has plenty of flavor but is not overly greasy. If you use beef with a higher fat content, you may need to drain excess grease from the pan after it is cooked.
  • 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.

Quick Tip

Use an offset spatula to make it easier to spread the beans into the pan.

Cooked taco meat in a casserole dish.

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 or Monterey Jack cheese instead of cheddar for a different flavor.
  • 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 beans or pinto beans instead of refried beans.
  • Seasonings: Add extra zest with hot sauce, cumin, chili powder and garlic powder.
  • Vegetables: You can add extra vegetables to your beef mixture such as bell peppers or corn.
  • Toppings: You can top your casserole with black olives, sour cream, avocado, salsa, guacamole, more crushed chips, pickled jalapenos, green onions or cilantro.
A spoon serving up a portion of beef taco casserole.

Recipe FAQs

How do you reheat taco casserole?

If you have a larger portion of casserole that you’re looking to reheat, you can place it in a baking dish, cover it with foil and bake at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until heated through. If you’re looking to reheat a single portion, microwave it in 30 second increments until hot.

How long does taco casserole stay fresh?

Taco casserole will stay fresh in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. I don’t recommend freezing this dish as the chip layer may be soggy when thawed.

FOLLOW ME

A serving of taco casserole topped with melted cheese.

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.

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5 from 130 votes

Taco Casserole

AuthorSara Welch
Taco casserole in a baking dish topped with melted cheese, lettuce, tomato and olives.
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!
Time
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Mexican
Serves 6

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  1. I typically use 90% lean ground beef, it has plenty of flavor but is not overly greasy.
  2. 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.
  3. To crush your tortilla chips, place them in a resealable bag and use a rolling pin or meat mallet.

Nutrition

Calories: 435kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 709mg | Potassium: 465mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 925IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 270mg | Iron: 4.1mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

Learn more about Sara

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5 from 130 votes (85 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe was super easy and very delicious! My husband kept remarking how great it was and we both agreed it’s a keeper. Thank you Sara. 🙂

    1. I think it could work, but you’d need to use a smaller pan to fit in the air fryer, so you may need to cut the recipe in half depending on the size of your air fryer.

  2. 5 stars
    My family doesn’t need much convincing to eat this delicious dish. It’s got everything we could want in an easy family meal.

  3. 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?

    1. When I was looking at this recipe, I saw a few others. One of them had you mix the refried beans into the meat mixture along with some cheese. I wonder if that would hide the beans well enough so your kids won’t detect them. LOL It would definitely be easy to do with his recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    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.

    1. 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.

  5. 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 ?

    1. 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.

  6. 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?

    1. 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?

      1. You could add a little beef broth if you don’t use the tomatoes, I’ve done it and it was actually really good.

  7. 5 stars
    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.