Taco casserole is loaded with seasoned ground chicken, black beans, and salsa—and it tastes just like your favorite nachos! But you can feel a little better about eating it because it’s packed with protein and fiber. Pile it up with your favorite toppings to make it your own – this recipe is super customizable!
What you’ll love about this recipe:
- Family Favorite: This easy taco casserole recipe has all of the flavor of a classic taco, but in casserole form. It’s always a huge hit with the whole family.
- Versatile: This is a great recipe to play around with. Switch up the protein, get creative with the toppings, or even scoop it over a bed of lettuce for a fun take on a taco salad. I also love eating the leftovers the next day topped with a fried egg.
- Easy: It’s easy to make and even easier to eat!
This easy Taco Casserole was one of our go-to dinners back when I was a busy graduate student doing Weight Watchers.
It’s loaded with seasoned ground chicken, black beans, salsa (of course), and more – all topped with a creamy layer of cheese that makes it taste like your favorite nachos!
Plus, you can make this recipe your own by piling on whatever toppings you love best!
It’s easy to throw together, cheap to make, and tastes like junk food – in particular like those obscenely huge plates of nachos that you used to find on appetizer menus at chain restaurants. (Has anyone else noticed that those don’t seem to be as common anymore?)
This is one recipe that will make everyone happy – even if they’re a picky eater.
Ingredients and Variations:
To make this delicious taco casserole, you’ll need:
- Ground Meat. I almost always use ground chicken for this recipe because the delicate flavor allows the salsa and beans to take center-stage, but it’s also awesome with ground turkey or lean ground beef. Sometimes I even make it with Morningstar Farms vegetable crumbles or a double portion of beans for a vegetarian version.
- Salsa. Using salsa is a great shortcut to giving this taco casserole a ton of flavor without having to cut up a bunch of vegetables like tomatoes and green bell peppers yourself. It’s the same trick I use in my easy tortilla soup. This isn’t the time for fancy salsa – you want one that’s nice and chunky with lots of tomatoes. I really like Newman’s Own hot salsa for this, but you can use a mild salsa if you don’t like heat. If all you have is pico de gallo, add two tablespoons of tomato sauce along with it for added moisture.
- Beans. I almost always use a can of black beans, but you could also use pinto beans or refried beans.
- Taco seasoning. You’ll need about a half of a packet of taco seasoning or two tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning.
- Cheese. Shredded cheddar or Monterrey Jack work so well here. As always, I’m a big advocate for grating your own cheese instead of buying it pre-shredded.
- Tortilla Chips. When I first started making this recipe, I used Tostitos Light. Unfortunately, those aren’t on the market anymore. Now I use the lightest natural tortilla chips I can find. You can also make your own homemade baked tortilla chips, which are way better than what they sell at the store. The chips do get soggy, which not everyone likes. If that’s you, feel free to leave them out and use fresh chips to scoop up the final dish. For a low carb variation, I’ve also substituted diced zucchini for the chips.
How to make Taco Casserole:
To make this taco casserole, start by cooking onion and some garlic in a little bit of olive oil (or chili oil if you like extra heat!) until it’s soft.
Next, add your protein and some taco seasoning.
Once your protein is browned, add some beans and salsa.
Meanwhile, line the bottom of a casserole pan with chips.
Pour the meat mixture over the chips and top it with cheese. Bake it until it’s nice and gooey!
Once you take the taco casserole out of the oven, be sure to let it sit for a few minutes to firm up before you serve it.
This is a great time to rifle through the fridge for extra toppings. Depending on our moods, like pickled jalapeños, olives, fresh cilantro, or even a little yogurt or sour cream.
For this version, I topped the taco casserole with a little bit of chunky guacamole.
More great recipe ideas for taco Tuesday:
- Shrimp Taco Bowls with Pineapple Salsa
- Grilled Fish Tacos
- Summer Vegetable Breakfast Tacos with Soft Scrambled Eggs
- Turkey Taco Stuffed Peppers
- Potato and Chorizo Tacos
- “Doritos Locos” Taco Bake
- 2 ounces Tortilla Chips* about 24, plus additional for serving
- 1 Tbs Chili Oil or olive oil and red pepper flakes
- 1 Onion chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 pound Ground Chicken
- 2 Tbs Taco Seasoning
- 1 can Black Beans drained
- 1 cup Hot Salsa
- 1 cup shredded Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese
- Optional: Other toppings such as jalepenios olives, etc.
- Heat oven to 350.
- Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft. Add meat and taco seasoning. Cook, breaking up meat with a spatula, for about 5 minutes. Add beans and salsa. Mix well and continue to cook until salsa thickens.
- Line the bottom of a large baking dish with tortilla chips, pressing down on them lightly to break them into bite-sized pieces. Spread the meat and bean mixture over the chips and top with cheese. Add sliced jalapenos or other toppings that you ant to be cooked. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and gooey.
- Scoop up with additional chips if desired.