Taco Casserole

Cheesy taco casserole, loaded with seasoned ground chicken, black beans, and salsa, tastes like your favorite nachos – minus the guilt! Load it up with your favorite toppings to make it your own.

Be sure to check out my Healthy Eating One-Pot Cookbook for more easy, healthy recipes like this one.

portion of taco bake topped with guacamole on a plate

Taco Casserole was one of our go-to dinners back when I was a busy graduate student doing Weight Watchers. 

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?)

I shared the recipe with a few friends, and they all loved it too!

In fact, this taco bake was one of the things that inspired me to put start this blog and out my recipes online to make them easier to share. It’s one of the very first recipes that I posted – all the way back in March 2007!

I recently noticed that the pictures in this post could use an update, and since I hadn’t made the dish in a while, I decided to give it a bit of an update since the chips I used to make it with are no longer available.

While it isn’t as fresh-tasting as most of the recipes I make, it was every bit as delicious as we remembered it being.

If you love comfort food casseroles like this one, you’ll also enjoy this keto cheeseburger casserole!

Here’s a video to show how easy it is to make:

How to make Taco Casserole:

raw ingredients ready to be cooked

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. I prefer using ground chicken for this recipe because the delicate flavor allows the salsa and beans to take center-stage, but it’s also awesome with 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.

Mix in the salsa and beans

Once your protein is browned, add some beans and 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 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. Simmer everything until the salsa thickens slightly.

Taco Casserole 1

Meanwhile, line the bottom of a casserole pan with 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.

Taco Casserole 2

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.

Healthy Taco Bake Recipe

The chips on the bottom get soft while they cook, so I like to serve it with a few extra chips to scoop everything up with.

Looking for more healthy Tex-Mex or taco inspired recipes? You’ll love my Shrimp Taco Bowls and my Crispy Baked Flautas.

If you make this taco casserole, be sure to post a picture on social media and let me know how it turned out!

Healthy taco casserole tastes just like nachos! This is one of our go-to easy dinners. (Weight watchers friendly)

Healthy Taco Bake Recipe

Taco Casserole

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This recipe is classic, but be sure to check out the updated version Doritos Locos Taco Bakee too!

Ingredients

  • 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.

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Scoop up with additional chips if desired.

Notes

Try homemade baked tortilla chips for less fat!

Nutrition Information
Yield 6
Amount Per Serving Calories 364Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 85mgSodium 1057mgCarbohydrates 27gFiber 7gSugar 4gProtein 29g

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By on May 18th, 2010

About Lauren

Hi, I'm Lauren! I'm a certified plant-based cook and enthusiastic omnivore who loves looking for creative ways to make weeknight meals more nutritious. I'm the author of Heathy Eating One Pot Cookbook and Healthy Meal Prep Slow Cooker Cookbook.

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119 thoughts on “Taco Casserole”

  1. Just as a note, the recipe doesn’t say how much meat you use. I presume it’s one pound though. Might need to update that.

    Reply
  2. Can the actual filling be done ahead of time (like overnight) and then bake the next day?

    Reply
  3. My family loved this! The changes I made: soft corn tortillas cut into triangles on bottom of casserole in place of crunchy chips. Yum! Turned into a crust I added a can of vegetarian (or fat free) re-fried beans (heated in microwave 3 mins first) on top of the bottom crust. Then put the meat/bean mixture on top of that. Then cheese and a whole fresh jalepeno sliced (seeds removed) & fresh cilantro on top of casserole BEFORE baking (uncovered) for 30 mins instead of 20 mins. Served hot with tortilla chips, sour cream, cilantro & salsa. BIG HIT!

    Reply
  4. Onion and garlic the same. Make a side of Mexican rice and corn, no beans. Make the mixture. I make homemade tortilla chips. Everything else is about the same. Mix the rice corn onion garlic and chicken and put that on tip of chips and cheese on top for 15 min.. so amazing! Chicken taco seasoning not beef!

    Reply

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