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.
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! As far as I can remember, 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 o 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. 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.
Here’s a video to show how easy it is to make:
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. Net, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you make this taco casserole, be sure to post a picture on social media and let me know how it turned out!