Easy Taco Casserole

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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!

portion of taco bake topped with guacamole on a plate

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

It’s is 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.

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

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!

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:

raw ingredients ready to be cooked
Mix in the salsa and beans
Spread the taco meat mixture over the chips.
Top with cheese and bake until it's bubbling!

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.

Healthy Taco Bake Recipe

More great recipe ideas for taco Tuesday:

If you love Mexican recipes, you’ll also love my Crispy Baked Flautas and my Healthy Mexican Food Recipes roundup!

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

This recipe is classic, but be sure to check out the updated version Doritos Locos Taco Bakee too!
4.10 from 81 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Healthy Weeknight Dinner Recipes
Cuisine: Southwest
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 364kcal

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

  • 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.

Notes

Try homemade baked tortilla chips for less fat!
Nutrition Facts
Taco Casserole
Amount Per Serving
Calories 364 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Polyunsaturated Fat 11g
Cholesterol 85mg28%
Sodium 1057mg46%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 29g58%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @HealthyDelish or tag #HealthyDelish!
 
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. I also blog at The Busy Foodie. Read more...

 

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109 thoughts on “Easy Taco Casserole”

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is delicious and very easy to make. I include a cup of frozen corn as well to make it a little heartier. I also don’t put the tortilla chips at the bottom of the casserole since I typically freeze the leftovers and I’m not sure they would freeze well. I just serve a handful of chips on the side. A tasty meal every time!

    Reply
  2. I made this for the first time tonight. WOW!!! It was delicious and will definitely put in our rotation. I had ground turkey, so I used that. I also added corn, poblano peppers and more seasonings. Fantastic! Thanks for the much needed inspiration.

    Reply
  3. This was DELICIOUS! Added a de-seeded sliced fresh jalapeño and black olives on top before baking and drizzled with Cacique Crema Mexicana (sour cream) when served.

    Reply
  4. 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