Easy to Make Taco Casserole

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Want a fresh take on Taco Night? This simple taco casserole is easy to make ahead of time or serve fresh out of the oven, plus you'll find tons of variations to suit your preferences for spiciness, ease and timing.

Taco Casserole with extra lettuce and tortilla chips
Taco Casserole with extra lettuce and tortilla chips (Image: Charity Mathews, founder of Foodlets.com)

Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 14.5 oz. can diced green chiles, drained (optional), (1)
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 16 oz. jar taco sauce (mild, medium or hot), (1)
  • 12 oz. can beans (pinto, kidney or black), rinsed, (1)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup salsa (mild, medium or hot)
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn
  • Toppings: shredded lettuce, diced, tomatoes, tortilla chips
To save time, use a packaged taco seasoning mix instead of measuring out individual spices.
To save time, use a packaged taco seasoning mix instead of measuring out individual spices. (Image: Charity Mathews, founder of Foodlets.com)

Get Started

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and cook the rice according to directions. Meanwhile, pour the oil in a large saute pan and add onions. Stir the onions often and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Cook onions over a low flame to avoid coloring the edges.
Cook onions over a low flame to avoid coloring the edges. (Image: Charity Mathews, founder of Foodlets.com)

Add the rest of your vegetables: peppers, garlic and chiles (if using). Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until all the vegetables start to soften.

If you're using hot chiles, add them here.
If you're using hot chiles, add them here. (Image: Charity Mathews, founder of Foodlets.com)

In goes the beef and spices. Cook everything together until the meat is no longer pink. About 7 to 10 minutes, stirring often.

DIY taco seasoning.
DIY taco seasoning. (Image: Charity Mathews, founder of Foodlets.com)

Make the Sauce

After the meat has browned, add 1 cup of water to the pan. Scrape up any bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Want even more spice? Add red pepper flakes here.
Want even more spice? Add red pepper flakes here. (Image: Charity Mathews, founder of Foodlets.com)

Add a bottle of taco sauce and stir to combine.

Use mild, medium or spicy sauce from any brand you like.
Use mild, medium or spicy sauce from any brand you like. (Image: Charity Mathews, founder of Foodlets.com)

Finally add the beans and stir. Bring the sauce to a boil, turn the heat down slightly and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is slightly reduced.

We used kidney beans but pinto or black beans would work perfectly.
We used kidney beans but pinto or black beans would work perfectly. (Image: Charity Mathews, founder of Foodlets.com)

Flavor the Rice

Once your rice has finished cooking, stir in the salsa plus 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. It'll be sticky and gooey, oozing with flavor.

Use mild, medium or hot salsa from any brand.
Use mild, medium or hot salsa from any brand. (Image: Charity Mathews, founder of Foodlets.com)

Assemble the Casserole

Grease a 9x13 dish with a little butter or oil. Then start with a layer rice, using half of the rice mixture you have prepared.

Use the back of your spoon to flatten out the rice and completely cover the base of the pan.
Use the back of your spoon to flatten out the rice and completely cover the base of the pan. (Image: Charity Mathews, founder of Foodlets.com)

Add a layer cheese, then half of the meat and bean mixture. Sprinkle on half the corn and a handful of cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are layered in the pan.

The order of the layers is not that important so just keep layering until it's all there.
The order of the layers is not that important so just keep layering until it's all there. (Image: Charity Mathews, founder of Foodlets.com)

Tip

  • If you have time, grating your own cheese will make the dish more flavorful than using a bag of pre-shredded cheese.

Finish with a sprinkle of any remaining cheese and corn.

Taco casserole ready for the oven.
Taco casserole ready for the oven. (Image: Charity Mathews, founder of Foodlets.com)

Place the casserole on top of a cookie sheet (to catch any drips) and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the cheese is golden brown.

If you're baking this casserole ahead of time, reduce cooking time to 25 minutes.
If you're baking this casserole ahead of time, reduce cooking time to 25 minutes. (Image: Charity Mathews, founder of Foodlets.com)

Add Toppings Just Before Serving

Top the casserole with crispy bites of tortilla chips, shredded lettuce, freshly diced tomatoes and serve with sour cream or guacamole.

Serving later? Allow the casserole to cool, cover and store in the fridge. (Reheat at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes when you're ready.)
Serving later? Allow the casserole to cool, cover and store in the fridge. (Reheat at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes when you're ready.) (Image: Charity Mathews, founder of Foodlets.com)

Instantly get your own customized menu based on your pins with our new What's for Dinner, Pinner experience!

Want More Casserole Ideas? Make These This Week!

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