If you’re in need of a meal prep recipe, this taco pasta bake might be your new go to. It’s super simple to make, loaded with cheesy taco flavor, and has fantastic macros for a pasta recipe.
One serving of this taco pasta bake has 24 grams of protein with only 28 grams of carbs and 250 calories. The recipe makes nine servings, so you could feed the entire family for a few days or double up on servings and have a 500-calorie, protein-packed meal for four days. Needless to say, this is nacho average taco pasta bake.
K, I don’t think we need to taco bout it anymore. Let’s get down to business.
How to Make This Taco Pasta Bake
Like most of my recipes, this is another ultra simple recipe. You’ll need seven ingredients total, but two are seasonings and two are canned. Other than cooking some pasta and ground beef or meat of your choice, this taco pasta bake is pure assembly.
I’ll quickly run through the ingredients you might have questions about modifying.
I used Banza Shells which are made from chickpeas. They’re much higher in protein and lower in carbs than traditional pasta. If you’ve never tried any of the chickpea or lentil pastas, this is the recipe to start with since the blend of textures more than accommodates for the difference.
You could use another brand of “protein pasta” like the Barilla Protein+ I used in my Italian Sausage and Veggie Pasta Bake. Or if you’d rather go with a regular pasta or save some time, you could use something like the Barilla Ready Pasta I used in my Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta. You can pop it in the microwave for 60 seconds and be ready to roll.
Obviously switching from the Banza pasta to a traditional pasta will increase the carbs and slightly decrease the protein, that might not be a problem for your nutrition protocol. If you have the carbs, I say go for it!
Taco and Ranch Seasoning
I used a packet of taco seasoning to keep things simple. If you’d like to reduce the sodium a bit or use your own spice mixture, I’d highly recommend the spices from my healthy nachos recipe.
And if you don’t have any ranch seasoning on hand, you could use a bit of garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, dill, and powdered buttermilk.
While I wouldn’t recommend going all the way fat free with the cheese, you could certainly use less cheese than the recipe calls for to reduce the calories. I was able to fully coat the taco pasta bake with about 3/4 cup cheese and decided to make it extra cheesy with another 1/2 cup.
If you stopped at 3/4 cup, you’d save about 20 calories per serving. Doesn’t seem like much when I put it that way. Cheese it up.
Update 10/2019: If you want to seriously up the cheese game, you could incorporate queso into the mix like in my chicken fajita pasta bake recipe!
Okay, the full recipe is below. When you make this taco pasta bake, I’d love to see it. Snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @mason_woodruff or join my free Facebook group and share it with the proton party!
- 1 lb 96/4 Ground Beef
- 1 packet Taco Seasoning
- 1 packet Ranch Dip Mix
- 10 oz can RO-TEL , or diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 15 oz can Pinto Beans, undrained
- 1 box (8oz) Banza Pasta Shells, or Barilla Ready Pasta to save time
- 1 1/4 C (140g Reduced Fat Mexican Cheese Blend
- Preheat an oven to 400F.
- Cook the pasta as directed unless you're using something like Ready Pasta.
- In a large skillet, brown the ground beef over medium high heat. Cook until no pink remains.
- Reduce the heat to low before adding the taco and ranch seasoning, RO-TEL, and pinto beans to the beef. (If you'd like a thicker pasta, drain the beans.) Stir well.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain the water and add the pasta to the taco mixture.
- Mix everything together before adding the mixture to an 8x8 baking dish or comparable dish. Top with shredded cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes. (Keep an eye on the cheese to avoid burning.)
- 1 serving has 6 Smart Points.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 9 Servings Serving Size: 1 Cup (175g)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 251Total Fat: 7gCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 24g