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Taco Stuffed Shells

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posted: 04/17/21

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

These Creamy Taco Stuffed Shells make for an easy but absolutely delicious dinner! This is a taco twist on your favorite stuffed shells recipe!

close up of a taco stuffed shell on a spoon

If there is one thing my family loves as much as tacos, it is pasta. We regularly have pasta night in our house, and our kids can literally smell the noodles boiling. They come running into the kitchen cheering.

So, it only seems natural to combine our two favorite obsessions – tacos and pasta – into these Taco Stuffed Shells.

overhead of a pan of pasta shells stuffed with taco filling before they are covered with salsa and cheese

How to Make Taco Stuffed Shells

  1. Boil the noodles. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the shells according to package instructions. Be sure to note the time on the box of shells for how long they should boil. They will cook longer in the oven, so they should not be over cooked when boiling.
  2. Make the filling. We are essentially making my taco meat, with the addition of onion and garlic. In the end we also add in some frozen corn.
  3. Assemble the stuffed shells. To put this great casserole together, pour half the salsa on the bottom of the pan. Then fill the shells with the filling. Top with the remaining salsa and the cheese.
  4. Bake the stuffed shells. These bake for about 35 minutes.
side view of a casserole dish full of stuffed shells

Taking Shortcuts

I’m all for taking short cuts in the kitchen if that is what makes your life easier. The most important thing in our house is the time we spend around the table together. So whatever it takes to get you there.

Salsa: I have a great Blender Salsa recipe. My six year old is obsessed with it. It is a 10 minute recipe that makes 6 cups. Use two of them for this recipe. Or take a short cut and use store bought salsa.

Taco Seasoning: We never buy taco seasoning because we prefer our homemade taco seasoning recipe so much. The recipe is written in two parts, measurements to replace the store bought packet, or a big batch to keep on hand all the time. Three tablespoons of that big batch is used here and is the same amount that you get from the packet. Either will work great here!

Ground Beef vs. Ground Turkey

You can use ground beef or ground turkey in this recipe. Our family prefers the taste of ground turkey, so that is what we use. If you choose ground beef, you can eliminate the oil and add in the onion and garlic once the beef has been broken up.

Shredding Cheese

One thing that makes stuffed shells the comfort food that they are, is the melted cheese. To get the most enjoyment out of this recipe possible, shred cheese right from the block. It melts and tastes better than pre-shredded cheese.

a stuffed shell filled with taco filling being lifted out of a casserole dish

How to Freeze Stuffed Shells

To freeze this recipe, make it in a disposable baking dish. After topping with cheese, wrap three times with aluminum foil. Freeze for up to three months.

When you are ready to bake, remove all but 1 layer of aluminum foil. The stuffed shells can go right from the freezer to the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove the foil and then continue baking for another 5 minutes.

FAQ

Can we leave out the corn?

Yes! If your family doesn’t like corn, you could substitute black beans or just leave them out all together.

Can taco stuffed shells be made the night before?

Yes! Assemble the stuffed shells, top with cheese, cover and refrigerate. Bake within 24 hours. You will need to add an extra 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.

overhead of a pan of taco stuffed shells recipe

What to Serve with Taco Stuffed Shells

These are great on their own, but here are some other topping suggestions:


If you make this taco stuffed shells recipe or any of my other recipes, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

close up of a taco stuffed shell on a spoon
0 from 0 votes

Taco Stuffed Shells

Serves: 24 shells
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
These Creamy Taco Stuffed Shells make for an easy but absolutely delicious dinner!  This is a taco twist on your favorite stuffed shells recipe!  It is a great weeknight dinner.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • small yellow onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 16 ounces ground turkey
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons taco seasoning (or 1 ounce storebought packet)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 16 ounces salsa my blender salsa or storebought salsa would both work great here
  • 2 cups colby jack cheese shredded

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350. Spray a 9 by 13 inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Boil a large pot of water and cook the shells according to package instructions (see note). When the shells are finished cooking, drain them and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, heat up the oil. Add in the onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add in the turkey and break up, cooking it until it is browned. Drain any excess grease from the skillet.
  • Add in the tomato sauce and taco seasoning. Bring to a simmer and then turn low. Cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in the frozen corn.
  • Spread half of the salsa over the bottom of the pan. Spoon a small amount of the turkey mixture into 24 shells (you will have shells left over), placing them seam side up on the salsa. Top with the remainder of the salsa and then add the shredded cheese.
  • Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 3 to 5 until the cheese is nice and melty.
  • Serve with toppings, like green onions, jalapeños, olives, shredded lettuce, and tomatoes, and enjoy!

Notes

When you cook the shells, make sure to set your timer and cook them for just the amount suggested on the box. You don’t want to over cook your shells because they will cook more while baking.
This recipe had cream cheese in it when it was first published, and they were Creamy Taco Stuffed Shells. If you’ve made this recipe before and prefer it with cream cheese, add in 4 ounces of cream cheese right before you add the frozen corn. Stir it to melt.
Serving: 1shell Iron: 0.6mg (3%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
close up of a taco stuffed shell on a spoon

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Taco Stuffed Shells

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. Annie @Maebells says

    I hate that “in between” funk after you come back from a nice vacation. It is hard to get back to a normal mindset sometimes! I am loving these stuffed shells! Such a fun spin!

  2. Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust says

    I absolutely pink puffy heart Jennie-o!! And I’m totally making this, BTW!

  3. clarissa perez says

    thank lisa look very yum yum.

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