Elevate your next Taco Tuesday with this easy taco casserole recipe! Made with loads of fresh produce and plenty of warm spices, it’s a crowd-pleasing meal that couldn’t be easier to make. Serve it up with all your favorite toppings for a nutritious dinner no one can resist!
Classic beef tacos are hard to beat. However, when it comes to meal prep or getting a family-friendly dinner on the table, they aren’t always idealLuckily, that’s where this easy taco casserole comes in to save the day!
Every bit as satisfying as a stuffed taco, it all starts with ground beef and homemade taco seasoning. Then, hearty quinoa and loads of cheese are added to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a scrumptious casserole dish. Top it off with avocado, cilantro, and more, and it’s one recipe that’s guaranteed to please!
If you’re looking for more easy Mexican-inspired meals, check out my southwest quesadillas, southwest chicken chili, and easy cream avocado Mexican corn salad, too!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- High-protein and loaded with vitamins, nutrients, and fiber
- Naturally gluten free and dairy free-friendly
- Can be made in the oven, in a crockpot, Instant Pot, or on the stovetop
- Leftovers can easily be stored and reheated later
Ingredients & Notes
- Olive oil - This is my preferred oil for cooking because of its high smoke point. You can also use avocado oil or coconut oil if preferred.
- Ground beef - I prefer a leaner variety, but any beef you have available will taste great. You could also use ground turkey or chicken, too.
- Taco seasoning - I used a store-bought packet, but you can make your own, too!
- Black beans - I like the extra texture and fiber black beans add. Plus, they’re a great source of plant-based protein.
- Corn - Canned, drained corn adds a hint of color and extra sweetness. You can use canned corn, ears of corn, or frozen corn as long as it is drained.
- Diced tomatoes with green chilies - Add some nice southwest flavor to the taco casserole and just a hint of heat. I used Rotel, but any brand will do.
- Fresh vegetables - White onion, orange bell pepper, and green bell pepper combine to create a fajita-inspired taco casserole.
- Broth - Any type will work. I used vegetable, but chicken, or bone work just as well. Whatever you choose, use reduced sodium to control the amount of salt in the dish.
- Cheese - You can’t have taco casserole without plenty of cheese! I prefer to use a Mexican blend sprinkled on top.
There’s a reason this recipe was given the name easy taco casserole! Made with just a few simple steps, it’s a breeze to whip using just a skillet and a 9x13 baking dish!
Step 1: Brown the beef. Cook the beef with olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks. When it begins to brown, add the taco seasoning, and continue to cook until no pink remains.
Step 2: Combine the ingredients. Add the black beans, corn, diced tomatoes with green chilies, onion, and bell peppers to a casserole dish.
Add the ground beef and mix together. Sprinkle the quinoa evenly on top and mix again (lots of tossing which makes sure everything is disbursed evenly).
Pour the salsa and broth over the taco casserole, and toss again. Sprinkle the cheese in an even layer over the rest of the ingredients.
Step 3: Bake the taco casserole. Place the dish in the oven until the cheese is melted on top. Then, broil at the end of cooking to achieve a golden brown appearance and extra toasty flavor from the cheese.
Step 4: Garnish and serve. Let the dish cool slightly. Then, add your favorite toppings, and serve while it’s still warm!
- Toss the quinoa with the vegetables, beans, and corn well to make sure everything is well combined. The quinoa is what holds things together in a “casserole” form. So, there needs to be a bit of quinoa throughout the entire dish.
- A chunky salsa works best in this taco casserole as opposed to a runny more liquid salsa. Use mild, medium, or hot depending on your flavor preference. The salsa provides flavor and little pieces of tomato to the dish to give it that “taco” vibe.
- Make sure to let the dish set before serving it. Like lasagna, the casserole needs to cool slightly in order to maintain its form when you serve it. Once it’s set, you should be able to easily slice squares out of the dish.
How to Serve
- My favorite way to serve this easy taco casserole is in a bowl with avocado slices, a bit of cilantro, and a few chips. The chips work great to scoop up the food kind of like nachos, Or, a fork will work, too.
- You can also serve a scoop of the casserole on a plate with a side salad.
- If you want to turn the casserole into a salad, add a scoop on top of a bed of greens, and top it with your favorite dressing.
How to Store
This taco casserole stores really well! Simply let it cool down. Then, cover it with aluminum foil or an airtight lid, and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Heat it back up in the microwave in 30-second increments or in the oven at 300 for 5 - 10 minutes until your desired temperature is reached.
Can I Make This Ahead of Time
To prepare this taco casserole ahead of time, add all the ingredients to a baking dish except the salsa, broth, and cheese. Cover it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.
Then, when you’re ready to eat, stir in the salsa, broth, and cheese, and bake as directed.
Or, if you want to make this dish and freeze it, prepare it as directed. Cook for 20 - 24 minutes, and let it cool completely before storing it in a freezer-friendly container. When ready to serve, let the casserole thaw out on the counter for at least 2 hours. To eat, warm it up in the oven at 350 F for 5 - 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Can I make this in a crockpot or on the stove?
Although this is a “casserole” it can also be made “chili style” in a crockpot, Instant Pot, or in a big soup dish on the stove. Just follow the instructions for each method below.
Crockpot - Brown the meat as directed with the olive oil and taco seasoning. Then, add all the ingredients to a crockpot, and let it cook on high for 2 - 3 hours or on low for 4 - 6 hours. Stir occasionally to make sure the quinoa is cooked.
Instant Pot - Start with the sauté setting and brown the meat with the olive oil and taco seasoning. Add the remaining ingredients, and put the lid on the Instant Pot. Cook on the manual setting for 4 minutes. Let the Instant Pot slowly release the steam for 10 minutes before quick releasing any extra steam.
Stovetop - Use a large soup pot, and brown the meat as directed over medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients, and cook, covered for 10 minutes. Give everything a big stir, and continue to cook with the lid on fo ranohter 5 - 7 minutes or until the quinoa is nice and fluffy.
Frequently Asked Questions
The cheese will be melted, and the quinoa should be soft and fluffy. If you find the quinoa isn’t cooking, give the dish a big stir to make sure the quinoa is coated in liquid, and continue to cook.
Yes, but you will want to add a little more olive oil to help soften the meat. Ground turkey and chicken have a lower fat content. So, cook them in another teaspoon or two of olive oil.
I like this Siete brand seasoning as it has only natural ingredients and no added sugars. Any type will work, though. Or, you can make your own!
For more quick dinner ideas, check out my:
PS : If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a star review and comment below! Also be sure to follow along with me on Instagram and Pinterest to stay up to date on all tasty recipes here at The Fit Peach!
Easy Taco Casserole
- 2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 lb ground beef
- Taco seasoning - I used a store-bought packet but you can make your own too. You will need 3 - 4 Tbsp
- 15 oz can black beans - drained and rinsed
- 15 oz can corn - drained
- 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies - I used Rotel
- ½ cup white onion - diced
- 1 orange bell pepper - chopped
- 1 green bell pepper - chopped
- 1 cup quinoa - dry
- 1 cup salsa
- 1 cup broth - vegetable, chicken, or bone broth will work
- 4 oz mexican cheese
To garnish (optional):
- Avocado slices
- Cilantro leaves
- Preheat oven to 400 F. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the ground beef. Break up the ground beef into smaller pieces with a spatula as it cooks. When it begins to brown, add the taco seasoning and continue cooking the beef until it’s brown all the way through. Set aside.
- In a 9 x 13 inch dish, add the black beans, corn, diced tomatoes with green chilies, white onion, and orange and green bell peppers. Gently toss the items together in the dish to mix them up. Add the ground beef and mix again to distribute. Sprinkle the dry quinoa over top and toss again. (Lots of tossing the ingredients together which ensures they are evenly distributed).
- Pour the salsa and broth into the dish and toss one more time to coat the quinoa. Sprinkle the cheese over top of the dish in an even layer and bake in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes until the cheese is melted on top. Broil the dish for an extra minute or two to get a golden brown toastiness to the cheese. Let the dish set for at least 15 minutes before serving with avocado slices, cilantro, and chips if desired.
Have you tried freezing this? Could you pre-cooking or would you post cook and then reheat?
can I substitute the quinoa with anything else?
Ansley Beutler says
Precooked rice will work! Use one of the boxes of instant rice.
Looks great! Can uncooked brown rice be substituted for the quinoa?
Ansley Beutler says
Precooked brown rice can be substituted. So instant brown rice will be fine!
Looks yummy! Will make but I’m thinking that prep is more like 15 minutes 😉. Maybe I’m just slow 😂
Do you drain canned vegetables so the liquid is only the broth?
Ansley Beutler says
Yes! Liquid is only broth and the salsa.
You lost me between step 2 and 3... at what point do you add the beef? Sorry not a cook so if it's obvious I didnt know.
Ansley Beutler says
You add the beef after the beans, corn, and veggies are mixed together. Then the quinoa and the liquid!