20 Minute  TACO PASTA


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20 Minute Taco Pasta is such an easy one pot recipe. This tasty dinner is made in one skillet with ground beef and Barilla Pronto Penne Pasta. It’s creamy, cheesy and full of great flavor that the whole family will love!

Do you ever have nights during the week that just get away from you? We sure do. I think this is common whether you work in the home or outside of the home. Life gets crazy sometimes, especially when there are kids in the picture.
Each week, I plan our family’s dinners for the weeknights. I try to leave a decent amount of wiggle room. So while it’s not set hard-and-fast for every single day, I have a general game plan for the week and for the most part this works for us.

Still, there are always some nights where the day just got away from us and I can’t imagine spending a whole hour cooking. And I say this as a gal who loves cooking! On those nights we often end up ordering take out or grabbing something from a drive-thru.
As I have mentioned previously, I’m all for moderation and I try not to beat myself up for subbing in these quick meal options once in a while. That being said, the reality still stands: nothing beats a home cooked meal!

So I go out of my way to find and also create recipes that can come together quickly but still taste delicious for those crazy nights when I just can’t deal with making a big production out of dinner. And there are certain shortcuts that are significant in making quick but still delicious meals.
One such shortcut (and my new favorite shortcut!) is Barilla Pronto Pasta. The geniuses over at Barilla have created a pasta that allows you to create one-pot meals without having to wait for water to boil or drain the pasta! Talk about saving time in both cooking and dishes! One Pan. No Boil. No Drain. No problem!! I love you, Barilla!

You guys, the pasta itself literally cooks in 10 minutes, right there in the pan! I’m talking fantastic, al dente pasta that maintains its shape and texture beautifully! Barilla is definitely doing something right, so much so that this was selected for a Better Homes & Gardens Best New Product Award for 2016!
I already knew I loved Barilla products- I’ve been loving using them for years. Barilla is Italy’s number one brand of pasta; it’s an authentic Italian food brand and has no preservatives. I trust the quality that they bring to my meals, especially the wholesome, great taste!

So when this collaboration came about, Barilla challenged me to create a delicious one-pot meal to make for my family on these busy nights and to share with you! Natureally, I got excited and jumped right into this head first!
I initially considered doing something that is more of an authentic Italian pasta dish. But I love thinking outside of the box and so I began to brainstorm of dinners my family loves, the ones that do require a bit of work. My brain immediately went to taco night. Always a favorite in our home, but since we do our taco meat in the slow cooker, this isn’t exactly a quick meal for us, not to mention all the chopping involved.

I immediately knew combining taco night with pasta night would be a an excellent decision, one which was met with great enthusiasm when I was testing this dish out on my family!

Why make this Taco Pasta recipe?

This 20 Minute Taco Pasta is so quick to make (hence the name) but it doesn’t sacrifice any flavor. I went out of my way to minimize the amount of dishes to wash and to use ingredients that would pack this dish with robust flavor!
I love that you can easily throw everything together to cook. This was a hit with both the adults and the children in my family. Alice had so much fun pulling different ingredients from her plate and asking us to take those bites together (“now lets all take a pasta bite! How about a bean bite!”). Dinner was extra fun! This is the ideal dish for those busy nights where you cannot imagine making a huge mess and working over the stove for an hour. I was thrilled that I got to enjoy the extra time hanging out with my family instead of cooking and cleaning up all night!

Tips for making cheesy taco pasta:

1. Use Barilla Pronto Pasta. This recipe hasn’t been test with regular pasta, so while I’m sure it would work (though probably with a longer cook time) I make not guarantees.
2. Prep all ingredients before you make this Taco Pasta. This is called a Mise en Place and it’s a good idea to make every recipe run smoothly.
3. Do not turn the heat down once you cover it. This is key for using this type of pasta.
4. Feel free to add toppings once the pasta is cooked. Although this is great on it’s own, in addition to green onions and chips, this would be awesome with some guacamole, sour cream, etc. The world is your oyster!

20 Minute Taco Pasta is such an easy one pot recipe. This tasty dinner is made in one skillet with ground beef and Barilla Pronto Penne Pasta. It’s creamy, cheesy and full of great flavor that the whole family will love!

? 1 lb. ground beef
? 1/4 cup dried minced onions
? 1 tsp. of garlic powder
? Salt and pepper
? 1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
? 1 4.5 oz can of chopped green chiles (I used mild but you can always use spicy if you want a kick!)
? 1 8oz. can of tomato sauce
? 1 14 oz. can of chicken broth
? 1 packet of taco seasoning
? 1 14 oz. can of undrained black beans
? 1 cup of frozen corn
? 1 box of Barilla Pronto Penne Pasta
? 1/2 cup + 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, divided (I used sharp but this would also be delicious with mild)
? Optional garnishes: chopped green onions and crumbled tortilla chips


1. In a large saute pan, brown your ground beef over medium high heat. Use the back of your spoon to break the beef up.
2. While it’s browning add your dried minced onions, garlic powder and also add some salt and pepper to taste.
3. Once the beef is fully browned, add your diced tomatoes, diced green chiles, tomato sauce, chicken broth, taco seasoning, black beans in their juice and frozen corn. Mix well and bring to this to a boil.
4. Once it’s boiling, stir in your box of Barilla Pronto Penne Pasta and cover. DO NOT TURN YOUR HEAT DOWN, leave it at medium high.
5. Cook covered for 8 minutes, stirring once in a while.
6. Once you’re at the 8 minute mark, stir in 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and then sprinkle the remaining cup of cheddar cheese over the top.
7. Cover the pasta again and cook for 2 more minutes.
8. Sprinkle with green onions and crumbled tortilla chips and enjoy!


Though I normally use low sodium products, I encourage you to use the regular products for this recipe, so as not to have to add additional salt later.

Cheesy Taco Pasta is my nod to the hamburger helper I grew up eating as a kid. While this isn’t exactly the “crunchy taco hamburger helper” because I skipped adding the tortilla chips on top, the ooey gooey meat and cheese sauce is still the same and with just a few ingredients!

You can certainly add your own fresh vegetables to the mix instead of the salsa, but I used a good jarred salsa and it tasted fantastic. On occasion I’ve also used fresh salsa (I firmly believe that recipe is one of the best ever), but the higher water content of it makes the pasta more watery.
You can also make this Cheesy Taco Pasta as cheesy as you’d like. I added only a single cup of cheese, while some in my family will add additional piles of cheese to their plate. If you want your pasta to be really cheesy I suggest 2 cups of cheese.
You can also freeze this pasta for a later date. I’d skip adding the cheese and when you defrost it, use a cup of chicken or beef stock. Then once warmed through add the cheese, mix and serve.

And yes, you can absolutely add crushed chips to the top! Then you’ll be re-living some awesome childhood hamburger helper memories. Or if you want something a bit different you can also make my Mexican Stuffed Peppers with all the taco flavors but none of the pasta!

Tools Used in the making of this Cheesy Taco Pasta:

Cast Iron Skillet: This is my most used pan in my kitchen, heavy, keeps heat well and gives the BEST sear ever.

Large Shells Pasta: I am linking to this because when I sent my husband to the store to get large shells he brought home the variety you stuff! So for reference here is the size you need!

Jarred Salsa: Cuts the prep time down to just a couple of minutes and the flavors are still outstanding.

Taco Seasoning: I use this to cut down on prep time but still keep quality high. You can use my Homemade Taco Seasoning recipe if you’d prefer not to use a packet.
• Yield: 8 Servings
• Prep Time: 5 minutes
• Cook Time: 20 minutes
• Total Time: 25 minutes
• Course: Main Course
• Cuisine: American Fusion
Cheesy Taco Pasta is easy to make and tastes like the Hamburger Helper you used to eat as a kid except better. Much better.


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.
1. Cook the shelled pasta according to the directions on the box and drain.
2. Add the ground beef to the pan and brown well.
3. Drain the fat.
4. Add the taco seasoning and 3/4 cup of water, stir and cook until water is gone.
5. Add the pasta back into the pot with the salsa and cheese.
6. Stir to combine.
7. Serve immediately, preferably with crunchy tortilla chips (optional) on top.


Yield: 8 Servings, Amount per serving: 316 calories, Calories: 316g, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 55mg, Sodium: 408mg, Potassium: 322mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 7.1g, Vitamin C: 1.1g, Calcium: 12.8g, Iron: 9.6g

All the flavors of a taco in an easy pasta dish that the whole family will love. It’s so easy, even the pasta gets cooked right in the pot!

You know I’m all about one pot meals. They are super easy to whip up, and clean up is a breeze. And dishwashing is not a favorite chore of mine so the less dishes I have to clean, the better, especially when it comes to making tacos.

Now I’m somewhat obsessed with tacos but homemade tacos require too much dicing and chopping. Fortunately enough, this taco pasta dish comes together so easily and effortlessly in one skillet. And if I’m being honest, I’d much rather