"A simple one-pan meal that's like a gourmet version of Hamburger Helper. Perfect for busy weeknights. And you can make it as spicy (or not) as you want!"
It’s been a hectic week over here at our house, and I can’t tell you how ready I am for 1) the weekend and 2) another helping of this ultra cheesy taco skillet.
I’m hoping I’ll be able to relax a little bit over the next few days. But, knowing me, I’ll wake up from a daze and catch myself doing more work, perpetually caught up in the “I’ll just finish this one last thing…” cycle.
I guess that’s the cost of loving what you do for a living.
But there are parts of my “job” that can be easy, too. A busy week for me means that I’m pressed for time to make dinner, and when I’m pressed for time it means I start brainstorming the best way to whip up a recipe that can be cooked from start to finish in one pan.
And who doesn’t love that?
There’s nothing easier (or better after a long day) than a full flavored dish that doesn’t create a mess or leave you feeling like you just finished running a marathon. After how this week has been, no matter how much I secretly love what I do, I just wanted something simple that I could enjoy without having to overthink it too much.
And with this taco skillet, I totally nailed it.
This is a very basic recipe at its core – beef, elbow macaroni, cheese, plus all the tasty taco flavors you can handle – but sometimes (okay, most of the time) simple recipes are the best kind.
Perfection doesn’t need to be an elaborate exercise in culinary excellence. Some ingredients just work together because they work together.
End of story.
It’s hard to improve perfection.
Sort of like beef and macaroni – they were made to go together. As were taco seasoning and sour cream.
Oh, and cheese.
Lots and lots of cheese.
Because cheese plays well with everything.
This is the type of dinner I’d look forward to ending my day with.
notes & tips for this taco skillet recipe:
- This recipe makes a nice full pot of pasta, and I can personally guarantee that the left overs will taste amazing the next day for lunch.
- To make this dish fast and easy, jarred sauces and spice packets are used. If you’d rather make everything from scratch, check out these recipes: Homemade Taco Seasoning, 5 Minute Salsa, and 5 Minute Taco Sauce.
- Looking for more on pan meals? Be sure to check out One Pan Smoky Ranch Pork Chops and Veggies, One Pan BBQ Chicken, One Skillet Cheesy Sausage Gnocchi, and Creamy Dijon Chicken.
One Pan Cheesy Taco Skillet
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 cup yellow onion chopped
- 1 tsp garlic minced
- 1 pinch salt to taste
- 1 pinch black pepper to taste
- 2 cups water separated
- 15 oz corn (1 can) drained
- 1 cup salsa any flavor, mild to spicy
- 1 cup taco sauce any flavor, mild to spicy
- 1 oz taco seasoning any flavor, mild to spicy
- 2 cup elbow macaroni
- 2 cup Mexican cheese blend separated
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
- 1/2 cup sour cream optional
In a large skillet, brown and crumble ground beef over medium high heat. Drain grease and return ground beef to pan.
- Reduce heat to medium and add chopped onion and garlic to skillet, plus salt and pepper to taste. Cook until onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
Pour in 1 cup water, corn, salsa, taco sauce, taco seasoning, and elbow macaroni. Mix ingredients together and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer. For the amount of time to simmer: check your box of macaroni and divide the cook time by half.
Remove lid and add in final 1 cup of water and stir. Return cover and allow to simmer for the remaining cook time of the macaroni.
Remove skillet from heat. Quickly add in 1 cup of Mexican cheese blend and stir together so cheese is incorporated and melted. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of Mexican cheese blend on top, then replace lid on skillet for 1-3 minutes or until cheese on top has melted.
- Serve immediately with sour cream and chopped cilantro as garnish.