This taco stuffed shells recipe is a fun twist for Taco Tuesday! Seasoned ground beef is stuffed into jumbo shells with plenty of salsa and melty cheese.
As I always say, the best part of tacos are the toppings. This recipe is great for giving everyone around your table a chance to top their plates with their favorites. You have plenty of options here: sour cream, avocado, chopped cilantro, tomatoes, red onions or scallions, or even a squeeze of lime juice. I'm partial to lots of sour cream. 🙂
These ground beef taco stuffed shells are pretty straightforward to make. Boil up the pasta shells, and while they're cooking, you prepare the beef mixture. I like to add smoked paprika, chili power, and cumin to get those classic taco flavors. You then stir in half the cheese and some sour cream to complete the filling. Pour the salsa into the bottom of a 9x13 pan and use a small spoon (I use a teaspoon) to stuff the shells. Once you've arranged the shells in the pan, you top them with the rest of the cheese and bake until melty. Easy!
Recipe notes & tips:
- I recommend cooking a few extra shells in case some break.
- Want this recipe to be spicy? Use a hot salsa or stir some red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or hot sauce into the ground beef mixture as you're cooking it.
- I used a Tex-Mex cheese blend (it typically contains Monterey Jack, cheddar, mozzarella, and sometimes other cheeses like queso quesadilla), but feel free to use a different blend or just cheddar.
- Ground turkey, ground pork, or even sausage meat would work in place of the ground beef.
- You could swap the beef for a few cans of black beans if you want to make this vegetarian.
- If you don't have the individual spices, you can use a packet of taco seasoning.
- You could add cream cheese instead of sour cream to the beef mixture. The sour cream adds a bit of moisture as well as flavor.
- I found this recipe to have plenty of sauce (especially since I like to add plenty of sour cream when serving), but you can always use a larger jar of salsa if you wish!
More tasty taco-inspired recipes to try:
Questions about these taco stuffed jumbo shells? Let me know in the comments below! And tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram if you've made one of my recipes.
Taco Stuffed Shells
- 2 dozen uncooked jumbo shells
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound extra lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 (14.5 ounce) jar salsa
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1.5 cups Tex-Mex cheese blend divided
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Garnish: cilantro, avocado, scallions, tomatoes, sour cream, etc. optional, to taste
- Boil a large, salted pot of water for the jumbo shells. Cook them al dente according to package directions.
- Add the oil and onion to a skillet over medium-high heat and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until the onion is just starting to lightly brown.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add in the ground beef, chili powder, smoked paprika, and cumin. Cook, breaking up the beef with your spoon as you go along, until the beef is browned and cooked through (about 8 minutes). If there's lots of excess fat, spoon most of it out.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F and move the rack to the top third of the oven. Grease a 9x13 baking dish and spread the salsa in an even layer on the bottom.
- Take the skillet off the heat and stir in the sour cream and half the cheese (stir until it's evenly melted in). Season with salt & pepper as needed.
- Rinse the shells under cool water and drain them thoroughly. To stuff the shells, take a small spoon and add the mixture into each shell. You should be able to stuff them fairly full. I add them to the baking dish one at a time as I go along.
- Top the shells with the remaining cheese.
- Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. You can then broil them for a few minutes to brown the cheese if you wish. Note: you can cover the baking dish with foil prior to baking if you like. I like to have some crispy bits, but if you want it all to be softer, I suggest doing that (take the foil off to broil, though).
- Prep the toppings while the shells are baking.
- You can top the shells while they're still in the baking dish or serve them and then top each plate as desired.
- Use your favorite brand of salsa. I used Newman's Own. You can use a larger jar if you want even more sauce.
- This recipe makes approximately 24 shells depending on how many you're actually able to fit into your baking dish.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.