A true 30 minute one-pot wonder meal; This Creamy Taco Spaghetti puts a zesty twist on a classic pasta dinner.
30 Minute Taco Dinner
When you need dinner in a pinch but just don't have the energy for a "from scratch" meal, reaching for the pasta and a jar of marinara sauce seems like the easy answer.
And listen, I love a classic easy spaghetti with ground beef. But sometimes you need a little something different. Something a little spicier... and a little cheesier. That's where this Taco Spaghetti comes in!
This recipe delivers all the flavors you love in tacos--the beef, cheese, the spices, the cilantro--in one quick pasta dinner.
We're using a dutch oven for browning the beef, AND simmering the sauce, AND cooking the pasta. So this is a true, bonafide one-pot meal (not even plain spaghetti can claim that). No strainers or skillets here, so clean up will be a breeze.
And like so many other great saucy meat recipes (like our Crock Pot Cheeseburger Soup or Slow Cooker Goulash), veggies and leafy greens are easy to sneak in here because they're masked beneath the cover of the bold taco flavors.
Why We Love Taco Spaghetti!
- This is a one pot meal! So don’t sweat about dirty dishes.
- Like regular spaghetti, this Taco Spaghetti recipe is quick; a true 30 minute meal.
- Kids love tacos and spaghetti, so this meal should make for a whine-free dinner.
- The secret ingredient (cream cheese) gives this recipe a wonderful creamy richness.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Ground beef - I recommend an 80/20 blend. You can also substitute with ground turkey or chicken.
- Canned tomatoes and chilies - you can use the Italian spiced tomatoes instead of plain ones, and if you love chilies and spice, try adding a tablespoon of chipotles in adobo. Full warning though, it ups the heat fast with its smoky flavor goodness.
- Spaghetti noodles - wheat-based pasta is a staple in most pantries, but you can also substitute this out for alternatives like multigrain pasta or quinoa and chickpea pasta for a gluten-free dish. Whole wheat pasta is chewy and has a distinct nuttier flavor while quinoa is light but gives you the benefit of whole grain.
- Taco Seasoning- I keep this homemade taco seasoning on hand at all times, but store bought also works just fine.
- Mexican cheese blend and cream cheese - cheese is one of my favorite things to give a meal that special something. In this recipe, you have the flexibility to experiment with different cheeses. Just make sure they’re a melting variety. Swiss cheese and Provolone are a couple of favorites for a new twist.
- Fresh cilantro - with its distinct flavor makes this one pot taco spaghetti sizzle with freshness. If you’re looking for a substitution, fresh basil is an amazing alternative. You can also chop up fresh spinach as an addition, and even your pickiest eaters won’t know they’re eating leafy greens.
How To Make Creamy Taco Spaghetti
- Sear meat. With your large dutch oven over medium-high heat, add some olive oil, and brown your ground beef.
- Cook the vegetables. While the meat is browning, add your onions. Check out this vegetable chopper that will save you time in the kitchen. (It can even be used to shred cheese!)
- Stir in remaining ingredients. Toss in your taco seasoning, and stir in the canned tomatoes and chilies, pasta, and water.
- Simmer until cooked. After adding the water and pasta, let it cook until the pasta is nearly finished before adding the cream cheese.
- Serve. Add in the shredded cheese and fresh cilantro, and you’re ready to sit down and eat.
Tips & FAQs for Making Creamy Taco Spaghetti
- This meal is great served with bread and a garden salad, green beans, or our Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower.
- It’s easy to store leftovers of this meal in the fridge and reheat them in the microwave. But you can also heat it up on the stove top.
- To make Taco Spaghetti you need a large dutch oven. Trust me: It's a worthwhile investment. You'll be using this pot all of the time for searing meats, cooking stews, roasts, even baking artisan bread; It's incredibly versatile and the enamel coating makes it very easy to clean.
More Taco Recipes You Might Enjoy
If you can't get enough of tacos in any form, be sure to try out our Slow Cooker Taco Meat that's perfect for hosting a huge taco buffet party. Also great for a gathering is our Walking Taco Casserole recipe.
If appetizers are more your style, don't miss our Layered Taco Dip with Meat.
Or try one of our other great Mexican Ground Beef Recipes!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- ½ cup onion (diced)
- 1 1 oz package taco seasoning
- 10 ounce can diced tomatoes and chilies
- 8 ounces spaghetti noodles
- 3 cups water
- 4 ounces cream cheese (softened, cut into cubes)
- ½ cup Mexican blend cheese (shredded)
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (chopped)
- Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, onions, and taco seasoning. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the beef is browned.
- Stir in diced tomatoes and chiles. Add spaghetti and water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 12 minutes, or until pasta is nearly cooked through.
- Stir in cubed cream cheese, cover, and simmer for 2 minutes until melted.
- Remove the pot from the heat and mix in the shredded cheese until melted.
- Serve immediately, garnished with additional shredded cheese and fresh cilantro, if desired.