Taco Stuffed Shells With Queso


Get ready to take your taste buds on a wild ride with this mouthwatering Taco Stuffed Shells with Queso recipe! Combining the beloved flavors of tacos with the comforting goodness of stuffed shells, this dish is a surefire crowd-pleaser. Whether you’re hosting a casual weeknight dinner or a festive gathering with friends and family, these cheesy, savory shells are guaranteed to steal the show.


12 ounces jumbo shell pasta: These large pasta shells provide the perfect vessel for holding the savory taco filling.
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef: Lean ground beef serves as the hearty base of the taco filling, adding protein and flavor.
1 ounce taco seasoning: A blend of aromatic spices that infuses the ground beef with irresistible taco flavor.
1/3 cup water: Helps to create a rich, flavorful sauce for the taco filling.
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped: Fresh cilantro adds a burst of freshness and herbaceousness to the filling.
1 1/2 cups queso (homemade or store-bought): Creamy queso cheese lends indulgent richness and cheesy goodness to the dish.
1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated: Shredded Cheddar cheese adds gooey, melty perfection to the top of the stuffed shells.
Green onions, for garnish: Bright and zesty green onions provide a pop of color and freshness.
Taco sauce, for serving: Tangy taco sauce adds a final burst of flavor and a touch of heat.


Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) to ensure it’s ready for baking your stuffed shells to perfection.
Cook the jumbo shells according to package instructions until al dente. Properly cooked shells will hold their shape and texture.
Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until cooked through and no longer pink.
Season the beef with taco seasoning and water, allowing the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken.
Stir in the chopped cilantro, infusing the filling with fresh, herbaceous flavor.
Prepare the casserole dish by spraying it with non-stick spray to prevent sticking.
Fill each jumbo shell with a generous spoonful of the taco meat mixture, arranging them snugly in the casserole dish.
Pour the queso evenly over the stuffed shells, ensuring each one is generously coated in cheesy goodness.
Sprinkle the shredded Cheddar cheese over the queso, creating a golden, bubbly topping when baked.
Bake the stuffed shells for 20 to 25 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the filling is heated through.
Serve the stuffed shells hot, drizzled with taco sauce and garnished with sliced green onions for a burst of freshness and color.

Serving Tips:

  1. Garnish with fresh toppings: Before serving, sprinkle diced tomatoes, sliced black olives, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, or dollops of sour cream on top of the Taco Stuffed Shells with Queso. These fresh toppings add a burst of color and flavor, enhancing the overall presentation.
  2. Pair with sides: Serve the stuffed shells alongside your favorite Mexican-inspired sides such as rice and beans, guacamole, or a crisp salad dressed with lime vinaigrette. The complementary flavors and textures will elevate the meal to a whole new level.
  3. Family-style presentation: Arrange the stuffed shells on a large platter and place it at the center of the table for a cozy, communal dining experience. Let everyone help themselves to their desired number of shells and toppings, creating an interactive and festive atmosphere.

Storage Tips:

  1. Refrigeration: If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Make sure the shells are completely cooled before transferring them to the container to prevent condensation and sogginess.
  2. Reheating: To reheat the stuffed shells, place them in a microwave-safe dish and heat them in the microwave until warmed through. Alternatively, you can reheat them in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 15-20 minutes, or until heated to your liking.
  3. Freezing: If you want to freeze the stuffed shells for future meals, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container, removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. To reheat frozen shells, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before following the reheating instructions mentioned above.

By following these serving and storage tips, you can ensure that your Taco Stuffed Shells with Queso remain fresh, flavorful, and ready to enjoy whenever the craving strikes!


  1. Vegetarian Option: For a meatless version of this dish, simply omit the ground beef and use a combination of black beans, corn, diced bell peppers, and onions as the filling. You can also add diced tofu or crumbled tempeh for extra protein.
  2. Chicken Taco Stuffed Shells: Substitute ground chicken for the ground beef to create a lighter version of the recipe. Season the chicken with taco seasoning and proceed with the recipe as directed.
  3. Spicy Kick: Add diced jalapeños or green chilies to the filling mixture for an extra kick of heat. You can also sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes on top of the shells before baking for added spice.
  4. Tex-Mex Twist: Incorporate additional Tex-Mex ingredients such as chopped green onions, sliced black olives, or diced green chilies into the filling mixture for a flavor-packed variation.
  5. Enchilada Style: Instead of using queso dip, top the stuffed shells with enchilada sauce and shredded cheese before baking. Garnish with chopped cilantro and a drizzle of sour cream for a delicious enchilada-inspired twist.
  6. Seafood Variation: For a unique twist, substitute the ground beef with cooked shrimp or crab meat. Season the seafood with taco seasoning and mix it with black beans and corn for a delightful seafood-filled option.
  7. Vegan Option: Make the recipe vegan-friendly by using plant-based ingredients such as vegan ground meat substitute, dairy-free queso dip, and vegan cheese shreds. Serve with dairy-free sour cream and guacamole for a satisfying vegan meal.
  8. Mediterranean Fusion: Experiment with Mediterranean flavors by replacing the taco seasoning with Mediterranean spices like cumin, paprika, and oregano. Fill the shells with a mixture of cooked ground lamb or turkey, feta cheese, chopped spinach, and diced tomatoes. Top with tzatziki sauce and chopped parsley for a unique fusion dish.

Feel free to get creative and customize this recipe to suit your taste preferences and dietary needs. Whether you’re a meat lover, vegetarian, or looking for a spicy twist, these variations offer endless possibilities for delicious Taco Stuffed Shells with Queso!


With its winning combination of savory taco goodness, creamy queso, and pasta perfection, this Taco Stuffed Shells with Queso recipe is destined to become a new family favorite. Whether you’re craving comfort food on a chilly evening or need a dish to impress at your next gathering, these stuffed shells are sure to satisfy. So gather your ingredients and get ready to indulge in a fiesta of flavors that will have everyone coming back for seconds!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

  1. Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe? Answer: While jumbo pasta shells work best for stuffing, you can experiment with other pasta shapes like manicotti or large pasta tubes if you prefer.
  2. Can I make this recipe ahead of time? Answer: Yes, you can assemble the stuffed shells ahead of time and refrigerate them until you’re ready to bake. Just be sure to cover them tightly with foil to prevent drying out.
  3. Can I freeze the leftovers? Answer: Absolutely! You can freeze the cooked stuffed shells for up to 2-3 months. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  4. What should I serve with Taco Stuffed Shells with Queso? Answer: Serve them with sides like rice and beans, guacamole, or a salad for a complete meal.
  5. Can I use store-bought queso dip? Answer: Yes, using store-bought queso dip saves time, but you can also make your own queso sauce if preferred.
  6. How spicy is this recipe? Answer: The level of spiciness depends on the salsa and taco seasoning you use. Adjust the heat by choosing mild, medium, or hot versions of these ingredients.
  7. Can I make this recipe vegetarian? Answer: Absolutely! Simply omit the ground beef and add more beans or vegetables for a delicious vegetarian version.
  8. How do I prevent the shells from sticking to the baking dish? Answer: Grease the baking dish well with cooking spray or butter to prevent sticking.
  9. Can I use ground turkey instead of ground beef? Answer: Yes, ground turkey or chicken can be used as a leaner alternative to ground beef.
  10. Can I customize the toppings? Answer: Of course! Feel free to get creative with your toppings. Some popular options include diced tomatoes, sliced olives, avocado, and cilantro, but you can add whatever you like to suit your taste.


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