You guys, this Easy Taco Casserole is so good! And even better, it uses mostly pantry staples that you probably have on hand, making it perfect for quarantine cooking while we all stay at home.
Yesterday, my husband commented that he saw a post on Facebook of someone’s Mexican takeout, complete with margaritas to-go, and it was making him crave Mexican food. And I was like, “Babe, I got you!”
I perused the fridge, freezer and pantry to see what we had, and then had this casserole all made up and in the fridge by the time he got home from the hospital. When he arrived, we made a trip to the cemetery to leave some flowers for my mom’s birthday, and then squeezed in a walk before today’s wet and cold weather arrived.
When we got back home, I popped this Easy Taco Casserole in the oven, my hubby mixed up some fresh lime margaritas, and we were ready for Taco Tuesday! Except it was Saturday. But really, do the days even matter right now? In light of the current situation, Taco Tuesday can be any day we want it to be as far as I’m concerned. Feel free to join me.
It’s the little things that are getting us through the days right now, and any day that contains good food, someone you love, and a sunset, is a good day. (Margs are a bonus.)
What’s In Your Pantry?
So, for those who want to join me in making any night Taco “Tuesday”, let me show you how this Easy Taco Casserole can help you accomplish it.
This was so simple to put together, because I used things in my pantry. It’s also very easy to adjust ingredients, so that you don’t have to make an unnecessary trip to the store.
I had a bag of tortilla chips with a few left in the bottom, which was perfect. Even if they are bit stale, it’s fine, because they are going to get layered into the casserole. You could also use Frito chips, broken up hard taco shells, or even soft corn tortillas, crisped in the oven and then broken into pieces. Remember, this recipe is about creating Taco Tuesday without having to leave the house!
Next, you’ll want some beans. I always have several cans of black beans in my pantry, because we use them a lot, especially for Burrito Bowls, which could be another Taco “Tuesday” option. If you don’t have black beans, you could use chili beans, kidney beans, red beans, refried beans…. whatever you have will work!
I had an unopened jar of salsa in my pantry, so that’s what I used, but this is a great recipe for using stuff up, so look around in your fridge. Do you have a couple of half-used jars of salsa hanging out in there? This is the perfect way to use them! If you don’t have salsa, a can of Rotel would be great in here. Even just a can of diced or stewed tomatoes could work. Enchilada sauce is another option. Dig around in your cupboards and pantry…you’ll be surprised at what you can find! 🤣 Maybe really surprised.
The last pantry staple you’ll want is an envelope of taco seasoning. I did have one envelope of taco seasoning, but I found this burrito seasoning too, which was a little past its expiration date, so I decided to use it up.
If you don’t have either, you can make your taco seasoning with a combination of spices that I bet you have. Here’s a simple one from AllRecipes.
Now Check Your Fridge & Freezer
I had part of a red onion in the fridge, so I diced it up and sauteed it in some olive oil. What’s in your fridge that needs to be used up? Any kind of onion or shallot, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, cilantro? Things that are starting to get just a bit wrinkly, or that you only have a small amount of are perfect to toss in here.
Next, add in a pound of ground meat. I used ground beef, but ground turkey or chicken would be great, too. Maybe you even have some ground venison hanging out in your freezer. We definitely do not, but if you do, I imagine it would work.
Brown it up well in your pan with the onions and whatever other veggies you’re adding. Do you have one of THESE? I love it, because it really gets the meat broken up well, which is what you want for this recipe.
Next, toss in your drained and rinsed beans, your salsa (or whatever sauce you’re using) and your seasoning. Mix in the pan until combined.
Crunch up whatever chips you’re using (I just squeezed the bag a little until they were broken up) and make a layer in the bottom of your pan. A 9×13 pan would work, but I wanted the slices to turn out a bit thicker, so I used an 8×12.
Add about half of the meat mixture on top of the chips. You could add a layer of cheese here too, if you want it really cheesy.
Add an additional layer of chips, and then the rest of the meat.
Finally, top with the cheese of your choice. I had a partial bag of pizza cheese and some cheddar, so I used a mixture of both. You could use shredded cheese from a bag, cheese slices, or a block of cheese that you grate or slice yourself. Lots of options here.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes until heated through and melty. I made mine in the afternoon, and stored in the fridge, covered in foil until dinnertime, so it took mine closer to 30 minutes to bake through.
Time to Eat!
I cut mine into 6 good-sized pieces, and topped each serving with shredded lettuce and chopped fresh tomatoes. My hubby put sour cream on his.
You could also top with avocado or guac, diced onion, cilantro, jalapeños, additional salsa….so many options. Use what you have.
Serve it with homemade margaritas, and you definitely have a Taco Tuesday Vibe going.
If your weather is cooperative, take it outside to eat. If you squint your eyes a little and use your imagination, you might feel like you’re dining on the patio of your favorite Mexican restaurant. 😂
Easy Taco Casserole
- 1/2 cup onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 1 can black beans
- 1 jar salsa
- 2 cups shredded cheese
- salt & pepper to taste
- Sauté onion and garlic in the tablespoon of oil until softened. Add the meat and salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is browned, making sure to break up and crumble well.
- Add the taco seasoning, beans and salsa, mixing to combine.
- Make a layer of broken tortilla chips on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Use an 8×12 dish for thicker slices.
- Spread half the meat mixture over the chips. Put another layer of chips and then the rest of the meat. Finish with a layer of cheese on top.
- Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until warmed through and cheese is melted.
- Serve with your favorite taco toppings.
Wishing you peace and health,
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