What can I say about this casserole? All the appeal of tacos combined with a nacho like topping? That’s a win win in my book, because we love love love both of those things at our house! I tried it, thinking my teenager would like it. I was wrong, he wild about it. A little salsa, a few slices of avocado and a dab of sour cream added a little freshness to this substantial Fun Festive Taco Casserole.
Fun Festive Taco Casserole isn’t all just about fun and festive, though. Each serving of Taco Night Casserole has a full serving of vegetables in a flavor profile my family already likes, and that’s a big plus. Teenagers can be worse than toddlers when it comes to veggies! I don’t mind either, that Fun Festive Taco Casserole is a snap to make.
About Fun Festive Taco Casserole:
So this casserole is basically a layer of seasoned taco meat spiked with a little tomato sauce and taco seasoning (there’s a smidge of extra veggie right there) with pinto beans (black beans would be great, instead) and corn, preferably Mexican style corn, mixed in. I gotta tell ya, I remade this casserole recently and took new pics and totally forgot that corn! But the kicker is the little tortilla and cheese topping. That’s the incentive, the “lure” to get those unsuspecting kids to dive in.
Ok, so why not just make tacos and be done with it? The first answer is that this really is super delish, especially with the fun nacho topping, and somehow it seems like so much more than tacos. Then there are the few extra veggies you’re gonna manage to sneak n and a little extra protein from the beans.
It’s kinda nice to be able to do one “assembly” and pop it in the oven, then pull it out, all hot and bubbly and call “dinner.” There’s not a line waiting for assembly or the mess involved with tacos. And I don’t know about you but at my house there’s always a mess when I make tacos. It’s pretty likely I’ll have quite a bit of cleanup and that’s held true from when the kids were small all the way through their teenage years! Honestly, it’s every burner tray, every counter, and the floor.
Making Fun Festive Taco Casserole:
As written, this is such an easy casserole to make. Just brown up the ground beef (or ground turkey, if you’d rather), drain, dump in the ingredients and simmer for about five minutes so the sauce gets a bit thicker and the whole works isn’t runny when it’s time to eat. I like to use my own Homemade Taco Seasoning or for a more complex taste, my Smokin’ Chipotle Taco Seasoning. You can just buy a packet if you’d rather. If you use a packet, it will have some kind of “thickening” agent in it, make sure if you use homemade that your seasoning does, too. A little flour, cornstarch or something along those lines.
Once simmered for a few minutes, everything is piping hot and it’s just a matter of placing it in a casserole, topping it with the chips and cheese and baking until said cheese is melted. It takes literally minutes in the oven. Garnish as you wish with all your favorite taco garnishes: taco sauce, salsa, lettuce, tomato, avocado and/or sour cream or whatever else your family loves.
Fun Festive Taco Casserole is pretty versatile. If you want to, you can add diced onion to the ground beef or maybe you’d like some diced bell pepper or a small can of green chiles. And if you want, you can double the tortilla chip and cheese topping. Add a layer of chips, then cheese, another layer of chips and more cheese. Make sure, though, that the chips are broken up or they’re very awkward to eat when served.
This is a great casserole to double and freeze half. Either add the filling to a Ziploc or place it in a foil-lined casserole and freeze. The casserole dish, if used, can then be removed and kept in use and the frozen casserole well wrapped and labeled. Sometimes I freeze the chips and cheese, portioned, in their own bags right with the rest of the casserole; then I have no worries about them being on hand when I’m ready to pull it from the freezer.
Saving Money on Fun Festive Taco Casserole:
I first posted this recipe in 2012, adapted from McCormicks, back then it was $3.75 to make and the “best” price on ground beef was $2.49 a pound. It’s 2019 now and that’s still the best price in my area for ground beef! Buy ground beef on sale in larger packages and divide up in sizes your family uses. Generally, ground beef drops to a low about once a quarter and some of the best sales are in summer.
Making Homemade Taco Seasoning will always save money, and cooking beans from scratch will save a bit, too. Cook, divide into three portions (that’s about the size of a can) and freeze two for later. Consider buying the much cheaper canned corn for recipes and reserving fresh or frozen for sides. Buy larger cans of whole tomatoes on sale. They can be used as is, chopped, or blended for a sauce. Freeze any not used in a Ziploc, labeled, in an easy to see spot. Shop the sales and keep your pantry well-stocked so you won’t be paying full price for items when you need them.
The biggest cost of the casserole is the cheese and the tortilla chips. Cheese goes on sale regularly, often with a store coupon (and sometimes can be combined with a brand coupon, check the coupon matching sites or your apps.) Chips go on sale now and then but the biggest saving is to avoid junk food for snacking. Now and then never hurts, especially if you can make it an “event” rather than mindless eating. Just make sure to save a little back for your Fun Festive Taco Casserole.Print
Fun Festive Taco Casserole
All the appeal of tacos with none of the mess, and a topping of nachos baked right on the casserole. It’s delish and a sneaky way to add a few veggies.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Casseroles
- Method: stove, oven
- Cuisine: Mexican or Southwestern
- 1 pound of ground beef or turkey
- 1 fifteen ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 package taco seasoning (substitute homemade; make sure it has a thickening agent like cornstarch, flour, arrowroot, etc.)
- 16 ounce can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed (substitute dried, already cooked, about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 eleven ounce can Mexican style or regular corn or equivalent amount of frozen
- 1 cup of coarsely broken tortilla chips, or the smaller rounds
- 1 cup of shredded cheese, Cheddar, Colby, Jack, or something similar
- favorite taco toppings for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Brown meat in large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain. Stir in seasoning mix, beans, tomato sauce and corn. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, simmer five minutes.
Put into a 2-quart casserole, sprinkle with tortilla chips and cheese and bake 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve with all your favorite taco toppings, taco sauce, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, avocados, etc., if desired.
Nutrition: Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 539 Calories; 23g Fat (38.5% calories from fat); 31g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 14g Dietary Fiber; 77mg Cholesterol; 1063mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 3 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
Double and freeze half if desired ; just add the topping after it’s thawed and heated through.
Keywords: Bargain Meal of the Week, Casserole, Corn, Freezes Well, Ground Beef, Mexican or Southwestern, Taco Seasoning, Tomatoes, tortilla chips