Mom’s Taco Casserole Recipe

This taco casserole recipe is comfort food that the entire family will love. The recipe can easily be doubled to feed a larger crowd for a party or potluck, and it’s versatile enough to be served several different ways. It’s a great weeknight meal that nobody will complain about.

Thanks to my mom (may she rest in peace), I grew up eating this easy taco casserole. It has had many reincarnations with many different variations over the years. But this version is the one that Mini Chef and I make on almost a weekly basis.

A spoon lifting up a serving of Taco Salad Casserole from a white casserole dish.

What Is Taco Casserole?

Some people would call this a seven-layer dip, but it’s almost more like making lasagna without noodles. It’s similar to eating all the taco fillings together without a taco shell. It’s healthy comfort food at its best.

How To Serve Taco Casserole

This type of Mexican casserole can be served in a few different ways.

  1. Serve it as is in a bowl, and eat it with a spoon.
  2. Serve it with corn chips and scoop it like a dip.
  3. Serve it over a bed of lettuce and add salsa for a “dressing.”
  4. Scoop this into taco shells or wrap it in flour tortillas to make a burrito.

What To Serve With Taco Casserole

While you can make any Mexican-style sides you like to go with taco casserole, these go particularly well.

  1. Mexican Rice
  2. Mexican Street Corn (Elote)
  3. Mixed Green Salad
  4. Grilled Vegetables

Taco Casserole Variations

As mentioned, there have been many variations of this dish over the years in my house. Some of the extras you can add are corn, shredded Jack cheese, black beans, or pinto beans, adding a layer of rice, and even mixing it with pasta for taco pasta. You’ll find a list of topping ideas below, as well.

You can also crush corn chips and add them as a layer to the dish.

Try adding green chilies to the meat, sprinkle shredded grated cheddar cheese or a Mexican cheese blend between the meat and beans, or top with chipotle sauce, green onions, shredded lettuce, or minced poblano peppers.

Dietary Adjustments

This can be adjusted for many different styles of eating.

Vegan Taco Casserole Or Vegetarian Taco Casserole

Instead of meat, use TVP. Use plant-based, plain yogurt, and plant-based cheese if you are using it.

Dairy-Free Taco Casserole

Use plant-based yogurt, sour cream, or cheese.

Low-Carb Taco Casserole

Cut down on the spices by half, and use double the oil to cook the meat. Limit the toppings to lower carb toppings. Use real sour cream instead of yogurt.

Gluten-Free Taco Casserole

This recipe has no added wheat or gluten-based ingredients. So the only thing you’ll need to do is make sure that things like the spices are labeled as gluten-free when you buy them.

A white casserole dish of Taco Salad Casserole with a serving removed.

About The Ingredients

Taco Meat And Taco Seasoning

Ground turkey – You can also use lean ground beef or any combination of ground meats you like best.

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Ground cumin

Chili powder – Or paprika.

The Beans

Refried beans – Use beans that have no added sugar.

Water – Use filtered water that doesn’t taste like chlorine.

Guacamole

Avocado – If you don’t want to make guacamole, you can just chop up some avocados to save time.

Lemon – Just the juice. You can use bottled lemon juice, too, if that’s what you have.

Red onion – Chop this fine if you are using a mortar and pestle to make your guacamole. It will make the grinding easier.

Garlic cloves – Pressed or finely minced.

Salt – Add to taste

Topping Options

Plain yogurt – Or sour cream.

Tomatoes

Red onion

Black olives

Black beans

Cooked corn kernels

Fresh cilantro

Salsa – No sugar added.

How To Make Taco Casserole

Ground turkey in a bowl, next to a smaller bowl of spices and a small container of oil.

Taco Meat

Collect and measure the ingredients.

Cooked taco meat in a cast iron skillet.

Warm the oil in the pan and cook the meat and spices, scrambling the meat as it cooks.

Two cans of refried beans.

The Beans

Open your cans and empty the beans into a pot.

An empty refried bean can filled three quarters of the way with water.

Fill one of the empty cans with water about ¾ of the way full.

Refried beans warmed in a pot with a whisk.

Heat the beans and water, whisking and stirring until the beans are warmed through and somewhat fluid.

Guacamole ingredients in a mortar with a pestle.

Guacamole

Collect the ingredients and prep them as indicated.

A morter and pestle with guacamole.

If using a mortar and pestle, mash the onions, garlic, and lemon juice into the best paste you can make. Then add the avocados, mash and season with salt to taste.

The first layer of the Taco Salad Casserole, ground turkey, in a white casserole dish.

Assembling The Casserole

Spread the cooked meat over the bottom of a casserole dish. If you want to use cheese and want it to be melted, sprinkle it on now.

A layer of refried beans spread over the Taco Salad Casserole.

Pour the hot beans over the meat and spread them out evenly.

A layer of guacamole spread over a Taco Salad Casserole.

Spread the guacamole over the beans.

A layer of yogurt spread over a Taco Salad Casserole.

Spread the plain yogurt or sour cream over the guacamole.

An overhead view of a finished Taco Salad Casserole.

Add any toppings you’d like to add. I used diced tomatoes and chopped red onions. I usually also add sliced black olives, but didn’t have any to use this time.

A spoonful of Taco Salad Casserole from a white casserole dish.

Serve as is, with corn chips, or over lettuce with salsa for dressing.

Storing This Taco Casserole Recipe

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Freezing

Freezing is not recommended for this recipe.

Reheating

Reheating isn’t absolutely necessary. It can be eaten cold. But if you want it warm, a microwave is your best option. Just don’t overheat it.

More Easy Casserole Recipes

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A spoon lifting up a serving of Taco Salad Casserole from a white casserole dish.

Taco Salad Casserole Recipe

A delicious, weeknight, family-style meal that can be served in several ways.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 518kcal

Ingredients

Taco Meat

  • 2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder (or paprika)

The Beans

  • 30 oz. refried beans
  • ¾ can water

Guacamole

  • 4 medium avocados
  • 1 small lemon (just the juice)
  • cup finely chopped red onion
  • 4 large garlic cloves (pressed or finely minced)
  • salt to taste

Topping Options

  • Plain yogurt (or sour cream)
  • chopped tomatoes
  • chopped onions
  • sliced black olives
  • fresh, chopped cilantro
  • salsa (no sugar added)

Instructions

Taco Meat

  • Collect and measure the ingredients.
    Ground turkey in a bowl, next to a smaller bowl of spices and a small container of oil.
  • Warm the oil in the pan and cook the meat and spices, scrambling the meat as it cooks.
    Cooked taco meat in a cast iron skillet.

The Beans

  • Open your cans and empty the beans into a pot.
    Two cans of refried beans.
  • Fill one of the empty cans with water about ¾ of the way full.
    An empty refried bean can filled three quarters of the way with water.
  • Heat the beans and water, whisking and stirring until the beans are warmed through and somewhat fluid.
    Refried beans warmed in a pot with a whisk.

Guacamole

  • Collect the ingredients and prep them as indicated.
    Guacamole ingredients in a mortar with a pestle.
  • If using a mortar and pestle, mash the onions, garlic, and lemon juice into the best paste you can make. Then add the avocados, mash and season with salt to taste.
    A morter and pestle with guacamole.

Assembling The Casserole

  • Spread the cooked meat over the bottom of a casserole dish. If you want to use cheese and want it to be melted, sprinkle it on now.
    The first layer of the Taco Salad Casserole, ground turkey, in a white casserole dish.
  • Pour the hot beans over the meat and spread them out evenly.
    A layer of refried beans spread over the Taco Salad Casserole.
  • Spread the guacamole over the beans.
    A layer of guacamole spread over a Taco Salad Casserole.
  • Spread the plain yogurt or sour cream over the guacamole.
    A layer of yogurt spread over a Taco Salad Casserole.
  • Add any toppings you'd like to add.
    An overhead view of a finished Taco Salad Casserole.
  • Serve as is, with corn chips, or over lettuce with salsa for dressing.
    A spoonful of Taco Salad Casserole from a white casserole dish.

Notes

Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 518kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 953mg | Potassium: 1265mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1168IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 5mg

Author: Tiffany McCauley

Title: Journalist

Expertise: Food, cooking, travel

Bio:

Tiffany McCauley is a nationally syndicated journalist and an award-winning cookbook author. She is also a food blogger. She has been featured on MSN, Huffington Post, Country Living Magazine, HealthLine, Redbook, and many more. She has helped thousands of people learn to cook simple, clean, and healthy foods in their own home kitchens. She lives in Maine and loves Elvis, sunflowers, and a good seafood chowder, as well as travel writing.

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