Taco Lasagna

Taco Lasagna recipe is everything you love about tacos in easy, cheesy, saucy, layered casserole form – the ultimate comfort food!

Taco Lasagna elevates the humble taco to new heights in this easy, cheesy, creamy, hearty, make ahead, freezer friendly ground beef casserole. In just a little more time than it takes to make taco filling, you’ll be sinking your teeth into stacks of juicy taco meat, charred corn tortillas, cheese, salsa verde sour cream all smothered in salsa roja and more melty cheese.  Pile on your favorite toppings such as lettuce and tomatoes and the masterpiece is complete!  This Taco Lasagna recipe is a weeknight and family-friendly meal, always a crowd-pleaser, can be prepped in the morning and baked at night, made in mass quantities, and/or frozen for later.  It also makes terrific leftovers – should you be so lucky.  Serve it alongside Mexican rice and Mexican Salad for a dinner everyone will inhale!  

Tacos in all their variations are always a favorite!  Don’t miss Ground Beef Taco Bowls, Taco Soup, Taco Pasta Salad, Crispy Shredded Beef Tacos, Carne Asada Tacos and Birria Tacos.

HOW TO MAKE Taco Lasagna Recipe VIDEo

up close of a serving a slice of taco lasagna showing all the layers
showing how to make taco lasagna by topping lettuce, tomatoes and cilantro

Taco Lasagna Recipe Ingredients 

One of the best things about this Taco Lasagna recipe is you probably have most of the ingredients on hand already!  The recipe can be divided into three parts 1) the ground beef, 2) the layers (tortillas, salsa, cheese) and 3) the creamy salsa verde layer.   Here’s the breakdown of what you’ll need (full recipe measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

THE GROUND BEEF

  • Ground beef: I recommend using 85-90% lean Angus beef for the best flavor. Angus meat is known for being more tender, marbled, and flavorful.
  • Aromatics: The complexity of the flavor profile begins with the aromatics. You will need 1 chopped yellow onion and 6 garlic cloves.
  • Spices: Chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, dried oregano, and salt flavor the taco meat. I prefer using a homemade taco seasoning to control the amount of salt in the Taco Lasagna. 
  • Mild green chiles: These come from a can and add a subtle tang. Take care you choose MILD chopped green chiles because the hot can is HOT. Mild green chiles, however are more tangy than hot so you don’t have to worry about them making your ground beef casserole spicy. 
  • Tomato paste: Just 2 tablespoons adds concentrated depth and body to the taco filling.
  • Salsa:  The salsa combined with water adds moisture to the ground beef so it’s nice and spreadable. Remember, we’re making a lasagna here, not regular tacos! Use your favorite salsa (not chunky). If you like a little heat, use medium. I use medium-hot Mateo’s Salsa and it’s fabulous. 
  • Refried beans: I LOVE the addition of refried beans added directly to the ground beef.  I use this trick in my ground beef tacos and burritos to create an irresistible creamy texture.  It also keeps the layering at a minimum. 

THE LAYERS

  • Tortillas: Corn tortillas are a must. They hold their texture once baked, unlike flour tortillas which become gummy when layered in a lasagna like this.   If you’ve been following me for long, you know I usually recommend La Tortilla Factory corn tortillas HOWEVER, do not use them in this recipe.   I find them a little too thick.  Instead, use any less expensive corn tortillas from your grocery store.  I love La Paz corn tortillas for this recipe. 
  • Shredded cheese: A combination of both sharp cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese create a rewardingly complex flavor profile. Sharp cheese cuts through the rich taco filling and offers a distinct flavor contrast whereas Monterrey Jack is milder so it complements the filling and offers hints of creamy, buttery flavor. Monterrey Jack also melts beautifully to create creamier layers.
  • Salsa: Again, use medium salsa if you like some heat.  Also, don’t use chunky salsa here.
up close of taco casserole with a slice taken out showing all of the layers

CREAMY LAYER

Just like traditional lasagna requires the contrasting creamy ricotta filling to cut through the rich Bolognese, Taco Lasagna rejoices with a creamy respite made with sour cream, cream cheese and salsa verde: 

  • Sour Cream: This cuts through the rich meat sauce with its slightly tangy undertones.  Full fat sour cream boasts more flavor than nonfat, but I’m sure nonfat would still work great sandwiched in between the layers. For full disclosure, I have not tried the filling with Greek Yogurt but I think it would also work great. 
  • Cream cheese:  This thickens and stabilizes the sour cream and creates an extra creamy filling.  Use brick-style cream cheese otherwise your lasagna filling will be too runny.   As far as nonfat, same as above, full fat has more flavor but less fat will likely work.
  • Salsa verde:  This amps up the creamy filling with a punch of bright, citrusy, tanginess.  You can use my amazing Homemade Salsa Verde recipe or store bought, such as mild or medium Herdez.  If you need ways to use up your leftover salsa verde, try my readers favorites: salsa verde honey lime chicken enchiladascrockpot salsa verde honey lime chicken, salsa verde macaroni and cheeseenchiladas verdes or crockpot salsa verde chicken tortilla soup.

Ingredient Substitutions 

  • Ground beef: May be swapped with ground turkey or chicken.  I like to add 1 tablespoon beef bouillon when using these substitutions.  If using, reduce the salt in the recipe.
  • Spice blend: You may use your favorite taco seasoning if desired, enough for 1 ½ pounds ground beef.
  • Refried beans: You may also stir in pinto beans or black beans, noting black beans won’t be nearly as creamy.
  • Salsa: You may use homemade if you like! My restaurant 5-minute blender salsa is incredible.  
  • Sour cream: Can be subbed with full-fat plain Greek yogurt. 
  • Mild green chiles: Use hot green chiles … if you dare! 

How to Make Taco Lasagna 

This recipe for Taco Lasagna is as simple as making classic ground beef taco filling and layering it with tortillas, cheese, and beans! Here’s an overview of the process with step-by-step photos (full measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post:  

Step 1: Make the Ground Beef Taco Filling 

  • Brown the beef and onions in a large skillet, breaking up clumps of beef as you cook.  Once the ground beef is browned, drain off excess grease.
  • Stir in the garlic and all seasonings, followed by the tomato paste and continue to cook for one minute over medium heat.
  • Stir in the green chilies, refried beans, salsa and water. Season to taste with cayenne pepper if desired.
a collage showing how to make taco lasagna by browning the ground beef and onions, adding the taco seasonings, adding the refried beans and salsa and simmering

Step 2: Prepare the Other Fillings 

  • Whisk together the sour cream, cream cheese and salsa verde in a medium bowl, set aside. 
  • Combine the shredded cheeses in a separate bowl; set aside.
a collage showing how to make taco lasagna by making creamy filling by whisking together salsa verde, sour cream and cream cheese

Step 3: Assemble the Lasagna 

  • Add ½ cup salsa to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer (it will be thin).  
  • Add a layer of tortillas by placing 2 whole tortillas in the middle and surrounding them with 6 tortilla halves (see photos) to cover.
  • Spread ⅓ of the Creamy Filling over top.
  • Top with 1 cup combined cheeses.
  • Top with ⅓ of the meat mixture. 
  • Repeat the tortillas, creamy filling, cheese and meat mixture two more times.
  • Finish with a final layer of tortillas to cover, remaining salsa, and cheese. 
a collage showing how to make taco lasagna by showing how to layer each layer of salsa, tortillas, sour cream, cheese and ground beef

Step 4: Bake the Lasagna 

  • Cover and bake until the cheeses are melted and the casserole is heated through. 
  • Let the casserole stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 
  • Garnish with toppings!
showing how to make taco lasagna by topping with lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro and jalapenos

WHAT TOPPINGS FOR taco lasagna?

This Taco Casserole is intoxicating all on its own, but just like all Mexican food, whether it’s tacos, burritos, fajitas, tortilla soup, or enchiladas, it’s exponentially better with  toppings!  Here are a few ideas:

  • Lettuce:  Shredded iceberg or Romaine lettuce really brings the taco vibe home. and you’ll love the fresh, contrasting crispness.
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt:  The bright tanginess of cold, fresh sour cream cuts through the earthy richness.
  • Ranch: Ground beef tacos and ranch dressing are a classic!
  • Olives: Black olives add that punch of briny umami. 
  • Tomatoes: Quartered cherry tomatoes or seeded, chopped Roma tomatoes or pico de gallo offer pops of juicy, sweet freshness.
  • Pico de gallo:  This is a fresh tomato salsa with loads of cilantro and raw onions.  You can use my homemade pico de gallo recipe or store bought. 
  • Cilantro:  If you skip the pico de gallo, load on fresh cilantro and tomatoes instead for a fresh, zesty flair.
  • Hot Sauce: Pass around the hot sauce so individuals can customize the heat.
  • Doritos: Add some crushed Nacho Doritos for that taco crunch!
  • Use corn tortillas. Do not use flour tortillas or they will become soggy/mushy once baked in the lasagna.  I recommend charring the tortillas first over the flame of your gas stove or in a skillet for maximum flavor and ideal texture, but this step is completely optional.
  • Grate your own cheese. Please use freshly grated cheeses because pre-shredded packaged cheeses use anti-clumping chemicals which prevent them from melting as well. 
  • Control the heat.  For medium heat, I used medium salsa and medium salsa verde and omitted the cayenne pepper in the ground beef.  For less heat, use mild salsas and a pinch of cayenne. 
  • Control the consistency. Your ground beef should be very thick, but still spreadable. If it’s not spreadable, stir in water a little at a time until you reach desired consistency.
  • Customize ingredients. You can customize the add-ins with any beans you like (see ideas to follow) or other add-ins such as chopped onions or bell peppers.
  • Don’t skip the toppings! Top your ground beef casserole with all or some of your favorite toppings, such as sour cream or Greek yogurt (highly recommended), cilantro, jalapenos, avocados, tomatoes, black olives, etc.
side view of taco lasagna casserole recipe layered with ground beef, tortillas, cheese and salsa
  • Swap protein: The seasonings and ingredients work well for ground turkey or ground chicken as well. I suggest adding 1 ½ teaspoons beef bouillon if using ground poultry and reducing the salt. You may also use shredded rotisserie chicken.
  • Plant based protein:  You can make this Taco Lasagna vegetarian by swapping in an equal amount of your favorite plant-based meat alternative such as Beyond Beef, crumbled Soyrizo, crumbled tempeh or vegetables such as mushrooms, corn, bell peppers, chickpeas, etc.
  • Add vegetables: If using, swap some of the meat for veggies so the filling stays saucy, otherwise, add the vegetables in a separate layer.  Try any of your favs such as corn, zucchini, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, chayote, spinach etc.
  • Swap beans: You may substitute the refried beans with pinto beans or black beans but the filling won’t be as cohesive and creamy.  
  • Swap cheese: Use more or less cheese. You can also swap the type of cheese but be aware this will change the flavor profile. If you love spicy, consider using Pepper Jack cheese instead of Monterrey Jack.
  • Spice it up: If you love heat, you have a few options to spice up it up: 1) use medium salsa and medium salsa verde (or hot if you live on the fiery side), 2) add additional cayenne pepper to the taco filling, 3) add hot sauce to the filling, 4) add minced chipotle peppers or jalapenos to the filling 5) swap the Monterrey for Pepper Jack. Alternatively, you can allow everyone to control the spice level of their own serving by passing around a bottle of hot sauce.
up close of a slice of taco lasagna showing how to serve with lettuce, tomatoes and cilantro

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up close of a serving a slice of taco lasagna showing all the layers

Taco Lasagna

Taco Lasagna elevates the humble taco to new heights in this easy, cheesy, creamy, hearty, make ahead, freezer friendly ground beef casserole. In just a little more time than it takes to make taco filling, you'll be sinking your teeth into stacks of juicy taco meat, charred corn tortillas, cheese, salsa verde sour cream all smothered in salsa roja and more cheese, then baked to bubbly perfection.  Pile on your favorite toppings such as lettuce and tomatoes and the masterpiece is complete!  This Taco Lasagna recipe is a weeknight and family-friendly meal, always a crowd-pleaser, can be prepped in the morning and baked at night, made in mass quantities, and/or frozen for later.  It also makes terrific leftovers – should you be so lucky.  Serve it alongside Mexican rice and Mexican Salad for a dinner everyone will inhale!  
Servings: 12 -16 servings
Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins

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Ingredients

GROUND BEEF

LAYERS

  • 20 6-inch corn tortillas (cut 12 in half)
  • 2 cups freshly grated Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 2 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 ½ cups salsa (I use Mateo's Medium-Hot), divided

CREAMY FILLING

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup salsa verde (I use medium Herdez)
  • pinch of salt

Topping Ideas

  • lettuce
  • sour cream
  • tomatoes
  • olives
  • jalapenos
  • cilantro
  • Nacho Cheese Doritos

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a deep 9X13-inch pan; set aside.
  • COOK BEEF: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook and crumble until the beef is cooked through; drain off excess grease.
  • Return to medium heat. Stir in the garlic and all seasonings, followed by the tomato paste and continue to cook for one minute.
  • Stir in the refried beans, salsa, water and chopped green chilies. Continue to cook and stir until the refried beans are fully incorporated. Season to taste with cayenne pepper if desired; set aside.
  • CREAMY FILLING: Whisk all of the Creamy Filling ingredients together in a medium bowl, set aside. Combine cheeses in a separate bowl; set aside.
  • OPTIONAL: Char tortillas over the flame of a gas burner or in a cast iron skillet until lightly charred in spots.
  • ASSEMBLE: Add ½ cup salsa to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer (it will be thin). Add a layer of tortillas by placing 2 whole tortillas in the middle and surrounding them with 6 tortilla halves (see photos) to cover. Spread ⅓ of the Creamy Filling over top, followed by 1 cup combined cheeses and ⅓ of the meat mixture. Repeat the tortillas, creamy filling, cheese and meat mixture two more times to use up all of the Creamy Filling and meat. Top with a layer of tortillas to cover, remaining salsa, and cheese.
  • BAKE: Cover and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through. Let casserole stand 10 minutes before cutting. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, avocados, cilantro, jalapenos and sour cream if desired.

Video

Notes

  • Tortillas:  If you’ve been following me for long, you know I usually recommend La Tortilla Factory corn tortillas HOWEVER, do not use them in this recipe.   I find them a little too thick.  Instead, use any less expensive corn tortillas from your grocery store.  I love La Paz corn tortillas for this recipe. 
  • Control the heat.  For medium heat, I used medium-hot Mateo’s Salsa  and medium salsa verde and omitted the cayenne pepper in the ground beef.  For less heat, use mild salsas and a pinch of cayenne. 
  • Ground turkey:  I suggest adding 1 ½ teaspoons beef bouillon if using ground poultry and reducing the salt. You may also use shredded rotisserie chicken.  See post for more recipe variations.
  • Storage:  Leftover Taco Lasagna should be tightly covered in plastic wrap or foil or transferred to an airtight container; store for up to 5 days.

Meal Prep

This Taco Lasagna recipe is the perfect make-ahead meal to either assemble and bake within 24 hours or to bake and freeze.
  • Assemble and refrigerate: Make and assemble the entire recipe in advance, tightly cover and refrigerate (without baking) for up to 24 hours. When ready to cook, bake according to recipe directions, increasing the baking time by approximately 10 minutes or until the lasagna is hot and bubbly and completely heated through. Note, that the longer the tortillas are refrigerated, the softer they will become.
  • Make the ground beef taco filling: Make the taco filling complete with all the add-ins up to 3 days in advance and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. You will need to warm up the taco filling before using so it’s nice and spreadable.
  • Prep toppings: Chop and store toppings in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  • To freeze: Let the ground beef casserole cool completely (or freeze before baking for meal prep).  Wrap securely with plastic wrap, then with aluminum foil; freeze for up to 3 months.  Bake from frozen, tightly covered with foil, at 425 degrees F for 60 minutes, uncover and bake an additional 15-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  •  

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4 Comments

  1. Beth Stalnaker says

    Love your recipes and this looks like another wonderful one. Would this work with regular lasagna noodles instead of the corn tortillas?

  2. Susan says

    I made this last night and it’s delicious! I’ve used my mom’s Mexican lasagna recipe for many, many years and that used ricotta so I was interested to try this with cream cheese instead. Only other change I made was to add a small can of enchilada sauce to the meat filling and I used a can of black beans as I didn’t have refried. Other than that I made it and it was delicious!! My family gobbled it down and we have enough for leftovers. As always thank you for your wonderful recipes, sincerely another Carlsbadian 🙂

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