Taco Spaghetti Recipe

25 Minute Taco Spaghetti boasts simple prep, minimal cleanup and TONS of TACO flavor! Readers call it “a new favorite,” “quick, easy, and absolutely delicious.” It’s the wonderfully versatile answer to what’s for dinner and will have everyone exclaiming “add this to the rotation!”

Watch How to Make Taco Spaghetti

up close of taco spaghetti recipe showing how saucy it is


Why you’ll love Cheesy Taco Spaghetti

  • APPLAUDABLE FLAVOR. The juicy beef is seasoned to perfection with homemade taco seasoning, cooked with onions, garlic, green chilies, roasted diced tomatoes then combined with cheddar and Monterrey cheese – drool.
  • 25 MINUTES! It’s a rescue dinner winner when you need something quick and easy but still tastes amazing.
  • PANTRY FRIENDLY.  Besides the beef (keep it stocked in the freezer), all the ingredients are pantry friendly for a cozy last-minute dinner.
  • SHORCUTS: Follow the recipe as written or opt for ZERO CHOPPING on those extra lazy nights by swapping in onion and garlic powder.
  • FAMILY FAVORITE. Just like traditional spaghetti is an adored staple, everyone will sprint to the dinner table when it’s Taco Spaghetti Night! Now you two easy spaghetti options to choose from!
  • VERSATILE. Make the recipe as written or switch up the protein, add vegetables, beans, etc., make it more or less spicy, creamy or cheesy.   
up close of tongs scooping up taco spaghetti showing how beefy and saucy it is
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Taco Spaghetti Ingredients

This Taco Spaghetti recipe is made with pantry friendly ingredients you probably have on hand right now! Let’s take a closer look at what you need (measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Spaghetti: The namesake of this recipe! Use traditional, gluten free, spaghetti squash, etc.
  • Ground Beef: Use lean ground beef or see substitutions in Variations Section.
  • Aromatics:  One yellow onion and four garlic cloves build the base of flavor. You may substitute with 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon onion powder for those extra lazy days.
  • Homemade Taco Seasoning: Chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper add the perfect punch of taco flavor.
  • Beef bouillon:  This the secret ingredient really makes the sauce come alive. Choose from bouillon powder, bouillon cubes, or better than bouillon. Add the bouillon to the sauce without dissolving it in liquid first. If using cubes, you will need 3; crush up and add directly to the pot.
  • Canned Mild Diced Green Chilies:  Make sure you purchase mild green chiles – I have accidentally used the hot chilies before and they are HOT!  Mild green chiles, however, are more tangy than hot.
  • Fire roasted diced tomatoes:  These are wonderfully smoky with a sweet complexity and less acidity than traditional tomatoes. Use regular if you can’t find fire roasted.
  • Tomato paste: Just two tablespoons adds rich, concentrated tomato flavor. It’s combined with water to make the recipe saucier.
  • Cheeses: Sharp cheddar is used for its sharp richness, while Monterrey adds buttery, gooey splendor. Use only freshly grated cheeses for their superior flavor and melting ability.
top view of taco spaghetti ingredients: spaghetti, ground beef, diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, taco seasoning, tomato paste, cheddar, green chilies

How to MAke Taco Spaghetti

Let’s take a closer look at how to make Taco Spaghetti with step-by-step photos (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Step 1: Brown Beef. Sauté onions in some oil for 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, while crumbling, until cooked through and onions are softened.
a collage showing how to make taco spaghetti by sautéing onions, then adding ground beef and browning
  • Step 2: Bloom Seasonings. Add tomato paste, garlic, and all seasonings and cook an additional 1 minute.
a collage showing how to make taco spaghetti by adding garlic, seasonings and tomato paste to the ground beef, then sautéing
  • Step 3: Add ingredients. Stir in 1 cup water while scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze.  Add diced tomatoes, green chilies and beef bouillon.
showing how to make taco spaghetti by adding diced tomatoes, green chilies and water to the beef
  • Step 4: Simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 5  minutes, stirring occasionally.
a collage showing how to make taco spaghetti by simmering the sauce to thicken
  • Step 5: Add Cheeses and Spaghetti. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses a handful at a time until melted. (Note, the video shows adding the cheese after the spaghetti, but it easier to add to the sauce first). Add spaghetti and stir until evenly coated in sauce.
a collage showing how to make taco spaghetti by adding cheese and spaghetti to the sauce and tossing to coat
taco spaghetti recipe being garnished with cilantro
  • Step 6: Serve with Toppings! Top individual servings with desired garnishes.
showing how to make taco spaghetti by topping with garnishes:  tortilla chips, cilantro, and sour cream

Recipe For Taco Spaghetti Tips

Taco Spaghetti is super quick and easy to make but here are a few tips and tricks:

  • Cook Pasta Al Dente: Don’t overcook the pasta because it will continue cooking when mixed with the sauce.
  • To Store Unused Tomato Paste: Portion it by the tablespoon and wrap in plastic wrap; store in the freezer for easy use.
  • Season to Taste: Make the taco pasta perfect for you! If it tastes like it’s missing something, it’s likely salt and/or heat. I always like to add additional cayenne pepper.
  • Make Ahead: The sauce (before you combine it with the spaghetti) keeps in the refrigerator or freezes beautifully for an easy make-ahead winner.
  • Double or Triple: On that note, consider doubling or tripling the sauce and freezing some for later.
  • Don’t Skip the Toppings! Finish the dish with a variety of garnishes such as shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips, diced tomatoes, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapeños, or a dollop of sour cream for added texture/flavor excitement and to make this truly taste like Taco Spaghetti!
  • Leftover Transformation: Turn leftover taco spaghetti into a new meal by using it as a filling for tacos, quesadillas, stuffed peppers, or even a spaghetti bake with a layer of melted cheese on top.
tossing taco spaghetti together with sauce

Taco Pasta variations

  • Use lean ground turkey or chicken: Both are delicious in this recipe!
  • Use vegetarian protein: Use soyrizo, tofu or plant-based protein like textured vegetable protein (TVP).
  • Use a different pasta: Use a sturdy, medium pasta such as cavatappi, radiatori, medium shells, rotini, penne, fusilli, etc. 
  • Make it spicier: Increase the cayenne pepper, add diced jalapeños, canned jalapenos, or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Alternatively, garnish individual bowls with jalapeno peppers or hot sauce.
  • Make it saucier: Increase the tomato paste to 2 tablespoons and add an additional 1 cup, or so, of water.
  • Powder shortcuts: If you are feeling extra lazy or just don’t feel like chopping (as I often am when I make this recipe), then substitute the fresh aromatics for onion powder and garlic powder (directions included below). 
  • Add beans: Black beans, pinto beans or kidney beans would all be tasty.
  • Add vegetables: Corn, bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, spinach, etc. You can even add leftover roasted vegetables at the end of cooking.
  • Add shredded veggies: If you want to camouflage the veggies, mince them in the food processor and cook with the beef – they’ll blend right in!
  • Use a different cheese: Try Gouda, Pepper Jack, Asiago, Fontina, Muenster, etc. to switch up the flavor profile.
  • Make it cheesy: Add additional cheese or if you’re feeling naughty, try pouring some of your favorite queso dip directly into the sauce.
  • Make it creamy: Add 2-4 ounces very soft cream cheese to melt. Once melted, stir in milk, a little at a time, until it reaches desired consistency.
  • Baked taco pasta: Transfer the recipe to a baking dish, cover with additional cheese, followed by foil and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melty.
showing how to make taco spaghetti by topping with cilantro

What to Serve with Taco Pasta

  • Tortilla Chips: The salty crunchiness resembles a taco shell and levels up this recipe!
  • Sour Cream: The silky creaminess offers a delightful contrast to the earthy seasonings.
  • Pico de gallo:  Top the Taco Spaghetti with this fresh tomato salsa for a vibrant, punchy freshness.  Use my homemade pico de gallo recipe or store bought.  You can make the pico de gallo ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.  Bring to room temperature before serving.
  • Avocados: Chopped or sliced avocados add a wonderful earthy creaminess. Make sure to add freshly cracked salt and a squeeze of lime.
  • Cilantro:  If you skip the pico de gallo, load on fresh cilantro and tomatoes instead for a fresh, zesty flair.
  • Corn: Serve corn salad, elote, Mexican street corn salad on the side to stick with the fiesta theme!
  • Salad: Serve with a simple green salad or we love Southwest salad or Mexican salad.
  • Fruit: Pina colada fruit salad or perfect fruit salad are always a winning addition.
showing how to serve cheesy taco spaghetti by topping with cilantro and tortilla chips in a bowl




©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

showing how to serve cheesy taco spaghetti by topping with cilantro and tortilla chips in a bowl

Taco Spaghetti

25 Minute Taco Spaghetti boasts simple prep, minimal cleanup and TONS of TACO flavor! Readers call it "a new favorite," "quick, easy, and absolutely delicious." It's the wonderfully versatile answer to what's for dinner that will have everyone joining readers in exclaiming “add this to the rotation!”
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Total Time: 20 minutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

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Garnishes (optional)

  • crushed tortilla chips
  • more cheese
  • diced tomatoes
  • diced avocadoes
  • chopped cilantro
  • sour cream


  • Cook Spaghetti: Cook spaghetti al dente according to package directions in generously salted water. Rinse and drain. Toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside. Meanwhile:
  • Brown Beef: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, while crumbling, until cooked through and onions are softened.
  • Add Ingredients: Add tomato paste, garlic, and all seasonings and cook an additional 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup water while scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze.  Add diced tomatoes, green chilies and beef bouillon.
  • Simmer: Simmer, uncovered, for 5  minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add Cheeses: Remove from heat and stir in cheeses a handful at a time until melted.
  • Add Spaghetti: Add spaghetti and stir until evenly coated in sauce. Season with additional salt and pepper/cayenne pepper to taste.
  • Serve: Top individual servings with desired garnishes.



  • Storage:  Let the spaghetti cool to room temperature.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  The sauce (without the spaghetti) freezes beautifully.
  • Variations:  See post for vegetarian option, plus other variations and fun add-ins!

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A variation of this post first appeared on The Slow Roasted Italian website where I am a contributor.

Carlsbad Cravings© Original


Reader Interactions

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  1. Nikki says

    My kids are going to love this!

  2. Sabrina says

    This is brilliant! Your weeknight Spaghtte Bolognese is one of our family’s favorite recipes and probably the recipe I make more than any other so I am excited to add another spaghetti to the mix. We love all your Mexican recipes too! Thanks for your fantastic site!

    • Jen says

      Hi Sabrina, thanks for your kind words! I’m thrilled your family loves my Spaghetti Bolognese so much – you have great taste because that is one of my favs as well! I really think they are going to love this just as much – or maybe even more!

  3. Mel says

    I was searching for something a little different to use ground beef. This is a new favorite for sure. Quick, easy and even my picky eaters cleaned their plate!

    • Jen says

      yessss! I’m so happy you made it already and it was a hit with your whole family! Thank you Mel!!!

  4. Vince says

    This is such a fun idea. Spaghetti is acutally one of my favorite meals but it does tend to get a bit boring after a while. Your recipe is a cool way to spice it up and create something different.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Vince! I totally agree – spaghetti can get repetitive so it’s nice to have another version! I hope you love this recipe!

  5. Jessica says

    Here in New Zealand we cannot buy fire roasted tomatoes, i will have to use regular canned tomatoes – would you recommend adding anything else with it? I recently found liquid smoke at a local specialty store would that help? Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Jessica, I would add a little sugar to taste – just enough so the pasta sauce tastes balanced and not too acidic. You could definitely add a splash of liquid smoke but I would use it very sparingly. I hope this helps!!!

  6. Sherry says

    I made the taco spaghetti against my husbands advise, and it was yummy! And of course my husband said so too. Tonight we’re having leftovers from when I made this over the weekend. But my husband asked if he could put spaghetti sauce on it, he wants more sauce, and thinks it tastes similar to my spaghetti. I told him he could on his serving, but mine was perfect the way the recipe was written, so don’t touch mine!

    • Jen says

      LOL! I’m so happy you loved this recipe exactly as is! He could try some enchilada sauce on his if he wants it saucier but more Mexican tasting 🙂

  7. Lisa says

    Just finished eating this for dinner and my husband and sons gave it a “add this to the rotation!” That doesn’t happen very often with new recipes! Followed the recipe exactly. Thanks for ANOTHER great one!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Lisa, thanks for the thanks! I’m so happy it was a winner!

  8. Kim says

    This looks absolutely delicious.. have to try it!

    • Jen says

      Thank you! I think you’ll love it!

  9. Lauren Glass says

    Shouldn’t water be added to this since it requires a tablespoon of beef bouillon?

    • Jen says

      No, it will dissolve in the rest of the sauce. Enjoy!

  10. Carolyn Fowler says

    Okay, so this is almost the 20th recipe I’ve tried from this site. Every single recipe has been phenomenal. This is definitely going in my list of favorites. It’s quick, easy, and absolutely delicious. My husband, who is not a huge fan of spaghetti, absolutely loved this! It was flavorful, meaty, and so tasty! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes! 🙂

    Also, your tip about the crumbled tortilla chips on top was great. That just made the recipe 20x better, in my opinion!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Carolyn and make my day! That is awesome you have made so many of my recipes and I’m thrilled this taco spaghetti was another hit! Thank you!!!

  11. Nancy says

    I made this last night for myself and my husband and we both LOVED it. It made a lot but that’s good because we will finish it off tonight. I saw the recipe and wanted to make it right away but I did not have any of the green chilis. So I made it anyway without them and it was fantastic. Thanks so much for this one.

    • Jen says

      Leftovers can be the best! I’m so thrilled that you and you husband loved it!