Looking for ideas for what to do with leftover taco meat from Taco Tuesday? Try my easy Taco Pasta recipe. It's an easy dinner full of bell peppers, onions, and garlic. And topped with traditional taco toppings like sour cream, cheddar cheese, and cilantro, this is one delicious meal that helps extend the yumminess of taco night!
We don't always do Taco Tuesdays in our house, but when we do, one thing can be certain: we will have a LOT of leftover taco meat.
If you're looking for a way to use up those leftovers from taco night, this pasta dish is one of my family favorite leftover taco meat recipes. This is an easy dinner recipe the whole family will love. It's a hearty meal that's perfect for busy weeknights!
Ready to make this yummy Taco Pasta? Let's do it!
❤️ Your new favorite leftover taco meat recipe
This easy recipe results in a vibrant, beautiful pasta dish.
- This is a great way to use up leftover taco meat. Taco pasta transforms leftover taco meat into a totally different meal that will make your tastebuds do the happy dance!
- The steps are easy to follow and it's a great recipe for evening beginning cooks.
- It's easy to customize this easy meal with different taco toppings.
- You can make this taco pasta recipe in under 30 minutes. So you'll have a delicious dinner on the table, fast!
🌮 Ingredient notes
You only need a few simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand or can easily find your local grocery stores.
- Leftover taco meat - You can use however much leftover taco meat you have. I usually have about one cup of taco meat leftover to a cup and a half.
- Pasta - You can use almost any type of pasta shape for this recipe. I love using farfalle pasta (bowtie pasta), penne pasta, elbow macaroni, rigatoni, pasta shells, or cellantani. But I've also used thin noodles before and taco spaghetti is just as delicious!
- Bell peppers - I love a mix of red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, green bell peppers, and yellow bell peppers, but you can use whatever you prefer or have on hand.
- Garlic & onions - finely minced garlic and finely diced onions add even more flavor to this dish. If you're in a pinch, you can substitute a half teaspoon of garlic powder and a half teaspoon of onion powder for the fresh garlic and onions.
Optional toppings - you can top this leftover taco meat pasta with your favorite traditional taco toppings. Try sour cream, chopped chives, chopped fresh cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, guacamole, sliced avocado, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
🔪 Kitchen Tools & Equipment You Need
To make this Taco Pasta dish, you just need:
✅ Step-by-step instructions
Detailed instructions are in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here's a quick step-by-step guide of how to make this easy taco pasta at home.
Step 1 - First, cook the pasta in a large pot according to package instructions.
Step 2 - Then, in a large skillet, sauté up some onions, garlic, and peppers.
Step 3 - Add the leftover taco meat to the skillet. You usually don't need to add any extra seasoning because the meat is already seasoned. However, you can always add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of homemade taco seasoning if you want.
Then sauté a couple of minutes more until the peppers are soft and the pasta is cooked.
Step 4 - Finally, add the cooked pasta to the skillet and mix up all of those gorgeous ingredients together.
Optional - Top with your favorite taco toppings. Ideas: a generous dollop of sour cream, mix in some shredded cheddar cheese, and add a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.
Using leftover ground meat helps cut down on the cooking time. You can, of course, cook ground beef, ground chicken, ground pork, or ground turkey from scratch and make this recipe.
Yes! Without the optional mix-ins and add-ons, this recipe is dairy-free.
Chopped cilantro is an optional garnish, but it adds a nice, bright, lively note to the dish. You can substitute parsley for cilantro if you prefer.
Allow the pasta dish to cool, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
What side dishes go with taco pasta?
This leftover taco meat pasta goes well with so many side dishes! Try serving it with one of these equally easy-to-make sides:
More taco meat recipes
More pasta recipes you might like
Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to leave a 5-Star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card, and if you really loved it, please leave a comment further down on the page. Thank you!
Easy Taco Pasta with Leftover Taco Meat
- 12 ounces uncooked pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup chopped bell peppers red, orange, and or yellow; I use a mix of all three!
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 2 finely minced garlic cloves
- Leftover taco meat - however much you have! I usually have about 1 to 1-½ cups worth.
- 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
- Optional toppings: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and chopped cilantro or chopped parsley
- Cook pasta according to package directions in a large stockpot.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add chopped bell peppers, onions, and garlic to the pan. Sauté over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, stirring to ensure ingredients do not stick to the pan and also ensuring the garlic does not burn.
- Once the onions look slightly translucent and soft, add the leftover taco meat and sauté for another 1-2 minutes to heat the meat.
- Add diced tomatoes to the skillet and continue stirring and sautéeing for another 2-3 minutes, until the tomatoes are heated.
- Drain the pasta, leaving approximately 3-4 tablespoons of hot pasta water in the pot, and add the pasta to the skillet.
- Stir the pasta until it is thoroughly coated with the tomato meat sauce. Add a tablespoon of the hot pasta water to the skillet as needed to help create more of a sauce.
- Once the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce, remove from heat.
- Top with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, cilantro, and/or parsley if you wish. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information is a general estimate. Actual nutrition details may vary depending on the exact foods & brands you use to make this recipe. It does not take into account any substitutions, toppings, or optional ingredients.