6-Ingredient Beef Taco Bake Recipe: ATK Gave the Taco Casserole a Flavorful Makeover by Donna John

6-Ingredient Beef Taco Bake Recipe: ATK Gave the Taco Casserole a Flavorful Makeover

Everyone is probably aware of my obsession with the six-ingredient magazine from America's Test Kitchen (ATK). The fourth recipe I made from it is this beef taco casserole recipe. Wow. ATK makes their recipes so good by doing simple techniques that make a big difference in flavor. For this taco bake recipe, the used the tomato liquid instead of water in the ground beef filling, stirred tomatoes into refried beans and used taco shells, which are crunchier, instead of tortilla chips.

"This dish combines the crunchy, corny flavor of taco shells with a spicy ground beef filling and melted cheese – all in one hearty casserole," they write. "For robust flavor with a laundry list of spices, we turned to a supermarket staple: taco seasoning mix. To make the most of its spicy flavors, we cooked the seasoning mix with the ground beef; this worked to bloom the flavors of the spices. Ro-tel tomatoes, a spicy blend of tomatoes and green chiles, contributed both potent flavor and much-needed moisture to the beef filling."

This is one of the best ground beef taco casserole recipes I've ever made. I served it with guacamole, sour cream, cilantro, red onions and fresh jalapenos.

Cuisine: Mexican / American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6


Here's how to make it: 

  1. Drain the tomatoes and reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid.
  2. Cook the ground beef in a skillet until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the taco seasoning and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Stir in half the tomatoes and the 1/2 cup reserved liquid. Simmer until liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the refried beans and remaining tomatoes.
  4. Spread the beans on the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking pan.
  5. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese, then all of the beef, then additional 1/2 cup cheese.
  6. Break the taco shells into pieces and put on the top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  7. Bake in a preheated 450-degree F oven for about 10 minutes or until chips are golden and crisp.

Note: The original recipe calls for baking the casserole at 475 degrees F. I think that was too hot and the chips got too dark, too fast as you'll notice in my pictures. Next time I will bake at 425 to 450 degrees F.

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Donna John
This is a great taco casserole recipe that was so simple to prep. Eating the leftovers tonight. Definitely added to my recipe rotation.
Elisa Schmitz, 30Seconds
OMG, this looks amazing. A dream dinner, for sure. Making it soon! #yum

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