Mexican shells with ground beef are stuffed with beef, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, and cheese. They are baked into a delicious kid-friendly dinner everyone will love! Gluten-free instructions included.
Stuffed beef shells are the perfect combination of Italian and Mexican flavors. With pasta shells replacing tortilla shells, this recipe definitely puts a twist on Taco Tuesday! Follow step-by-step to create this delicious and nutritious meal.
Baked in the oven, you will have this recipe on the dinner table in under 40 minutes. Even better, hand this recipe to your kid(s) then sit back and relax while they make dinner. This simple recipe gives kids the confidence they need to keep cooking night after night.
HOW TO MAKE
Start by gathering the equipment and ingredients.
EQUIPMENT FOR STUFFED SHELLS:
- Medium-sized pan
- Medium-sized sauce pan
- Large bowl
- Stir spoon
- Baking pan
INGREDIENTS FOR STUFFED SHELLS:
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 6 ounces big pasta shells 24 shells
- 10 ounces enchilada sauce
- 10 ounce can diced tomatoes with chilies such as Rotel
- 1 packet package taco seasoning
- 1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Prepare ground beef.
Start by sautéing the onions in a medium-sized skillet.
“Sautéing” is a cooking method that cooks the ingredient(s) quickly in a small amount of oil or fat. For this recipe, you will sauté the onions in olive oil.
Add 1 TBSP of olive oil to a skillet over medium-high and heat for 1 minute. Then, add the diced onion and sauté until translucent (about 3-4 minutes). “Translucent” means that you should be able to almost see through the onions. Stir the onions – watching for your onions to turn from solid white in color to translucent while shrinking in size. The onions will also start smelling sweet because sautéing helps onions develop a sweet flavor.
Once the onions are translucent, it is time to cook the ground beef..
Cooking ground beef:
Add the ground beef to the skillet. Using a spatula, carefully break up the meat into large chunks. Let the chunks of beef cook for approximately 1 minute. Then, break the chunks into smaller pieces and let cook for approximately 1 minute. Repeat the process of alternating between breaking up the ground beef and cooking for 1 minute until the ground beef is no longer pink. By the end, you will have successfully browned ground beef!
Last but not least, drain the brown ground beef by draining any excess fat.
3. Prepare pasta shells.
To prepare the pasta shells, you will need to grab a medium-sized pot. Then, heat the water until it starts to boil. My 12 year old recently asked me how to know when the water was boiling so I thought I’d point out that boiling is reached when the water is rapidly bubbling.
Add the pasta shells and cook per box instructions.
Tips to boiling pasta carefully:
- Let the water come to a rapid boil then lower the flame and let the bubbles become smaller before adding the pasta.
- Keep the lid off the pot when boiling the pasta to prevent the water from overflowing.
- When stirring the boiling pasta, stir away from your body to prevent water from accidentally splashing on you.
Tips to draining pasta carefully:
- Pour the pasta away from you into a colander. This will prevent the steam from the pot from burning your arms or face.
- Ask for help! In my opinion, draining pasta is a two person job. Always ask an adult to carry the pot filled with boiling water and pasta to the sink.
- After draining, immediately run under cold water. This is important so that the shells are cool by the time you start to stuff them.
4. Prepare the meat mixture.
At this point, the ground beef should be cooked, drained and back in the skillet. Add the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning to the skillet and stir.
Looking for a quick and easy taco seasoning? Check out my Homemade Taco Seasoning. It is the perfect recipe to make in bulk then store until ready to use.
5. Prepare the baking pan.
Prepare the baking pan by adding a can of enchilada sauce to a baking pan. I use a 9 x 13-inch baking pan for this recipe.
6. Assemble the stuffed shells.
Time to assemble the stuffed shells. The pasta should be cool enough to hold at this point. If not, continue to run the pasta under cold water until cool.
Add about 2-3 tablespoons of the meat mixture to the shells. My kids find it easier to hold the pasta shells in their hand so they have more control of the shell.
Once the shell is filled, carefully place it into the baking pan on top of the enchilada sauce.
Form 3 rows of about 8 shells in each row.
7. Prepare for Baking
Sprinkle the top of the pasta shells with cheese.
Cook for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the enchilada sauce is heated through. Then, serve hot.
Stuffed shells are great because they can be the main entree or a side dish. Good side dishes for stuffed shells: roasted vegetables, Spanish rice, or refried beans. Good entree dishes for stuffed shells: baked chicken breast, roasted pork loin or grilled steak.
Absolutely! Any taco style toppings will do. Here are a few ideas: lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeños, black olives, guacamole or sour cream.
Yes – freeze this dish just like you would a casserole recipe. After the baked shells have cooled, transfer to a freezer friendly container and cover the top with a lid or aluminum foil. To reheat, simply place the shells into a baking dish and cook at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until the shells are hot.
OTHER KID-FRIENDLY DINNER RECIPES:
- Cheesy Taco Pasta Recipe
- Chili Lasagna
- Pork Egg Roll Cups
- Healthy Tater Tot Casserole
- BBQ Meatloaf Muffins with Sweet Potato Topping
- Chicken Teriyaki Stir-Fry
If you enjoyed these recipes make sure to leave a comment and a star rating below! Then follow me on social media and tag #createkidsclub if you make the recipe. I love seeing what you come up with!
Mexican Shells with Ground Beef
- medium-sized pan
- medium-sized sauce pan
- large bowl
- stir spoon
- baking pan
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 6 ounces big pasta shells Tinkyada makes gluten-free shells
- 10 ounces enchilada sauce check for gluten free
- 10 ounce can Rotel tomatoes with chilies
- 1 packet package taco seasoning check for gluten free
- 1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend check for gluten free
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Prepare ground beef. In a medium-sized skillet, heat olive oil and saute onions until translucent (about 3-4 minutes). Add ground beef, cook until no longer pink, then drain.1 tablespoon Olive Oil, 1 pound lean ground beef, 1 medium onion, diced
- Prepare pasta shells. While the beef is cooking, in a medium-sized pot, heat water to boiling. Add pasta shells and cook per box instructions (about 10 minutes). Drain then run under cold water to cool.6 ounces big pasta shells
- Prepare meat mixture. To the cooked and drained beef, add the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning. Stir well.10 ounce can Rotel tomatoes with chilies, 1 packet package taco seasoning
- Prepare the baking pan. To a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, add the enchilada sauce.10 ounces enchilada sauce
- Assemble the stuffed shells. Add about 2-3 tablespoons to each cooked pasta shell and carefully place it into the pan forming 3 rows of about 8 shells in each row.
- Prepare for baking. Sprinkle with cheese. Cook for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the enchilada sauce is heated through. Serve hot.1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
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