One-Skillet Tex Mex Mac and Cheese — An EASY recipe that’s made in ONE skillet so you don’t have to cook the pasta separately!! Loaded with ground beef, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, and cilantro! A family FAVORITE that feeds a crowd!!
Tex-Mex Mac and Cheese with Ground Beef
My family never says no to Mexican food or to mac and cheese, and this recipe marries the two. It’s easy comfort food that’s fast enough to make for busy weeknights and will be a guaranteed winner and family favorite.
One of the things I dislike about making scratch mac and cheese is that you dirty a lot of pots, pans, and colanders. Boiling noodles, draining them, melting the butter and cheese for the cheese sauce, and so forth.
However, with this recipe there is none of that. One skillet is music to my ears!
What’s in Tex-Mex Mac and Cheese?
To make this Tex-Mex ground beef back and cheese, you’ll need:
- Olive oil
- Sweet Vidalia onion
- Ground beef
- Red bell pepper
- Elbow macaroni
- Diced tomatoes
- Tomato sauce
- Shredded cheese
- Fresh cilantro
How to Make Tex-Mex Mac and Cheese
Simply brown ground beef with an onion and then add red bell pepper, corn, uncooked (dry) elbow macaroni, water, canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and Tex Mex-inspired spices like cumin, chili powder, and Mexican oregano.
Cover the skillet and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the pasta is tender. No need to boil the pasta in advance or drain anything later. This recipe is all about ease and convenience.
Stir in cheese, garnish with cilantro, and dinner is served.
Can the Ground Beef Be Substituted?
Yes, you may use ground turkey or chicken in place of the ground beef, if desired. Just note that ground poultry is leaner than ground beef, so you may need to add extra olive oil to the pan.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Yes! The recipe makes a big batch of mac and cheese and will definitely feed a crowd. It’s hearty comfort food that keeps you nicely satisfied.
However, if you don’t have a big family or aren’t feeding a group, freeze the leftovers in individual containers like I do. It’s always nice to have a freezer stash on hand for those nights when you are too tired to cook or you’ve got hungry kids (or yourself) that you need to feed, pronto.
Tips for Seasoning the Tex-Mex Mac and Cheese
I added a full tablespoon of chili powder, a generous pinch of cayenne pepper, plenty of freshly ground black pepper, and we did not find this spicy at all. Rather, it had flavor and wasn’t bland. Tex Mex isn’t supposed to be bland.
If your family is very sensitive to heat and spices, you can always halve the amounts of the spices, omit the cayenne, and if later it tastes a little bland or boring, you can add more spice, to your taste.
Don’t be afraid to salt this, either. I needed to add another teaspoon at the end so that it was balanced. There’s a pound of ground beef, a big onion and a bell pepper, pasta, and a cup of water. It’s only natural you need to salt this fairly generously for optimal taste.
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One-Skillet Tex Mex Mac and Cheese
An EASY recipe that's made in ONE skillet so you don't have to cook the pasta separately!! Loaded with ground beef, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, and cilantro! A family FAVORITE that feeds a crowd!!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large/extra-large sweet vidalia onion, diced small
- 1 pound lean ground beef (I used 90% lean)
- 1 large/extra large red bell pepper, diced small
- 1 cup corn (I used frozen straight from the freezer)
- 1 cup elbow macaroni (dry, uncooked)
- 1 cup water
- one 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
- one 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon cumin, plus more if desired
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano (regular oregano may be substituted)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if desired
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
- 1 to 2 cups shredded cheese (I used a Mexican shredded cheese blend)
- fresh cilantro, finely minced for garnishing
- To a large skillet, add the olive oil, onion, beef, and cook over medium-high heat until beef is cooked through and onion is soft and translucent, about 7 minutes; crumble beef and stir frequently to ensure even cooking.
- Add the bell pepper, corn, macaroni, water, tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, pepper, stir to combine.
- Lower heat to medium low, cover, and allow mixture to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until pasta is tender and cooked through. Stir a couple times while simmering to ensure even cooking.
- Uncover, turn off the heat, add the cheese, and stir to combine and until melted. Taste and check for seasoning balance. If necessary add more salt or seasonings (I added an additional 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of cumin).
- Evenly sprinkle the cilantro and serve immediately.
Extra will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 357Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 742mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 26g
More Easy Tex-Mex Recipes:
Easy 30-Minute Taco Macaroni and Cheese – Super creamy, ultra cheesy, flavored with taco seasoning, black beans, green onions, tomatoes, and cilantro! Easy comfort food with a Mexican flair that’s a family favorite!
One Skillet Beef Taco Pasta – An easy recipe that’s ready in 20 minutes, made in one skillet, and loaded with Mexican-inspired flavors! A family favorite that’s great for busy weeknights!
Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Quinoa – All the flavor of chicken enchiladas, minus the work of rolling them!! Juicy chicken, corn, black beans, peppers, and loads of melted cheese! Easy, one-skillet, and ready in 30 minutes!
Taco Pasta Salad – Easy, ready in 20 minutes, and loaded with great Mexican-inspired ingredients including corn, black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, and more! Perfect for picnics, parties, and potlucks!
Loaded Vegetarian Burritos — HEALTHY Mexican comfort food that’s loaded with black beans, rice, and more before being topped with salsa and CHEESE!! You’ll never miss the meat in these EASY burritos that you can make-ahead and are freezer-friendly!
Beef Taco Salad Bowls – Making homemade taco salad bowls is so easy and they’re perfect for holding this family-favorite taco salad including seasoned ground beef, black beans, cheese and more!
One-Pot Taco Pasta – An EASY recipe that’s ready in 20 minutes, made in ONE skillet, and loaded with Mexican-inspired flavors!! A family favorite that’s great for busy weeknights!!
15-Minute Cheesy Chicken Taco Skillet — Craving tacos minus all the empty carbs? This EASY taco skillet without tortillas is PERFECT!! Fast, EASY, loaded with awesome Mexican-inspired flavors and it’s super CHEESY!!
I come back to this recipe and make it again and again. I love it! And the family likes it too! It’s satisfying comfort food and easily made with ingredients you usually have on hand! I even put frozen ground turkey in the pan with the lid to defrost a bit before adding the rest. Thank you for this winner!
Thanks for the 5 star review and I am glad you keep coming back to this recipe again and again! Great to hear it has worked well for you with ground turkey, too. And like you said, with ingredients you usually have on hand – the best!
So easy and delicious!!!!! And sometimes when I have extra time, I with slather in cheese and panko and bake it for 20 minutes…… divine!
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you love this recipe!
We’ve just made the same dish for datenight and ti was absolutely amazing. What camera do you use to take photos?
Also, have you considered adding calorie information and macronutrients to your recipes?
Glad you loved it!
A Canon 5D Mark III with a 100MM macro f/2.8
It’s there, underneath the directions in an orange box, re nutritional info.
I had stove fire so now I am existing on an I pot and electric fry pan, this will be great.
This is my kinda meal! Thanks for sharing!
In the midst of all the cookies and Christmas recipes, I figured that people could still use a dinner recipe to get them through a cold winter night.
This looks really good! I like when you don’t have to boil the pasta separately and you know how I love 1 skillet meals!
One skillet meals are the best and even better when you don’t have to boil the pasta separately!