Taco Mac and Cheese

taco mac and cheese with crumbled tortilla chips, sweet pepper and avocado

Pete Scherer

  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 bowls (4 servings)

This Mexican-inspired spin on mac and cheese takes a humble box of mac and cheese dinner and kicks it up with taco-seasoned ground beef, fresh avocado, and sweet peppers all on top of a bed of crumbled corn tortilla chips. This dish is perfect for a weeknight meal when you want something comforting and familiar, but not too familiar.

The layered presentation is eye-catching and colorful, and diners get the fun of mixing everything up in their own bowl. By using store-bought mac and cheese and simmer sauce, most of the work is already done for you, so you can have fun and get creative. As long as you don't make it too spicy, this dish is a great way to sneak vegetables into your kids' diet.

Ingredients

  • 1 large avocado
  • 3 red or yellow sweet peppers
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 12 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1 (8-ounce) packet taco simmer sauce
  • 1 box macaroni and cheese
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups broken corn tortilla chips
  • 1 lime

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Open the avocado. Remove the pit and peel and cut the flesh into cubes. Remove the seeds and stems from the sweet peppers and dice them into approximately 1/8 inch pieces. Set aside.

  3. Set a medium skillet over high heat and add the vegetable oil. When oil is hot, add the ground beef. Break up the beef as it browns. When beef has mostly browned, lower the heat to medium-low. Add the packet of simmer sauce and stir into the ground beef. Simmer gently for 10 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, fill a pot with six cups (1 1/2 quarts) of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add two teaspoons of salt and the macaroni. Cook for seven or eight minutes, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender. Remove from heat and pour into a colander to drain.

  5. Add the butter and milk to the pot you used to cook the pasta and set it over medium heat. When the butter has melted, whisk the packet the packet of cheese powder into the milk and butter. Add the ground cumin and the cooked pasta. Stir to thoroughly coat the macaroni, then remove from heat.

  6. Put about 1/2 cup of the broken corn tortilla chips into a serving bowl. Spoon a third of the mac and cheese over the top, followed by one-third of the seasoned beef, avocado and sweet peppers. Repeat with two more bowls. Sweet a little bit of lime over the top and serve.

Variation Ideas

  • Feel free to add other toppings like sour cream, shredded cheese, green onion, cilantro, diced tomato, pico de gallo, hot sauce, shredded lettuce, corn or even black or pinto beans.