Loaded Beef Taco Casserole Recipe

If you want to elevate your next taco night, look no further! This loaded beef taco casserole from recipe developer Julie Kinnaird layers together all of the wonderful flavors and textures from a great taco in an easy presentation that is perfect for any gathering. Instead of using taco shells, crispy tortilla chips are topped with a filling compromising seasoned ground beef and pinto bean, made extra juicy with diced tomatoes and green chiles. Roasted poblano peppers and onions add plenty of aromatic flavor, and melty Mexican cheese holds everything together. Topped with a fresh garnish of sour cream, lettuce, and avocado this casserole is warm and refreshing all in one bite. An extra kick of flavor comes from making a batch of quick-pickled sliced jalapeños for garnishing. This casserole is not only easy to assemble but transports well and is perfect for brunch, game day, or potluck. Kinnaird shares some tips for timing the preparation in advance, as well as customizing the dish to suit anyone's taste.

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Gather the loaded beef taco casserole recipe ingredients

For this recipe, you will start by doing a quick pickle on some jalapeños. For this, you will need white vinegar, a garlic clove, granulated sugar, and sea salt. Next, you will roast some fresh poblano peppers. For the rest of the beef taco casserole filling, you need lean ground beef, yellow onion, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, dried oregano, cumin, freshly ground black pepper, canned pinto beans, and canned diced tomatoes with green chilies. Round tortilla chips create crisp layers in the casserole, and shredded Mexican cheese melts between the layers and on top. Canned and sliced black olives, sour cream, shredded romaine lettuce, diced ripened avocado, and jarred salsa verde or homemade pico de gallo finish off the dish.

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Step 1: Start the pickled jalepeño brine

Combine the vinegar, water, garlic, sugar, and 1 teaspoon sea salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

Step 2: Add the sliced jalepeños

Add the sliced jalapeños, bring back to a boil, then remove from the heat. Allow the jalapeños to sit in the pickling liquid while you assemble the casserole.

Step 3: Roast the poblano peppers

Roast the poblano peppers over a flame on a gas stovetop, or use a grill to blacken and blister the skins on all sides.

Step 4: Steam the peppers

Transfer the peppers to a heat-proof bowl and cover tightly with plastic to seal in steam.

Step 5: Scrape off the charred skins

Use a sharp knife to scrape off the charred skins and remove the stems and seeds.

Step 6: Chop the peppers

Chop the peppers and set aside.

Step 7: Heat a skillet and add ground beef

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the ground beef.

Step 8: Brown the ground beef

Cook the ground beef, breaking it into small pieces, until starting to brown.

Step 9: Add onions and poblanos

Add the onion and chopped poblanos to the beef and cook until softened (about 5 minutes).

Step 10: Add spices and pinto beans

Add the chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, pepper, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and pinto beans. Stir to combine.

Step 11: Add tomatoes with green chilies

Add the diced tomatoes with green chilies. Stir to combine and cook over low heat for 5 minutes.

Step 12: Preheat the oven

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Step 13: Oil a baking dish

Oil a 13x9-inch baking dish.

Step 14: Add a layer of tortilla chips

Cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of tortilla chips, overlapping slightly.

Step 15: Add half of the beef mixture

Spread half of the beef mixture evenly over the chips.

Step 16: Add half of the cheese

Top the beef with half of the shredded cheese.

Step 17: Add half of the olives

Sprinkle half of the olives over the cheese.

Step 18: Repeat the layers and top with pickled jalapeños

Repeat with more chips, the remaining beef, cheese, and olives, then add the drained pickled jalapeño slices over the top.

Step 19: Bake the casserole

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove the pan from the oven.

Step 20: Drizzle sour cream on top

Transfer the sour cream to a resealable plastic bag, cut off the tip of one corner, and drizzle the sour cream over the top of the casserole.

Step 21: Top with lettuce and avocado

Garnish with chopped lettuce and avocado.

Step 22: Top with salsa and serve

Finish the loaded beef taco casserole with some of the salsa verde and serve with the remaining chips and salsa.

Can I make loaded beef taco casserole in advance?

Part of what makes this loaded beef taco casserole so delicious is the contrast of textures and temperatures in the layers. The casserole is best served hot from the oven and topped with cool sour cream, crisp lettuce, creamy avocado, and a kick of salsa. When served fresh, the tortilla chips baked into the layers stay nice and crisp and the cheese melts into the beef-and-bean filling. That said, this dish is also just right for packing up to take to your next party or potluck, so Kinnaird shares a few tips for getting as much prep work done in advance as possible. Your first option is to layer the entire dish up to the point of baking, then wrap the pan in foil and bake at your destination. Have the sour cream, shredded lettuce, chopped avocado, and salsa ready to add right before serving. Your second option is to bake the casserole in advance, then reheat it in the pan before serving (again, save the garnishing for the last minute). If you anticipate having leftovers, try serving the casserole without the garnishes and keeping them on the side so that the baked leftovers can be reheated later.

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How can I switch up and customize loaded beef taco casserole?

There are plenty of delicious ways to switch up this loaded beef taco casserole, starting with the tortilla chips. Kinnaird prefers using round chips as they layer nicely in the pan, but other shapes and colors of corn will work. Try using black beans in place of the pinto beans for a slightly different flavor and another pop of deep color. You can also work on increasing your spice tolerance by mixing in some hot hatch chilies with the poblano peppers or using a spicy variety of chili powder. This recipe calls for a blend of Mexican cheeses, but you can also experiment with using a sharp cheddar or pepper jack. Try mixing up the garnishes with green cabbage in place of lettuce, or adding some diced ripe tomatoes. Having the garnishes in bowls for serving allows everyone to enjoy exactly what suits them!

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Loaded Beef Taco Casserole Recipe

5 (21 ratings)

Perfect for a party, potluck, or even a unique dinner, loaded beef taco casserole is a symphony of crunchy, creamy textures and smoky, fresh flavors.

Prep Time
30
minutes
Cook Time
45
minutes
servings
8
servings
Loaded beef taco casserole in baking dish with chips and shredded lettuce
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 + 1 teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • 3 large jalapeños, stems and most seeds removed, sliced into ⅛-inch-thick rounds
  • 2 large poblano peppers
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 (11-ounce) bag round tortilla chips
  • 2 cups finely shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 (12-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 bunch romaine lettuce, finely shredded
  • 1 large avocado, cubed
  • 1 (15-ounce) jar salsa verde

Directions

  1. Combine the vinegar, water, garlic, sugar, and 1 teaspoon sea salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the sliced jalapeños, bring back to a boil, then remove from the heat. Allow the jalapeños to sit in the pickling liquid while you assemble the casserole.
  3. Roast the poblano peppers over a flame on a gas stovetop, or use a grill to blacken and blister the skins on all sides.
  4. Transfer the peppers to a heat-proof bowl and cover tightly with plastic to seal in steam.
  5. Use a sharp knife to scrape off the charred skins and remove the stems and seeds.
  6. Chop the peppers and set aside.
  7. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the ground beef.
  8. Cook the ground beef, breaking it into small pieces, until starting to brown.
  9. Add the onion and chopped poblanos to the beef and cook until softened (about 5 minutes).
  10. Add the chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, pepper, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and pinto beans. Stir to combine.
  11. Add the diced tomatoes with green chilies. Stir to combine and cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
  12. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  13. Oil a 13x9-inch baking dish.
  14. Cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of tortilla chips, overlapping slightly.
  15. Spread half of the beef mixture evenly over the chips.
  16. Top the beef with half of the shredded cheese.
  17. Sprinkle half of the olives over the cheese.
  18. Repeat with more chips, the remaining beef, cheese, and olives, then add the drained pickled jalapeño slices over the top.
  19. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove the pan from the oven.
  20. Transfer the sour cream to a resealable plastic bag, cut off the tip of one corner, and drizzle the sour cream over the top of the casserole.
  21. Garnish with chopped lettuce and avocado.
  22. Finish the loaded beef taco casserole with some of the salsa verde and serve with the remaining chips and salsa.
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