Tex Mex Mac ‘n’ Cheese Recipe

  • When I made this one-pot meal for my family, after just one bite, my 11 year old said it tasted like a combination of macaroni and cheese and a taco. Since those are two of his favorite meals, he proceeded to eat everything in his bowl. Of course, I took this as a huge compliment.  


    Mexican flavors make their way throughout all of the melting cheese and pasta, making each and every bite amazing. Delicious and full of veggies and beef, this is the perfect meal for the fall and winter months. I don’t know a kid or grownup who wouldn’t be over the moon to find this Tex Mex Mac ‘n’ Cheese waiting for them at the dinner table!

    Tex Mex Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

    This one skillet meal is full of comforting veggies, beef, and Mexican flavors.

    Prep Time:
    Servings: 4 to 6


    • dry macaroni pasta: 8 ounces
    • olive oil: for the pasta and pan
    • finely chopped red onion: 1 cup
    • minced garlic: 1 teaspoon
    • finely chopped red or green bell pepper: 1 cup
    • minced jalapeño pepper: 2 tablespoons
    • lean ground beef: 8 ounces
    • ground cumin: 2 teaspoons
    • dried oregano: 2 teaspoons
    • chili powder: 2 teaspoons
    • canned diced tomato in juice: 2 cups (about 20 ounces)
    • finely chopped black olives: ¾ cup
    • grated cheddar cheese: 3 cups, divided
    • finely chopped fresh cilantro: ¼ cup
    • salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper: to taste (optional)


    Step 1: Cook the macaroni in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain the pasta in a colander and then put it back into the pot. Drizzle it with a bit of olive oil, mix, and set aside.

    Step 2: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and adjust a rack to the center.

    Step 3: Coat the bottom of an oven-proof, large sauté pan with olive oil and place it over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and jalapeño pepper. Stirring periodically, cook until the onions are soft, about 7 minutes. (See notes!)

    Step 4: Move the vegetables to one side of the pan and add the meat to the empty side, breaking it into bite-sized pieces. Sauté until it's cooked through, about 5 minutes.

    red pepper-cooked meat-cast iron skillet

    Step 5: Mix in the tomato, olives, cooked macaroni, 2 cups of the cheese, and the cilantro.

    macaroni-meat-green herbs

    Step 6: Season to taste with the salt, pepper, and cayenne for meat if desired. (Here's How to Season to Taste.)

    Step 7: Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese evenly over the top.

    macaroni-meat-green herbs-grated orange cheese

    Step 8: Place the pan in the preheated 375 degree F oven until it's sizzling and the top is becoming golden brown, about 15 minutes. (For a crisper, browner top, you can also place it under the broiler for about 30 seconds.)

    Notes: If you don't have an oven-proof sauté pan, after you've seasoned the dish to taste, pour it into an approximately 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish before moving on to the next step.

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