Give your next spaghetti dinner a twist of fusion and flavor by making this Baked Mexican Spaghetti in your cast iron skillet.
Using pantry staples and your spice rack, this Mexican spaghetti casserole comes together quickly. You might also love our other large skillet meals like these Chicken Spaghetti and Mexican Chicken Sweet Potato recipes to feed your hungry family.
This post has been updated from its original May 2, 2017 publishing with new content, photography, and clarified recipe card.
Why we love this baked Mexican spaghetti
This delicious spaghetti bake with Mexican flavors or what some might call taco spaghetti casserole is generally budget-friendly can be made ahead of time and tossed in the refrigerator overnight to be baked later. And the leftovers are even better.
This almost one pan meal is versatile as it is easy. The possibilities of mix-ins and flavor tweaks are nearly endless.
- Spaghetti — cook one minute less than package directions or just before al dente in a large pot of salted water; drained and set aside.
- Ground beef — we used 85% lean ground beef.
- Crushed tomatoes — this will be the basis of the sauce.
- Produce — yellow or white onion for cooking with the meat. Fresh cilantro and green onions as toppings.
- Herbs and spices — granulated garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Mexican cheese blend — shredded and packaged is easiest.
- Optional Toppings — sour cream and salsa.
Step by step directions:
Step 1 — Preheat the oven to 350° F and begin cooking the pasta. Brown the ground beef and diced onions together over medium heat. If you’re using really lean meat you may need to add a bit of olive oil to prevent scorching and sticking.
Step 2 — Halfway through cooking the meat and onions, drain off any excess renderings. A little is fine. Add the herbs and spices, stirring well to combine and finishing cooking the meat mixture until it is no longer pink.
Step 3 — Drain any remaining excess fat.
Step 4 — Stir in the crushed tomatoes.
Step 5 — Incorporate the cooked spaghetti noodles.
Step 6 — Mix in between a third and a half of the cheese blend. Stir really well.
Step 7 — Add the remaining shredded cheese mixture over the top of the casserole.
Step 8 — Sprinkle chopped fresh cilantro and green onions over the top of the cheese. Cover with the lid or aluminum foil, toss it in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes.
Step 9 — After 20 minutes, uncover and continue to bake for 5-10 more minutes or until the cheese is melted. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with your favorite toppings like sour cream and salsa.
This is an excellent recipe to make while camping.
We suggest that you make the pasta and meat mixture with some of the cheese mixed in. Reserve some of the cheese for topping. Add it all to the camp oven when you’re ready to cook. Top with cheese and cook for 20 minutes.
We love easy recipes with little prep time that can be adapted in so many ways. Here’s a few suggestions.
Meats — swap out the beef for ground chicken, turkey, or even pork. Or you could use a blend of fresh Mexican chorizo and lean ground beef.
Mix-ins — add a can of diced green chiles (or is it green chilies?) or diced peppers, black beans that have been rinsed and drained, corn (frozen or canned), and chopped mushrooms.
Go vegetarian — omit the meat and add 4 cups of minced mushrooms like button, baby bellas (cremini or brown) or portobellos.
Additional toppings — hot sauce instead of salsa, guacamole, additional cilantro, diced onions, and queso fresco (fresh Mexican white crumbly cheese.)
Using higher fat ground beef like 73% renders a lot of grease. We want the meat to be fully seasoned so adding the spices before it’s fully cooked helps infuse the seasonings into the meat. Once the meat is done cooking and drained, some of the seasonings will go with it, so draining before it done helps retain full flavor.
We stop cooking the spaghetti a minute early because it will finish cooking in the oven. If the pasta is fully cooked when it goes into the oven, it may become chewy or slightly mushy by being overcooked.
Mexican cheese blend has standard cheeses you’re used but also has quesadilla cheese which is a little bit harder to find. If you want to make this, make your own blend of cheese using Monterey jack, cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, and mozzarella. Colby can be used as well.
While we love the texture crushed tomatoes give this recipe, you can substitute two undrained cans of petite diced tomatoes and 4-8 ounces of tomato sauce.
Yes you can. Add taco seasoning packet at the same step as all the spices. at the same step as all the spices.
Use your regular frying or sauté pans to make the meat mixture. Boil the spaghetti in a large pot, and then combine everything and cook in your favorite oven proof baking dish
Store leftovers, which will be even better later, in an airtight container for up to 5 days. There may be some liquid that has leeched from the sauce, but once rewarmed, it will be delicious.
Baked Mexican Spaghetti
- 12" Cast Iron Skillet
- 1 lb spaghetti cooked
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ cup onion finely diced
- 2 tsp cumin ground
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp oregano dried
- 1½ tsp granulated garlic
- ¼ tsp salt +/- to taste
- ½ tsp black pepper +/- to taste
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 24 ounces Mexican cheese blend
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 2 scallions chopped
- sour cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook spaghetti noodles one minute less than package directions.
- In a 12" cast iron skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef and onions. Once halfway cooked, drain any renderings.
- Add all the herbs and spices and continue to cook until the meat is done.
- Add tomatoes; stir well then add the cooked spaghetti; mix until spaghetti is well coated.
- Add about half of the cheese, stirring well to mix into the pasta.
- Spread the remaining cheese evenly over the top, sprinkle the green onions and cilantro.
- Cover with lid or loosely with foil. Bake covered for 20 minutes.
- Remove cover and bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve with sour cream and salsa; enjoy.
Outdoor Camp Oven
- Make the complete recipe up to mixing in half the cheese leaving for camp.
- Heat coals in a charcoal chimney.
- Once hot, place 12 coals on bottom (camp table, fire pit, etc).
- Nestle camp oven on top of the coals.
- Add the pre-made pasta to the camp oven, top with remaining cheese, green onions, and cilantro.
- Cover with the camp oven lid.
- Place heated coals over the entire lid.
- Cook for 20 minutes. Check for doneness by using a lid lifter, if not heated through and cheese melted, cook up to an additional 10 minutes.
- When done, remove from coals and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes. Serve with sour cream and salsa; enjoy.
I have everything but the cheese blend, how can I still make this?Mexican cheese blend has standard cheeses you’re used but also has quesadilla cheese which is a little bit harder to find. If you want to make this, make your own blend of cheese using Monterey jack, cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, and mozzarella. Colby can be used as well.
What can I use instead of crushed tomatoes.While we love the texture crushed tomatoes give this recipe, you can substitute two undrained cans of petite diced tomatoes and 4-8 ounces of tomato sauce.
Can I use a taco seasoning packet instead of all the individual herbs and spices?Yes you can. Add taco seasoning packet at the same step as all the spices.
I don’t have a cast iron skillet, how do I make this?Use your regular frying or sauté pans to make the meat mixture. Boil the spaghetti in a large pot, and then combine everything and cook in your favorite oven proof baking dish
Dutch Oven Daddy is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.
More great recipes combining Mexican flavors and pasta
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