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Weeknight dinners don’t get much easier than this 3-ingredient taco mac and cheese! A box of creamy mac and cheese combines with zesty Rotel tomatoes and green chilies, as well as ground beef or pork sausage. It’s packed with flavor, and it’s ready in less than 30 minutes. Don’t forget some cilantro on top, a side salad, or chips and salsa for dipping!

Close overhead image of a pan of taco mac and cheese

How do you spice up Kraft Dinner?

Kids love tacos, and kids love mac and cheese, so this mash-up of the two is sure to be a hit! For those busy nights when you don’t have the time, energy, or desire to do much cooking, a simple pan of taco mac and cheese will keep the family happy. It’s the perfect way to spice up a box of Kraft Dinner, and there are endless ways to adapt the 3 basic ingredients to suit your preferences.

Whether you swap out the pork sausage (shown here) for ground beef or ground turkey, use Velveeta Shells and Cheese instead of Kraft Deluxe, opt for regular diced tomatoes instead of Rotel, or add spices like taco seasoning, chili powder, or cumin, it’s one of those great meals that lends itself well to various adaptations. Best of all, it’s simple and quick comfort food — perfect for your busiest days!

Overhead shot of ingredients for kraft dinner taco mac and cheese with rotel

What meat goes well with mac and cheese?

I’ve shown bulk pork sausage here, since it adds so much flavor to the simple 3-ingredient dish. Other good options include sliced kielbasa or other smoked sausage, chorizo, ground beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken. Leftover ground beef taco meat from a previous meal is a nice addition, or try about 2 cups of chopped, shredded rotisserie chicken.

Preparing kraft mac and cheese

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a pan of taco mac and cheese. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Box of mac and cheese: we like Kraft Deluxe or Velveeta Shells and Cheese, but any similar variety will work.
  • Meat: I’ve shown ground pork sausage here, but ground beef is also a good option. Use spicy pork sausage if you like it hot, or try seasoned ground beef taco meat for even more flavor.
  • Ro-tel diced tomatoes with green chilies: use a mild variety if you don’t want the dish to be too spicy, or opt for the original or spicy options for extra kick. This ingredient gives the mac and cheese its “taco” flavor. Drain off the liquid from the can before stirring the tomatoes into the dish.
Adding rotel to a pan of sausage

How to Make Taco Mac and Cheese with Rotel

The inspiration for this easy taco mac and cheese came from a similar combination of ingredients found in those classic Crock Pot queso recipes — Velveeta cheese, sausage or ground beef, and a can of Rotel. I figured that we could turn that delicious, crowd-pleasing dip into a simple weeknight dinner with one easy swap: a box of mac and cheese in lieu of the block of Velveeta. Let’s just say, this meal does not disappoint (and you can still enjoy plenty of tortilla chips on the side)!

  1. Prepare the mac and cheese according to the package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, brown the sausage or ground beef in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the meat is no longer pink. Drain off any excess grease.
  3. Stir the tomatoes and green chiles into the meat.
  4. Add the prepared mac and cheese to the skillet with the meat mixture. Stir gently to combine.
  5. Garnish with optional toppings, and serve!
Square overhead shot of a bowl of taco mac and cheese

Toppings

Here are some great ways to garnish your taco mac and cheese, adding even more flavor to the simple dish:

Square overhead shot of a pan of taco mac and cheese

What to Serve with Easy Taco Mac and Cheese

On the side, pair the mac and cheese with a simple green salad, tortilla chips and salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, corn, ranch-style beans, refried beans, seasoned black beans, or corn and black bean salad.

Overhead image of a bowl of taco mac and cheese on a green dinner table

Storage

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. It’s important to note, however, that the quality and texture of the pasta will not be as good if it’s frozen. Pasta has a tendency to become mushy after thawing, and the mac and cheese may have a drier texture as the noodles sit and absorb the sauce.

Close up overhead image of a serving spoon in a skillet of taco mac and cheese

Taco Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Variations

  • Use homemade mac and cheese for this recipe instead of the boxed version.
  • Instead of the Kraft dinner with elbow macaroni shown here, use another variety of mac and cheese that you enjoy. Velveeta Shells and Cheese also works well!
  • Substitute ground turkey, ground chicken, diced ham, or shredded rotisserie chicken for the ground beef or pork sausage. Leftover ground beef taco meat is also great.
  • Add taco seasoning or other spices to the mac and cheese, such as chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, or crushed red pepper flakes.
Horizontal side shot of a bowl of taco mac and cheese

Tips for the Best Kraft Taco Mac and Cheese Recipe

  • We love pork sausage in this dish, because it adds so much flavor to a simple 3-ingredient recipe. You can pick a spicy pork sausage for even more kick, or use your family’s favorite meat instead. Leftover ground beef taco meat from a previous meal also works well!
  • For the best texture, use a box of mac and cheese that comes with a creamy cheese pouch (rather than the powdered cheese version). Any brand or variety will work, so pick your favorite!
  • Garnish each serving with your favorite taco toppings, such as fresh cilantro, sour cream, chopped or sliced jalapenos, sliced olives, salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole or diced avocado, and sliced green onions.
Overhead shot of a pan of taco mac and cheese on a table

More Mac and Cheese Recipes to Try

Square overhead shot of a pan of taco mac and cheese

3-Ingredient Taco Mac and Cheese

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 587 kcal
Weeknight dinners don't get much easier than this 3-ingredient taco mac and cheese, which is ready in less than 30 minutes!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (14 ounce) box mac and cheese (I use Kraft Deluxe or Velveeta Shells and Cheese)
  • 1 lb. ground pork sausage or ground beef (use hot sausage for a spicy flavor)
  • 1 (10 ounce) can Ro-tel diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
  • Optional garnish: fresh cilantro or parsley, sliced avocado, guacamole, sour cream, sliced olives, sliced green onion, chopped tomatoes, pickled red onion

Instructions

  • Prepare the boxed mac and cheese according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, brown the ground beef or sausage in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the meat is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Drain off excess grease. Stir in the tomatoes and green chilies.
  • Add the prepared mac and cheese to the skillet with the beef and tomatoes. Stir to combine.
  • Serve and garnish with optional toppings.

Notes

  • We love pork sausage in this dish, because it adds so much flavor to a simple 3-ingredient recipe. You can pick a spicy pork sausage for even more kick, or use your family’s favorite meat instead. Leftover ground beef taco meat from a previous meal also works well!
  • For the best texture, use a box of mac and cheese that comes with a creamy cheese pouch (rather than the powdered cheese version). Any brand or variety will work, so pick your favorite!
  • Garnish each serving with your favorite taco toppings, such as fresh cilantro, sour cream, chopped or sliced jalapenos, sliced olives, salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole or diced avocado, and sliced green onions.
  • Use creamy homemade mac and cheese for this recipe instead of the boxed version.
  • Substitute ground turkey, ground chicken, diced ham, or shredded rotisserie chicken for the ground beef or pork sausage.
  • Add taco seasoning or other spices to the mac and cheese, such as chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, or crushed red pepper flakes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of the recipeCalories: 587kcalCarbohydrates: 49gProtein: 34gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 842mgPotassium: 663mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 83IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 183mgIron: 5mg
Keyword: taco mac and cheese, taco mac and cheese with rotel, velveeta shells and cheese recipes with ground beef, velveeta shells and cheese with ground beef and rotel
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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