Lots to love about this taco rice casserole! If you’re craving something comforting and filling, this is the recipe to make. It’s like your favorite ground beef tacos served up casserole-style.
It’s made with black beans, ground beef, rice, a creamy cheese sauce, and fresh taco toppings. It’s hearty and full of flavor, especially with some crispy tortilla chips on the side.
This recipe makes a big 9×13″ taco rice casserole, but don’t worry if you’re not feeding a crowd – the leftovers are great. Pop them in the fridge, and you have easy lunches and dinners for later.
What I love best is the cheese sauce upgrade. Instead of using regular shredded cheese on top, we’re making a super simple cheese sauce to drizzle over the top. It’s a small thing that delivers big results.
How to Make It
This is an easy recipe to prep, and once you get the casserole in the oven, you can mix up the easy cheese sauce. Serve it up in bowls with your favorite taco toppings, scoop it up with tortilla chips, or add some warm flour tortillas on the side.
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Taco Rice Casserole
Hearty taco rice casserole with black beans, ground beef, and rice topped with a creamy cheese sauce and all the toppings. Serve it with tortilla chips for a twist on taco night – it’s comforting, filling, and the leftovers are even better the next day.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
For the Casserole
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (20-oz) can enchilada sauce
- 1 (14.5-oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 1 (14-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (see note)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Optional topping ideas: more shredded cheese, chopped lettuce, diced tomato, chopped cilantro
- Preheat the oven to 375°F degrees.
- In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook it until it’s no longer pink. Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir to coat the beef evenly in the spices.
- Add the enchilada sauce, canned tomatoes, rice and beans. Stir and bring the mixture to a simmer. Carefully transfer the beef and rice to a 9×13” baking dish. Cover it with foil and bake the casserole for 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil, stir the mixture, and bake the casserole uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes or until the rice is tender.
- While the casserole finishes baking, make the cheese sauce. Combine the cheese, cream, and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Warm it over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the cheese is melted and you have a creamy sauce.
- Drizzle the cheese sauce over the top of the casserole and bake it for five minutes. Let the casserole stand for five minutes before serving it with the toppings.
Cheese: For the best creamy cheese sauce, shred a block of cheddar cheese. I’ve tried this recipe with bagged shredded cheese, and the sauce ends up with a less creamy texture – it’s more stretchy than creamy. It still tastes good, but I think it’s much better with cheese you shred yourself.
The most important thing for this casserole is to cook it long enough for the rice to cook. Make sure the filling is simmering when you transfer it to the baking dish (step 3). When you remove the foil (step 4), stir the rice mixture well. Before you add the cheese sauce, taste the rice. The rice should be tender at this point – if it isn’t, continue to bake it until it is, and then add the cheese sauce.
Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three to four days. Or, you can freeze the leftovers for up to a month.
- Calories: 542
- Sugar: 11.2g
- Sodium: 1820.8mg
- Fat: 22.6g
- Saturated Fat: 9.5g
- Unsaturated Fat: 10.2g
- Trans Fat: 0.9g
- Carbohydrates: 55.3g
- Fiber: 10.3g
- Protein: 27.3g
- Cholesterol: 75.7mg
Keywords: taco casserole with rice and beans, ground beef taco casserole, cheesy taco rice casserole
The nutrition is an estimate only. It was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.
More Comfort Food
Here are some ideas for switching it up:
- Swap the ground beef for ground turkey if you want something leaner.
- You don’t have to use black beans – pinto beans, white beans, kidney beans… whatever you like!
- If you have taco seasoning on hand, use that in place of the other seasonings. Two to three tablespoons should work well.
- I haven’t tested this recipe with other types of rice, like brown rice, instant rice, or short-grain rice, so I can’t say how they might work. If you try another kind with success, please let me know in the comments!
- For the cheese sauce, use your favorite jarred cheese sauce if you want to make it easier.
- If you want a kick of heat, add diced jalapenos to the beef mixture when you brown it. Or sprinkle diced jalapeno over the top of the casserole when you add the toppings.
- You can use a can of Rotel (or two) for the fire-roasted tomatoes if you want to add some green chile flavor to the casserole.
Bake the casserole long enough so the rice is fully cooked. In my testing, it’s usually ready after 40 to 45 minutes, but every oven is different. First, make the filling is simmering before you transfer it to the baking dish. If it’s not, the casserole will take longer to bake.
Once you remove the foil, stir the rice and beef mixture well and give the rice a taste. The rice needs to be tender at this stage – if it’s not, keep baking the casserole until it is, and then drizzle on the cheese sauce the cheese sauce.
And, speaking of the cheese sauce – it’s super simple! All you need to do is warm the shredded cheese, cream, and cornstarch in a saucepan. Stir until it’s smooth and creamy – it only takes a couple of minutes.
I like to spread the chopped lettuce down the center of the casserole. Scatter the diced tomatoes over the top and sprinkle fresh cilantro over the tomatoes. You can also serve the toppings on the side and let everyone help themselves.
For serving, I like to scoop it into bowls with tortilla chips on the side. You can crush them and sprinkle them over the top or use them to scoop up the casserole. Here are more topping and garnish ideas for serving:
Try this taco rice casserole when you’re in the mood for something hearty and comforting. I hope you enjoy it!
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Post updated from the archives. First published in June 2021.