Why you’ll love this recipe
- 39 grams of protein per serving!
- Takes two classics and serves them in one easy and quick dish ready in a flash.
- Homemade seasoning can go with just about anything.
- Even picky kids will be reaching for more.
- Easily customize your heat level with mild to hot salsa.
Family dinner just got a lot more exciting with taco mac and cheese. Homemade seasoning and a made from scratch cheese sauce creates a high protein dish richly flavorful and insanely good.
The cheese sauce
Homemade cheese sauce is always a good idea. Making it healthy and high protein is an even better idea. How do I make the taco mac and cheese deceivingly healthy? With my secret ingredient, cottage cheese. No one will know it’s in there, they will only know they can’t put the fork down.
To make this sauce high protein and creamy we use 8 oz. of low fat cottage cheese combined with salsa. So simple, so effective. Blend the cottage cheese with an immersion blender, food processor or a small blender prior to adding the salsa. Get it as smooth as possible, then add your salsa, milk, and flour and you are left with a creamy cheese sauce ready to be added to the taco mac and cheese.
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How to make this gluten and dairy free
This taco mac and cheese is full of dairy so making it dairy free may be a bit tricky. This recipe uses cottage cheese, milk and two different types of cheese. You can try with dairy free alternatives. I am using Banza Chickpea Pasta Elbows to add protein to this dish which are also gluten free.
Ingredients and Substitutes:
These are the main ingredients and substitutions. See recipe card below for full ingredients list and instructions for this Taco Mac and Cheese.
Ground Beef: this recipe uses lean 96/4 ground beef. You can use any percent beef or substitute with ground chicken or turkey. I do suggest sticking with ground meats.
Bell Pepper: this recipe uses one red bell pepper chopped into small chunks. You can use red, green, orange or yellow.
Homemade Taco Seasoning: I use the same homemade taco seasoning in all of my taco flavored recipes. With a combination of cumin, paprika and chili powder it is tested and loved time and time again. Use it on anything!
Salsa: I definitely suggest using the fresh salsa found in the refrigerated sections. They’re low calorie, fresh, and flavorful. I like used the Signature Select Roasted Taqueria Style in Medium. This is where you adjust your heat level. Use mild to hot salsa!
Elbow Noodles: you can use any elbow noodles. This recipe uses 8 oz. Banza Chickpea Pasta Elbow which has added protein and is gluten free. Swap with your favorite just note the nutrition facts will change.
Milk: the sauce has 1/4 cup of whole milk. You can use nonfat, 2% coconut or almond. The nutrition facts will change but not by a huge amount as it is such a small amount used.
Flour: to get the sauce to thicken I added 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour. You can use gluten free flour or even Kodiak protein flour.
Cheddar Cheese: you will need 1/2 cup of mild cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar for the cheese sauce. You can use all mild or a combination of others.
How to make this Taco Mac and Cheese:
Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package instructions.
While the noodles cook start browning your meat in a pan over medium breaking down into bite size pieces as you cook it.
While the meat browns combine all taco seasonings in a small bowl with water. Once browned add the taco seasoning to the meat and reduce to a simmer. Add the chopped bell peppers and let simmer for 5 minutes stirring often.
Using a immersion blender, food processor or small blender, blend the cottage cheese so that it is completely smooth. Once smooth add the salsa, milk and flour and mix together well to combine.
Add the cottage cheese sauce, mild cheddar and sharp cheddar cheese to the pan with the meat mixture. Mix together to completely melt the cheese and evenly combine.
Drain the noodles from the water and add to the pot with the meat and cheese mixture. Mix together well. Top with chopped cilantro and enjoy!
What to serve with this recipe?
This taco mac and cheese is great as a standalone meal but you could also serve with a side salad or roasted vegetables. To beef it up you could even serve it over cauliflower rice to add volume.
What is a serving size for this macaroni?
Serving size is approximately 240 grams or 1 heaping cup per serving. The recipe makes 6 servings.
Nutrition facts are an estimate. As always, for the most accurate measurement per serving weigh your final dish (minus the pan!) and divide by the serving amount.
If you like this recipe be sure to check out some of our other easy recipes!
- Cracked Out Tater Tot Casserole
- Big Mac Casserole
- Black Bean Chicken Chili
- Instant Pot Chicken Stroganoff
Taco Mac and Cheese
📱 MyFitnessPal & MacrosFirst App Users
You can find this recipe and many others on MyFitnessPal and MacrosFirst by searching: Ohsnapmacros – Taco Mac and Cheese
- 1 lbs. lean ground beef 96/4
- Taco Seasoning
- 8 oz. Banza Chickpea Pasta Elbows weighed uncooked
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped 113g
- 8 oz. low fat cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup medium spice salsa
- 1/4 cup whole milk sub 2%
- 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese 56g
- 1/2 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese 56g
- 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 1.5 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 cup water
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package instructions.
- While the noodles cook start browning your meat in a pan over medium breaking down into bite size pieces as you cook it.
- While the meat browns combine all taco seasonings in a small bowl with water. Once browned add the taco seasoning to the meat and reduce to a simmer. Add the chopped bell peppers and let simmer for 5 minutes stirring often.
- Using a immersion blender, food processor or small blender, blend the cottage cheese so that it is completely smooth. Once smooth add the salsa, milk and flour and mix together well to combine.
- Add the cottage cheese sauce, mild cheddar and sharp cheddar cheese to the pan with the meat mixture. Mix together to completely melt the cheese and evenly combine.
- Drain the noodles from the water and add to the pot with the meat and cheese mixture. Mix together well. Top with chopped cilantro and enjoy!