This easy chicken taco casserole is the perfect weeknight meal. With salsa, green chiles, and fresh peppers and onions, it packs a punch of flavor that is loved by kids and adults alike. Use gluten free pasta for a healthier option!
Yes, that is PASTA you see in my chicken taco casserole recipe. And no, pasta is not paleo.
This particular pasta, though, happens to be gluten free, so it does put it in the "scaleo" category, even if it's not in the "paleo" category.
A few weeks ago, I got an email inviting me to enter a blogger recipe challenge. I thought to myself, "Hey, self, since you are tapering down on like 4 of your 6 jobs, why not bring another thing onto your plate? You don't want to have TOO much downtime to like, relax, or something before you have a baby."
And so, there I was, being mailed a jar of coconut oil and four boxes of gluten free quinoa pasta, and being asked to come up with not one, not two, but three different recipes: appetizer, entree, and baking.
The company behind the competition was TresOmega Nutrition. They make a number of products, to include chia seeds, coconut oil, and gluten free pasta: elbows, fusilli, spaghetti, and penne.
I grabbed the penne and got to work, and chicken taco casserole was born.
We don't eat a lot of pasta in our house, but when we do, we try to make sure it is gluten free. If it's grain free, that's an even bigger win!
Grain free pasta is a bit harder to come by - our go-tos in that category are Jovial cassava flour pasta and these asian sweet potato glass noodles that I buy on Amazon.
For today though, we're going to work with this quinoa pasta.
What goes in chicken taco casserole
Aside from gluten free pasta, you'll need your chicken taco meat. You'll also need some diced up peppers and onions.
The "glue that holds it all together" is in the eggs - but we're not going to use just eggs. We're going to mix those eggs with salsa and a can of green chiles to step it up a notch.
When it bakes, the eggs will hold everything together, and the salsa and green chiles will pack a punch of flavor with it.
In combination with the taco meat, the end result is chicken taco casserole perfection.
Can I use something other than chicken?
Absolutely! One of the things I love about this recipe, and casseroles in general, is the flexibility.
I used ground chicken, but you could sub any other ground meat if you wanted to. Turkey would be the most similar, but you could also use ground pork or ground beef if you wanted to.
You'll need to turn whatever ground meat you choose into taco meat before adding it to the casserole. I have a quick and easy taco meat recipe here - you can add those spices to any ground meat to turn it into taco meat!
What to top chicken taco casserole with
You can serve this casserole without toppings, but I don't recommend it. It will still be flavorful, but the olives, cilantro, extra salsa, and lime (or whatever your Mexican food toppings of choice are) really take it to a whole other level.
I'm a huge fan of avocado, and some chopped up avocado on top of this, with a squeeze of that lime, would be perfect.
A note on dairy
If you can tolerate dairy, you could certainly add sour cream or cheese to your list of toppings.
I've found over the years that most dairy products cause my skin to break out and don't agree well with me in general. For these reasons, I choose to steer clear of them most of the time.
When I make recipes like this one that are super flavorful, I find I never even miss it!
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1 8-oz box TresOmega gluten free penne pasta
- 1 pound ground chicken taco meat
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 4.5 can green chiles
- ½ cup medium salsa
- 1 large lime, zest and juice
- sliced black olives
- fresh cilantro
- slices of lime
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and set aside.
- Heat 1 teaspoon of the coconut oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
- On another burner, bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
- Add the gluten free penne pasta to the boiling water and cook for 10-12 minutes or until tender.
- Add the chicken taco meat to the skillet and brown for 4-5 minutes.
- Add pepper, onion and garlic and saute for 4-5 minutes more, until peppers and onions are beginning to soften.
- Your pasta should be about done by now - remove from heat and drain.
- Remove meat mixture from heat and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the salsa, green chiles, lime zest, and lime juice and stir to combine.
- Add the whisked eggs to the mixture, and stir again, combining well.
- Grease an 8x8 baking dish with the other teaspoon of coconut oil.
- Starting with the taco meat mixture, layer the taco meat and the gluten free penne pasta - meat, pasta, meat, pasta - until none remains. Be sure to make the top layer the meat mixture to keep the pasta from getting dried out!
- Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the center is no longer jiggly and the eggs are cooked through.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. While the casserole cools, prep your toppings.
- Cut casserole into squares and serve, topping with olives, cilantro, salsa, or other toppings of choice!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 4 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 442Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 215mgSodium: 555mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 5gSugar: 16gProtein: 39g