Cheesy Beef Enchilada Stuffed Pasta Shells - the ultimate Mexican inspired pasta dish that is the perfect family meal for any night of the week.
Enchilada Stuffed Pasta Shells
This may just be the best Mexican Inspired dish ever. Ground beef with bell peppers and black beans stuffed into giant pasta shells over a delicious homemade Enchilada sauce. All topped with cheese and then baked until melted and lightly golden, yum!!
If that wasn't perfect enough, once out of the oven I finish off the dish with some fresh chopped tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, cilantro and spring onions. It's a dish you will make again and again.
What is an Enchilada?
Enchiladas are typically a tortilla filled with various choice of fillings and covered with a savoury spicy sauce. Usually a meat protein like chicken or beef is used in the filling along with beans, vegetables or other different combinations.
It's a great dish for a family or big group of people because you can serve the enchiladas in a big dish with a choice of sides and toppings.
One thing I love to do with Mexican style recipes, is combine them with pasta and you will find various dishes like this on Slimming Eats in my Mexican Fakeaways - with options like lasagne, pasta bakes and more.
Is there a replacement for large pasta shells?
Sometimes these can hard to source, although usually always found on Amazon if you struggle to find them at the grocery store. However if you don't like to order things online and have tried to find these with no success there are a couple of other options.
- Manicotta or Cannelloni pasta shells - great for filling
- Lasagne Sheets - parboil until softened and then you cna fill and roll up
Of course you can always use tortillas too if you prefer, the recipe makes 36 pasta shells, so you will probably fill about a 12 tortillas (maybe slightly more or less depending of the size of tortillas you use).
Can I use other ground meat (mince)?
We love beef enchiladas, so I like to use beef in these but there is no reason why you can't use other ground meats like chicken or turkey. This Chicken Enchilada Lasagne uses ground chicken (chicken mince) and it is delicious.
The great thing about some ground chicken and turkey too is that you can find it really love in fat, which is great if you want to reduce the calories a bit more.
If you are vegetarian this may even work with a ground beef vegetarian Substitute (I haven’t tested, but do let me know if you try it).
Homemade Enchilada Sauce
I have a basic enchilada sauce recipe that is my go to for Mexican inspired dishes, its more tomatoey based than a traditional Enchilada sauce because it's what my family prefer. I will often slightly vary it just be using less or more of a particular spice, but typically I use passata (sieved tomatoes), although you can use canned crushed tomatoes too, then some tomato paste (puree). I also like to add a little bit of maple syrup (you can also use sugar or honey or even a granulated sweetener if you prefer) it's a small amount that I feel helps balance all the flavours and spices and then of course there is my choice of spices which is usually - paprika, cumin, cayenne, oregano etc.
If you like to make Mexican dishes like this often, you can easily triple up the recipe for the sauce and freeze some so you have it on hand, it will save some time too, although it's pretty quick to make anyway.
Best Cheese to use for Pasta Dishes
I typically always use a combination of two different cheeses for pasta dishes, it really depends on what I am making.
For Mexican inspired dishes I always think they look more vibrant in colour if you use a yellow/orange cheddar which is the colour cheddar typically is here in North America because it's coloured with annatto and by that I don't mean Processed American cheese, that stuff I do not like at all.
Most cheddar in the UK tends to be white cheddar, so if you want a more vibrant colour for your pasta bake I recommend using a similar flavoured cheese like Red Leicester.
Then the other type of cheese I typically like to pair with the cheddar is Mozzarella as it's a perfect melting cheese.
Be wary of buying those bags of pre-grated cheese, some don't melt great, due to them being coated in a start to prevent it all sticking together in the bag.
Sides for Beef Enchilada Stuffed Pasta Shells
Wondering what sides to pair with this recipe? I went for a big bowl of mixed salad which I served in the middle of the table with the pasta shells, so that everyone could dig in and help themselves.
I also added the tomatoes and jalapeños to the top but those are totally optional, some kids who don't like really spicy foods for example may not like the sight of Jalapeños on the dish. You can also offer various other toppings or sides like:
- Sour Cream
- Avocado or Guacamole or even this Pea Guacamole
- This yummy Mexican Salad
- Refried Beans (you can even find fat free versions).
More Pasta Recipes
Looking for some other pasta recipes? Check out these:
- BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta Bake
- Creamy Cajun Chicken Meatball Pasta
- Baked Feta Pasta with Chicken (TikTok Recipe)
- Creamy Garlic Chicken with Spinach Penne Pasta
- Sloppy Joe Pasta Bake
- Chicken Bacon and Tomato Pasta Bake
- Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells
- Orecchiette with Smoked Turkey Sausage
or if you would like more recipe ideas - head on over to the FULL RECIPE INDEX where you will find over 900 delicious recipes and can search by ingredients, course, diet and more.
All with estimated calories and Slimming Eats and Weight Watchers Smart Points values.
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For the Enchilada Style Tomato Sauce:
- 680ml passata
- 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 cup (240ml) of chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons of paprika (not smoked/hot)
- 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- 1.5 teaspoons of dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon of onion powder
- ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (use more of less depending on your spice level)
- 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of maple syrup or honey
- salt and black pepper to season
For the pasta shells:
- 36 giant pasta shells
- 500g of extra lean ground beef
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 200g of black beans, canned
- 120g of cheddar, cheddar
- 100g of mozzarella, grated or broken into pieces
- 1 Jalapeno, sliced
- 2 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped
- handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
- 2 spring onions, sliced
For the enchilada sauce:
- Add ingredients to a large saucepan, bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover and let it bubble for approx 20 minutes until it reduces down and thickens. Taste sauce and season as need with salt and black pepper.
For the stuffed pasta shells:
- Spray a deep frying pan with spray oil, add the ground beef, onion and garlic and fry until browned.
- Add in the pepper and fry for a further couple of minutes, just to slightly soften the peppers.
- Add in about 300ml of the Enchilada sauce, along with the black beans and mix until all combined and the beef is cooked through, taste the beef mix and season with some salt and black pepper if needed.
- Add the jumbo pasta shells to a saucepan of boiling hot water and simmer until al dente (approx 8-10 mins), Drain and allow to cool, so that you can hold to stuff.
- Preheat oven to 200c, 180c fan, 400f or gas mark 6
- Add the remaining enchilada sauce to a large skillet or oven dish in a even layer (approx 13x13 inches).
- Stuff the pasta shells with the beef mixture and arrange in the skillet/dish on top of the sauce.
- Sprinkle with the grated cheddar and mozzarella.
- Cover and then back for 20 mins, remove cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes until cheese is melted and lightly golden.
- Sprinkle with suggested toppings - diced tomatoes, cilantro, spring onion and jalapenos (these are optional).
- Serve and Enjoy
Please see below for full nutritional info and additional details about recipe:
- Calories - scroll down to nutritional info box
- WW Points and other Slimming or Weight Loss programs - due to plans regularly changing and updating, we recommend calculating with the official tools you get as a member to those plans to ensure accuracy of values.
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Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1 SERVING (6 stuffed shells)
Amount Per Serving Calories 518Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 120mgSodium 696mgCarbohydrates 54gFiber 8gSugar 11gProtein 35g
Nutritional information values, points etc are an estimate and is to be used for informational purposes only. Ingredients can vary greatly from brand to brand and therefore it would be impossible to give accurate information. It is always advised that you calculate by the ingredients you use.