Serve this easy weeknight dinner, a Taco Casserole with Fritos (Pedros Special)–a Mexican casserole with Fritos baked with beans and ground beef; served with favorite taco toppings!  This is such a simple recipe, and a classic from the 1970’s! It’s a crunchy, cheesy ground beef taco casserole, made with kidney beans. This Taco Bake was a weeknight casserole when I was a kid, and we always asked  for seconds!

Pedro's Special Mexican Casserole

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Our Pedro’s Special Mexican Casserole, otherwise known as Taco Casserole with Fritos, is one of the easiest weeknight dinners to put in the oven. Maybe your mama made it growing up like my mama made it :) I’m not sure where the name came from, but Pedro Special was on our menu rotation.

Taco Casserole with Fritos (Pedro’s Special)

I’ve heard this recipe came from The I Hate To Cook Book, by Peg Bracken, readers have told me. But as a kid in the 70’s I can see why my mom would make this, because it had simple ingredients. We didn’t have avocados or even enchilada sauce back then, so “”this was a classic”tomato paste” it was, to make this easy taco casserole. Today some people use rotel, cream cheese, enchiladas sauce, and even refried beans. You can totally swap the ingredients, and even cook in the the slow cooker.

taco casserole with toppings

Why we love this recipe

  •  It’s an easy and delicious one pan meal that everyone loves.
  • Think of your favorite taco toppings, and serve them with this taco bake.
  • Use this recipe as a dip, on a Chips and Dips big board!

Pedro's Special Mexican Casserole

Gather these ingredients

  • Meat: we use ground beef, but you can use ground turkey or chicken, too.
  • Olive oil
  • Sweet onion
  • Jalapenos
  • Tomato paste + water
  • Taco seasoning
  • Salt & pepper
  • Beans: we use kidney beans, but it’s also delicious with black beans, or pinto beans, or a mix.
  • Cheese: Mexican is the best!
  • Frito corn chips: we  buy Frito Lay Corn Chips, but we also love Trader Joe’s version.

Toppings:

  • Iceberg lettuce, finely chopped
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes
  • Olives: black, sliced
  • Sour cream
  • Avocados
  • Green onions
  • White onions 
  • Salsa + hot sauce
  • More Frito corn chips

How do you make a Taco Casserole with Fritos?

  1. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Saute the chopped onion and then add jalapenos (optional) if you want a “kick”.
  2. Add the ground beef. Cook until well done; drain off any fat.
  3. Add to the meat mixture the tomato paste, water, taco seasoning, and salt and pepper (season to taste).
  4. Place in a prepared (sprayed) large baking dish; add the cheese on top. Sprinkle with Frito corn chips.
  5. Bake until hot, and cheese is bubbly.
  6. Serve immediately with fresh ingredients: Finely chopped lettuce, tomatoes, olives, sour cream, avocados, and green onions or your favorite toppings.

Pedro's Special Mexican Casserole

Tips and substitutions:

  • Easy to double the recipe for a large gathering.
  • Optional to bake in the oven or add ingredients to a slow cooker (cook on low for 4 hours).
  • Add cream cheese for a creamier, cheesy mixture.
  • Swap out the groung beef for ground turkey or ground chicken.
  • Add several types of cheese: Mexican and Cotija.
  • Replace the tomato paste with enchilada sauce or Rotel.
  • Instead of iceberg lettuce, you can use a variety of (chopped) greens.

What I love about this dish is that you can bake the meat mixture, and while that is baking, get the toppings ready!

How do you serve a taco bake?

Everyone dishes up their own bowl, adds their toppings, and it’s super easy–and delish!

Thanks Mom, for my favorite dish in the 70s!

Pedro's Special Mexican Casserole

Serving tips

  • Plan something easy to serve your guests. Set out the ingredients, and let everyone dish up.
  • Don’t feel like you have to set the table (just make sure it’s cleaned off); simply pull up the chairs, and just be casual!
  • There’s a time and place for casual, and a Friday night just may be the night when you serve this dish!

Enjoy!

More Mexican casseroles:

Pedro's Special Mexican Casserole
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Taco Casserole with Fritos (Pedro’s Special)

An easy dinner, serve a Taco Casserole with Fritos (Pedro's Special)–a Mexican casserole baked with corn chips; served with taco toppings! 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 8
Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Ingredients
 

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1-2 jalapenos, finely diced (optional, for a “kick”)
  • 2 cans tomato paste, + 2 cans water
  • 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 15 oz Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups Mexican cheese or sharp cheddar
  • 2 cups Frito chips

Toppings:

  • Iceberg lettuce, finely chopped
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes
  • Olive, sour cream, avocados, green onions

Instructions
 

  • In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Saute the chopped onion for 4-5 minutes; add jalapenos (optional) if you want a “kick”.  Add the ground beef. Cook until well done; drain off any fat.
  • Add to the meat mixture the tomato paste, water, taco seasoning, and salt and pepper (season to taste).
  • Place in a prepared (sprayed) large baking dish; add the cheese on top. Sprinkle with Frito chips.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, until hot, and cheese is bubbly.
  • Serve immediately with fresh ingredients: Finely chopped lettuce, tomatoes, olives, sour cream, avocados, and green onions.

Notes

Reposted from April 2017.
Optional to add enchilada sauce, Rotel, or cream cheese.
Cuisine: Mexican
Course: Main Course
Calories: 560kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 29g, Fat: 39g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 15g, Trans Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 107mg, Sodium: 1082mg, Potassium: 818mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 1226IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 256mg, Iron: 4mg
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taco casserole with fritos on top