When my husband first mentioned that he wanted something similar to Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper, I was stumped. This Crunchy Beef Taco Casserole is apparently not the same, but it ended up fitting the bill!
I scoured the internet and came up with two that sounded good and was surprised he chose the more simple version. But, I’m glad he did! I like to give credit to the recipes I change up so check out the original here on Food.com.
We decided to change 4 or 5 things about this recipe to serve our preferences and needs and it came out beyond amazing! We used a lot of reduced-sodium ingredients and it was so good it was gone in about two days (there’s only two of us so that’s fast!).
I couldn’t figure out a name for this dish that was both clever and described it in a way that people would find it in a search so pardon the overly simple “Crunchy Beef Taco Casserole” moniker.
Enough of making you read my story and let’s get to the recipe.
Ingredients for Crunchy Beef Taco Casserole
- 2 pounds of lean beef (we used the 2.25-pound packages from Walmart)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4-5 cloves of garlic or minced equivalent (about a heaping tablespoon)
- 1 green bell pepper
- Pinch of seasoning salt (easily left out)
- 2 pinches of black pepper
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes (the chili pepper stuff you put on pizza)
- 1 8-ounce (215 ml) taco sauce (we used Ortega)
- 2 4-ounce cans diced green chilies (or the equivalent)
- 2 4-ounce cans of sliced black olives (a third can is fine if you really like olives)
- 1 package of low sodium taco seasoning (we use Old El Paso)
- 4 cups of shredded triple cheddar cheese (divided into 2/2 we just bought two 2 cup packages)
- 1 bag of tortilla chips
- 1 large firm tomato
- Sour cream for garnish
- Shredded lettuce for garnish
Instructions for Crunchy Beef Taco Casserole
- Set oven to 350 degrees (F)
- Start the chopped onions cooking in the pan. Add the bell peppers and garlic.
- Add the beef and the chili pepper flakes, black pepper, and seasoning salt.
- Cook until the beef is browned.
- Stir in the water, taco sauce, green chilies, both cans of the olives (if you got a third can keep that separate), and the taco seasoning.
- Cook over low medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
- Spray the bottom of a 13×9 glass dish with cooking spray
- Line the pan with crushed chips (don’t pulverize them. Think like the tiny pieces you get at the bottom of the bag)
- Layer half of the meat mixture over the chips.
- Layer 2 cups of the cheese evenly over the meat mixture.
- Repeat the above steps (Crushed chips then meat then cheese).
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes (we just did 20. If you do 25 you might want to wait to put the cheese on the last 10-15 minutes)
- Once removed from the oven, sprinkle more crushed chips, the chopped tomato, and the third can of olives if you chose to get those.
- Garnish with sour cream and lettuce.