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Instant Pot Taco Casserole – With Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Options

When you need a quick, kid-friendly, weeknight meal, Instant Pot Taco Casserole is just the answer. Seasoned ground beef, pasta and salsa all cooked together in one pot and then topped with shredded Cheddar cheese.

It is a great meal to feed the family and it requires only 5 minutes of actual cooking time. Even with sautéing the veggies, browning the ground beef and waiting for the pot to come to pressure, dinner will still be on the table in under 25 minutes!

Now that is something we could all use on a busy weeknight! The actual hands on time required to make this delicious dinner recipe is under 10 minutes.

instant pot taco casserole
Taco casserole made in the Instant Pot – Ready to eat in under 25 minutes.

Then walk away and wait for the pressure cooker to work its magic! And in less than 15 minutes, dinner will be ready!

Even the novice Instant Pot user can master this recipe! I have made this recipe in both the 6 quart Instant Pot and 8 quart Instant Pot.

And each time the results have been fabulous! Just be sure to follow the recipe instructions completely and you will have a fantastic, easy to make dinner ready to be enjoyed by all!

Gluten-Free Option

Even though this recipe calls for standard pasta shells, you can easily make this recipe gluten-free. Gluten-free pasta cooks up perfectly in this recipe.

When I adapt this recipe to make it gluten-free I prefer to use Banza pasta. It is made from chickpeas and has less carbs and more protein than traditional pasta.

The key to cooking pasta in the Instant Pot, including gluten-free pasta, is to cook it on high pressure for half of the time that is listed on the back of the box.

For instance, if the instructions for boiling pasta says to boil for 9 minutes for al’dente consistency, you will divide that number in half which gives you a cook time of 4.5 minutes.

However, because pressure cookers are designed to be cooked for whole minutes, you will need to round that cook time number down. Therefore, for this example you would cook the pasta for 4 minutes.

ground beef in instant pot
One of the things that I like most about using an Instant Pot that the entire meal is made in one pot!

Although, if the instructions give you a range of cook time, such as 8-10 minutes, divide the lower number. In this case, divide 8 in half to give you the cook time of 4 minutes.

And as for the other ingredients, most of them are naturally gluten-free. Just be sure to check the brand of salsa that you are using.

In general, most salsas are gluten-free. However, be sure that they are labeled gluten-free just in case they have included any additives.

Dairy-Free Option

Before serving the Instant Pot Taco Casserole, shredded Cheddar cheese is mixed with the ground beef, noodles and salsa.

Therefore, if you are wanting to keep this a dairy-free option, you will want to use a plant-based cheese substitute. Luckily, vegan cheese has come a long way in terms of their taste and the ability to melt.

However, I have found it better to grate a block of plant-based cheese rather than purchasing a bag of pre-shredded cheese. Just like with milk based shredded cheese, there is an anti-caking agent applied to shredded cheese so that it doesn’t clump together while it is in the package.

Instead, use a food processor with a grating blade or a hand or box grater and shred the cheese right before adding it to this recipe.

Now that you know how to adapt this recipe to meet your specific needs, let’s get to the actual recipe!

pasta and salsa
The key to this recipe is not to stir the the mixture once the salsa and noodles have been added.

Instant Pot Taco Casserole Recipe

*Specific measurements and complete recipe instructions are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to continue to read the tips and tricks to making this recipe below.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons taco seasoning (1 packet)
  • 16 oz jar salsa
  • 2 cups chicken broth, low sodium
  • 8 oz small shell pasta, use gluten-free if desired
  • 2 cups shredded cheese, taco blend or dairy-free cheddar

INSTRUCTIONS

Turn a 6 quart of 8 quart Instant Pot to sauté mode. Once the display reads HOT, add the extra virgin olive oil and diced onions and peppers.

Sauté for 3-4 minutes or until the onions start to become translucent. Then add the ground beef and break it up as it cooks.

Continue to cook until the meat is no longer pink. Turn the Instant Pot off or press Cancel.

You can decide if you want to drain the meat or not. If you use a lean beef mixture, you may not need to drain the grease.

However, if you use a 80/20 mixture you may want to drain the mixture prior to proceeding with the rest of the recipe. Return the meat to the pot and stir in the taco seasoning and chicken broth.

cooked taco casserole
Once you remove the lid of the Instant Pot you will notice that there is a lot of liquid. No worries! Stir and add cheese and the mixture will thicken.

The Most Important Step

Now comes the most critical step in the recipe. Pour the salsa in the center of the pot, but DO NOT STIR.

Then add the pasta on top and again, DO NOT STIR. By leaving the salsa and pasta towards the top of the mixture it will prevent the tomatoes and pasta from sinking to the bottom of the pot.

This in turn will prevent the dreaded BURN notice. However, in order for the pasta to cook completely, be sure to press the pasta down in the liquid so the noodles are submerged.

Cook Time

Now place the lid on the Instant Pot in the locked and sealed position. Press Pressure Cook or Manual and set on High Pressure for 5 minutes.

As with all pressure cooker recipes, it will take additional time for the pot to come to pressure before the actual cook time begins. For my 6 quart Instant Pot, it took 10 minutes for the pot to come to pressure.

Once the cook time expires perform a slow quick release of the pressure. You will want to slowly release the pressure to prevent any splattering out of the valve.

Once the pin drops, carefully remove the lid and stir. At this point, the mixture will still have a lot of liquid present. Don’t worry!

After you stir, top the taco casserole with the shredded Cheddar cheese place the Instant Pot lid back on. However, this time, leave the valve at the venting position.

adding cheese to taco casserole to thicken
Add the shredded cheese, stir and thicken. And within just a few minutes, dinner is ready!

You are simply waiting for the cheese to melt, and the mixture to thicken. It should take about 2-3 minutes.

Ready To Serve

Then remove the lid and stir. You can serve the taco casserole immediately, or wait until more of the liquid evaporates while the lid remains off.

Serve with additional toppings as desired. Suggest toppings: diced green onions, diced jalapeños, guacamole, cilantro, sour cream.

And one last suggestion – if you are trying to sneak some additional veggies into your picky eaters meal, shred some carrots or peeled and diced zucchini to the mixture. They won’t even know that they are there!

And if you are looking for a low-carb, Keto Taco Casserole check out our RECIPE HERE.

Enjoy! Mary

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Instant Pot Taco Casserole

instant pot taco caserole

A quick and easy weeknight meal. Comfort food everyone will love and includes gluten-free and dairy-free options.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Inactive Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 16 oz jar salsa
  • 2 cups chicken broth, low sodium
  • 8 oz small shell pasta, use gluten-free if desired
  • 2 cups shredded cheese, taco blend or dairy-free cheddar

Instructions

  1. Turn Instant Pot to sauté. This recipe has been made in both the 6-quart and 8-quart Instant Pot.
  2. Once the display reads HOT, add the olive oil and onions and peppers. Sauté for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the ground beef and cook until browned.
  4. Turn the Instant Pot Off/Cancel and stir in taco seasoning and broth.
  5. Pour the salsa in the center of the pot. Do not stir
  6. Add pasta to the top, do not stir. Be sure to press the pasta down into the liquid so that they are submerged.
  7. Place the cover on the pot in the locked and sealed position. Pressure cook/manual on high for 5 minutes.
  8. Once the time expires perform a slow quick release to prevent splattering. Once the valve drops, remove the lid and stir.
  9. Top the mixture with cheese and place the lid on in the venting position for 2-3 minutes so the cheese can melt.
  10. Stir and serve with additional toppings as desired.

Notes

Suggested toppings: sour cream, diced green onions, cilantro, guacamole.

Recipes provided by Make Your Meals

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1 grams

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 514Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 1308mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 38g

Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.

M Merrill

Wednesday 16th of January 2019

I made this tonight and it's delicious! I'm so excited to learn about Banza pasta from your article. This is going to be a regular meal at my house!

makeyourmeals

Thursday 24th of January 2019

So glad that you liked it! Banza pasta is the best gluten free past that I have had.

Michael Bevell

Wednesday 8th of August 2018

You say to make sure the pasta is not on the bottom how do you make sure it's not. Thanks

makeyourmeals

Wednesday 8th of August 2018

As long as you put it in above the ground beef you should be good. Just do not stir it so that it sinks to the bottom.

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