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Cheesy Mexican beef and bean bake

30 Mins Cook
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NomNom Recipes 18

This Mexican Beef and Beans is a bubbly casserole that looks like baked chili con carne with lots of melted cheese — but it’s quicker to make. Consider it your ultimate all-purpose Mexican beef – perfect for tacos, homemade burritos, nacho-dipped – like nachos!

NomNom Recipes 19
Cheesy Mexican beef and bean bake – NomNomWow

Cheesy Mexican beef and bean bake

I can’t remember how this Mexican beef and bean dish came about. All I know is that when it came out of the oven bubbling and melting and cheesy, I immediately wanted to get in there but hesitated and didn’t know how to do it. So many options!

Do you like chili with warm tortillas on the side for dipping? ?
Or with nachos, deconstructed nachos style?

Making stuffed tortilla pillows? ? I realized it was actually just a burrito. Light Bulb Moment DIY Burrito!
Add a stack of warm tortillas, sour cream + guacamole or a quick guacamole dip. Everyone does it themselves!

Tacos all inclusive? So already juicy and cheesy, like a good old classic ground beef tortilla filling + tortilla sauce + cheese all rolled into one. Efficiency, for victory!
Then came another lightbulb moment. It’s like the ultimate all-purpose Mexican beef empanadas! ! When I came to this conclusion, my level of excitement was almost a bit shocking. Good food has such a habit for me.

What you need for Mexican beef and beans

Here’s what you need to make this Mexican beef and bean bake:

This is a casual, rustic dish – which means, lots of flexibility. I’m not so relaxed with substitutions for some recipes, so take it when you can! 

  • Ground beef / beef mince – Or chicken, turkey or pork. Any of these would work. (Even lamb actually).
  • Red onion – Or ordinary brown / yellow onions.
  • Green capsicum (bell pepper) – Or other colour capsicum, or other sauté-able vegetables like diced zucchini/courgette, carrot, green beans (chopped), corn. Even a cup of diced mixed frozen vegetables would work here!
  • Red kidney beans – Or black beans (on theme with Mexican food), or any other beans of choice. Or, more vegetables.
  • Tomato passata – This is pureed, strained tomato that is smooth, rather than lump like canned tomato. Substituted with crushed canned tomato, or what’s called tomato sauce or tomato puree in the US (eg Hunts).
  • Pickled jalapeno – Adds a sprinkle of spiciness plus tang because it’s pickled which is nice in this beefy dish. Canned chopped green chillies would be an excellent sub here (but this is a US thing, hoping it becomes a staple here in Australia one of these days!).
  • Garlic – Can’t be flexible here! 
  • Cheese – Definitely not flexible here! Well, not flexible about the inclusion of some form of melting cheese. I’ve opted for Colby – adds flavour, melts well, gets a nice bit of golden colour on the surface, not too greasy. Feel free to use any of choice. If you use mozzarella, I’d suggest adding a sprinkling of parmesan on top (because mozzarella, while it melts beautifully, doesn’t have a much flavour).


And here’s what you need for the homemade Mexican spice mix. Some Mexican recipes I share have a longer list of spices. For me, this is about the minimum you can go without the flavour missing something. All staple spices! (You can substitute smoked paprika with plain).

How to make Cheesy Mexican beef and beans

It’s like chili cone carne – but faster to make because by finishing it off in the oven with a generous sprinkling of cheese, we can skip the stove simmer.

  1. Sauté the onion, garlic and capsicum first. Use an ovenproof skillet. Pictured is my much-loved 26cm / 10.5″Lodge cast iron skillet (my essential kitchenware list is here!).
  2. Cook the beef, breaking it up as you go.
  3. Toast the spices with the beef. Good way to bring out flavour in spices plus get better flavour into beef mince / ground beef – FAST. 
  4. Add beans and tomato passata, give it a good mix then bring to a simmer.
  5. Top with cheese then bake for 15 minutes just to melt the cheese.
  6. Remove from oven and start the agonising process of deciding how to serve it! Tacos? Corn chip dunking? Burrito stuffing? ENCHILADAS? Nachos??

Sides / toppings

Pictured in post for serving in all the above listed forms are:

  • Guacamole, and sometimes avocado sauce (essentially a smooth, faster version of guac)
  • Pico de gallo (fresh tomato salsa). Also this pureed tomato salsa would be great.
  • Sour cream (sub yogurt)
  • Fresh coriander/cilantro
  • Tortillas – small ones and larger enchilada size ones (for making small burritos).
  • Corn chips – for dunking

Other excellent options includes:

Cheesy Mexican beef and bean bake

Cheesy Mexican beef and bean bake

This Mexican Beef and Beans is a bubbly casserole that looks like baked chili con carne with lots of melted cheese — but it's quicker to make. Consider it your ultimate all-purpose Mexican beef - perfect for tacos, homemade burritos, nacho-dipped - like nachos!
prep time
15 mins
cooking time
30 Mins
total time
45 Mins



  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 red onion , finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves , finely minced

  • 1 green capsicum / bell pepper , cut into 1cm / 1/2″ cubes (or other colour)

  • 500g/ 1 lb beef mince (ground beef) (Note 1)

  • 400g/ 14oz can red kidney beans or black beans , drained (or other beans)

  • 1 cup tomato passata (Note 2)

  • 1/3 cup pickled sliced jalapeño (Note 3)

  • 1 1/2 cups Colby cheese , shredded (or other cheese, Note 4)


  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin powder

  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (sub normal paprika)

  • 1 tsp garlic powder (sub onion powder)

  • 1 tsp onion powder (sub garlic powder)

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (sub black pepper)

  • 1 tsp cooking/kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (fan 180°C).
Saute – Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (or other heatproof skillet). Sauté the onion, garlic and bell pepper for 3 minutes.
Boil Beef and Spices – Add beef and cook, shredding as it cooks, until no raw meat is visible. Add the spices and cook for 1 minute.
Beans and tomatoes - add kidney beans and passata. Stir, then bring to a boil.
Cheese! Sprinkle jalapenos over the surface and top with cheese.
Bake 15 minutes (uncovered), then remove from oven.
Serve! Ladle into bowls and serve with cornflakes or tortillas and your favorite Mexican toppings (guacamole or guacamole, pico de gallo or restaurant-style salsa, fresh cilantro/cilantro, sour cream). Dip like nachos and make your own burrito or taco!


Servings – This will serve 5 to 6 people depending on how you serve it. As a burrito or taco stuffing, it will easily serve 6 if not 7 people, once you factor in the toppings. If served with corn chips for dunking, it will probably serve 5 (because corn chips is less bulk than tortillas). Meat – Recipe will work great with chicken, turkey or pork. Actually,even lamb! Passata – this is a thick smooth tomato puree, see here for more information. Substitute with crushed tomato or what’s called “tomato sauce” or “tomato puree” in the US (eg. Hunts). Pickled jalapeno is terrific here for something a little tangy and a bit of spiciness. Feel free to omit. Cheese – any good melting cheese can be used here, except if using mozzarella I’d add a handful of parmesan on top because mozzarella, while an excellent melting cheese, doesn’t actually have that much flavour (this recipe relies on cheese for extra flavour boost for a quick recipe). Leftovers will keep for 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. Nutrition per serving, assuming 6 servings, beef and bean only (ie not toppings).
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