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!
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).
THE MEXICAN SPICE MIX
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.
- 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!).
- Cook the beef, breaking it up as you go.
- Toast the spices with the beef. Good way to bring out flavour in spices plus get better flavour into beef mince / ground beef – FAST.
- Add beans and tomato passata, give it a good mix then bring to a simmer.
- Top with cheese then bake for 15 minutes just to melt the cheese.
- 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: