This post may contain affiliate links, please see our privacy policy for details.

Twice Baked Crispy Cheesy Taco Rice Casserole with Cilantro Lime Ranch. Homemade hard-shell tacos seasoned with a chipotle chile spice mix, stuffed into hard shells, topped with cheese, and oven-baked. Once baked, stuff each cheesy taco into a skillet full of green chili rice. Top the dish with cheese, then bake again to create the perfect cheesy skillet-crisp taco and rice casserole. Top with creamy cilantro lime ranch sauce. SO YUMMY!

Twice Baked Crispy Cheesy Taco Rice Casserole |

There’s just something about this back to school, early fall time, and knowing that the holidays are coming up. To me, there’s something so appealing about a casserole in the fall and early winter months. They’re just cozy and comforting.

It’s no secret that my family adores a crispy cheesy taco. So I combined my love for casseroles and our love for tacos into one simple, but so delicious, taco rice bake.

I’m actually a little sad because I created this recipe with Creighton in mind. Since he’s still in Portugal, he hasn’t had a chance to taste this just yet. But I know he will LOVE this dish.

It’s pretty straightforward. I took my go-to crispy taco recipe and I wiggled each cheesy hard shell taco into a skillet of green chile rice.

I then added extra cheese on top and put it into the oven to finish baking.

If you love a cheesy taco, this casserole is for you. I’m so excited to share this recipe, I just know it will become a weeknight staple!

Twice Baked Crispy Cheesy Taco Rice Casserole |

OK, here are the details.

Step 1: make the tacos

This is my go-to taco recipe. I love to use ground beef, but chicken or ground pork work just as well. Cook the meat with an onion then add a couple of big spoonfuls of taco seasoning and simmer the meat.

For my homemade seasoning, I mix chipotle chile powder, chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, and salt.

When the meat has cooked, stuff the meat along with a small amount of cheese into the hard-shell tacos. Then bake until crispy.

Alternatively, instead of using store-bought shells, you can follow my homemade recipe here.

I like to take corn tortillas, stuff them with taco meat and cheese, then oven-bake them until the tortillas are crispy. Then I rub each tortilla with olive oil and flip them halfway through cooking. This is key to getting the tacos extra crispy on both sides.

If you have a couple of extra minutes, I would highly recommend making your own “shells”. They’re very, very good and healthier than store-bought too!

Step 2: make the rice

Now, get cooking on the rice. You can make this in the very same skillet you used for the meat. Just be sure the skillet is oven-safe so that it can go directly from the stove into the oven.

Add a small amount of butter to the skillet, then mix in dry rice and a poblano pepper. Let the rice toast in the butter, then simply add water and salsa verde. Allow the rice to cook while the tacos are in the oven.

Twice Baked Crispy Cheesy Taco Rice Casserole |

Step 3: assemble

When the tacos are ready and the rice is cooked, take the tacos and wiggle them into the rice. Finish the casserole with cheese.

Next, bake the whole pan up in the oven. It’s going to smell so delicious!

Twice Baked Crispy Cheesy Taco Rice Casserole |

Step 4: homemade cilantro ranch

Most tacos are topped with sour cream, but trust me, this cilantro lime ranch is so much better.

I use fresh cilantro and plenty of lime in place of the usual herb mix. I also stir in some pickled jalapeños for a spicy, tangy kick. This is the perfect sauce to dollop onto this cheesy crunchy taco casserole.

3 in 1 dish – saucy, crispy, and spicy.

The perfect game-day style meal, but also really great for a fun dinner with friends or family!

Twice Baked Crispy Cheesy Taco Rice Casserole |

Looking for other easy casseroles? Here are my favorites: 

One Pan Lemon Pepper Yogurt Chicken and Rice

One Skillet Louisiana Style Chicken and Rice

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole

Cheesy Zucchini Chicken and Rice Bake

Slow Cooker Herbed Chicken and Rice Pilaf

Easy Skillet Cheesy Green Chile Enchilada Bake

One Pan Chipotle Honey Chicken and Rice

Lastly, if you make this Twice Baked Crispy Cheesy Taco Rice Casserole, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Twice Baked Crispy Cheesy Taco Rice Casserole

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 472 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.




  • 1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
    2. In a large oven-safe skillet, cook the meat and onion, breaking up the meat as it cooks, until the meat is browned, about 5 minutes. Add the taco seasoning and 3/4 cup water. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly around the meat, 5 minutes. Then remove 3/4 of the meat from the skillet to a plate and set aside.
    3. To the skillet, add the butter, rice, and poblano. Cook until the rice is toasted, then mix in 1 3/4 cups water and the salsa verde. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, line the taco shells up in a baking dish. Divide the meat among each shell and top with half the cheese. Bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted.
    5. Wiggly the baked tacos into the rice in the skillet. Top with the remaining cheese. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.
    6. Meanwhile, make the ranch. Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and shake or stir until creamy. 
    7. Serve the hot casserole topped with cilantro, avocado, and ranch. Enjoy!


For Easy Homemade Hard Shells: Warm 8 corn tortillas for 30 seconds to 1 minute in the microwave, until pliable. On a baking sheet, rub the tortillas with olive oil. Lay each tortilla flat and then layer evenly with cheese and taco meat. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling, gently pushing to adhere (see above photo). Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then flip and cook another 5 minutes more, or until the tortillas are crisp. 
Chipotle Taco Seasoning: Mix 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. 
View Recipe Comments

Add a Comment

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I made this for dinner tonight and it was fantastic! I used ground chicken and had to use jalapenos because I could not find poblanos. Next time I plan to make it as written. Thanks for another great recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe was amazing! My kids loved it and my husband could not get enough of that cilantro lime ranch dressing! I will definitely be making this again. I am never disappointed with anything Half Baked Harvest!!!!!

  3. This was so yummy! Definitely a crowd pleaser! This will now be a regular for us during football season! Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe calls for 8 tacos, my husband ate 6 and I had 2! He said this was for sure a keeper! The only thing I did differently was I substitute the poblano with more of the diced pickled jalapeño, for us it had the perfect spicy level! I had gotten a 4 ounce can of diced jalapeños and set aside what was needed for the sauce and the remaining went into the meat. We used impossible brand ground “beef”. The only complaint was that the tacos didn’t have a bottom, but we were expecting that to happen! The husband ended up making some burritos with the left overs.

  5. 5 stars
    Holy crap! This is my favorite recipe now. Thank you! We made it tonight and it’s going to be a weekly staple. I’m vegetarian so I subbed Impossible meat for ground beef. So good! I can’t wait to make this again.

    1. 5 stars
      Oh yum! Made 2 versions, one as above and one veggie subbed with beyond meat. Easy to split the recipe and cook two versions at the same time.

  6. 5 stars
    I made your taco rice casserole today and it was absolutely delicious. My husband said it tasted better than going out to eat.

  7. I regret not growing Poblanos this year; next year for sure. This dish looks outstanding (well, as outstanding as all your recipes I guess – how do some stand out when they’re 99% awesome??) I adore scallions and have to laugh every time I see so many of your creations FESTOONED with them – that’s what I do. Can’t wait to make this when it gets cold…..thank you for another great recipe!

  8. This looks so amazing! I’m trying it tonight! Thank you for your hard work in putting these incredible recipes together for us! What a fantastic source of inspiration and what a great way to learn. Super grateful.

  9. This looks really good. I can’t wait to try!! Just one question. The estimated calories, I’d that using ground chicken or ground beef?
    Thanks in advance!!

  10. You’re always saying “Cretin asked me to make…” or “This is Cretin’s favorite recipe”. Is he your biggest inspiration for recipes?

  11. Love your recipes, but too many adds. Its getting difficult to scroll and read. They are everywhere! I know this helps you make money, but UX is also very important.

    1. Agreed Milena! Find myself shying away from site bc of ads even though I appreciate the recipes. Hope you find a better balance, Tiegan.