If you're looking for a tasty and easy recipe to make in your air fryer, you can't go wrong with taco stuffed shells. This recipe takes the classic Italian dish of stuffed shells and adds a Mexican twist, making it perfect for taco lovers. The best part? Cooking the shells in the air fryer gives them a deliciously crispy texture that's hard to beat.
Why use an air fryer for this recipe?
Air fryers have become increasingly popular in recent years, and it's easy to see why. They use hot air to cook food, so you can get that crispy texture you love without all the added oil and fat. When making taco stuffed shells, using an air fryer is especially useful because it helps the shells become crispy on the outside while staying soft on the inside. This recipe can also be made in the oven, but using an air fryer will give you a fantastic crunchy texture.
In addition, air fryers are also very convenient to use. They preheat quickly and cook food faster than traditional ovens, making them a great option for busy weeknights. Plus, they are easy to clean and don't require any oil or grease, which means less mess in the kitchen. So not only will your taco stuffed shells taste delicious, but using an air fryer will also save you time and make clean-up a breeze.
Ingredients you'll need for the taco stuffed shells recipe
To make the taco stuffed shells recipe in an air fryer, you'll need the following ingredients:
- Jumbo pasta shells - 12
- Lean ground beef - 1 pound
- Taco seasoning - 1 package
- Salsa - 1 cup
- Cream cheese - 4 ounces
- Shredded cheddar cheese - 1 cup
- Toppings - chopped tomatoes, cilantro, diced onions, etc.
Aside from the ingredients listed above, you can also add some vegetables to make the taco stuffed shells recipe healthier. You can add diced bell peppers, zucchini, or even spinach to the ground beef mixture. This will not only add more nutrients to the dish but also give it a more vibrant color and texture.
If you don't have an air fryer, you can still make this recipe in the oven. Simply preheat your oven to 375°F and bake the stuffed shells for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. You can also make this recipe ahead of time and freeze it for later. Just assemble the stuffed shells, cover them with foil, and freeze them for up to 3 months. When you're ready to cook them, simply thaw them in the fridge overnight and bake them as directed.
Step-by-step instructions for making the taco stuffed shells recipe
Now that you have your ingredients ready, it's time to get cooking. Here's how to make the taco stuffed shells:
- Preheat your air fryer to 350°F.
- Cook the jumbo pasta shells for around 8-10 minutes, or until they're al dente. Once they're done, drain them and let them cool completely.
- In a large skillet, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat until it's no longer pink. Add the taco seasoning and continue cooking until the beef is fully cooked.
- Add the cream cheese and salsa to the skillet with the beef, and cook until the cream cheese is melted and everything is well combined.
- Fill each pasta shell with the beef mixture and place them in the air fryer basket.
- Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top of the filled shells.
- Air fry the stuffed shells at 350°F for around 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the shells are crispy.
- Garnish with your favorite toppings, such as chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and diced onions, and serve immediately.
These taco stuffed shells are a great option for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. They're also perfect for meal prep, as they can be stored in the fridge or freezer and reheated later. To make them even more flavorful, try adding some diced green chilies or jalapeños to the beef mixture. You can also experiment with different types of cheese, such as pepper jack or queso fresco, for a unique twist on the recipe.
Tips for getting the perfect crunch in your air fryer taco shells
If you want to get the best possible results with your air fryer taco stuffed shells, be sure to follow these tips:
- Cook the pasta shells until they're al dente, or slightly undercooked. This will prevent them from becoming soggy in the air fryer.
- Make sure to let the shells cool completely before adding the filling. This will prevent the filling from becoming too watery when it's cooked.
- Try to distribute the filling evenly between the shells so that each one cooks properly and gets a crispy texture.
- Don't overcrowd the air fryer basket - leave some space between each shell so that they can cook evenly and get crispy all around.
Another important tip to keep in mind is to preheat your air fryer before cooking the taco shells. This will ensure that the shells cook evenly and get crispy all around. Additionally, you can brush the shells with a little bit of oil before air frying them to help them get an extra crispy texture. Finally, be sure to keep an eye on the shells as they cook, as cooking times may vary depending on the size and type of shells you're using.
How to customize the recipe to fit your taste preferences
One of the great things about this recipe is that it's highly customizable. Here are a few ways that you can tweak it to make it your own:
- Swap out the beef for ground turkey or chicken.
- Use a different type of cheese, such as Monterey Jack or pepper jack.
- Add some heat by using hot salsa or adding diced jalapeños to the filling.
- Make it vegetarian by using meatless crumbles or a mixture of black beans and corn instead of the beef.
If you're looking to make this recipe a bit healthier, there are a few changes you can make. Instead of using regular tortillas, try using whole wheat or low-carb tortillas. You can also reduce the amount of cheese used or use a low-fat cheese option.
If you want to add some extra flavor to the dish, consider adding some additional spices to the filling. Cumin, chili powder, and paprika are all great options that can add some depth to the dish. You can also experiment with different types of salsa or even make your own homemade salsa to use in the recipe.
Pairing suggestions: What to serve with your taco stuffed shells
Taco stuffed shells are pretty filling on their own, so you don't need to serve much else alongside them. However, here are a few suggestions:
- A simple green salad with avocado and lime dressing.
- A side of rice and beans to add some extra protein and fiber.
- Roasted vegetables, such as bell peppers and zucchini, to add some color and nutrients to the plate.
If you're looking for a beverage to pair with your taco stuffed shells, consider serving a cold beer or a refreshing margarita. The crispness of the beer or the tanginess of the margarita will complement the bold flavors of the taco stuffed shells.
If you want to add a little bit of heat to your meal, consider serving a side of salsa or hot sauce. This will give your guests the option to add a little bit of extra spice to their taco stuffed shells, if they desire.
Nutritional information and health benefits of this recipe
As with most recipes, the nutritional information for taco stuffed shells will vary depending on the specific ingredients you use. However, here is a rough estimate based on the ingredients listed above:
- Calories: 480
- Protein: 37g
- Fat: 24g
- Carbohydrates: 30g
- Fiber: 2g
- Sugar: 4g
- Sodium: 870mg
While taco stuffed shells may not be the healthiest meal option out there, they do offer some nutritional benefits. The beef provides a good source of protein and iron, while the salsa adds some vitamins and antioxidants. And because this recipe is cooked in an air fryer, it's lower in fat and calories than traditional stuffed shells made in the oven.
Frequently asked questions about making taco stuffed shells in an air fryer
Here are some common questions people have when making taco stuffed shells in an air fryer:
- Do I need to preheat my air fryer?
- Can I use a different type of meat?
- What if I don't have an air fryer?
Yes, it's best to preheat your air fryer before adding the stuffed shells to ensure they cook evenly.
Yes, you can use ground turkey, chicken, or pork instead of beef if you prefer.
You can make this recipe in the oven instead. Simply preheat your oven to 375°F and bake the stuffed shells for around 20-25 minutes, or until they're heated through and the cheese is melted.
Variations on the recipe: Vegetarian and gluten-free options
If you're looking for a vegetarian or gluten-free version of this recipe, here are a few ideas:
- For a vegetarian version, use meatless crumbles or a mixture of black beans and corn instead of the beef.
- To make it gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta shells and make sure that the taco seasoning you're using doesn't contain any gluten.
Making the most of your air fryer: Other recipes to try out
If you're loving your air fryer and want to try out more recipes, here are a few ideas:
- Chicken wings
- Sweet potato fries
- Fish tacos
- Vegetable skewers
- Stuffed mushrooms
Cooking with an air fryer: Pros and cons compared to other cooking methods
Ultimately, whether or not an air fryer is right for you will depend on your personal preference and cooking style. Here are a few pros and cons to consider:
- Uses less oil than traditional frying methods, making it a healthier option.
- Cooks food quickly and evenly.
- Can be used to crisp up a variety of dishes, from veggies to meat to desserts.
- Can be expensive to purchase, depending on the model you choose.
- Not all foods are suitable for air frying - some may get too dry or not cook properly.
- May not be the best option for large families or meals, depending on the size of the air fryer.
Ultimately, our taco stuffed shells recipe is a delicious and easy meal to make in your air fryer. Whether you're a seasoned air fryer user or new to the machine, this recipe is sure to please your taste buds. So give it a try and see for yourself just how tasty and crispy air fryer taco stuffed shells can be!