This tasty Mexican Lasagna Casserole features a meat sauce made with salsa, layers of soft tortillas, and plenty of melted cheese. It’s your new favorite weeknight dinner!
An Easy Mexican Dinner Idea
I don’t know about you, but sometimes my favorite kind of dinner is the kind where you just spoon the ingredients into a baking dish and slide it into the oven. You know?
I mean, there are other nights where I’m as happy to carve tomatoes into roses as the next girl, but most of the time, I’m busy! And I need a good, healthier dinner that’s going to make the family happy and not take too much prep time.
Enter this magnificent Mexican “lasagna!” I don’t know who first thought of this, but it is genius. It’s all the flavors that I love from the world of tacos and enchiladas, but with very minimal work. Plus, it’s one of those tasty casserole ideas that makes your house smell heavenly and comes out of the oven covered in melted cheese. 😍
I also like that this dish is customizable; you can add anything you like and change up the ingredients to work with what you have on hand. It’s great for anyone with dietary restrictions, because it’s very flexible.
What is Mexican Lasagna?
Okay, so you know how lasagna is typically a tomato sauce (with or without meat), layers of pasta and cheese? Well, a Mexican lasagna takes that idea and gives it a Latin-American twist. Instead of an Italian meat sauce, ground beef is simmered with salsa for a spicy, savory meat sauce that tastes like your favorite nacho base.
Then, instead of using sheets of pasta, the meat sauce is layered with soft corn tortillas, somewhat like the idea of enchiladas, but without rolling each one individually. Finally, layers of scrumptious melted cheddar finish the dish.
I like to up the nutrition value of my Mexican lasagna by adding black beans, sweet corn, bell pepper and onion. It’s a complete meal in a single casserole, and it comes together in a snap!
What You’ll Need
Think of this recipe as the base for your version of Mexican lasagna, and customize it to fit your needs. All right, let’s get cooking!
- Ground Beef: You’ll need two pounds of ground beef. I like to use ground chuck or ground sirloin.
- Olive Oil: For sautéing, use two tablespoons of light olive oil.
- Chili Powder: A tablespoon of chili powder adds great taco-like flavor to the sauce.
- Coriander: This delicious spice is the ground seed of the cilantro plant.
- Salt Pepper
- Cumin: You’ll need half a teaspoon of ground cumin. Along with chili powder, cumin is an essential flavor for Mexican lasagna.
- Black Beans: I like to add a 15-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed, to my meat sauce.
- Onion: Dice up an onion. I used red, but you can substitute any kind of onion.
- Red Bell Pepper: Dice up one red bell pepper, or use a green, yellow or orange bell pepper.
- Corn: Fresh or frozen corn kernels work just fine in this recipe. You’ll need one cup.
- Garlic: I used two garlic cloves, minced.
- Salsa: Have on hand one 15-ounce jar of your favorite salsa.
- Cheese: This recipe uses 4 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.
- Tortillas: I prefer corn tortillas. To layer this lasagna, have on hand twelve 8-inch tortillas.
How To Make Mexican Lasagna
This is a great recipe for involving the kids! Older children can help to dice veggies and cook the sauce (supervised, of course), while younger kids can help layer tortillas and sprinkle cheese. As always, be super careful with hot food, hot pans and sharp knives!
- Prep Oven & Pan: Preheat the oven to 425°F and spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
- Make Sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, chili powder, coriander, salt, pepper and cumin. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the black beans, red onion, red pepper, corn kernels and garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes. Lower the heat and add the salsa. Allow to simmer for 7 minutes.
- Assemble Casserole: Line the prepared baking dish with tortillas, overlapping slightly. Spoon ⅓ of the beef mixture on top of the tortillas, and spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle ⅓ of the shredded cheddar cheese over the beef. Repeat this layering process twice more, ending with cheese.
- Bake: Bake the lasagna for 20-25 minutes, then remove it from the oven. Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.
There are so many awesome ways to change up this recipe! Here are some twists and tweaks you can employ to make it work for your menu.
- Protein: While I use ground beef, feel free to substitute pulled or diced chicken, shredded leftover beef or pork, pressed and crumbled tofu, or just throw in lots of extra veggies and make a meatless version!
- Get Saucy: Want to make this dinner even more special? Try adding other flavors to your sauce. You could use some mole, or some cream cheese, or a bit of chipotle pepper and adobo sauce. Or change it up even more by using an entirely different sauce, like salsa verde or enchilada sauce!
- So Cheesy: While regular cheddar is delicious in this dish, you could swap some of it for a spicy Monterey Jack, or maybe use a Mexican blend. I also think that dollops of fresh queso dip make a great addition.
- Flour Power: If you’re not a fan of corn tortillas, no worries! You can substitute flour tortillas or large slices of lightly sauteed zucchini. Each option has its own texture, so play around and see what works for you!
Tips for Success
Follow these easy and helpful tips to make this Mexican lasagna the best it can be! Happy cooking!
- Thicken the Sauce: If you find that your meat sauce is a little thin, make a slurry. Mix a tablespoon of either flour or cornstarch with a tablespoon of water, stirring well to make the mixture smooth. Then stir your slurry into the pot. Allow the sauce to simmer for a couple minutes to thicken up.
- Fry the Tortillas: When making this dish and others like it, some cooks swear by lightly and quickly frying the tortillas. This is supposed to keep them from becoming soggy. It’s definitely optional, but does add extra flavor and texture.
- Have Fun with Toppings: This is a great recipe to set out toppings with! If you’re not sure what to use, try sour cream, pico de gallo, olives, chopped cilantro and any other taco-friendly toppings that you like.
How To Store & Reheat Leftovers
- To store leftover lasagna, cover it well with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator. Leftover Mexican lasagna will stay good for up to 3 days.
- To reheat it, place the desired portion in a 350°F oven until bubbly and heated through. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave.
Can I Freeze Mexican Lasagna?
- Yes, you can! You can make the entire lasagna, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze it before baking. It will keep for up to three months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before baking.
- Alternatively, you can make a double batch of the filling only, and freeze half for another time. Thaw overnight, and use it to assemble the casserole on the day of cooking. It can be easier to store a ziploc bag of the filling, rather than the whole casserole!
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin
- 1 (15 ounce can) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (15 ounce jar) salsa
- 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 12 8-inch corn tortillas
- Preheat oven to 425°F and grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a skillet set over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and allow to heat up.
- Add the ground beef, chili powder, coriander, salt, pepper, and cumin. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon.
- Add the onion, black beans, red onion, red pepper, corn kernels, and garlic. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Lower the heat and add the salsa. Allow to simmer for 7 minutes.
- Line previously prepared baking dish with tortillas, overlapping slightly.
- Taste the beef mixture for salt and adjust as needed. Then, spoon 1/3 of the beef mixture on top of the tortillas and spread into an even layer.
- Sprinkle 1/3 of the shredded cheddar cheese over the beef.
- Repeat this layering process twice more, ending with cheese.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
- Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
More Casseroles to Try
Can’t get enough of this convenient casserole? I have others, too! Don’t forget to give these yummy recipes a try: