This easy Keto Taco Casserole recipe has only 5 ingredients and a 5 minute prep time. It is a lifesaver on busy weeknights. Ground meat combined with a creamy salsa sauce and plenty of cheese makes the perfect base for your favorite toppings.
I love anything Mexican, Southwest, Tex-Mex, whatever you want to call it. Those vibrant flavors are always welcome after a few nights of baked chicken or other simple fares. I decided to take a classic taco casserole with refried beans and corn chips and make it keto friendly. My taco casserole recipe is great for a keto or low carb diet. It is also gluten-free, grain-free, and Trim Healthy Mama friendly.
My children really enjoyed this easy low carb taco casserole recipe. The ten-year-old boy had thirds. A couple of the children put it into taco shells and ate it that way but most of us topped it with sour cream and avocado and dug right in.
Since I first made this keto taco casserole we've had it dozens of times and a friend even made it for us after my 5th baby was born! Everyone who has tried it loves it whether they are on a keto diet or not.
Ground Meat - I typically use ground turkey but you can definitely make this into a keto ground beef casserole by subbing in browned ground beef. Shredded chicken works great as well.
Salsa - make sure to choose one without added sugar. If it has a lot of liquid drain it before adding it to the casserole.
Cottage Cheese - this is my secret ingredient for added protein and a creamy texture. I promise you cannot taste it in the finished low carb casserole.
Cheddar Cheese - you can use any type of shredded cheese that goes well with Mexican food. A Colby jack Mexican cheese blend is the one we use most often if we are out of cheddar.
Taco Seasoning - I make my own keto taco seasoning to avoid added ingredients like cornstarch and sugar. Homemade taco seasoning is cheaper and tastes better than those packets you see in the grocery store. My seasoning combines onion powder, garlic powder, minced dried garlic, minced dried onion, paprika, cumin, chili powder, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
How to make Keto Taco Casserole
The best part about this keto taco bake recipe is that the entire hands-on time is only about 5 minutes and it has only 5 ingredients. I make my low carb Mexican casserole with ground turkey but you can sub in any meat of your choice or sauteed vegetables for a vegetarian entree.
First Step: Stir together the salsa, cottage cheese, and cheddar cheese.
Second Step: Spray a baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray. Brown the meat in the oven in the casserole dish. Next, break it up and drain the cooking liquid. I chop it right in the casserole dish with a potato masher.
Expert Tip: Yes, I just cook the ground turkey right in the casserole dish in the oven! This saves on having a frying pan to wash by cooking the meat in the oven instead of browning it in a frying pan.
Third Step: Cover ground turkey or ground beef mixture with the creamy cottage cheese sauce. I promise the end result will not taste like cottage cheese!
Expert Tip: if you really don't want to use cottage cheese you can sub in half softened cream cheese and half sour cream.
Fourth Step: Next, sprinkle the keto taco casserole with cheese. Any tip of shredded cheese will work, cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a blend.
Fifth Step: Finally, bake the low carb taco casserole until hot and bubbly. Since you already cooked the meat as soon as the casserole is hot you can serve it.
Expert Tip: For the best golden brown cheese on top broil the casserole for 2-3 minutes right before serving. Make sure to keep an eye on it because it can go from golden brown to burned pretty quickly.
My casserole was a little juicy but I didn't take the time to really drain the meat properly since ground turkey isn't greasy. We didn't mind. And the few portions of leftovers we had stayed moist. There is nothing worse than dried-out leftovers. We make ground turkey tacos all the time. My guests normally don't even realize it is ground turkey vs ground beef.
If you drain the meat thoroughly AND drain the excess liquid from your salsa your casserole will not be so moist.
Peppers & Onions - Slice a pepper and an onion and put them right into the casserole dish with the raw meat. They will cook and soften along with the meat.
Green Chiles - Replace the salsa with a can of green chiles and diced tomatoes, such as Rotel.
Crushed Red Pepper - Mix some red pepper into the salsa mixture for a bit of heat.
Jalapenos - Place thinly sliced jalapeno peppers on top of the shredded cheese before baking.
What to serve with a Taco Casserole
Top with your favorite taco toppings and serve!
Sour Cream - we use sour cream by the bucket in my house. A Costco-sized container only lasts about a week.
Avocados - you can either just serve sliced avocados or make keto guacamole. We always have avocados on the counter in various stages of ripening. They get eaten as quickly as they ripen in my house.
Diced Tomatoes - if you love tomatoes feel free to add a few fresh ones on top of this. Or top with some fresh keto salsa.
Lettuce - you can serve this with shredded lettuce under or on top.
Other Salad Veggies - chopped bell pepper and green onions also go well with this.
Cilantro - if you are a cilantro fan sprinkling some of the top adds color and flavor. I love the fresh taste that cilantro adds to Mexican dishes and use it generously!
Keto Tortilla Chips - serve this as a dip with some low carb chips or pork rinds.
Cauliflower Rice - make a taco bowl and serve this keto taco casserole on top of a bed of cauliflower rice. Either fresh or frozen cauliflower rice both work well!
Black Olives - thinly sliced black olives are great with this recipe.
Is Cottage Cheese Low Carb or Keto?
Yes. You can use cottage cheese while eating low carb or keto. Eating an entire tub of cottage cheese is not keto but using 2 cups divided by 6 servings is totally fine. Higher fat cottage cheese has lower carbs so you can choose a cottage cheese that is full fat for a keto casserole.
I used Nancy's Organic Lowfat Cottage Cheese in this keto Mexican casserole. One of the reasons I love using cottage cheese is because it is high in protein. This one is also naturally gluten free and contains live probiotics.
In my house, I am the only one who eats cottage cheese plain but the rest of my family eats it in low carb recipes such as casseroles, cottage cheese cheesecake, and other baked goods. I just don't mention the cottage cheese until after they've tried this keto taco casserole recipe and liked it.
Scared of the cottage cheese? Try my Keto Taco Pie instead!
Can you have sour cream on keto?
Yes, sour cream is definitely keto friendly. It has only 0.3g of net carbs per tablespoon. Try to buy one without additives and fillers.
Can I Make This in a Slow Cooker or Instant Pot?
Yes. Either will work! And make sure to check out my recipe for crock pot keto chicken tacos.
Slow Cooker - To make in a crock pot simply cook the meat, drain the liquid, and then add the other ingredients.
Pressure Cooker - For an instant pot recipe, you can brown the meat on the saute setting, drain any cooking liquid, and then add the other ingredients.
How do I store leftovers?
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. I will put lunch-sized portions in small glass containers and then just reheat in the microwave when I meal prep.
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Mix the ground meat and taco seasoning in a large greased casserole dish. Mine is 11 x 13. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix together the cottage cheese, salsa, and 1 cup of the cheese. Set aside.
- Remove the casserole dish from the oven and carefully drain the cooking liquid from the meat. Break up the meat into small pieces. A potato masher works great for this. Spread the cottage cheese and salsa mixture on top of the meat. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
- Return the casserole to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until the meat is cooked thoroughly and the cheese is hot and bubbly.
Love Mexican food? Try these low carb keto recipes next:
Originally Published February 16, 2017. Revised and Republished January 5, 2023.