Mexican Lasagna

Corn tortillas come in different varieties. The sturdy yellow corn tortillas will have more flavor, and hold up better in this casserole, but they do require "softening" or cooking in a little oil before layering. If you use tender white corn tortillas, you may not need to soften them.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8

Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 14-oz can refried pinto beans (or you can make your own refried beans)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped, about 2 1/2 cups
  • 1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped, about 1 cup
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 28-oz can crushed or diced tomatoes, preferably "Fire Roasted"
  • 1 7-oz can diced green Anaheim chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 12 corn tortillas (choose sturdy tortillas mad with yellow corn)
  • 2 cups coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 8 oz)
  • 2 cups coarsely grated mild cheddar cheese (about 8 oz)

Extras

  • Sour cream
  • Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Iceberg lettuce

Method

1 Brown the ground beef: Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan or cast iron frying pan on medium high heat. Add the ground meat, breaking it up as you add it.

Sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle on the chile powder, cayenne, cumin, and coriander. Increase the heat to high. Add another 2 Tbsp of olive oil.

Brown and season meat for Mexican lasagna browned meat for taco lasagna recipe

Do not stir the meat unnecessarily. Allow the meat to brown on one side, and then stir it so the other side can be browned.

As soon as the meat is browned, remove the pan from the burner. The meat will continue to cook in the heat of the pan.

Once you are sure that the meat is cooked through, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pan to a bowl. Set aside.

2 Sauté onions, bell peppers, garlic, add tomatoes, chiles, oregano: Once the meat is done cooking, and has been removed from the pan in step 1, add another Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and heat to medium.

Add the onions and chopped bell peppers, cook until onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for an additional 1 minute.

Sautéing vegetables for Mexican Lasagna mexican lasagna sauce ready to layer

Add the diced tomatoes, green chiles and oregano. Bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the tortillas.

3 Cook the tortillas: While the sauce is simmering, soften the tortillas by frying them in a little oil. In a 9-inch skillet, heat 1/2 cup olive oil on medium high heat until it is sizzling hot, but not smoking.

Cook the tortillas one at a time, for 5 seconds on each side, so that they soften, but don't get crisp.

mexican lasagna with tortillas - softening corn tortillas

Remove the tortillas with a metal spatula or tongs and place on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

4 Preheat oven: Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly oil a 13x9x3-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.

5 In a casserole dish, layer the tortillas with beans, meat, cheese, and sauce: In baking dish arrange 4 tortillas in one layer, overlapping slightly (tortillas will not cover bottom completely).

(If you don't have time to pre-soften the tortillas, coat the bottom of the pan with some olive oil and spread a little sauce over the bottom before adding the tortillas.)

Spread half of bean mixture evenly over tortillas in dish and top with half of meat mixture.

mexican lasagna with tortillas slathered with beans Layering Mexican lasagna with tortillas, beans, and meat

Sprinkle one third cheese over the meat and spread half of the sauce over the cheese.

How to make Mexican Lasagna - layering layering taco lasagna

Repeat layering of tortillas, beans, meat, cheese, and sauce and top with remaining 4 tortillas. Sprinkle remaining cheese over tortillas.

6 Bake: Bake casserole on the middle rack in the oven for 35 minutes, until the casserole is heated through and the cheese is completely melted and bubbling.

taco lasagna recipe ready to bake mexican lasagna with tortillas and cheese on top

Let the casserole stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Serve with sour cream, chopped avocado, chopped cilantro, and thinly sliced iceberg lettuce on which has been sprinkled vinegar and salt.

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Comments

  • K

    Love this recipe. My husband is not so much of a casserole kind of guy but love tacos and enchiladas. I have made this for the third time now with using butcher shop ground chicken. Yummo! He is having me make this for dinner and some for work. He is gluten free and wants to share his good food with co-workers. Thanks for sharing.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • bonnie

    nevermind, just saw add to meat, now that I added it to tomatoes, hope this comes out good. didn’t do the beef, that’s why, duh. I am using cooked chicken.

  • bonnie

    making now, but you didn’t mention when to add cumin, etc. I suppose while tomatoes are simmering

  • Lydia

    I made this recipe yesterday and it was a big hit! It was delicious but a bit heavy. As well, I used corn tortillas that were small at 4 1/2 inches so I didn’t end up having three layers which was ok. Great recipe but time consuming!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Jimmy james

    Pretty tasty. I did not add oil to ground beef. I added some fresh corn off cob to the salsa. Pictures show tostadas which dont need frying. Raw corn tortillas do need frying. The liquid in the ingredients is enenough to soften the tostadas. My prep time was 45mins. At 25 min cook time cheese and tostadas on top were starti g to brown. Dish was heated thru and thru but foil over top from start would probably allow to cook full 35mins. My oven cycles bottom and top burners to bake so that could also explain my results. We enjoyed the recipe.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Jimmy, glad you liked the recipe! Not sure what you are seeing in the photos about tostadas. I used sturdy yellow corn tortillas to make this dish, which definitely need frying.

  • Wendy Four

    Hi
    I made this great casserole for a potluck lunch. I had to make it the day before it was to be served, so I put it in the fridge overnight and baked it the next day! It was very tasty but not as spicy as I liked. ( I had followed the recipe explicitly and while I was making it the spiciest was just right)! Next time I make it (and I definitely will!) If I have to refrigerate it overnight, I will double the spices. Just thought you would like to hear my experience.
    Wendy

  • Serena

    To soften my tortillas for recipes, I simply place the corn tortilla on the grate of my gas burner until it is soft and gets beautiful charred spots on it. Only takes seconds! Easy and and they taste excellent! I can not wait to try this recipe! I love anything Mexican food related and this sounds awesome!

  • Raymond Gray

    I made this today and it is fantastic. I can’t wait to dig into the leftovers. One of the best dishes I have had in a long time, thank you for sharing this recipe.

  • Krista

    Big hit in our house but it was *not* 10 minutes of prep. I was cooking, chopping, or prepping constantly for an hour and a half.

    • Robert Petersen

      Yes, I totally agree that prep times are under-estimated very badly in a lot of recipes on this site! One for salsa says you can heat peppers and peel in ten minutes… what a laugh that was! All in all, I find a lot of really good recipes here, but time factors are way off most of the time.

  • Betty

    I just finished making this dish. Although I followed the recipe in general, I am not one for measuring exactly – I use what I have. My corn tortillas come in a package of 8, but are much larger than what I saw in the photos. So after frying, I used 3 for the bottom and middle, and two for the top. I blotted them with paper towels, as I thought them too oily. My package of ground beef was exactly 1 pound (450 grams), so I reduced the spices to about 3/4. Misread the recipe and added 1/2 T salt instead of 1 tsp. but it was not too salty. Used my own homemade tomato sauce, and had to simmer it a bit longer to get the proper consistency. Added two green peppers as that’s what I had on hand. Omitted the chiles (not readily available here). – I thought of adding pickled red peppers or jalapenos, but decided to try it without, as my hasband is not fond of spicy/hot. Used a cheese blend, probably a bit less. The casserole has now started browning, so is in the stage of sitting. My husband is impatient to try it. I have high hopes.

    I would like to say that the directions for this recipe were exemplary! Thanks, Elise.

  • Kathey

    I make enchilada casserole all the time,we love it..I add green onions,olives and even more green chilies,Love the flavor they give..Love it with corn tortillas when I make chicken enchiladas I use flour..

  • Malia

    Hi, any chance that you could provide the nutrition/fat/calories information on this dish and all of your others? Thanks.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Malia, at the moment we have neither the time nor the expertise to provide that information on the recipes. You may be able to find an online service that can help you calculate the information.

      • Malia

        Thanks Elise for your quicky reply.

  • Brian

    I do this dish in a cast iron dutch oven when we are camping. I just tend to use the larger tortilla’s so it matches the size of the dutch oven. If you do try this over an open fire, use lots of salsa on the bottom of the pan, else that bottom tortilla gets welded to it. Not fun to clean. Would be easy to convert to vegetarian if you needed to.

    • Laura ~ Raise Your Garden

      I’ve just discovered the joys of a dutch oven and it has changed my world! But this camping? That would be amazing.

  • Mimi Lyon

    Yum! Really , really good! Keeper recipe!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Teresa

    Can this recipe be frozen?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Teresa, I assume so, I haven’t tried freezing it. If you do, please let us know how well it reheats!

  • Kimberlee

    I just love this site.. I always find great tasty recipes and this one is definitely a keeper. Was a great dinner to make for a Friday night boys sleepover. My husband went crazy over it as well. Made some adjustments to flavor and used black beans because that is what i had on hand. But either way. Its good!

  • cristina robison

    Another delicious casserole. It came out very good and the older kiddoes enjoyed it. If they like enchiladas they’ll enjoy this. I used ground turkey.

  • yolie

    This is a very tasty recipe, I made it with ground turkey and followed the recipe. The sauce is really good.:)

  • Priscilla

    Excellent dish! I just did a couple things different. I used bison instead of beef. I added black beans with the pintos, used salsa instead of the tomatos (all out), and added some frozen corn. I love the spices! I’ve never used coriander before. I usually just skip over it in recipes. So I was hesitant to use a whole tablespoon but it was excellent. My husband stuffed himself at dinner tonight!lol! My girls liked it too. Thank you for the great recipe!

  • Heather

    Two questions: Can you use flour tortillas with this, or do they have to be corn (I ask cause flour are what’s in the fridge). Also, how is the spice of the peppers? Is there a milder substitute or should I just leave them out?

    You could try it with flour tortillas. I’ve only made it with corn tortillas as directed. Regarding the peppers, Anaheim green chiles are fairly mild. They’re important for the flavor of the dish, so I wouldn’t leave them out entirely, but you should taste them and cut back the amount to a spice level you feel comfortable with. They’re not nearly as hot as a jalapeno. ~Elise

  • Liane

    I doubled the recipe for this and layered it in my 14×16 roasting pan to feed a hungry group of 16. So fun to fill that thing with deliciousness! I loved my mom’s enchilada casserole growing up but she used things like tomato paste, taco seasoning from a pouch, other things like that. I was so astounded that the spice mixture was reminiscent of those taco pouches, but sooo much better. That spice mix is a keeper! I didn’t have time to fry the tortillas but if I make this recipe again, I will try that if I can squeeze it in. Also used shredded cooked chicken (from your beer can recipe!) and added some corn. This is a great recipe for good, solid comfort food that tastes fresh. Love it!

    • Phil

      If you don’t have time to fry the tortillas to soften them, make sure you have a layer of salsa on the bottom of the pan. The corn tortillas will soften from the juice. On using flour tortillas, they would tend to fall apart because of the juices, unless you fried them partially crisp first, then let them soften with the juices in the casserole. Frying the corn tortillas, in addition to softening them, changes the taste as well.

  • Carol

    Thank you so much for posting this. I am gluten free and have been missing lasagna for a while now. I love enchiladas, too, but admit to only making them once a year or so – too labour intensive! This combines the best qualities of both. And if I assemble it at home, and take it to my sister’s, I can sneak it past my “I hate beans in anything” nephew – he’ll eat refritos if he didn’t see them go in the dish. Thanks again!

  • Jill

    This was very good! In addition to the fresh garlic, I did add 1 tsp garlic powder. Also added fresh cilantro about 2 TBS chopped. Will make again and try it with shredded chicken or pork…thanks for sharing your recipe!!!

  • Ginger

    Could this be prepared a day ahead and placed in the refigerator, and then baked the next day? How long do you think it would need to bake? Thanks for the recipe!

    That would be easy enough to do. Just bake it until it is heated through and the cheese is melted. ~Elise

  • Becky

    This is definitely a hit with everyone. Don’t let the lengthy recipe fool you, this becomes easier and is less time consuming each time you make it. I substitute a can of Spicy Fat-Free Refried Beans for the pintos and use a package of taco seasoning in place of the spices. That alone shaves some time off of making this dish.

    Great recipe, thanks!

  • steph (whisk/spoon)

    Wanted to tell you that I made this last night (just polished off the leftovers for dinner tonight)–it’s super flavorful and delicious! I totally forgot to buy ground turkey at the store, so I adapted it for a veggie version…put the spices into the sauce instead, and scattered on some canned chickpeas in place of the meat. So satisfying!

  • Mar

    Here in Detroit, in Mexicantown they serve a similar dish called a “Mexican Sandwich”. It’s a huge flour tortilla with a layer of beans, then another tortilla and rice, one more tortilla and then stewed beef chunks in sauce smothered with cheese.

    When I make my own version at home, I cook it in a casserole dish in a sort of lasanga way. And for the beef, I use stew meat and cook it in 1 can of enchilada sauce and 1 can of beer, covered, until so tender it flakes apart.

  • Kasha

    Hey, I am new to this site..But

    my mom makes the same recipes but uses tortilla chips instead. It doesn’t come out soggy and it saves her a step w/ the frying (I double checked with her).

    This is delicious though…Love this website…No more food network searching

  • Penny

    This is definitely something I plan to try. I made enchiladas for the first time some weeks ago, and they were delicious but I love the idea of not having to roll each one up.

    The one thing I might add is that with some advanced notice but not too much more effort, you can subsitute delicious shredded beef. Browning(a nice dark scald), then crock potting a hunk of chuck roast in a couple of cups of broth, 3 or 4 TBSP cider vinegar and your preferred seasonings for a few hours makes the most satisfying, tender, tasty shredded beef. I use the broth to deglaze the skillet after browning to gather the good bits. Then all of it goes into the crock. Also, after the meat is falling apart, I add a litle cornstarch to the remaining juices so that it becomes a sauce that clings to the meat better. I can’t waste all that flavory goodness! I haven’t actually bought ground beef in months because every time I plan to make a recipe calling for ground beef, I end up choosing a chuck roast instead. It takes tacos, enchiladas, and even chili to a different level. Saves well in the freezer too, if you want to plan for less fuss with the next meal.

    Having visited your website many times (so good!), I already have a plan. I think I’ll make this along with your recipe for spanish rice. Gee, I guess I’ve been very much in the mood for Mexican food lately.

  • Pat in Washington

    I do a LOT of cooking and not always as successful as this. :) My husband says Tex-Mex Lasagna is definitely a ‘keeper’. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  • SUSAN VAN DER LINDE

    I said I would never cook again if this recipe didn’t turn out. Well I’m still cooking. It was fantastic! Had company for dinner; it was a big hit.

  • James W

    I cooked this last night. If you’re a fan of Mexican food then you’ll love this. It’s simple, unpretentious and tasty. Excellent stuff.

  • Dennis

    Made this today and it was a big hit!! Thanks for the recipe!

    Dennis from the Netherlands

  • Amy

    Mmm, made this last night and both my husband and I loved it! I couldn’t find regular corn tortillas in our area, so I tried using Charras “as-is”, which worked pretty well. I also substituted the chilis in the recipe for some homegrown banana and jalapeno peppers I’d pickled last summer. This recipe also made me discover how easy it is to make your own refried beans. Cheaper, too!

  • MaryLou

    Oh my, that was a great recipe.My husband loves mexican food and he loved this one.He kept asking me if dinner was ready cause he could smell it cooking. It’s a keeper. I can see i’ll be making this alot.
    Thanks so much for an awesome meal.

  • Elise Bauer

    The great thing about this dish is that you can tailor it to exactly what you want – more or less or beans, different types of sauce, choice of turkey, beef, or chicken, Anaheims or jalapeños. Thanks everyone, for your comments!

    Diane – I must disagree about the softening of the tortillas. Unless you completely smother the top of the casserole with cheese, the exposed tortillas will dry out too much in the oven. Also, the flavor of the corn tortillas benefit greatly from being re-cooked with some oil. It makes a huge difference.

    Regarding enchilada sauce or salsa, the sauce recipe I give here is very similar to the sauce we use when we make our enchiladas. It is essentially cooked salsa. If by “enchilada sauce” you are referring to canned sauce, I think that’s basically a red-chili sauce, not tomato based. I could see how using this sauce would also be quite delicious.

  • Diane

    This tastes better if you use enchilada sauce instead of salsa. Also, there is no need to soften tortillas as you will not be working with them like you would if you were making rolled enchiladas or tacos. I just tear the tortillas into pieces since they soak up all the sauce and become soft. This makes the preparation time really quick! I usually make them without any meat at all or if I use meat, it is always chicken. Another good addition is green olives

  • Barb

    This is one of my favorites too. For a vegetarian version I saute diced sweet potatoes in the seasonings. I also like mushrooms in it.

  • Marc

    Tortilla casserole is a great thing — variations without end, it freezes reasonably well, and tastes great. In fact, I’m making a tortilla casserole tomorrow night (chipotle tomato sauce, steamed greens, Monterey Jack cheese, and one other filling TBD).

    Here’s how I pre-treat the tortillas if you don’t want to have the mess and annoyance of frying: preheat the oven to 300 F, brush each side of a tortilla with oil, and make stacks of three or four tortillas on a cookie sheet. The cookie sheet goes into the oven for about 10-15 minutes.

    Or, don’t do anything to the tortillas, and they will disintegrate and make a “tortilla-vegetable pudding.”

  • ha3rvey

    Awesome… I’ve made a vegetarian version of this casserole? many times. I can see I need to increase the amount of cheese I use. :)

  • Lisa (Homesick Texan)

    I love to make this, it’s so easy and and delicious. It tastes even better the next day (I’ve been known to eat it cold for breakfast). And there are endless variations as well–different salsas, fillings, etc. I never had a name for it, but I think Tex-Mex lasagna sums it up perfectly.

  • Sondra

    This is an incredible dish…I actually make mine with shredded chicken instead of ground beef/turkey and omit frying the tortillas(makes up for the extra cheese I use). I also add some sliced jalapenos as my husband likes his food nice and spicy! Thanks for the recipes and try to stay warm!

  • CJ McD

    Elise, this is a family favorite! Thanks for the post. We call it enchilada lasagne, because I make it with enchilada sauce instead of salsa and have the beans on the side.

    Now I’m going to have to make a big pan, then kick back and watch the superbowl.

    …wow, you’ve really been an inspiration this past week with all the Tex-Mex recipes. Thank you!