Creamy Rotel Pasta with Ground Beef

Cheryl Malik
October 7, 2022
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Easy, one-pot Rotel pasta with ground beef is a hearty, budget-friendly main course that the whole family is sure to love. Creamy and perfectly seasoned, it’s super satisfying and oh-so-delicious.

Overhead view of a bowl of creamy rotel pasta with ground beef. The right half of the bowl is cut off, focusing on the left half.

🍝 What Makes This Recipe So Good

  • This Rotel pasta recipe has so much flavor! A good bit of that comes from the can of Rotel itself – who can resist those tangy diced tomatoes and green chiles? There’s also a beautiful blend of spices mixed right in to the creamy ground beef sauce. It’s so simple, yet SO delicious.
  • I love a good pasta dish when I need to feed a bunch of people… or when my husband’s training for a marathon so it feels like I’m feeding a bunch of people. Pasta dishes like this one are so easy to scale up without much change to the overall method or cook time, plus dry pasta is pretty easy on the wallet. Check out Penny’s 2 Cents below for tips on making this recipe as budget-friendly as possible.
  • It’s a perfect recipe to put together for dinner on busy nights! There’s really no prep work other than dicing an onion, and it takes no time to put together. Plus it’s super versatile so if you don’t have everything in your pantry, don’t worry! Use ground chicken or ground turkey instead of ground beef. Swap out the spices. Milk instead of half-and-half, spaghetti noodles instead of penne. Anything goes! You could also make the ground beef sauce and serve it over mashed potatoes if you’re low on noodles.

💵 Our 2 Cents

To make this recipe as budget-friendly as possible…

Pasta: Buy dry pasta in bulk. It keeps for a long time – like a solid 2 years if the box is unopened – so you don’t have to worry about it expiring before you get around to using it. The pasta in most dishes is interchangeable, too, so if you find spaghetti that’s cheaper than penne, for example, you can totally use spaghetti noodles in your Rotel pasta instead.

Ground Beef: Ground beef with a higher fat content usually comes with a lower price tag, so use whatever fits in your budget for the week. Like most proteins, ground beef freezes really well, so keep an eye out for sales and bulk pricing so you can stock up. I like to buy the large 5-6 pound packs of ground beef at Costco, then break it up into 1-pound portions. I roll each portion in aluminum foil, label it, and then freeze it until I need it. It thaws quickly and I can use it for a ton of different recipes, so I always keep it on hand!

👩🏼‍🍳 Chef’s Tips

  • Feel like the Rotel sauce is a little on the thick side? Save some of the water you boil the pasta in so you can add it to the sauce as needed to get the perfect consistency. Just add it in 1-tablespoon increments and whisk really well between each one so you don’t overdo it.
  • You can totally sneak a few veggies into the sauce if you have trouble with picky eaters. Chopped mushrooms, chopped broccoli florets, carrots, or peas would all work well, and hide nicely. If you’re using larger veggies, just make sure to chop them pretty small and sauté them with the onions so they’re nice and tender.
  • This dish really isn’t spicy, but if anyone in your group is sensitive to heat, be careful with the cayenne! You can omit it entirely if you need to. If you’re big on heat, though, feel free to add a touch more cayenne than we call for, or use Rotel’s Hot Diced Tomatoes with Habaneros.
Penne pasta and ground beef sauce lifted out of a bowl of Rotel pasta by a silver fork.

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Penne pasta and ground beef in a creamy sauce, being lifted out of a large pot with a wooden spoon.

Rotel Pasta

Hearty, creamy, and totally delicious, this one-pot meal will become a family favorite!
5 from 1 vote
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Recipe Makes: 6 servings
Approximate Cost: $2.75

Equipment

  • Large skillet with high sides
  • wooden spoon
  • large pot
  • colander

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large white onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup half-and-half (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (or beef stock)
  • 1 10-ounce can Rotel diced tomatoes
  • 16 ounces dry penne pasta (plus water and salt to cook pasta)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  • salt (to taste)
  • freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
  • fresh chopped parsley (optional, to garnish)

Instructions
 

  • Heat large skillet over medium heat. When pan is warm, add olive oil. Heat oil until hot and shimmery, then add diced onion. Sauté onion 5 minutes or until softened.
  • When onions have softened, add minced garlic to skillet. Sauté garlic, stirring constantly, 30 to 60 seconds or until garlic is fragrant.
  • When garlic is fragrant, add ground bee and raise heat under skillet to medium-high. Cook and crumble ground beef until meat is browned with no pink remaining.
  • Add all-purpose flour, paprika, onion powder, oregano, and cayenne pepper to ground beef mixture. Stir well to fully incorporate spices, then let mixture simmer 2 minutes.
  • Remove skillet from heat and pour in half-and-half. Stir to incorporate cream, then return skillet to heat and add vegetable broth and Rotel. Stir well to incorporate, then bring mixture to boil. When mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • While ground beef mixture simmers, cook pasta according to package instructions, then drain noodles and set aside.
  • After ground beef mixture has simmered 15 minutes, remove skillet from heat. Add softened cream cheese to skillet and stir until cream cheese has melted completely.
  • When cream cheese is fully melted and incorporated, add pasta to skillet and stir to coat noodles in sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then garnish with fresh parsley if desired and serve immediately.

Notes

  • Make it Gluten Free: Use gluten-free pasta and gluten-free all-purpose flour. Be sure your broth is gluten free.

Recipe costs provided are approximate. Actual cost per recipe & serving will vary by location, store, brand, etc. Approximate cost shown does not include costs for any optional ingredients.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 603kcal | Protein: 28g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 219mg | Potassium: 616mg | Total Carbs: 67g | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Net Carbs: 63g | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 164mg

Nutrition Disclaimer

Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes. Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used. To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.

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Recipe by Cheryl Malik

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