Tex-Mex Meaty Mac ‘n’ Cheese Casserole

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What are your favorite comfort foods? Is mac and cheese one of them? Does Mexican food come to mind? What about a steaming, gooey, home-cooked casserole? Or a bite of ground meat, like meatballs or a cheeseburger? What if we told you that we’ve combined all of those decadent, comforting foods into one healthy casserole recipe? You might scoff at us and write that recipe off as too fattening, but you know better! We’re SkinnyMs.! We can take a cheesy, meaty, baked casserole and make it clean eating style, low in calories, and good for you!

Here’s how it’s done. We’ve recreated macaroni and cheese using whole wheat pasta and low-fat cheese, two ingredients that are great for you, and big improvements on the originals! Then, we’ve added chili powder, cumin, and salsa, all healthy, low-cal ingredients that make give any casserole that Mexican flair! As for the rich, hearty meat you’re looking for, we’ve substituted turkey for beef or pork, because it’s lower in fat, cholesterol, and calories. When you mix these healthy ingredients and bake them up in a casserole, you wind up with a comfort food dish that is as healthy as it is tasty.

Serve this to your kids any night of the week. They’re sure to gobble it down! Or bring it to your next potluck. People won’t be able to resist its many charms, and when they hear how healthy it is, remember to send them the recipe!

Tex Mex Meaty Mac 'n' Cheese Casserole

Tex Mex Meaty Mac 'n' Cheese Casserole

Yields: 12 servings | Calories: 285 | Total Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0g | Sodium: 806mg | Cholesterol: 71mg | Carbohydrates: 15g | Fiber: 1g | Sugars: 2g | Protein: 20g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 4


  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 6 ounces dry whole grain macaroni, or penne, or 3 cups cooked
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar salsa, no-sugar added
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cups Mexican style shredded cheese, low-fat (optional cheddar)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat cook ground turkey and onion, breaking up turkey as it cooks. Once turkey is cooked and there's no more pink color, drain and add to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add 1 teaspoon salt, then add pasta. Cook pasta just until al dente, drain.
  4. Add to the meat and onions, chili powder, cumin, pepper, and cilantro, stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients and toss with a large spoon until combined. Spoon into a 9 x 13-inch casserole pan. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and casserole is heat through.

More Tex-Mex Recipes to Enjoy:

Tex-Mex Salsa

TexMex Rice and Beans

Tex-Mex Style Macaroni & Cheese

Healthy Tex-Mex Lasagna

Clean Eating Mexican Corn on the Cob

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Speak your mind in our comments section! We’d love to hear your thoughts on this post, and on our other content.

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12 Comments on "Tex-Mex Meaty Mac ‘n’ Cheese Casserole"

  1. Stephanie  October 11, 2015

    Can you do this in the crock pot?

    • SkinnyMs  October 11, 2015

      Stephanie, I've never made this recipe in the slow cooker since it takes so little time cooking in the oven. It should be fine just cook the ground turkey until
      it loses its pink color, before adding to the slow cooker. Keep us posted!

  2. ccfootballfan  June 22, 2016

    Is 9 smartpoints calculated using 85% or 99% lean ground turkey? What are the smartpoints based on the other turkey? Thank you!

    • Kym Votruba  June 23, 2016

      The data was calculated using 99% lean ground turkey. Using 85%, the SmartPoints would increase to 11.

  3. J  July 27, 2016

    Is it okay to use ground beef instead of the ground turkey?

  4. Marlene  November 27, 2016

    What is the SERVING size per serving?

  5. Dora  July 22, 2017

    Can you prep and freeze this? If so, how long do you cook and at what temperature? Can you substitute venison?

    • Nichole Furlong  July 22, 2017

      Great question, Dora! You can prep and freeze this – cook the casserole as directed in the recipe. Cover well and freeze. To reheat, remove from the freezer the night before and place in the refrigerator. Reheat in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes until heated through.

      In regards to the venison, it can be substituted but will change the nutrition information. Make sure to drain and liquid off the meat after cooking!

  6. Kristy  April 14, 2018

    What would the points be for the new freestyle program? When I calculated it, it came out to 3 points (1 of the 12 servings). Is that accurate?

    • Nichole Furlong  April 14, 2018

      Hi Kristy, we calculated this recipe at 4 SmartPoints (Freestyle). We’ve updated the recipe to reflect the new points!


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