Easy Ground Beef Casserole – This ground beef casserole is beefy, cheesy, saucy, and so easy to make! It’s a great easy and budget-friendly way to feed a crowd and can be made ahead and reheated after a long day or served for a family-friendly meal on a cozy weekend!
This ground beef casserole has a bit of a Mexican flare! I love the addition of green chilis, chili powder, and kidney beans, along with the Monterey Jack cheese. It reminds me of every beefy, cheesy, Mexican-inspired recipe my family loves, with the simplicity and comfort of a classic casserole!
It’s made with macaroni, ground beef, sun dried tomatoes, green chilis, diced tomatoes, and plenty of seasoning. Of course, it’s loaded with melty cheese which is then all baked until it’s ready to serve.
Delicious and easy casseroles like this ground beef and pasta casserole are the epitome of hearty, wholesome, and satisfying. It’s a complete meal all in one dish which means you don’t need anything other than a simple salad or a slice of bread on the side!
Ingredients Needed for Ground Beef Casserole
Uncooked Macaroni: I like using elbow macaroni for this ground beef casserole recipe, but any small pasta noodle will do. Cook them according to package directions until al dente. They will continue to cook in the oven.
- Ground Beef: I tend to use lean ground beef for most recipes unless the extra fat is needed for flavor. In this casserole, there is a ton of flavor coming from the seasoning that is lean (80/20).
- Onion & Garlic: Helps to flavor the meat with a beautiful combination of aromatic flavors.
- Diced Tomatoes, undrained: The juices from the canned tomatoes not only give the entire casserole flavor but also help to continue cooking the pasta as it absorbs the liquid.
- Kidney Beans rinsed and drained: The combination of beef, kidney beans, and green chilis gives this dish the feel of a Mexican ground beef casserole!
- Tomato Paste: Provides a more intense tomato flavor without the extra liquid that tomato sauce would give. It’s thicker and more concentrated and isn’t as runny.
- Chopped Green Chilis: For a tasty kick!
- Seasoning: Chili powder, steak spice, salt, and pepper. If you don’t have any steak seasoning, taco seasoning would be just as good.
- Monterrey Jack Cheese: Every good ground beef casserole needs melty cheese!
- Chopped Chives: For garnish.
How to Make a Casserole with Ground Beef
Step 1: Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente. Drain it and set it aside.
Step 2: In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and onion over medium heat until the beef is no longer pink. Crumble the meat with a meat masher or wooden spoon as it cooks for about 8-10 minutes.
Step 3: Add the garlic and cook it for about 1 minute, stirring a few times to avoid burning. Then, drain the liquid from the beef.
Step 4: Next, add the diced tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato paste, green chilis, chili powder, steak spice, salt, and pepper. Stir everything to combine and bring it to a boil.
Step 5: Once it boils, reduce the heat and leave it to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Step 6: Stir in cooked pasta and then transfer the entire mixture to a prepared baking dish. Sprinkle cheese over top.
Step 7: Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake in a preheated 375 oven for 30 minutes. Uncover it and bake for 10 minutes more until the cheese is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling up the sides.
Garnish with fresh chopped chives and enjoy!
Recipe Tips & Substitutions
- Swap the ground beef for ground chicken or ground turkey if you’re looking for something a little lighter.
- Ground sausage would also be delicious.
- If you prefer to use a different cheese, cheddar, Colby Jack or a Mexican cheese blend would also be great.
- Remember to only cook your pasta al dente, otherwise, it will turn out mushy!
- Use penne, bow tie pasta, or fusilli in place of the elbow macaroni.
- Add some extra veggies if you’d like. Diced red bell pepper, mushrooms, or corn can be added.
- If pasta sauce is what you have, go ahead and use it. Just be sure to drain the tomatoes (or skip them altogether) and there’s also no need for tomato paste.
- Double the recipe to make two casseroles! Serve one of them and freeze the other for later. Or fill the freezer of a loved one!
- You can also halve the recipe if you don’t need one so big.
Can I make this beef casserole recipe ahead of time?
Sure you can. Assemble it the day (or night) before you want to serve it. Cover it with foil and then bake it the next day. Keep the foil on as it will help contain the heat since it’s starting off a bit colder straight out of the fridge.
How to store leftovers?
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy bringing a hot lunch to work the next day that everyone will envy!
Is this casserole freezer-friendly?
Absolutely! Assemble it, bake it all the way through, and allow it to cool completely. Wrap it in plastic wrap and foil to avoid freezer burn. Keep it frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight then reheat it in the oven. Make sure to take off the plastic wrap!
Can I bake casserole from frozen?
You can, it will just take longer. Keep the foil on until it’s heated throughout and then remove it for the last little while.
Ground Beef Casserole
- 2 cups elbow macaroni uncooked
- 2 lb ground beef
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced or finely chopped
- 2 cans diced tomatoes undrained, 14.5 ounces each
- 1 can kidney beans rinsed and drained, 16 ounces
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 can green chili drained, 4 ounces
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon steak spice
- sea salt & pepper to taste
- 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese grated
- 2 tablespoons chives chopped
- Cook pasta according to the package. In a skillet, add ground beef and onion, and cook until no longer pink, about 8-10 minutes, crumbling meat with a spoon.
- Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring few times. Drain the liquid. Next add diced tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato paste, chopped green chili, chili powder, steak spice, sea salt & pepper to taste. Stir and bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring few times.
- Add cooked pasta and stir into the mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease baking dish with butter or oil. Into the baking dish add pasta and beef mixture and sprinkle cheese over the top. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, uncover and bake for 10 more minutes. Garnish with chives and enjoy!
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