My Ground Beef Casserole is easy, cheesy, and crowd please-y! Plus, you probably have most of the ingredients on hand already.
There’s nothing like a good casserole. It’ll feed a crowd, usually inexpensively. It’s warm and comforting. And the leftovers are amazing. This one makes a really big batch, so there will be leftovers for sure! If you want to switch up the leftovers, I love to put it all into a big pot with beef broth and turn it into a Beef Noodle Soup.
This dish is super-easy to put together, and most of it is made in the time it takes to cook the noodles. It also uses mostly pantry staples, so I know I can whip it up when I suddenly need to feed some hungry people.
It’s also loaded with melty cheddar cheese, so everyone ends up pretty happy, especially me!
What Kind Of Meat Should You Use?
I generally like to use lean ground beef. It has great flavor and doesn’t release much liquid, which could lea to a liquidy sauce, or an extra step of having to skim off that fat.
But the truth is that once you mix it in all the other ingredients—noodles, onion, tomatoes, seasonings, and cheese—a little more or less fat in your beef isn’t going to make a big difference in this recipe. So use whatever you like or have on hand.
(Is your meat still frozen? Read this post for how to defrost ground beef.)
You can even make this casserole with ground chicken, or turkey. Because chicken and turkey are a little bland compared to beef and pork, you might want to add a touch of Worcestershire or soy sauce to add some umami oomph.
I would avoid using ground chicken breast or ground turkey breast though. Those are really quite lean and can be dry in this dish. If that is what you want to use, I’d add some extra tomato sauce, and definitely go in with the Worcestershire sauce or the soy sauce.
What Kind Of Noodles Are Best?
My recipes goes classic and uses wide egg noodles, but again, you can use whatever kind of noodles or pasta you like or have on hand. Penne, macaroni, bow ties, rigatoni—they’re all good.
What Kind Of Cheese In Ground Beef Casserole?
This is another place you can experiment and adapt the recipe to your tastes and the contents of your refrigerator. My recipe uses cheddar—it has a zing that I think is a nice complement to beef. Mmm.. cheesy ground beef.
I’m also specifically trying to make this not taste like spaghetti, because if it did, I think I’d just want spaghetti, you know? So using something that isn’t Italian makes a lot of sense. There is a bit of Italian seasoning in there, but the addition of the kidney beans and chili powder with the cheddar gives it more of a chili bake feeling than baked spaghetti.
If you don’t have Italian seasoning, you can make up a batch, or just use equal parts dried oregano and dried basil. That will totally do the trick!
Make It Easier By Making It In Advance
Want to make this casserole even easier? Make it in advance!
Put the casserole together, then cover and refrigerate it. When you want to get dinner going, take it out of the fridge while then oven preheats. Cover the casserole with foil, making sure it is tented above hte cheese so the cheese doesn’t stick to it. Then bake it until it’s bubbling and heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another few minutes.
Enjoy! – Christine
P.S. If you like this ground beef casserole recipe, you’d also probably like my Baked Ziti too!Print
NOTE: This recipe has been updated. It used to call for 12 oz of egg noodles. I wanted to use the whole package. I therefore adapted it for the larger quantity of pasta by adding more moisture, seasonings, and some kidney beans. The new recipe is better than ever and truly serves a crowd!
This recipe makes a big batch because the leftovers taste so good. Have it for dinner one day and then feast on it again the next. To stretch it even further, and to switch it up a bit, I love to put the leftovers in a pot with beef broth and turn it into a hamburger noodle soup that’s perfect to pack into thermoses for lunch.
- 16 oz. wide egg noodles
- 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. salt, divided
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 and 1/4 lb. lean ground beef*
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 (23.5oz.) jar tomato sauce (about 3 cups)
- 1 (14.5oz.) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (15oz.) can kidney beans, drained
- 1 and 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning**
- 2 and 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the package directions, being sure to use at least 1 tablespoon of salt in the cooking liquid.
- While noodles cook, in large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, 3-4 minutes.
- Add the beef. Stir to combine with the onion. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, the garlic powder, and black pepper.
- Increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally until beef is cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Use a large spoon to drain off any excess liquid or fat.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, chili powder, and Italian seasoning. Stir. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Stir occasionally until mixture is heated through and bubbling.
- Once noodles have been drained, put them into a 9×13 deep dish lasagna pan, or large casserole dish. Add the hot beef mixture and stir. Stir in 1 cup of cheese.
- Top casserole evenly with remaining 1 and ½ cups of cheese. Transfer uncovered casserole to hot oven and cook until sauce is very hot and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Let stand 3-5 minutes before serving.
*I like to use extra lean ground beef, but whatever you like will work for this recipe. You can alternatively use ground chicken, or ground turkey. Note that ground chicken breast and ground turkey breast are too dry for this dish and you may want to include extra tomato sauce to moisten everything more.
**If you don’t have Italian seasoning, you can make up a batch, or you can use equal parts dried oregano and dried basil.