This Cheeseburger Casserole will quickly become a regular in your weekly menu rotation! It’s a hearty beef and pasta dish with creamy tomato sauce and plenty of melted cheese – what’s not to love?
An Easy, Cheesy Macaroni Casserole Recipe!
I am a casserole fanatic, as you can probably tell. From my Cabbage Roll Casserole Recipe (game changer, seriously) to this easy Eggs Benedict Casserole (can you say Christmas, Easter, Sunday morning?? You’re welcome!), if you can bake it in a baking dish and smother it with cheese, I. Am. Here for it. 🙌
But not every casserole is about taking complicated dishes and making them easy. Some things in life are already simple and perfect, and beautiful. Take this cheeseburger casserole, for example!
With plenty of seasoned ground beef, tender pasta, and a creamy, cheesy sauce, this one’s a keeper. Even picky eaters will ask for seconds, I promise! It’s a rib-sticking recipe the whole family will repeatedly ask for, and it cooks up in one skillet and a baking dish. That’s it.
What’s the Difference Between a Hot Dish and a Casserole?
This is… a loaded question, apparently. It’s the kind of thing that you Google and get many different answers, and people are surprisingly passionate about it! As far as I can tell, the difference depends on your location. “Casserole,” “hotdish,” and “hot dish” are all ways to describe saucy, baked main dishes that are made in a baking dish or casserole dish. They often have creamy sauces, something starchy, and some meat.
Depending on your area, some people may call the actual food the “hot dish,” while the word “casserole” just means a baking pan (usually, a non-metal baking pan). In other places, the word “casserole” is for lighter baked dishes with tuna or chicken, while “hot dish” is for heavier baked dishes with beef, like this one. And finally, some areas just use the word “casserole” for all of the above! 🤷♀️
The Ingredients You’ll Need
This easy cheeseburger casserole comes together with basic ingredients, and a lot of them are pantry staples you probably keep around anyway, like pasta, canned tomatoes, and dried seasonings. Let’s take a look at the list:
- Olive Oil: Or another healthy cooking oil, like avocado.
- Ground Beef: You can also use ground turkey.
- Onion: Dice up an onion – yellow, white, or sweet, any kind you like.
- Salt and Pepper
- Oregano: Dried oregano, or feel free to use fresh oregano if you have it.
- Chili Powder: If you don’t have chili powder, sweet paprika is also good.
- Worcestershire Sauce: This adds a heavy dose of tangy, savory, umami flavor. Don’t skip it!
- Garlic: Fresh minced or pressed garlic, or you could use garlic powder in a pinch.
- Tomato Puree: Or strained tomatoes. Don’t use tomato paste, which is much more concentrated.
- Diced Tomatoes: Canned, diced tomatoes. For a kick, try using the ones with green chilies!
- Heavy Cream: To give the dish a luscious creaminess and cut the tanginess of the tomatoes.
- Pasta: Dried elbow macaroni is our favorite.
- Beef Bouillon: I used reconstituted beef bouillon, but you can also use beef broth, dried beef bouillon, or jarred beef base mixed with enough water to make 3/4 cup.
- Cheese: Shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack.
- Parsley: Dried parsley, or fresh if you prefer.
Which Ground Beef Is Healthiest?
There are a lot of ground beef choices out there these days, so which one is the healthiest? The answer depends on your personal health goals. For example, if you’re on a keto diet, you may want to choose a fatty beef like ground chuck. On the other hand, if you’re minimizing fat intake, a lean ground beef like sirloin might be the better choice.
Finally, grass-fed beef options are higher in Omega-3s, which makes it a healthy choice for your heart and other major body systems. As always, it’s best to consult a trusted healthcare expert to see which ingredient is best for your needs!
Let’s Make a Cheeseburger Casserole!
Time for the fun part: cooking! This simple casserole dish comes together in no time, and you don’t even have to cook the pasta first. Now that’s an easy weeknight recipe.
- Brown the Beef. To get started, you’ll want to preheat your oven to 350°F and then set a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add some oil, and cook the ground beef until it’s no longer pink, breaking it up as you go.
- Add the Onions, Seasonings, Worcestershire, and Garlic. Next, stir in the onions, and let them cook with the beef for about 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, oregano, chili powder, Worcestershire, and garlic, and let it cook for about 5 minutes longer.
- Add the Tomato Ingredients, Pasta, and Bouillon. To the mixture in the skillet, add the tomato puree and diced tomatoes. Give it a stir, and then pour in the pasta the bouillon. Stir again, and let it simmer for 3 – 4 minutes.
- Pour in the Cream and Half the Cheese. Stir the heavy cream and one cup each of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese. Let the cheese melt.
- Assemble and Bake. Pour the whole skillet of pasta and beef into your baking dish, and spread it evenly. Then top with the remaining cheese, sprinkle with parsley, and bake for about 15 minutes. Once the cheese is melted and bubbly, take it out.
- Allow to Cool. Cool your casserole for a few minutes before serving it with your favorite sides.
Before you start cooking, I hope you’ll read through these quick, helpful tips. They are designed to help make sure your casserole works for your family and your pantry. Enjoy!
- Pasta: While I think elbow pasta really shows off in this recipe, it’s also delicious with shells or rotini.
- Cream: You can substitute half and half or evaporated milk here, but do not let the mixture boil once you add dairy! If you do, the sauce may separate and become grainy.
- Cheese: Cheddar and Monterey Jack are part of what give this dish its “burger” taste, but you could also use cheeses like mozzarella and parmesan to give the dish a more Italian spin.
- Vegetables: Feel free to sneak in some grated or finely chopped veggies with the pasta, for a little extra nutrition. Spinach, carrots, and zucchini are all easy options.
Yummy Serving Suggestions
Cheeseburger casserole is practically a meal all on its own, but it does play well with a lot of different side dishes, too. Try rounding out your menu with one or two of these family favorites:
- Zucchini Fries: Crispy Parmesan Air Fryer Zucchini Fries are guaranteed to make even the pickiest eater love this healthy veggie.
- A Healthy Salad: Any fresh salad would be great here, from a Caesar side salad to a zingy fruit salad. This Tomato Avocado Salad is a great way to add healthy fats and use up summer tomatoes.
- Corn: Speaking of summer, if your family is anything like mine, fresh corn is always a treat. I love pulling out the grill pan to make easy Grilled Corn on the Cob, but you could also do simple steamed corn kernels with a little butter and salt. Yum.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- If you’ve got leftovers to wrangle, no problem! Just place them in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to four days.
- Reheat your cheeseburger casserole in the microwave or in the oven at 350ºF until warmed through.
Can I Freeze Cheeseburger Casserole?
- You can freeze this casserole for up to three months. Just cool it down, wrap it tightly, and mark with the date. I like to wrap mine in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil.
- If you’re not freezing the whole casserole, you can freeze the leftovers in airtight containers. Either way, thaw it in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Easy Cheeseburger Casserole
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup tomato puree
- 15 ounces can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 10 ounces dried elbow macaroni
- ¾ cup beef broth, or beef bouillon dissolved in 3/4 cup water
- 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes.
- Add the ground beef and cook until browned and no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
- Season the beef with salt, black pepper, dried oregano, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, and minced garlic; stir well to combine and let cook about 5 minutes.
- Pour in the tomato puree and diced tomatoes. Stir to combine.
- Next, add the dried large elbow macaroni and beef broth to the beef mixture and stir together. Let it cook for about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add in the heavy cream and stir well.
- Add 1 cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the skillet with the beef and sauce mixture. Stir until the cheese is melted and combined.
- Pour the mixture into a 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese over the top of the casserole.
- Sprinkle the dried parsley over the top of the cheese.
- Bake the casserole for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Top with parsley and serve!
- Pasta: I used elbow pasta, but using small pasta shells or rotini is also okay.
- Cheese: Cheddar and Monterey Jack give this dish its “burger” taste, but you could also use cheeses like shredded mozzarella and parmesan.
- Beef Broth: You can use 3/4 cup beef broth or dissolve beef bouillon in 3/4 cup boiling water. Vegetable Broth or Chicken Broth is also okay to use.
- Cream: I like using heavy cream, but you can substitute Half & Half or evaporated milk.
- Add-Ins: Feel free to add some finely chopped veggies, like zucchini, broccoli, or carrots, with the pasta, for a little extra nutrition.
- Storing: If you’ve got leftovers, place them in an airtight container and keep them in the refrigerator for up to four days.
- Reheating: Reheat your cheeseburger casserole in the microwave or oven at 350ºF until warmed.
- Freezing: You can freeze this casserole for up to three months.