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Looking for easy, cheesy (yet still healthy!) ground beef dinner ideas? This Ground Beef Casserole will have your family asking for seconds and become a regular in your ground beef recipe repertoire.

the best ground beef casserole in a dish

Ground beef is browned with onions, peppers, garlic and a surprise ingredient (Rotel!), and layered over noodles in a cheesy sauce for one big, bubbly casserole you’re going to say “mmm-mmm-MMM!” over.

When making comfort food with ground beef that is crowd-pleasing, not too over the top, and easy, my mind immediately (and less creatively) turns to the ol’ tacos or spaghetti ‘n’ meatballs.

Not knocking the classics, they are family favorites for a reason, but this ground beef casserole recipe is a fresh take on a ground beef dinner with SO MUCH FLAVOR.

easy cheesy ground beef casserole

Ground Beef for Easy Dinners

Ground Beef Casserole is Light and Easy

That’s right, you can make a ground beef casserole that is 100% satisfying, but is not made with a brick of cheese, a cup of cream, or a can of “cream of” soup.

  • Greek yogurt steps in for added protein and creaminess and makes a great healthy substitute for sour cream.
  • Whole wheat noodles add protein and fiber, making the meal even more filling.
  • It is cheesy without overdoing the cheese factor.
  • Plus, veggies are added to pack in some vitamins.
chessy and simple ground beef casserole

How to Make Ground Beef Casserole

In this ground beef casserole, tomato sauce and canned diced tomatoes in green chilis (yes, Rotel has powers beyond queso dip!) are mixed into the browned ground beef and vegetables.

From there, the ingredients are transformed into a divine ground beef casserole by layering over cream sauce noodles, with a final sprinkle of shredded cheddar for its crowning glory.

Tip!

To keep the noodles from getting too mushy, do not cook your noodles all the way to al dente. They will continue cooking while baking in the casserole dish.


The Ingredients

  • Ground Beef. Opt for 90% to 93% ground beef to make the dish leaner. It has plenty of cheese and creamy sauce to keep it moist.
  • Noodles. Choose your favorite shape, such as elbow, penne pasta, or egg noodles.
  • Cheese. A sharp cheddar makes the cheese flavor stand out.
  • Cream Cheese. Reduced fat cream cheese whisks into the cheese sauce for a creamy factor.
  • Greek Yogurt. Makes the sauce even more creamy, while adding more protein.
  • Bell Peppers. A green bell pepper, plus a red, orange, or yellow (you pick!) adds fiber and vitamins, making this easy ground beef casserole recipe an all-in-one meal.

Market Swap

You can add or subtract vegetables. Throw in some chopped spinach if your picky eaters won’t detect it, or add mushrooms, zucchini, or carrots.

  • Tomato Sauce. Adds moisture to the lean ground beef.
  • Tomatoes in Green Chilis. Surprise ingredient to add loads of flavor to the ground beef.
  • Green Onion. Adds a bite.

The Directions

browning beef and onions for ground beef casserole
  1. Cook beef, onion, and bell peppers in a large skillet over medium-high heat with salt and pepper. Stir in the garlic.
prepping easy ground beef casserole
  1. Add diced tomatoes in green chilis and tomato sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta until just below al dente.
whisking together sauce for ground beef casserole
  1. Whisk together reserved pasta water, cream cheese, Greek yogurt, cornstarch, and salt, then stir in cheese.
pasta for ground beef casserole with pasta
  1. Add half of the green onions, noodles, and 1 cup pasta water. Stir to combine.
pasta for ground beef casserole in a baking dish
  1. Spoon sauce-covered noodles into an even layer in the bottom of a prepared baking dish.
ground beef casserole with pasta in a baking dish
  1. Spoon beef mixture over the noodle mixture.
cheese on top of easy ground beef casserole
  1. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake ground beef casserole at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, until it is browned and bubbling. Sprinkle with green onions and let stand for 15 minutes prior to serving. ENJOY!

Dietary Note

  • To make ground beef casserole gluten free, swap the whole wheat noodles for favorite gluten-free pasta, or make ground beef rice casserole. I like long-grain brown rice over white rice for added nutrients. Cook the rice first, leaving it just a little al dente.
  • For low carb, you could experiment with cauliflower rice; note that it will be watery. A better option is Spaghetti Squash Casserole.
ground beef casserole in a large baking dish

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate leftover ground beef casserole in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or gently in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Store in freezer-safe, airtight storage container for up to 3 months, thaw overnight in refrigerator, and then reheat.

Meal Prep Tip

  • To save on cooking time the day of, chop onions and peppers and shred cheese, then refrigerate separately in ziptop bags until ready to cook.
  • You can also prepare the entire casserole the day before, wrap and store in fridge, and then bake the next day. This is a great shortcut for weeknight dinner.

What to Serve with Ground Beef Casserole

cheesy ground beef casserole with pasta on a plate

Make this ground beef casserole for your next family dinner.

It might not win a beauty contest, but it’s going to win over everyone’s tastebuds!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Ground Beef Casserole Be Made Ahead of Time?

Yes! You can prepare the dish entirely and then bake it the next day. Ground beef casserole is also freezer friendly, so it’s a great make-ahead dish.

Can Ground Turkey or Ground Chicken Be Substituted for the Ground Beef?

Yes, you can swap ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef. The flavor and texture will be different, but it will still be delicious. For a flavor more similar to beef, try ground bison.

Is Beef Casserole Healthy?

This ground beef casserole recipe has fresh vegetables, whole grains, and lean mean, all of which offer nutritional benefits.

Ground Beef Casserole

4.50 from 38 votes
Family-pleasing ground beef casserole, with flavorful ground beef, vegetables, pasta, and lightened creamy sauce, baked with cheese on top.

Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes

Servings: 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef 90% or 93% lean
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper red, yellow, or orange, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 10-ounce cans diced tomatoes and green chilis (such as Rotel)
  • 1 8-ounce can added tomato sauce
  • 12 ounces whole wheat pasta noodles such as egg noodles, elbow macaroni, or penne
  • 1 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded and divided (about 2 cups)
  • 4 green onions thinly sliced, divided

Instructions
 

  • Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  • In a wide, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the beef, onion, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper. Cook, breaking apart the meat, until it is fully cooked through and the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Increase the heat slightly and continue to cook and stir until most of the liquid cooks away.
  • Stir in the garlic. Let cook, stirring constantly, until super fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes in green chilis and the tomato sauce. Let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta until just below al dente—it shouldn’t be completely crunchy but should still be too firm to eat. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain and set aside
  • Pour 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water back into the now-empty pot you used to cook the pasta. Add the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk until smoothly combined. Stir in one-third of the cheese, continuing to whisk until it is mostly smooth. Don’t worry if the cheese doesn’t melt completely.
  • Add half of the green onions, the noodles, and the remaining 1 cup pasta water. Stir to combine, then carefully spoon the noodles and the liquid in the pot into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. It will look like a mess at this point.
  • Spoon the beef mixture evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with the cheddar.
  • Bake ground beef casserole until the cheese is browned and it is bubbling around the edges, about 30 minutes. If desired, pop the pan under the broiler for a minute or two to further brown the cheese. Watch carefully. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the remaining green onions, and let stand for 15 minutes prior to serving.

Video

Notes

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate leftover ground beef casserole in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or gently in the microwave.
  • TO FREEZE: Store in freezer-safe, airtight storage container for up to 3 months, thaw overnight in refrigerator, and then reheat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 6Calories: 559kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 38gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 97mgPotassium: 519mgFiber: 6gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1260IUVitamin C: 45mgCalcium: 356mgIron: 2mg

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More Ground Beef Dinner Ideas

Ground beef makes so many easy and crowd-pleasing dinners! Taco casserole, pasta bake, and shepherd’s pie are classics.

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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10 Comments

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    1. Hi Margaret! I’m so confused because I see it on my end. Are you not able to see the full list of ingredients and directions in the recipe card? It’s in the area above where you commented. You can also click the “jump to recipe” button at the top of the post. Could you please check again?

  1. Hi Erin, just wanted to ask if the Rotel should be drained? Looking forward to making this for my family! Thank you for sharing :)

  2. Really liked this! Used green chilies with diced tomatoes because we were out of Rotel and also used the Trader Joe’s Meatless Crumbles to make it vegetarian. Thanks for the great recipe!5 stars