Ground Beef Casserole with cheesy pasta is just like the one your mum made when you were growing up. Easy and delicious this is a family favourite recipe.
Homestyle cooking doesn’t get much better than this! This oven baked recipe is the best ground beef casserole you will ever try!
This recipe holds a special place in my heart. Growing up, my mum used to make us Beef, Beans and Macaroni. It was my favourite dinner dish. I am not sure if that was the technical name for it, it was more likely a beef pasta bake or beef macaroni bake but that is what we called it.
It was a beef casserole recipe with rich tomato passato sauce, Italian herbs, beans and pasta oven baked to perfection!
For a taste of home on a plate, this casserole recipe ticks EVERY box! A cheesy mince pasta bake that literally has ‘eat me’ written all over it!
What is a Ground Beef Casserole?
A Ground beef (mince for us Aussies) casserole is a recipe where ingredients are mixed together before being transferred into a baking dish (casserole dish) and oven baked.
This results in a hearty and delicious cheesy beefy casserole with rich flavours and textures.
The benefit as well as that the dish that you use to bake your casserole can then also become the one which you use to serve your casserole too!
More often than not, most of the ingredients for a ground beef casserole are cooked prior to being placed in the casserole dish. We do that with this recipe as we need to cook both the ground beef and the pasta as steps along the way.
With the pasta and beef mince coming together for this classic combination we enter the world of comfort food at its finest!
Mince casserole in the oven = like a trip down memory lane.
What ingredients are in a ground beef casserole?
There are 2 sets of ingredients in this recipe.
The 1st set are the ingredients used to make the pasta sauce. They are shown in the photo below.
You can see we have:
- condensed tomato soup
- passata (thick and rich)
- crushed tomatoes (these are different to diced tomatoes)
As we are making a beef and cheese pasta bake, we want to use a good stringy cheese, like mozzarella.
The 2nd set of ingredients is the non sauce meat and pasta component of our recipe.
Here we have our:
- ground beef (beef mince)
- red kidney beans
- Italian herbs
- salt and pepper
These ingredients are easy to work with and take hardly any prep time!
What does a ground beef casserole taste like?
This recipe tastes like a rich tomato, Italian inspired pasta dish! Or in other words, tasty and delicious!
With a combination of cooked pasta and browned off mince, we form the base of our casserole which is a cheesy beef delight.
If an Italian woman who learnt to cook from generation to generation were standing in your kitchen she would say ‘That’s Amoray!
What type of pasta should I use?
When we had this dish growing up, we always had it with macaroni pasta. Hence why macaroni is my favourite, but penne might be yours and that is a- ok!
The photo below shows you macaroni, it is a small thin tube like pasta, you might remember we used it in our Blue Cheese Mac and Cheese.
Here are some more suggestions if you want to change it up a little:
- Curly pasta
You can also have a look at our Tomato Mac and Cheese to get an idea about a different options as for that recipe we use a curly pasta (which is another tube like pasta, but it is much bigger) .
I do not recommend these types of pasta be used in this dish:
That is because we want simple and basic textures in the dish and the orecchiette, macarini, penne and rigatoni do that. Whereas the remaining pasta types are best saved for a dish which lets them be the centre of attention (Spag bowl for example).
Do you have to boil pasta before baking?
I always have and have not tried to do this any other way (yet).
You will remember from the Fiesta Tuna Pasta Bake recipe, we discussed we did have to boil the pasta 1st. That is because the sauce is a thick, creamy, cheesy sauce.
For the tomato passata sauce in this ground beef casserole, it is a much more traditional type of pasta sauce with a thinner consistency. I still haven’t tried to recreate this as a dish with a new technique because as the saying goes ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
Besides, I wouldn’t really be sharing my all time favourite childhood family recipe if I was going to change the way in which I cooked it would I!!!
Making a Ground Beef Casserole follows these steps
The photo below shows you the steps you need to take to bring this dish together, easy and simply steps.
You can see we:
- combine the cooked pasta and ground beef with the celery and beans
- mix our sauce together and stir it through
- transfer our beef pasta mix into a casserole dish
- oven bake to heat and for cheese to melt
Can you prepare ground beef casseroles in advance?
Yes, friends, you can! This is why baked pasta recipes are so easy!
If there was ever a dish to have up your sleeve for a friend in need, THIS IS IT!! (fist pump – it is a GOOD one!)
It is transportable, reheat-able, freezer friendly, kid friendly and busy family friendly. (Not to mention so cheesy and delicious!)
The best thing is you can make the dish, store it in the fridge and at dinner time heat it in the oven and serve it for a family friendly ground beef casserole that everyone at the table will love.
Can you freeze a cheesy beef casserole once cooked?
Absolutely you can!
It is the type of leftovers that will make you the envy of the office!
It is best divide it into portions before freezing so that you can defrost and reheat smaller individual servings on the dish. Say you want to take it to work for lunch.
If you do want to freeze a whole casserole dish of the meal (and I totally get that), then you need to remove it from the freezer and let your baking dish adjust to the temperature change before putting it into the oven.
Cheesy beef pasta casserole sauce
This is the cheapest, quick tomato pasta sauce I have ever made and it WORKS EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Tomato passata is a rich uncooked sauce which adds a depth of flavour to our tomato pasta bake sauce
It is easy to prepare, simple in flavour and texture and rich in taste.
It is entirely possible that you will want to use this tomato pasta bake sauce for every other Italian dish you make. DO IT, my friend! (I am not going to hold you back!)
Beef Casserole Bean Pasta Bake Tomato Passata sauce thingamajig
There is no doubt many recipes that combine the above ingredients in various forms.
It can be confusing when you are talking to a friend about what turns out to the the exact same (or very similar ingredients) with vastly different names.
You might know this recipe as a ground beef casserole. Someone else might call the exact same dish a beef macaroni bake or a beef pasta casserole, that my friends is totally fine!
Your kids might like the idea of a Cheesy Mince Pasta Bake and you call tell your friends you made mum’s best beef casserole!
Easy Family Friendly Recipes
This is the perfect week night dinner. You can do the prepare all of the ingredients, do the cooking and have the pasta bake in the oven being kept warm on a low heat ready for dinner.
The pasta will take less than 10 minutes to cook. The beef is about the same. Then you need only drain and rinse your red kidney beans, season with Italian herbs and spices, add some sliced celery, top the dish with a little bit of grated cheese and place it in the oven to bake.
Kids will love this dish also as the flavours, whilst rich are simple and taste like a classic tomato pasta!
A couple of other easy pasta recipes that you may want to include in your weekly meal plan are:
- Tuna Spaghetti (recipe is here)
- Tomato Spaghetti (recipe is here)
- Fiesta Tuna Pasta Bake (recipe is here)
Family friendly meals need to be loved by all and EATEN by all
Ground beef pasta casserole recipes can be modified
I have made this dish many a time, once you do as well, you might want to spice it up occasionally. Here are some tips to achieve that:
- Reduce the amount of pasta
- Increase the amount of celery
- Add carrots
- Reduce the amount of beef
- Reduce the amount of cheese
Ground Beef Casserole quick info:
About the recipe:
- The ground beef casserole is best served hot
- use a casserole dish
- Cracked pepper is a good way to add seasoning to individual portions
- Parsley adds a pop of colour on top
- The pasta will cook in less than 10 minutes
- The recipe is oven baked to allow the cheese to melt
- The tomato passata sauce is easy and cost effective
Your FAQs answered:
- I am guessing about 121, times I have made this recipe (give or take a few).
- You can choose the pasta type you prefer for this dish
- To reduce the calorie intake per serve, add chopped carrots in place of 1 cup of pasta
- This dish has no chilli in it (but it is an optional extra)
- This is an EASY dish to make
Keep these pointers in mind for the bomb diggity of ground beef casseroles:
- when cooking the ground beef, use a flat utensil to break it up
- make sure the beef mince is fully cooked with no pink bits before you mix it with other ingredients
- cook your pasta so it is ‘al dente’, (still slightly firm when bitten)
- keep the casserole in the oven till the cheese is a light golden brown (a bit beyond melted).
Pasta is traditionally known as ‘comfort food’, let’s check out a few other recipes that provide homestyle connotations:
- Tomato Mac and Cheese (vegetarian recipe)
- Blue Cheese Mac and Cheese (also vegetarian)
- Fiesta Tuna Pasta Bake (Mexican style)
- Tomato Spaghetti (perfect for week nights!)
There won’t be one plate with food left on it from this selection, the recipes are all just SO TASTY!!
Ground Beef Casserole
- Casserole Dish
Ground Beef Casserole
- 500 grams ground beef (beef mince) Note 1
- 2 cups uncooked macaroni pasta Note 2
- 400 grams red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 bunch celery (leafs and stems trimmed)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 600 grams tomato passata
- 400 grams crushed tomatoes (plain, no herbs)
- 400 ml condensed tomato soup
- 1 tbsp Italian herbs Note 3
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1 tbs parsley Note 6
Ground Beef Casserole
- Preheat oven to 200°c/400°F,gas 6
- Spray a casserole dish with cooking oil (Note 5)
- Bring a medium saucepan to the boil, add a dash of olive oil, the macaroni (pasta) and cook to packet instructions (usually 8 mins) Then drain and set aside.
- At the same time add a splash of olive oil to a frying pan, bring to a medium heat, add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, Italian herbs and cook until browned, reduce heat.
- Add the red kidney beans and the celery to the beef mixture, stir all ingredients until well combined.
- Slice celery into thin pieces
- Pour the tomato passata, condensed tomato soup, crushed tomatoes onto the browned ground beef.
- Sprinkled grated cheese over the dish sparingly and oven bake the pasta dish until the cheese melts (approximately 10-15 mins) Note 7, 8
- Garnish with parsley Note 6
- Note 1 Ground Beef and Beef mince are the same thing.
- Note 2: There is room for error in over cooking the pasta. If in doubt, have it be a little under not over. ie Also cooking it to the packet directions will help. It will then cook further in the oven. (Have a few little taste testers of it along the way to get it to your liking).
- Note 3: An Australian tablespoon is 20 ml (0.68 US fl oz), an American one measures 14.8 ml (0.50 US fl oz)). So add an American tablespoon if in the USA, taste and add a little bit more if desired.
- Note 4: One thing I have changed slightly in the recipe is that I no longer slab over a great wad of cheese like we did growing up. These days, I lower the amount I use and spread it out more (it's good for the hips)
- Note 5: Don't worry about lining the dish with alfoil or baking paper. They would break apart and you would have mouthfuls of it each spoon you took of the dish. The oil is plenty to stop the sticking (trust me, I hate cleaning at the best of times. Well, to be honest, I hate cleaning always, haha, but TRUE!).
- Note 6: I use mozzarella cheese as it is stringy and melts well. Any regular grated cheese will do fine though as it more cost effective for the family budget.
- Note 7: I can never manage to grow parsley for too long before it frazzles, so I use dried herbs which work perfectly well!
- Note 8: This makes a large size meal. I am being conservative in saying 6, it could well feed 8 adults. I used 2 small casserole dishes, you can also use 1 large one. The sizes I use are: Small casserole dish: 28 x 17.5 x 5 cm (shown in the photos) or Large casserole dish: 33 x 22.5 x 5 cm.
Please note this recipe was published on 31st May 2019 and updated 9th October 2019
This recipe is literally part of my heart on a plate. It is THE recipe that I would ask mum to make, eventually get her to teach me to make, and now could make it with my eyes closed (I might spill some stuff on the floor, but I hey, I would still get it done).
There is nothing more like home on a plate than baked macaroni and cheese with tomatoes. Nothing comes close.
You know that I am just a hop, skip and a few words away from your kitchen so enjoy it, make this and let me know how you go. I want you to be able to make THE BEST ground beef casserole your oven can bake!!
Let me know if you have questions, I will be in my kitchen, doing some cooking and together we can achieve great cooking.