This comforting Cheeseburger Casserole pasta dish features all the fixings of a delicious cheeseburger all baked in the oven. It is cheesy, easy, and the perfect meal for families who are short on time.
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Seasoned, browned hamburger meat is cooked in a skillet with onion, and spices while the pasta boils. Canned tomatoes, chopped pickles, and some ketchup, all flavor this meal nicely. Freshly grated cheddar is melted on top of the oven. Overall, this meal is ready from ingredients to dinner in about 30 minutes flat!
If you love cheeseburgers and are sick of the same old boring dinners, this fun meal can have you enjoying the flavors year round.
The best part is this meal is simple to make and will not cost a fortune. Chances are, you might even have the canned diced tomatoes, hamburger, and pasta on hand. If you are like us, ketchup and pickles too! We are using our homemade variety of Cold Packed Refrigerator Pickles which are a hit!
Cheeseburger casserole ingredients
This meaty, cheesy casserole only requires 10 ingredients with a few of them being spices.
You can use 90/10 lean hamburger, or 80/20 hamburger for this recipe. Plant-based meat crumbles can also be used. Just make sure you have at least 1 lb of meat minimally, but you want at least 2 lbs. for a hearty meal, or substitute to work with.
If you use a higher fat content hamburger, be sure to drain it into a glass jar or bowl to harden. You can later throw it away once it has cooled. Hot grease is not good for the drain and can cause plumbing issues.
For the pasta ingredient, you can choose macaroni elbows, penne, or shells. Any pasta that can hold extra flavor will work well.
This recipe also calls for a tomatoes. I used canned diced tomatoes. You can use fresh too if you have them on hand. Another tomato ingredient you could add in is seasoned tomatoes like RO*Tel for a zesty flavor.
When making casserole meals that feature cheese, I have stopped using shredded cheddar that is bagged. Shredded cheddar contains an ingredient additive that prevents the shreds from sticking to one another. Unfortunately, it also bakes the cheese up to a stringy, dry consistency.
I love to hand-grate a block of solid cheddar cheese which will melt evenly with lots of oils, creating a delicious cheese pull. Freshly grated cheese also simply tastes better.
For spices, this area is almost up to you. I chose kosher salt which is not as salty as table salt, black ground pepper, onion, and garlic powder. You can also use Montreal Steak Seasoning which is delicious on meat. Use your preference.
How to cook cheeseburger casserole
Prepare a 6-quart stock pot with water, a pinch of kosher salt, and bring the water to a roaring boil before adding your pasta. Cook pasta until al dente while doing the below steps.
Chop up one yellow onion, and add it to a large frying pan with your hamburger, and seasoning; cook until hamburger is browned, and onion is translucent.
Drain excess hamburger fat and cool in a glass jar to throw away once it is solid.
Open your tomatoes with your can opener. If you need a new can opener, I really love this KitchenAid can opener which requires little effort to open the can. Drain the excess juices from your tomatoes, and then add them and the ketchup, and mustard to your skillet; stir well over low-medium heat.
Strain pasta, and then add the hamburger tomatoes, and onion blend to the stockpot and stir.
Grate 4 ounces of cheese into the pot and mix thoroughly. I love this Oxo Good Grips Grater which is wide, and helps to quickly shred the cheese.
Add cheeseburger mixture into your oven-safe casserole dish into a large casserole dish; grate remaining cheese for the top of the casserole.
Place in the oven on the middle rack to bake for 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You want to bake this uncovered to get the cheese nice and melty.
Serving cheeseburger casserole
Once this comes out of the oven, top with chopped pickles and serve warm. You could also top it with green onion if your prefer.
We serve this Cheeseburger Casserole with garlic bread. You can even make your own Frozen Texas Toast Style Garlic Bread at home! It stores nicely in the freezer and bakes up to a golden brown perfection.
Substitutions for cheeseburger
If you do not like cheddar cheese, you could use a creamy deli American cheese hand grated. Just order your cheese in a half lb. block from the deli and grate as you would the cheddar. If you prefer Swiss, jack, or white cheddar you can also use those–it is all about preference.
You can use lean hamburger, 80/20 hamburger, ground turkey, or meatless meat crumbles.
You can use any variety that will hold the flavor like shells, macaroni elbows, penne, or rigatoni.
How to store this casserole
If you have any leftovers, store them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
To make this a freezer meal, do all the steps above besides baking the pasta. You will mix the ingredients and top with cheese. However, you will not bake the cheese. Once the casserole is cooled, top with cheese, and add it to a freezer-safe aluminum pan and cover tightly.
To bake from frozen, you will need to bake it for about 60 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Top with pickles before serving.
Other casserole dishes
- Cheesy Crab Casserole
- Tater To Breakfast Casserole with Sausage
- Fish Sticks Casserole
- Chorizo Green Bean Casserole
- 2 lbs. hamburger meat *you can use up to 2 lbs
- 1 lb. elbow macaroni
- 28 oz diced canned tomatoes
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 2 tsps. Montreal steak seasoning *you can also use salt, pepper, onion, and garlic powder.
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup mustard
- 8 ounces yellow cheddar block grated, and divided
- 1/4 cup chopped pickles
- Prepare a 6-quart stock pot with water, a pinch of kosher salt, and bring the water to a roaring boil before adding your pasta. Cook pasta until al dente while doing the below steps.
- Chop up one yellow onion, and add it to a large frying pan with your hamburger, and seasoning; cook until hamburger is browned, and onion is translucent.
- Drain excess hamburger fat and cool in a glass jar to throw away once it is solid.
- Open your tomatoes with your can opener. Drain the excess juices from your tomatoes, and then add them and the ketchup, and mustard to your skillet; stir well over low-medium heat.
- Strain pasta, and then add the hamburger tomatoes, and onion blend to the stockpot and stir.
- Grate 4 ounces of cheese into the pot and mix thoroughly.
- Add cheeseburger mixture into your oven-safe casserole dish.
- Grate remaining 4 ounces of cheese for the top of the casserole.
- Place in the oven on the middle rack to bake for 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You want to bake this uncovered to get the cheese nice and melty; about 15 minutes.
- Add chopped pickles to the casserole once it is removed from the oven.
- Enjoy warm!