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Cheeseburger Casserole

5 from 115 votes
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This easy cheeseburger casserole is a hearty and satisfying family dinner idea! It’s made with beef and tender pasta, combined with garlic, spices, and a generous amount of melty cheese.

This simple cheeseburger casserole recipe is filled with all the cheeseburger essentials. It has savory flavors of ground beef paired with tomato, onions, and garlic. It’s all baked together in a creamy sauce with tender pasta and plenty of melted cheddar cheese on top.

Casserole recipes are one of my go-to’s when I’m fixing to make a tasty dinner everyone will devour and this one 100% accomplishes that goal.

Why You’ll Love This Cheeseburger Casserole Recipe

  • Classic flavors. Cheeseburger casserole is a homemade take on boxed Hamburger Helper. This recipe ditches the box mix and recreates all those gooey, cheesy, beefy flavors from scratch.
  • Ready in less than an hour. The cheeseburger-inspired filling comes together on the stovetop in minutes, followed by a short bake in the oven. You’ll have the whole casserole hot and on the table in less than one hour.
  • Easy clean-up. The noodles become tender in the skillet as they soak up all the flavor, and then it’s a matter of filling a casserole dish for baking. Clean-up is quick, and leftovers keep for days.
The ingredients for cheeseburger casserole.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Pasta, beef, and cheese are the foundation of this easy cheeseburger casserole. Here, I’ve included some notes on the key ingredients and seasonings. Scroll to the recipe card below the post for the full amounts and detailed instructions.

  • Ground beef – You’ll need about one pound of lean ground beef. You can also make this casserole with ground chicken or turkey as a leaner option.
  • Onion – I like to use yellow onion but another variety, like Vidalia or even red onion, also works.
  • Seasoning – I season my ground beef with a blend of salt, pepper, chili powder, and Italian seasoning.
  • Garlic – You’ll need two minced garlic cloves, or to taste.
  • Tomato paste and broth – Tangy tomato paste along with low-sodium beef broth or chicken stock create the base for the sauce.
  • Pasta – You can make this pasta bake with uncooked cavatappi, or another short pasta (see below). 
  • Milk and sour cream – Substitute plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, or use heavy cream for a more decadent dish. 
  • Cheese – I top this casserole with shredded mozzarella and grated cheddar cheese. You can substitute this simple blend with another melty cheese like Colby, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, or whatever you have on hand. I recommend grating the cheese fresh from the block. Pre-shredded cheese comes with a waxy coating and won’t melt as smoothly.

What’s the Best Pasta to Use?

Similar to mac and cheese, the best types of pasta for cheeseburger casseroles are hollow and tubular. These shapes allow more cheese sauce to cling to them. I make my cheeseburger casserole with cavatappi, or “corkscrew” pasta, which is a bit like a bigger, spiralized version of elbow macaroni. Other good options are elbow macaroni, penne, ziti, and mini conchiglie (shells).

How to Make Cheeseburger Casserole

I love this cheeseburger casserole recipe for so many reasons, but most of all for how quickly it comes together. Comfort food doesn’t get better. Here’s how to make it:

  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF. While it preheats, make the filling.
  • Brown the beef. First, saute the ground beef in a skillet. Once browned, stir in diced onion along with your seasonings. Cook for a few minutes longer, until the onions are softened.
  • Add the pasta and cook. Next, stir in tomato paste and garlic, followed by the broth and pasta. Simmer the mixture, covered, until the pasta is al dente. This should take about 10 minutes or so, but the exact times may vary depending on the pasta you’re using.
  • Add milk, sour cream, and cheese. Whisk the milk and sour cream together in a separate bowl, then stir this into the skillet. After, sprinkle over half the shredded cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted.
  • Bake. Spread your cheesy beef and noodle mixture into a large casserole dish. Add the remaining shredded cheese over top, and bake the casserole at 375ºF for 10-15 minutes. The cheese should be melted and bubbling at the edges. 
  • Serve. Let the casserole stand for a bit once it’s out of the oven, this will make it easier to scoop. Serve cheeseburger casserole garnished with green onions alongside your favorite sides. See below for ideas.
Cheeseburger casserole in a baking dish topped with melted cheese and sliced green onions.

Tips for Success

This classic cheeseburger casserole is a satisfying meal whether you’re just beginning in the kitchen or if you’re a seasoned home cook. Here are a few quick tips for success:

  • Use room temperature ingredients. Take ingredients like milk, sour cream, and cheese out of the fridge 20-30 minutes ahead of preparing your casserole. Room-temperature ingredients are easier to combine and yield the creamiest texture. 
  • Try not to overcook the pasta. Since you’ll be baking the pasta after it’s cooked in the pan, make sure to only cook the pasta in the sauce until it’s just al dente (cooked but still firm in the center).
  • Want to make it a one-pot casserole? If you have an oven-proof skillet or a dutch oven, you can make this a one-pot cheeseburger casserole. Once your pasta, beef, and cheese mixture is ready on the stove, simply sprinkle the shredded cheese right over the filling and pop the whole thing into the oven. Bake as directed until the cheese is melted.
Overhead view of a serving of cheeseburger casserole in a white bowl, next to a second bowl and the corner of a casserole dish.

Variation Ideas

Casseroles are some of the most versatile dinner ideas. There are many ways to turn this cheeseburger casserole into a dish that suits just about any preference. Try these easy variations:

  • Mexican – Swap the Italian seasoning in the recipe for taco seasoning for a Tex-Mex spin on cheeseburger casserole.
  • Bacon – Stir in cooked, crumbled bacon for a bacon cheeseburger casserole.
  • More cheeseburger toppings – Add diced tomatoes and diced dill pickles to really round out those cheeseburger flavors.
  • Vegetarian – Substitute ground meat with canned beans, lentils, or your preferred meatless mince, and use vegetable broth in place of beef or chicken broth. If you’re looking for another hearty vegetarian casserole recipe, try my baked rigatoni pasta with vegetables and cream sauce.
A spoonful of cheeseburger casserole is lifted from a white bowl, with a second bowl in the background.

What to Serve With Cheeseburger Casserole

This cozy casserole is a satisfying all-in-one meal, but we love serving it with some of our favorite sides . My family especially loves it with cornbread muffins or fluffy buttermilk biscuits. For a vegetable side, I’ll sometimes cook up a quick batch of roasted asparagus in the air fryer, or make tender oven-roasted broccoli. For a light and easy side dish, try a crisp spring mix salad with apples and walnuts.

Overhead view of a serving of cheeseburger casserole in a white bowl, next to a small bowl of green onions.

Can I Make This Casserole Ahead?

Yes. Cheeseburger casserole can be made ahead and then refrigerated or frozen until you’re ready to bake it. Follow the recipe as directed right up until you transfer the casserole filling to an oven-proof baking dish and cover it with cheese. Wrap the unbaked casserole tightly in plastic wrap to refrigerate for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the casserole completely before baking as directed.

When preparing this casserole in advance, consider adding a bit of extra broth. This helps to keep the filling from drying out once it’s in the oven. Whenever possible, let your casserole come back to room temperature before baking. It’s important to pay attention to the temperature requirements of your casserole dish to avoid a cold dish cracking in the hot oven. See the next section for directions on how to store and reheat cheeseburger casserole once it’s baked.

Overhead view of a serving of cheeseburger casserole in a white bowl garnished with green onions.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

  • Fridge. Store any leftover cheeseburger casserole airtight and refrigerate it for up to 3-4 days. Reheat servings in the microwave or in the oven at 350ºF until warmed through.
  • Freezer. Baked cheeseburger casserole is also great to freeze. Cover the casserole or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, plus a layer of foil. You can also store smaller portions in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Store leftovers frozen for up to 3 months, and defrost them in the fridge before reheating.

More Pasta Casserole Recipes

Cheeseburger Casserole

5 from 115 votes
Cheeseburger casserole is cozy weeknight comfort food that the whole family will love. Tuck into this easy casserole recipe made with savory beef, tender pasta, garlic, spices, and lots of melty cheese.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 pound ground beef, lean
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 cups beef broth, or chicken stock
  • 12 oz cavatappi, uncooked
  • cup milk
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Green onions for decoration


  • Prep. Preheat your oven to 375°F and make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature (especially milk, sour cream, and cheese), it’s important for the creamiest texture.
  • Brown the beef. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef, breaking it up into crumbles with a spatula or wooden spoon. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the beef is no longer pink.
  • Add onion. Add the diced onion, salt, black pepper, chili powder, and Italian seasoning to the skillet with the ground beef. Stir and cook until the onions are softened for about 5 minutes.
  • Add tomato and garlic. Stir in the tomato paste and minced garlic until well combined.
  • Combine and cook. Add the beef broth and uncooked cavatappi pasta to the skillet and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover with a lid and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente (cooked but still firm).
  • Add milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and sour cream. Pour this mixture into the skillet, stirring it into the pasta and meat mixture.
  • Add cheese. Add half of the shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese to the skillet and mix until melted and well combined.
  • Fill a casserole dish. Transfer the mixture to a 13×9-inch casserole dish and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the remaining shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese over the top of the casserole.
  • Bake. Bake the casserole in the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Cool. Once cooked, remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Garnish with chopped green onions.
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Calories: 692kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 123mg | Sodium: 1322mg | Potassium: 608mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 882IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 436mg | Iron: 3mg
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as a courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.
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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Grammy Britt

    You didn’t state which percentage ground beef to use. I assume the leanest you can find. Otherwise you can end up with a greasy mess since you didn’t say drain after browning.
    I’ve made a lot of homemade
    casseroles and I agree they are a lot healthier and more nutritious than the packaged kind. But, I think you really need to assume a new cook wouldn’t automatically know to do this Missing Step.

    1. Rustic Family Recipes

      I actually specifically mention lean ground beef (as well as ground chicken and ground turkey being other options) in the post. You can see all these notes in the section about recipe ingredients. Did you read the post?

  2. Hi. This sounds amazing and something my family would love! Except for the sour cream. I was wondering if I could skip the sour cream or substitute something else? Can’t wait to make this!
    Thank you!

    1. Rustic Family Recipes

      Hmm, I’m not sure! The sour cream adds a delightful creaminess and a hint of tang to the dish, it’s pretty tasty! You could possibly try plain yogurt, Mexican crema, or crème fraîche. I haven’t tried either substitution myself so let me know how it turns out if you give it a go. 🙂

    2. I realized I don’t have sour cream and I love too far from store 🙃 I’m going to try cream of mushroom soup and see how that works.

  3. Good recipe, like a WAY better home made hamburger helper. Even my 3 yr old who does not like any pasta except box mac and cheese asked for seconds. The 15 yr old loved it too. Paired great with some biscuits5 stars

    1. Rustic Family Recipes

      Wow that’s high praise! 3 year olds don’t hold back with their opinions about food. 🙂 So glad to hear you and your family enjoyed the recipe.