Cheesy Beef and Pasta Casserole

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Cheesy Ground Beef Pasta Casserole — Hearty comfort food that’s EASY and IRRESISTIBLE!! Cheesy pasta and beef coated in marinara sauce and topped with more CHEESE! Makes planned leftovers and is freezer-friendly!!

Cheesy Ground Beef Pasta Casserole — Hearty comfort food that's EASY and IRRESISTIBLE!! Cheesy pasta and beef coated in marinara sauce and topped with more CHEESE! Makes planned leftovers and is freezer-friendly!!

Easy Pasta Bake with Ground Beef

This ground beef pasta casserole is hearty, family-friendly comfort food that feeds a small army. If you need a crowd-pleasing dish to bring to a potluck, work function, or party, this easy pasta bake is a slam dunk.

If you like to meal prep for the week, this is a great batch-cooking recipe. You are definitely set for many meals with this one.

And as a bonus, this ground beef pasta casserole freezes really well so even if you’re just cooking for two or for a small family, put the rest into airtight containers, freeze them, and dinner is ready on nights you don’t want to cook.

Cheesy, saucy ground beef and pasta is hard to say no to. This baked penne pasta is definitely a kid-friendly (or picky spouse) kind of meal.

It’s got that comfort food appeal that keeps you full and satisfied for hours. You may just want to curl up for a nap after a big plate of this, and I don’t blame you.

Cheesy Beef and Pasta Casserole - Hearty comfort food that's EASY and IRRESISTIBLE!! Cheesy pasta and beef coated in marinara sauce and topped with more CHEESE! Makes planned leftovers and is freezer-friendly!!

Ground Beef Pasta Casserole Ingredients

To make this hamburger pasta casserole recipe, you’ll need:

  • Penne pasta
  • Ground beef
  • Olive oil
  • Vidalia onion
  • Red bell pepper
  • Garlic
  • Ground oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Marinara sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella 
  • Fresh basil 
Cheesy Beef and Pasta Casserole - Hearty comfort food that's EASY and IRRESISTIBLE!! Cheesy pasta and beef coated in marinara sauce and topped with more CHEESE! Makes planned leftovers and is freezer-friendly!!

How to Make Ground Beef Pasta Casserole

This is a quick and easy pasta dinner that comes together with minimal prep work. Here’s an overview of how the ground beef pasta bake is prepared:

  1. Boil a pound of penne pasta.
  2. While the pasta is going, in a large Dutch oven or similarly big pot, cook a pound of ground beef with onions, red peppers, and season with garlic and oregano.
  3. Add the cooked pasta into the Dutch oven, add marinara sauce, and stir in mozzarella.
  4. Turn it all out into a casserole dish, top with more cheese, and bake until the cheese melts.

Super easy and you’ll have planned leftovers for days or for a freezer stash. If your motto is like mine, which is cook once, eat twice (or five times) this is so perfect!

Cooking Tip

A big tip here is to make sure you are cooking the ground beef in a Dutch oven or pot large enough to hold that pound of ground beef, and later the pound of cooked pasta, over one pound of marinara sauce, and nearly one pound of cheese.

Cheesy Ground Beef Pasta Casserole — Hearty comfort food that's EASY and IRRESISTIBLE!! Cheesy pasta and beef coated in marinara sauce and topped with more CHEESE! Makes planned leftovers and is freezer-friendly!!

Ground Beef Pasta Casserole FAQs

Can I Use Ground Turkey Instead? 

I’m sure you can, but you may need to add a little extra olive oil to the skillet when browning the meat. Ground turkey is much leaner than ground beef, and you don’t want it to dry out. 

What’s the best pasta for a pasta casserole?

I made this cheesy hamburger pasta bake with penne pasta, but you can use any short, study pasta you have on hand. Think: rotini, farfalle, shells, etc.

Can this recipe be made vegetarian?

I’m sure you could easily make this recipe vegetarian by omitting the ground beef and subbing in extra sautéed vegetables. 

What Cheese Is Best for Pasta Casserole?

I used shredded mozzarella in this ground beef pasta bake, but you’re welcome to use your favorite cheese blend instead. 

What’s the Best Ground BEef for a Pasta Casserole?

I recommend using lean ground beef (I used 93% lean). There’s plenty of cheese in this hamburger pasta bake, so you don’t want lots of excess fat coming off of the ground beef.

Cheesy Ground Beef Pasta Casserole — Hearty comfort food that's EASY and IRRESISTIBLE!! Cheesy pasta and beef coated in marinara sauce and topped with more CHEESE! Makes planned leftovers and is freezer-friendly!!

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4.51 from 73 votes

Cheesy Beef and Pasta Casserole

By Averie Sunshine
Hearty comfort food that’s EASY and IRRESISTIBLE!! Cheesy pasta and ground beef coated in marinara sauce and topped with more CHEESE!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 10
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Ingredients  

  • 16 ounces penne pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, optional
  • 1 pound lean ground beef, I used 93% lean
  • 1 medium sweet Vidalia onion, diced small
  • 1 medium/large red bell pepper, diced small
  • 3 to 5 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • one 26-ounce jar marinara or pasta sauce
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • fresh basil or parsley, optional for garnishing

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375F and spray a 9×13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray; set aside.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.
  • While the pasta is cooking, to a large Dutch oven, optionally add the olive oil (my beef was very lean and the oil was necessary), beef, onion, red pepper, and cook over medium-high heat until beef is cooked through and vegetables have softened; stir frequently and crumble the beef while it cooks; do not drain.
  • Add the garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and stir to combine. Cook for about 1 minute, or until garlic is fragrant.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the beef mixture, add the marinara, and stir to combine and coat evenly.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups cheese and stir to combine until the cheese has melted.
  • Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and evenly sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese over the top.
  • Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted on top.
  • Optionally garnish with fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Notes

  • Recipe will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 345kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 59mg, Sodium: 863mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 8g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was delicious! Did all the basics the same; used a tablespoon of fresh oregano since I had it, used whole milk shredded mozzarella and about a quarter cup of shredded parm to the cheese on top, and a small can of sliced black olives with the rest of the mix since my husband likes it.

    But the *real* tough customer was my daughter, who’s autistic and can be somewhat picky. She wolfed it down so fast I’m not sure she breathed! So, consider this Mama Bear tested, Baby bear approved! Thanks for sharing!

  2. 5 stars
    This was delicious! Did all the basics the same; used a tablespoon of fresh oregano since I had it, used whole milk shredded mozzarella and about a quarter cup of shredded parm to the cheese on top, and a small can of sliced black olives with the rest of the mix since my husband likes it.

    But the *real* tough customer was my daughter, who’s autistic and can be somewhat picky. She wolfed it down so fast I’m not sure she breathed! So, consider this Mama Bear tested, Baby bear approved! Thanks for sharing!

  3. 5 stars
    I thought it turned out great. My Dutch Oven is only a 5 qt so I made it smaller. The meat wasn’t dry like it is sometimes.

  4. 3 stars
    This recipe is good but has wrong proportions. It turns out dry [olive oil on one’s serving helps]. It should have 2/3 the pasta and DOUBLE the sauce and 1.5 times the meat.

  5. 5 stars
    Followed the recipe as written. Used Glen Ellen organic, sugar free pasta sauce with basil. It was delicious! And easy. Thanks for sharing. 

  6. 5 stars
    Followed the recipe as written. Used Glen Ellen organic, sugar free pasta sauce with basil. It was delicious! And easy. Thanks for sharing. 

  7. 5 stars
    This was fantastic and a new favorite of Jon’s (so I am also thankful for leftovers)! It was perfect for a gray, drizzly, low 40’s sort of day.

    1. Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad this is a new favorite of Jon’s and that you got some leftovers out of it too :)

  8. The calendar says it’s spring but our temperatures haven’t quite got the message yet so comfort food is perfect for these chilly nights! This looks so good!