Easy Cheesy Hamburger Casserole

This Easy Cheesy Hamburger Casserole is a homemade version of the boxed comfort food we all know and love. Made with macaroni noodles, ground beef, melty cheese, and savory tomato sauce – this easy recipe is hearty, satisfying, and delicious. It will become a family favorite fast!

Looking for more comforting, easy dinners? Try my Cast Iron Skillet Lasagna, Beef Stuffed Shells, or this Velveeta Hamburger Helper!

Cheese full of hamburger casserole on a spoon.

Food has the remarkable ability to transport us back to childhood. And this hamburger casserole recipe is no exception. You can whip up this nostalgic childhood favorite in just a few simple steps and 45 minutes.

It’s an easy way to serve a satisfying meal on busy weeknights or when you’re craving some classic comfort food. Pair it with a simple side salad and watch it disappear from your dinner table!

What you’ll love about this recipe:

  • KID FRIENDLY – This cheesy hamburger casserole is perfect for picky eaters. It has very simple ingredients that the whole family will appreciate.
  • QUICK MEAL – You’ll love how quickly and easily this one-pan dish comes together. It’s a great meal that doesn’t take much time.
  • INEXPENSIVE – The ingredients are widely accessible at your local grocery store, and if you buy them in bulk, this dish is very cost-efficient. It’s a great meal when you don’t have fresh veggies because most ingredients are pantry staples.


You’ll need the following ingredients to make this Easy Cheesy Hamburger Casserole:

Ingredients needed to make Hamburger Casserole.


Pasta: Use a short pasta like elbow macaroni for a more authentic homemade hamburger helper texture. But penne, shells, bowties, or even egg noodles work, too. You want to use bite-sized pasta with texture so the tomato sauce sticks to it.

Ground Beef: I use a pound of ground beef but this is a great recipe to use up whatever ground meat you have on hand. Try ground chicken, pork, or ground turkey. With so much flavor in this recipe, there’s a lot of flexibility.

Cheese: This ground beef casserole has a blend of shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. But you can easily swap out the mozzarella with cheddar cheese or use sharp cheddar for a more bold flavor.


Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the recipe card below!

Step 1: Cook pasta a minute or two less than the package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large oven-proof skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion when the oil is hot and cook until soft and translucent (about 2-3 minutes). Add ground beef and seasonings such as salt, black pepper, dry basil, garlic powder, and thyme.

Cook beef, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula as it cooks, until the meat is no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes.

Ground beef browning in a cast iron skillet.

Step 2: Turn off heat and add Worcestershire sauce and pureed tomatoes or marinara. Mix well. Then, add the cooked pasta and toss until well-combined.

Pasta being added to hamburger casserole sauce.

Step 3: Stir in half of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Pasta noodles mixed into the cheesy hamburger casserole sauce.

Step 4: Sprinkle the remaining cheeses over the top. Then, bake in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the cheese melts and turns golden brown.

Hamburger Casserole in a cast iron skillet before being baked.
Hamburger Casserole in a cast iron skillet after being baked.


  • Break up the meat effortlessly. When cooking the ground beef, switch to a potato masher to help get the meat broken up nice and fine.
  • Don’t overcook the pasta. Cook the pasta a minute or two less than the package directions suggest, as it will continue to cook in the meat sauce and then bake in the oven. Al dente pasta is the best for this hearty meal.
  • Use a casserole dish. If you don’t have a large skillet that can go from stove to oven, transfer the pasta and meat mixture to a 9×13 baking dish that has been lightly greased with cooking spray.
  • Broil for a few minutes. If you find the cheese is not browning to your liking, broil for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
  • Let it rest. After baking, give the casserole a few minutes to rest and let the bubbling cheese settle down. This also allows the flavors to meld and makes it easier to serve without it falling apart.

Confidence Tip

Consider doubling this cheeseburger casserole recipe and delivering half to a friend in need. It travels well and is a major comfort food!


  • Storage: Store leftover hamburger casserole in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Allow it to completely cool first before transferring it to the fridge.
  • Reheating: To reheat individual servings, pop them in a microwave for a few minutes until heated through. You can also reheat the entire casserole in the oven at 350°F for about 20-25 minutes or until warmed through. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil so it doesn’t get burnt on top and creates steam to warm it from the inside out.
  • Freezing: Freeze the casserole before baking. Transfer the hamburger meat mixture to a freezer-safe baking dish and sprinkle cheese on top of the casserole. Cover it tightly with aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or bake from frozen, adding an extra 15-20 minutes to the cooking time.

Additions & Substitutions


  • Vegetables: Add more veggies by adding diced bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, or broccoli florets to the meat mixture.
  • Fresh herbs: Top with fresh parsley and green onions for a pop of color.
  • Bacon: For the ultimate casserole the entire family will love – add bacon crumbles on top.
  • Add creaminess: Consider adding a tablespoon or two of sour cream or cream cheese to the meat mixture to make a creamy cheese sauce.


  • Seasonings: Swap out the individual seasonings with two teaspoons of Italian seasoning.
  • Canned tomatoes: Instead of pureed tomatoes, you can use crushed tomatoes, marinara sauce, diced tomatoes, or even tomato soup or thinned-out tomato paste in a pinch.


How do I prevent the casserole from becoming too dry?

To avoid this cheesy casserole from becoming too dry, make sure not to overcook the pasta or overbake the dish. If you find that the meat and pasta mixture is too dry, add a splash or two of liquid like pasta water or chicken or beef broth to add moisture.

Can I use fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes?

Canned tomatoes have a very concentrated texture and flavor that you cannot get from fresh tomatoes. I recommend sticking to canned tomatoes for best results. Thankfully, you have plenty of options as to what tomato product to use.

How can I prevent the cheese from becoming too brown during baking?

If you find that the cheese on top is browning too quickly, tent the skillet or casserole dish with aluminum foil for part of the baking time then uncover towards the end until it has browned to your liking.

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Cheesy Hamburger casserole in a large white bowl.

I hope you love this Cheesy Hamburger Casserole! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!

Close up of cheesy hamburger casserole cheese pull on a spoon.

Easy Cheesy Hamburger Casserole

Casey Rooney
This Easy Cheesy Hamburger Casserole is a homemade version of the boxed comfort food we all know and love. Made with macaroni noodles, ground beef, melty cheese, and savory tomato sauce – this easy recipe is hearty, satisfying, and delicious. It will become a family favorite fast!
4.75 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 8
Calories 521 kcal



  • 1 16 oz. box pasta short pasta such as penne, shells, bowties, and macaroni all work great!
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (one small onion)
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef if you want your casserole extra meaty, use 1 1/2 lbs!
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry basil
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp dry thyme
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 28 oz. can pureed tomatoes can substitute a jar of marinara sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella to be maximum cheese flavor and meltiness, shred your cheese straight off the block!
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


  • Prep: Cook pasta a minute or two less than package directions. Pasta will continue to cook/bake in the meat sauce, so no need to overcook! Drain and set aside.
    Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Cook Meat: In a large oven-proof skillet (See Note 1) over medium, heat oil. When oil is hot, add onions and cook until soft (about 2-3 minutes). Add ground beef and seasonings (salt, pepper, dry basil, garlic powder, and thyme).
    Cook beef, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks. (Pro tip: Switch to a potato masher when the meat is about halfway done-it helps get the meat broken up nice and fine!) Cook beef for 5-6 minutes until no longer pink.
  • Add: Turn off heat and add tomatoes (or marinara, if using) and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well. Then, add pasta and mix until well-combined. Stir in half of the cheeses (mozzarella and Parmesan).
    *At this point if you don't have a pan that can go from stove to oven, you can transfer this mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish sprayed lightly with cooking spray.
  • Bake & Finish: Sprinkle the remaining cheeses over the top. Then, bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until nice and bubbly and cheese is golden brown. Tip: You can also choose to broil the casserole for 2-3 minutes to get the cheese even more golden brown!


Note 1: If you don’t have a pan that can go from stove to oven, simple prepare the recipe to Step 3 then transfer the mixture into a 9×13 baking dish.
Nutrition is only an estimate based on the Very Well Fit Nutrition Calculator
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Calories: 521kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 32gFat: 17.5gSaturated Fat: 6.1gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 704mgPotassium: 730mgFiber: 4.6gSugar: 11gCalcium: 114mgIron: 5mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. I only had cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese. I halved the recipe. It was so good and even better warmed over the next day.

  2. I love how easy it is to make this casserole, and it turned out just perfect! So comforting and filling, and lots of flavor too. I’ll be making this one again soon!