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Easy, cheesy, and flavorful, this Ground Beef Noodle Casserole is a family-friendly dinner for busy nights. Pasta, vegetables and meat combine with a zesty tomato sauce, bacon and plenty of cheddar cheese, making this a flavorful and cozy meal. Serve the hamburger casserole with a simple green salad and a loaf of crusty bread, cornbread, or buttermilk biscuits.

Ground beef noodle casserole with a wooden serving spoon on a table

This cheesy beef noodle casserole is an old-fashioned recipe that reminds me of my childhood. It’s simple, hearty, and totally kid-friendly! Best of all, you can adjust the ingredients to suit your family’s tastes. Toss in some different vegetables (corn is a great addition), use different types of noodles (such as egg noodles or shells), and tweak the seasoning (to make it spicy)! Preparing the simple homemade tomato sauce from scratch means that this ground beef casserole with noodles doesn’t require any canned, condensed soup.

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for an old fashioned hamburger noodle casserole. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Noodles: I like elbow macaroni or medium shells, but just about any pasta shape will work. Egg noodles are a classic choice, too!
  • Bacon: adds a rich, salty, smoky taste in the background.
  • Ground beef: the base of the casserole.
  • Onion, celery, green bell pepper and garlic: for extra flavor and added nutrients.
  • Tomato sauce, petite-diced tomatoes, and tomato paste: form the base of the tomato sauce that brings the casserole together.
  • Brown sugar: balances the acidity in the tomatoes, giving the sauce a more complex flavor.
  • Chili powder, oregano, cumin and cayenne: seasonings that pair really nicely with the ground beef and cheddar cheese in this dish. The flavor is mild, so feel free to adjust the seasoning to make the dish more zesty or even spicy.
  • Kosher salt and pepper: enhance the other flavors in the casserole.
  • Cheddar cheese: because every good casserole needs plenty of melty, gooey cheese! Feel free to swap out the cheddar and use Monterey Jack, Colby or Pepper Jack.
Close overhead shot of beef noodle casserole

How to Make Beef Noodle Casserole

In general, a “casserole” is any food that is cooked and served in the same dish. Casseroles typically include three main components: a base that provides the main flavor and texture of the dish (in this case, the ground beef), an extender that helps thicken the dish (here it’s the noodles), and a binder or liquid that holds it all together (such as the homemade tomato sauce). We’ve checked all of the boxes with this easy ground beef casserole recipe, and we’ve upped the ante with some vegetables, cheese and seasoning! Let’s get started…

  1. Cook the pasta; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, crisp the bacon in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Remove the bacon to a plate, reserving some of the drippings in the pot.
  3. Brown the ground beef and add the vegetables.
  4. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and seasoning.
  5. Add the cooked noodles and bacon to the sauce; toss to combine.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish; top with shredded cheese.
  7. Bake uncovered in a 350° F oven until the casserole is hot and bubbly and the cheese melts, about 15-20 minutes.
  8. Garnish with fresh parsley or chopped green onion.
Cooked macaroni pasta in a colander
Ground beef tomato sauce in a Dutch oven
Noodles and ground beef with tomato sauce in a pot
Process shot showing how to make beef noodle casserole
Close up overhead shot of beefy noodle casserole with cheese on top

What to Serve with Old Fashioned Hamburger Noodle Casserole

This hearty beef and noodle casserole goes well with just about any of your favorite sides. Here are a few options that you might enjoy:

Horizontal image of a bowl of beef noodle casserole

Make Ahead

This is a great make-ahead dinner. You can assemble the entire casserole up to 24 hours in advance and keep it covered in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Before baking, allow the dish to sit on the counter and come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

You can freeze the casserole before baking. Wrapped tightly, the assembled casserole will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Storage

Leftover ground beef casserole will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

To reheat the casserole: If reheating an entire casserole, cover the dish loosely with foil and bake in a 350° F oven until warmed through (about 20 minutes). Individual portions can be reheated in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Recipe Variations

  • Instead of the elbow noodles, try other pasta shapes such as medium shells or egg noodles.
  • Any ground meat will work in this recipe. Instead of the ground beef, try ground turkey, ground pork, ground chicken or ground sausage.
  • Add More Veggies: feel free to include crisp-tender steamed, roasted, or sauteed broccoli, green beans, carrots, corn, or even frozen peas in the casserole.
  • Swap out the cheddar cheese and use Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Colby or Pepper Jack.
  • Cooking for a smaller family? Cut all of the ingredients in half and bake the casserole in an 8-inch square dish. The baking instructions remain the same. You can even prepare the full recipe, but divide the ingredients between two 8-inch pans and freeze one casserole for later.
Overhead image of a bowl of ground beef and noodle casserole on a green table

Tips for the Best Ever Beef Noodle Casserole Recipe

  • Adjust the seasoning to suit your taste preferences. For instance, you might like to add an extra teaspoon of brown sugar for a slightly sweeter tomato sauce, increase the cayenne to make it spicy, or use a bit more chili powder for a zestier flavor.
  • Boil the pasta in well-salted water. This is your opportunity to really season the noodles.
  • Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than al dente. The noodles will continue to cook in the oven, so you want to slightly under-boil them so that they don’t become mushy after baking.
  • Garnish the casserole with fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme, basil or oregano) for a bright, fresh touch. Sliced green onions are also good!
Overhead shot of the best ever beef noodle casserole recipe in a baking dish on a green table

More Ground Beef Casserole Recipes to Try

Ground beef noodle casserole with a wooden serving spoon on a table

Easy Ground Beef Noodle Casserole

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings 6 – 8 people
Calories 464 kcal
Easy, cheesy, and flavorful, this Ground Beef Noodle Casserole is a family-friendly dinner for busy nights!

Ingredients
  

  • 12 ounces dry elbow macaroni, medium shells pasta, or egg noodles
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can petite-diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish; set aside.
  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for about 1 minute less than al dente, according to package instructions. Drain.
  • While the pasta cooks, heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate; reserve 1 tablespoon of the drippings in the pan. Add the ground beef and cook for 3 minutes (the meat doesn’t need to be completely cooked through at this point). Add the onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic; cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5-7 more minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, chili powder, oregano, cumin, cayenne, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
  • Add the cooked, drained noodles and the cooked bacon to the beef mixture; toss to combine.
  • Transfer to the prepared baking dish; top with shredded cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, until the casserole is hot and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley or green onion.

Notes

  • Adjust the seasoning to suit your taste preferences. For instance, you might like to add an extra teaspoon of brown sugar for a slightly sweeter tomato sauce, increase the cayenne to make it spicy, or use a bit more chili powder for a zestier flavor.
  • Boil the pasta in well-salted water. This is your opportunity to really season the noodles.
  • Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than al dente. The noodles will continue to cook in the oven, so you want to slightly under-boil them so that they don’t become mushy after baking.
  • Garnish the casserole with fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme, basil or oregano) for a bright, fresh touch. Sliced green onions are also good!
  • Instead of the elbow noodles, try other pasta shapes such as medium shells or even egg noodles.
  • Any ground meat will work in this recipe. Instead of the ground beef, try ground turkey, ground pork, ground chicken or ground sausage.
  • Add More Veggies: feel free to include crisp-tender steamed, roasted, or sauteed broccoli, green beans, carrots, corn, or even frozen peas in the casserole.
  • Swap out the cheddar cheese and use Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Colby or Pepper Jack.
  • Cooking for a smaller family? Cut all of the ingredients in half and bake the casserole in an 8-inch square dish. The baking instructions remain the same. You can even prepare the full recipe, but divide the ingredients between two 8-inch pans and freeze one casserole for later.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the casseroleCalories: 464kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 27gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 666mgPotassium: 760mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 846IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 258mgIron: 4mg
Keyword: beef noodle casserole, easy ground beef recipe, ground beef casserole, Hamburger Casserole
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this ground beef mac dinner last night and it was soooo delicious ! We went back for seconds! I didn’t use brown sugar, I just put in 1/4 tsp of regular granulated sugar to take the acid away from the tomatoes (Thanks Blair!) and added more red peppers and yellow peppers to it. Again, it was a delicious dish all in one bowl with bread on the side and we had corn on the cob an hour later ! I recommend it highly !