Old Fashioned Hamburger Casserole is a tasty alternative to making individual hamburgers for the entire family and friends.
This comforting cheesy casserole consists of browned juicy ground beef seasoned with spices and dried herbs, mixed in a creamy tomato and mushroom sauce base, and loaded with al dente pasta.
This casserole has the most irresistible creamy texture; topped with freshly grated cheese and baked until bubbling hot with a golden brown topping!
Serve this comfort food as a complete meal or with a side of crispy potato wedges, simple green salad, roasted veggies, or garlic bread.
There is a skip-to-recipe button in the top left corner along with a clickable table of contents list (just below) that will quickly take you to the part you are more interested in. Enjoy!
My few comments on the ingredients + don't forget to read the Tips section!
The full recipe and ingredients can be found in the recipe card below this post.
- Pasta - I’ve used fusilli pasta, but any pasta can be used to make this casserole. Smaller tubular pasta also works well for catching ground beef and sauce in this casserole dish, such as macaroni noodles. For gluten free I like to use red lentil pasta, elbow macaroni and rotini.
- Ground beef - Lean ground beef has been used in this recipe to reduce the overall fat content, but you can use regular ground beef or a mix of beef and pork. Ground chicken and ground turkey are other lean alternatives and a delicious way to vary this dish. For vegan casserole, try my vegan meat instead from this delicious Vegan Meat Taco recipe.
- Canned Soup - Canned tomato soup and canned mushroom soup (or cream of mushroom soup) are my preference for this hamburger casserole. Feel free to make your own Homemade Mushroom Soup (condensed) by following my recipe here. Also instead of tomato soup, you can easily use spaghetti sauce, Passata, or crushed tomatoes. It will still work but the condensed version makes the sauce extra thick and dense.
- Onion and garlic - 1 onion (about ½ cup chopped) and 2 crushed garlic cloves (about 2 heaping teaspoons) will add great flavor when browning the ground beef. You could also use onion and garlic powder or garlic salt instead.
- Half and half - This adds creaminess to this dish. You could use a combination of cream and milk if you don’t have half and half.
- Cheese - Colby Jack, cheddar cheese, gouda or mozzarella cheese are great options for this hamburger casserole.
- Seasoning - I’ve added salt and pepper, paprika, and dried parsley to the casserole. Add extra to the top of the casserole too before baking. For an extra kick of heat, consider adding chili powder. Italian herbs or Italian seasoning would also be delicious in this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 C) and spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
In a pot with water, cook the pasta until al dente (important). Drain and rinse under COLD water to stop the pasta from cooking further.
Once cooled, transfer back to the cooled pot or a very large mixing bowl. Whatever you do, do not overcook the pasta!
Meanwhile, saute onion until softened and add in garlic. Saute until garlic becomes fragrant.
In a large skillet or large pan cook ground beef until cooked through.
In the pasta pot, stir in browned beef, tomato and mushroom soups, and half and half.
Season with salt and black ground pepper, smoked paprika, parsley.
Transfer the pasta mix into prepared casserole dish and bake at 350 F for about 25 -30 minutes.
Towards the last 5 minutes, add cheese on top and bake until melted. Sprinkle more paprika and parsley for serving.
Enjoy right away while cheese is still melty.
- Casserole Dish - you can use 13 x 9 so you have enough space in the dish without overloading it. It fits plenty of cheese too. I used 8 x 11 inch dish that almost fit everything.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons - measure all your salad ingredients and seasonings with those superb tools without stress! Easy to wash!
- Cheese Grater - grate a block of cheese yourself, it will melt way better than pre-packed shredded cheese.
- Shredding the cheese at home is always best for taste. Freshly shredded cheese will also melt better in the oven than packaged shredded cheese.
- Cooking the pasta separately is important. If you don’t, then you are likely to end up with undercooked pasta in the casserole. Just follow the package instructions and just don't over or under cooked it.
- Always check the packaged directions of the pasta used. You will likely need to adjust the length of boiling time if you choose to use different pasta from what I've selected, for example, such as egg noodles.
- This hamburger casserole can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or the freezer, covered with plastic wrap. You can then bake it just before serving, adding about 5-10 minutes to account for the chilled ingredients. Top with more cheese.
- This easy casserole recipe can be bulked up by adding vegetables, such as bell pepper, shredded carrots, green beans, green peppers, or mushrooms.
- Don't allow this kind of casserole to sit out at room temperature for too long due to the creamy ingredients and meat.
- If you end up buying too much ground beef, make my beef Lettuce Wraps for your next recipe.
JULIA'S TIP Since the pasta will continue to cook in the oven, be sure to cook it al dente beforehand.
Can I Substitute Ground Beef?
You can substitute with a variety of meats to change up your hamburger casserole. You can easily make it vegetarian and leave the ground beef out all together.
Any of these options will work great in this pasta casserole:
- Chicken – any leftover chicken from last nights dinner, rotisserie chicken or ground chicken are all great options here.
- Italian Sausage – break down the sausage or dice into small cubes.
- Ground Turkey – a healthier, leaner and still tasty substitution.
- Instead of meat - I love making vegetarian pasta casseroles by replacing meat with different varieties of mushrooms (saute with some onion before adding to the casserole), lentils, beans, soy based meat products such as textured soy protein, seitan, tofu, vegetables diced into small cubes (will cook through better).
- More Vegetables - zucchini, cauliflower, peas, butternut squash, broccoli. I would roast or saute these with some onion prior to adding to casserole.
What can you have with pasta bake?
Although pasta casserole is already fulfilling dish itself, you may still want to serve some tasty appetizers or side dishes for your dinner.
- And of course a simple green garden salad or a Caesar salad.
- More Vegetables: Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries, Twice Baked Potatoes, Potato Salad and Air Fryer Brussel Sprouts.
- Air Fryer does all the job for you and will cook while your pasta casserole is in the oven.
Freezing And Storing Instructions
Store. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for u to 3-4 days. Let the casserole cool before refrigerating.
Freeze. Transfer the casserole into airtight container or use the same casserole dish. Tightly cover it and freeze up to 1-2 months.
Prior to reheating, thaw it overnight in the fridge and bake in the oven with covered in foil at 350 F for about 10-15 minutes.
You can top up with more cheese towards last 5 minutes and garnish with fresh herbs before serving.
Make ahead. Just follow the steps to assemble the casserole dish and keep it in the fridge for 1-2 days.
When ready to serve, let it come to room temperature and continue with baking steps as per these recipe instructions.
Apart from Old fashioned hamburger casserole, leftover cooked ground beef can be used in many different beef casseroles or main dishes such as tacos, soup, lasagna, meatloaf, meatballs, meat pie…the list goes on and on!
In American cuisine, a casserole is traditionally a combination of meat (chicken, beef, fish, pork), vegetables (canned or fresh), and starch such as flour used to bind and thicken other ingredients such as cream of soups and other sauce bases.
A standard serving of a hamburger casserole can average around 450 calories, although this will differ from recipe to recipe depending on the ingredients used and the size of portions served.
Hamburger helper is a commercially packaged mix of pasta and powdered seasonings added to cooked ground beef. Old-fashioned hamburger casserole is essentially a homemade version, using similar ingredients but all prepared from scratch in your kitchen.
More Casserole Recipes
ALL ONE-POT & CASSEROLE Recipes.
We love casserole dishes. It's an easy way to make dinner and use any leftovers that you have in the fridge.
More Gluten Free Beef Recipes
I hope you'll enjoy this old fashioned hamburger casserole recipe, please leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo of your food and tag me on Instagram @theyummy_bowl. I love seeing your creations!
Thank you for reading,
Old Fashioned Hamburger Casserole
- 12 oz Pasta of your choice, I used fusilli (340 g)
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil extra-virgin
- 1 Onion chopped (about ½ cup chopped)
- 2 Garlic cloves crushed (about 2 heaping teaspoon)
- 1 pound Lean Ground Beef or a mix of beef and pork (450 grams)
- 2 cups canned Tomato Soup, condensed (500 grams)
- 2 cups canned Mushroom Soup see notes, (500 grams)
- ¾ cup half and half (177 ml)
- ¾ cup Colby jack cheese or cheddar shredded
- Salt and Black Pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon Paprika + more on top we love smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon Dried Parsley + more on top
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 C) and spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a pot with water, cook the pasta until al dente (important). Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the pasta from cooking further. Once cooled, transfer back to the cooled pot or a very large mixing bowl.
- Meanwhile, saute onion until softened and add in garlic. Saute until garlic becomes fragrant.
- In a large skillet or large pan cook ground beef until cooked through.
- In the pasta pot, stir in browned beef, tomato and mushroom soups, and half and half.
- Season with salt and black ground pepper, smoked paprika, parsley.
- Transfer the pasta mix into prepared casserole dish and bake at 350 F for about 25 -30 minutes.
- Towards the last 5 minutes, add cheese on top and bake until melted. Sprinkle more paprika and parsley for serving.
- Enjoy right away while cheese is still melty.
- When you cook the pasta, it needs to be al dente, and it is fine if it is even a little crunchy inside. A little. Then it will absorb all the sauce PERFECTLY. Whatever you do, do not overcook the pasta.
- My recipe for Condensed Mushroom Soup (Gluten Free)
- Store. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for u to 3-4 days. Let the casserole cool before refrigerating.
- Freeze. Transfer the casserole into an airtight container or use the same casserole dish. Tightly cover it and freeze for up to 1-2 months. Prior to reheating, thaw it overnight in the fridge and bake in the oven covered in foil at 350 F for about 10-15 minutes. You can top up with more cheese in the last 5 minutes and garnish with fresh herbs before serving.
- Make ahead. Just follow the steps to assemble the casserole dish and keep it in the fridge for 1-2 days. When ready to serve, let it come to room temperature and continue with baking steps as per these recipe instructions.