Cheeseburger Casserole

updated Dec 5, 2023
Cheeseburger Casserole Recipe

A one-pot wonder with ground beef and cheddar cheese that channels all the Hamburger Helper vibes.

Serves4 to 6

Prep5 minutes

Cook30 minutes

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someone scooping out casserole from pot
Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Stylist: Kristina Vanni

One of the first things I ever learned to cook was Hamburger Helper, and I have fond memories of following the directions printed on the box. Cheeseburger casserole is the homemade version of the convenience meal of my youth, and it’s just as easy: Brown ground beef with onions and then simmer it with macaroni, beef broth, and pantry seasonings for a hearty one-pot meal cooked entirely on the stovetop. The finishing touch is a good heaping of cheddar cheese, something no good cheeseburger should be without.

Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Stylist: Kristina Vanni

The Ingredients You’ll Need for Cheeseburger Casserole

  • Ground beef: Use lean ground beef here so that you don’t have a lot of excess grease that you have to drain off.
  • Onion: Diced onion cooks down and gives the casserole a signature burger-like flavor.
  • Macaroni: Dried macaroni is the classic noodle in this casserole because it cooks quickly.
  • Cheddar cheese: Sharp cheddar cheese is a good combination of bright flavor that melts nicely into the sauce.
  • Beef broth: You’ll need one carton of beef broth.
  • Diced tomatoes: Diced tomatoes add some liquid and acidity. You can use regular or petite-sized canned diced tomatoes, and don’t drain off any of the liquid.
  • Tomato paste: As tomato paste cooks down, it adds a nice depth of flavor. Use the thicker kind from a tube if you can, although canned tomato paste will also work.
  • Worcestershire sauce: Nothing beats the savoriness that Worcestershire adds to ground beef.
  • Granulated garlic: Dried garlic helps to channel the Hamburger Helper flavors.

What’s the Best Pasta for Cheeseburger Casserole? 

Macaroni is the traditional choice for cheeseburger casserole, but any small, short pasta like small shells or rotelle will work. Keep in mind that different pastas might need a longer cook time or perhaps a splash more broth to cook through.

How to Make Cheeseburger Casserole

  1. Brown the onion and ground beef. Start by sautéeing diced onion and lean ground beef until the beef is cooked and the onion is tender.
  2. Add the Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Cook with the Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste until slightly reduced and darkened in color.
  3. Add the broth and tomatoes. Add a carton of beef broth and a can of diced tomatoes, and bring to a boil.
  4. Cook the pasta. Add dried macaroni and cook until tender.
  5. Finish with cheese. Stir in some of the cheddar cheese until melted, then top with more cheese. To melt the cheese on top, you can put a lid on and let it rest for a few minutes, or transfer the whole pot to the broiler instead for a more browned top.

What Should I Serve with Cheeseburger Casserole? 

Steamed broccoli or a green salad dressed in a light vinaigrette are good partners to the rich flavors of a cheeseburger casserole.

Other One-Pot Casseroles

Cheeseburger Casserole Recipe

A one-pot wonder with ground beef and cheddar cheese that channels all the Hamburger Helper vibes.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/2

    medium yellow onion

  • 8 ounces

    sharp cheddar cheese, preferably yellow, shredded (about 2 cups)

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    granulated garlic

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 2 tablespoons

    double concentrated tomato paste (from a tube)

  • 1 tablespoon

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 (32-ounce) carton

    beef broth (about 4 cups), divided

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can

    regular or petite diced tomatoes

  • 12 ounces

    dried elbow macaroni (2 1/2 to 3 cups)

  • 1 tablespoon

    finely chopped fresh parsley leaves, or 1 thinly sliced medium scallion (optional)

Instructions

  1. If you’d like the casserole to be browned on top, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to broil. Meanwhile, prepare the casserole.

  2. Dice 1/2 medium yellow onion (3/4 to 1 cup). Grate 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups).

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven or large high-sided skillet (broiler-safe if you plan to broil at the end) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1 pound lean ground beef. Break up the beef into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook until the beef is cooked through and the onion is tender, 6 to 7 minutes.

  4. Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine and cook until the tomato paste is darkened in color, about 1 minute. Add 3 1/4 cups of the beef broth, 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes and their juices, remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.

  5. Add 12 ounces dried elbow macaroni and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes. If the pasta absorbs all the liquid before it is tender, add some of the remaining beef broth a few tablespoons at a time as needed. Remove the pot from the heat. Add 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

  6. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Cover and let sit until the cheese on top is melted, about 3 minutes, or for a browned top, transfer to the oven and broil uncovered until the cheese on top is melted and browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.