Recipe: Cheeseburger Pasta Casserole

Recipe: Cheeseburger Pasta Casserole

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Patty Catalano
Jun 12, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

When a midweek craving for cheeseburgers hits, and it is certain that no drive-thru burger will satisfy, we say forget the buns and pull a package of rotini pasta from the pantry because tonight's dinner is a pasta night and burger night mashup.

Savory morsels of ground beef wind between the curves of tender corkscrew pasta and a cheesy sauce spiked with a tangy hint of mustard. This is an all-American burger served casserole-style, and it's what easy and delicious weeknight meals are made of.

(Image credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: Kath Nash | Kitchn)

Choose the Right Ground Beef at the Grocery Store

Streamlining steps are key for midweek dinners, and this all begins in the grocery store. Chuck ground beef is a great choice for grilling standard-issue burgers, but when reimagining this classic sandwich as a casserole, ground sirloin is the right pick. Sirloin has big, beefy flavor without the excess fat, eliminating the extra step of draining the meat after browning.

A few handfuls of grated cheddar, a squirt of yellow mustard, and a can of diced tomatoes check all the boxes that turn regular ol' ground beef and noodles into a stand-in for a cheeseburger.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

Cast Iron Pans Are Made for One-Pan Cooking

A cast iron pan is the workhorse of a weeknight pasta casserole. The noodles cook directly in the sauce, soaking up the flavors and giving off starches to start a silky sauce. A standard cast iron skillet is just the right size to hold enough servings to feed a family of four (or leave a smaller household with lunchtime leftovers). It goes from browning beef and onions on the stovetop to simmering noodles in the oven, and can even withstand the heat of the broiler melting the cheese until brown and bubbly.

Skip the bun and serve this burger casserole on a bed of lettuce, topped with classic burger fixings. This is one recipe to memorize and come back to. It's simply that good!

Pasta Dinner Playbook

You know that feeling of nailing dinner? Despite the busy schedule, even when you feel like the fridge is empty, and especially on those nights when you really don't want to cook? Us too, and that's because we've got a bunch of smart ideas up our sleeves that help us meet any dinner challenge.

In this series, we're showing you what dinner plays to use when pasta's on the menu. You'll find quick, one-pot meals, fast & fancy ravioli dinners, and game-changing grocery store shortcuts to make dinner an easy win.

Cheeseburger Pasta Casserole

Serves 4

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 cup

    diced yellow onion, plus more for serving

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 pound

    ground beef, preferably ground sirloin

  • 2

    cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon

    yellow mustard

  • 1 (14-ounce) can

    diced tomatoes, drained

  • 8 ounces

    dry rotini pasta

  • 3 cups

    low-sodium chicken broth

  • 2 1/2 cups

    shredded mild cheddar cheese, divided

  • For serving: Iceberg lettuce, chopped dill pickles

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F.

Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef, garlic, and pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon into small pieces, until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the mustard and stir to combine. Stir in the drained tomatoes, pasta, and chicken broth until combined. Make sure the pasta is submerged as much as possible in the liquid.

Bake until the pasta is tender and the casserole is bubbly, stirring halfway through and making sure most of the pasta is submerged in the liquid, 35 to 40 minutes total.

Remove from the oven. Turn the broiler to high. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cheese into the casserole, then sprinkle the top with the remaining 1 cup of cheese. Broil until the cheese melts and turns golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve on a bed of lettuce with diced onion, chopped dill pickle, and other burger fixings.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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