This Mexican ground beef casserole is a hearty and flavorful dish that is perfect for a family meal. It is made with ground beef, pasta, corn, black beans, Rotel tomatoes, and cheese, and it is baked until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Mexican Ground Beef Casserole with Pasta
I’ve been on a ground beef recipes obsession lately. Maybe it is because ground beef is still pretty affordable compared to other proteins right now.
I have recently done a recipe for Restaurant Style Taco Meat, Dinner Ideas with Hamburger and Potatoes, and a terrific Ground Beef and Cabbage Recipe. So I thought I should resurrect this easy Mexican casserole recipe from a few years ago.
I changed the original recipe a bit and made it simpler to make. It is something that can be made on busy weeknights.
Simple Ingredients Needed for the Casserole
Ground Beef – 93/7 lean ground beef is what I use but 85/15 would also be okay to use. Ground chicken or ground turkey could be substituted for ground beef.
Onion – One medium yellow or white onion that is coarse chopped.
2 Red Bell Peppers – The peppers can also be coarsely chopped so you get a good bite from the peppers. You may also want to substitute a green bell pepper for one of the red ones.
Pasta – Any curly type pasta is suitable for this casserole. I used ratiatore but fusilli, rotini, and cellantani would also be good choices.
There are also gluten-free pastas that could be used. You could also make a rice casserole using about 4 cups of cooked white rice rather than the pasta.
2 Cans Rotel Tomatoes Original Style – This is what gives the Tex-Mex casserole with ground beef a bit of spice with the green chiles that are in the Rotel.
If more heat is desired you could add some chili powder, diced jalapeno peppers, or cayenne pepper to make your favorite Mexican flavors.
1 Can Black Beans – Drain and rinse the beans before adding to the casserole.
Sweet Corn – A 12-ounce bag of frozen sweet corn.
Sharp Cheddar Cheese – 8 ounces of shredded cheese. I prefer to grate my own cheese from a block of cheese. Pre-grated cheese generally contains additives that prevent the cheese from sticking together.
This also makes the cheese not melt as well as freshly grated cheese. You could also substitute a Mexican cheese blend of queso de Oaxaca, queso asadero, or manchego.
Additionally, you will need vegetable oil, cooking spray, salt, and pepper.
How To Make The Mexican Ground Beef Casserole
Using a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil added, saute the peppers and onion on medium heat until they are softened which should take 5 or 6 minutes. Then place the vegetables into a large mixing bowl.
Use the same skillet, this time on medium-high heat, and fully brown the ground meat while stirring to break it up into small pieces.
This should take 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and tilt the skillet and push the meat to one side and use a spoon to scoop out any excess fat and water.
Put the skillet back on medium-high heat and add the corn, black beans, and Rotel tomatoes to the ground beef and stir together.
Keep the skillet on the heat for 1 or 2 minutes which should be enough time to thaw the corn.
Then add the warm ground beef mixture to the large bowl with the onion and peppers. Fold all the ingredients together and allow them to cool slightly.
While cooking the vegetables and meat, get a large saucepan of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions.
Once the pasta is done, drain the water off using a wire strainer then rinse the pasta with cold water to remove some of the starch from the pasta.
When the pasta has cooled, add it to the mixing bowl and fold all the ingredients together.
At this time, give the casserole a taste and add salt and pepper as desired. This would be when you would also add extra spices if you would like more heat.
Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray then add a layer of casserole ingredients. Then spread a cheese layer on top.
Continue to add a bit of casserole then top it with cheese until the casserole dish is full.
Reserve about 2 ounces of the grated cheese to add at the very end of the baking cycle.
I assembled the casserole this way since the cooked ground beef mixture was still pretty hot and the cheese would melt and probably clump if it was added straight into the warm ground beef.
Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and place it into a preheated 350° F oven for 35 minutes.
If you have an instant read thermometer, the casserole should be about 160° F.
Take the casserole out of the oven and remove the foil. Then add the remaining cheese and put the casserole back in the oven for 10 or 12 minutes to allow the cheese to melt.
Use Rice Rather Than Pasta
This delicious Mexican ground beef casserole is just as good using long-grain white rice rather than pasta. You would need about 4 cups of cooked rice to substitute for the pasta. Jasmine and Basmati rice are good choices to use.
Use 1 1/3 cups of uncooked rice to make 4 cups of cooked rice. Place the uncooked rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it under cold water to remove some of the starches.
Just use your fingers to stir the rice while it is under the running water. Then cook the rice according to the package instructions.
Fold the rice into the beef mixture just like the pasta.
- For a spicier casserole, add a pinch of chili powder or cayenne pepper.
- To make this casserole ahead of time, assemble it up to the baking step and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to bake, let the casserole come to room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
- This casserole is also delicious with rice instead of pasta. Simply cook 1 1/3 cups of rice according to the package directions and stir it into the beef mixture before baking.
Serving the Mexican Ground Beef Casserole
This easy Mexican ground beef casserole recipe is really tasty all by itself. But, you may want to add some garnish…like some chopped green onions.
Or you might like a dollop of sour cream on top. Corn tortilla chips could be crumbled and stirred into the casserole for a little crunch.
Ground Beef Casserole Leftovers
Store leftovers in your refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat the casserole in a microwave oven.
The pasta or rice will absorb a lot of the liquid so you can add some pico de Gallo or salsa for some extra moisture.
Freezing the casserole if it is made with pasta is not recommended. If you make the dish with rice it should freeze nicely and keep for up to 3 months.
You can substitute rice, quinoa, or even potatoes for the pasta in this recipe. If you use rice, you will need to cook 1 1/3 cups of rice according to the package directions and stir it into the beef mixture before baking. To use quinoa, you will need to cook 2 cups of quinoa according to the package directions and stir it into the beef mixture before baking. For potatoes, you will need to cube 4 potatoes and cook them in a pot of boiling water until they are tender. Drain the potatoes and stir them into the beef mixture before baking.
Yes, you can make this casserole ahead of time. Assemble the casserole up to the baking step and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to bake, let the casserole come to room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. This would make an easy weeknight meal.
To make this casserole spicier, add a pinch of chili powder or cayenne pepper to the beef mixture. You can also add a diced jalapeno pepper to the casserole.
When you are thinking about Mexican meals perhaps for Cinco de Mayo keep this particular ground beef casserole recipe in mind. It may become a favorite for your whole family.
Here Are Some More Tasty Recipes To Try:
- Restaurant Style Mexican Rice
- Ground Beef and Cabbage Recipe
- Cheesy Beef Noodle Bake
- Orzo Chicken Casserole
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
Best Mexican Ground Beef Casserole Recipe with Pasta
- 1 lbs . 93% lean ground beef
- 1 large onion, yellow or white , coarse chopped
- 2 medium red bell peppers , coarse chopped
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 8 oz Rotini pasta, or similar curly pasta
- 2 10 oz . cans Rotel original tomatoes and green chiles
- 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 12 oz. bag of frozen sweet corn
- 8 oz . grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- cooking spray like Pam
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Place chopped onion, red bell peppers and vegetable oil in a large skillet on medium to medium high heat and cook for 5 or 6 minutes, then save in a large mixing bowl.
- Use the same skillet to fully brown the ground beef, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add the corn, black beans and Rotel tomatoes to the meat to heat, 1 to 2 minutes, then place the meat mixture into the bowl with the vegetables.
- Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until just before it becomes al dente (according to package instructions), drain, and place in the mixing bowl.
- Fold all the casserole ingredients together, taste and add salt and pepper. Add any other ingredients as desired now also.
- Spray a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray then add a thin layer of the meat mixture to the bottom of the baking dish. Top this with a layer of grated cheese. Continue to add a layer of meat mix , topped with cheese until the casserole dish is full. Reserve about 2 ounces of the cheese to add when finishing the baking.
- Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and place it in the oven for 35 minutes. If you have an instant read thermometer, the casserole temperature should be around 160°F.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and take off the foil covering and add the remainder of the grated cheese. Place the casserole back in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes to allow for the cheese to melt. Serve hot out of the oven.
- This casserole can also be made using rice. Cook 1 1/3 cups of long grain white rice like jasmine or basmati according to package instructions and add the rice to the dish as you would the pasta.
- You may like to add a dollop of sour cream or some chopped green onions to the casserole for added flavor.
- Store leftovers, refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat in a microwave and add a bit of liquid such as fresh pico de Gallo or salsa since the pasta may be somewhat dry.
- Freezing pasta has never worked well for me as the pasta seems to get pretty mushy so it is not recommended. If you make the dish using rice, that should freeze nicely for up to 3 months.