This easy no-bake spaghetti casserole with ground beef is comfort food at
its finest! The secret to this homestyle pasta dinner with its thick meaty sauce is
a can of mushroom soup!
With large gatherings, it’s nice to have a beef casserole that’s easy and something everyone will like. Growing up, my mom’s go-to dish was a spaghetti casserole recipe. It was a family favorite, prepared for all family gatherings and is my ultimate comfort food. My husband and in-laws all love it, so the tradition continued until we had children.
They don’t like spaghetti casserole. How can that be? If they ate it at a friends house, I bet they would love it! In fact, it’s unusual for me to find any casserole that they’ll eat. Maybe casseroles have just gone out of style, but I just keep serving them. They are perfect for potlucks or when you need to feed a crowd.
I on the other hand, love easy pasta dinner recipes, like Italian sausage pasta, classic lasagna or chicken pasta casserole , or brisket with mac & cheese. There’s just something comforting about a pasta casserole. If you like casseroles, then you’re going to love this recipe.
Mom’s spaghetti, is not Italian in any way. Nothing like a classic Sunday Sauce. There’s no Italian sausage, Parmesan cheese, or even mozzarella cheese. It does have tomato sauce but that’s about it. If you’re looking for a more Italian style baked pasta dish, my favorite is baked penne alla vodka or if you don’t want red sauce, try baked chicken spaghetti.
Not only is this not a traditional Italian based spaghetti, but it’s not baked spaghetti that has cottage cheese or ricotta cheese. It’s a unique recipe that I’ve never had anyplace else.
The base for this spaghetti casserole recipe is cream of mushroom soup and chili con carne. However, I don’t think they make chili con carne anymore so I use canned chili for the meat sauce. This is about the only recipe I make that has canned mushroom soup. Of course, any casserole that came out of the 70’s had to have mushroom soup in it.
What’s great about this recipe is that it all comes together in one pot. It’s a great freezer meal. You can make it in advance and when you’re ready to eat, heat up the spaghetti mixture and add the top layer of cheese. There’s nothing better than easy meals that are family favorites.
Reasons ground beef pasta casserole is going to be a favorite
- Casseroles are so convenient
- You can make it in advance
- The prep time is only about 15 minutes
- It’s cheesy
- It makes great leftovers
- You don’t have to turn on your oven
Ingredients you’ll need to make spaghetti casserole with ground beef
- Ground beef – try to go with a leaner beef so that you don’t have as much grease.
- Mushroom soup – while I’m not a big proponent of processed food, this recipe really needs a can of soup.
- Tomatoes and tomato sauce – I’m not a big fan of tomato sauce, so I only use a cup of it. You can definitely add more, my Mom’s has about 2 cups.
- Fresh Mushrooms – you can leave these out, but I like the flavor they add.
- Onions, celery and garlic – it’s where the flavor starts.
- Bay leaf and oregano – classic Italian seasoning.
- Colby cheese – this is what makes it gooey, you can also use cheddar cheese or have a cheese mixture of both.
Pro tip: If you want ooey-gooey cheese, then avoid the pre-packaged cheese. It has a coating that keeps it from melting as much as the block of cheese that you grate.
- Pasta – traditional spaghetti noodles work best because of the thick sauce, you could use bucatini but not thin spaghetti.
Let’s make spaghetti casserole!
Step 1: start with some flavor
Begin by cooking the onions and celery over medium heat then add some garlic.
Once softened add the ground beef and mushrooms and brown the ground beef so that it’s no longer pink and the mushrooms have softened.
Step 2: simmer the sauce
Add the soup, chili, tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasoning. Bring it to a boil, then cover it and let it simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, until the flavors all come together and you have a thick meaty sauce.
Step 3: add the pasta
Cook the pasta al dente in a large pot of salted water and add to the spaghetti sauce.
Once combined add cheese to the top and cover until it’s melted. If you are making this in advance, wait to add the cheese until right before serving.
This ground beef pasta casserole is a great recipe to have on hand for when you’re having a large group for dinner, you can never have enough easy pasta dinner recipes. I’m sure it will become a family favorite at your house.
How long does spaghetti last in the fridge
Spaghetti casserole with ground beef will last about 3-5 days in the refrigerator. It makes great leftovers, just let it come to room temperature and then you can re-heat it on the stove or microwave individual servings. Leftover spaghetti is even better the next day.This also makes a great freezer meal, just let it cool and then place it in an airtight container to freeze for later.
What to serve with spaghetti
While this isn’t a traditional Italian spaghetti dinner, it’s still great with garlic bread and a green salad.
FAQs and tips
Can you freeze cooked spaghetti casserole?
Spaghetti casserole will freeze and be delicious re-heated. To re-heat, you can microwave or cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes at 350º.
What’s the best pasta to use for spaghetti casserole?
Classic spaghetti or bucatini work best to hold the thick sauce.
More casseroles to try
If you loved this recipe, give it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating! Also, snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #butterandbaggage and tagging me @butterandbaggage.
Easy Spaghetti Casserole with Ground Beef
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms sliced, optional
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ lb ground beef
- 1 can mushroom soup
- 15 ounces canned chili
- 15 ounces diced tomatoes
- 1 cup tomato sauce more if needed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper
- 1 lb pasta
- 2 cups colby/cheddar cheese grated
- In a large pot, saute onions, and celery until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Add hamburger and mushrooms and cook until no longer pink. Drain grease if needed.
- Add soup, chili, chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaf and oregano and salt and pepper and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Cook pasta according to package directions and add to the sauce, mix thoroughly and add grated cheese on top. Place a lid on the pot and let simmer until cheese melts.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- You can use chili with beans or without.
- Cheese can be used instead of colby.
- If making this in advance, wait to add the cheese until ready to serve.
Cook time is 30 minutes, but the directions say to simmer the sauce for an hour?
Barbara Curry says
Hey Teresa, I changed it to make it more clear. It is completely cooked in less time but I liek to simmer it for about an hour to let all the flavors come together.
The recipe says to use a can of diced tomatoes; the photo of the ingredients shows a 15 oz. can of diced crushed tomatoes (which can be hard to find). Which one should be used? This looks good!
Barbara Curry says
I use a 15 ounce can, if you only have 10 ounce cans just add a little more water, it will be fine.
I have no trouble finding 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes in their juice, but my concern was with crushed tomatoes vs. the tomatoes in juice….they’re really thick, like there’s added tomato paste in them, and the consistency of whatever you’re making with them is much different. While 28 oz. cans are readily available, the 15 oz. cans aren’t, at least not around here. I hate being left with extra, which usually gets thrown out.
Barbara Curry says
This recipe is so adaptable, I have used both diced and crushed tomatoes and different volumes and I promise it will turn out whichever you prefer. If it seems too thick for you then you can always add some water to get it to the consistency you want.