Beef Noodle Casserole is meaty and cheesy, and it comes together really quickly because it uses medium egg noodles, which cook really fast.
There’s something about baked pasta dishes that are just so good, right? I think it’s because the sauce really seeps into the pasta so the noodles have tons of flavor. And there’s the melted cheese, of course. I have a serious crush on melted cheese.
There are several different classic noodle casseroles, like Tuna Casserole and Chicken Tetrazzini. These recipes share the noodle+cheese+heat combination and I think that’s why they’ve become such classics. And that’s also why Beef Noodle Casserole is beloved by so many too, so we just had to include them all in our Classic Casseroles series.
What is Beef Noodle Casserole?
Beef noodle casserole is similar to baked spaghetti in some ways. There are differences though. Baked Spaghetti has a definite Italian vibe going on whereas Beef Noodle Casserole is tilted towards Tex Mex.
Baked Spaghetti has mozzarella cheese and Italian seasonings like oregano and basil, but Beef Noodle Casserole has cheddar cheese and a good blast of chili powder. I also put some corn in mine, and sometimes even black olives.
Another main difference is the noodles used. Baked spaghetti tends to use spaghetti and Beef Noodle Casserole uses egg noodles.
Finally, the sauce. The recipe below uses tomato sauce, which is also what you typically find in baked spaghetti. However, some recipes call for canned tomatoes or condensed tomato soup. Canned tomatoes can easily be found in baked spaghetti recipes but you don’t typically see canned soup in there.
How to Make Beef Noodle Casserole for a Quick Dinner?
The recipe below comes together really quickly, mostly because I use medium egg noodles which cook really fast. The strategy I use here is to get the pasta water boiling and then chop my onion and bell pepper and get those into a big skillet. Then while the pasta cooks, I add the meat to the skillet and cook it through. Once the meat is cooked, the sauce goes in there to heat up as well. Then you put the noodles, meat sauce and corn into a casserole dish, top with cheese and bake just until the cheese is melted. Everything is still hot from having just been cooked so the oven is really only melting the cheese.
If you want to make this with leftover pasta instead, then I recommend heating the pasta up before mixing everything into the casserole dish.
How to Reheat Leftover Pasta
The best way to heat leftover pasta is to pour boiling water on it and let it sit for a minute then drain it. But you can totally put the pasta into the microwave if you prefer. Add a drizzle of water before doing so to help prevent drying. And be sure to cover the pasta with a lid or plastic wrap which also helps steam the pasta and make it less dry.
Should You Use Tomato Sauce, Canned Tomatoes or Condensed Soup in Your Casserole?
One final ingredient note before I get to the recipe. I just used tomato sauce as the sole sauce for this. However, some classic Beef Noodle Casserole recipes, like this one, use a can of condensed tomato soup (undiluted) as all or some of the sauce. Other recipes, like this one, use canned tomatoes. I’ve tried both variations and I prefer my straight up tomato sauce recipe below.
If you want to use condensed soup and/or canned tomatoes, it’s easy to do. Use 3/4 the amount of tomato sauce called for below and then make up the other half with the other ingredient(s). So basically, you’d use 3 cups of tomato sauce and then one 10.75 oz. can of soup (undiluted) or one 14.5 oz. undrained can of tomatoes (diced or stewed or whole or crushed).
Now let’s get into that cheese!
- 16 oz. medium egg noodles
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 and 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 4 cups tomato sauce
- 2 cups frozen corn, defrosted
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Cook the noodles according to package directions. While they cook, prepare the sauce as follows.
- Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.
- Add onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened, 3-4 minutes.
- Add the beef.
- Stir in the chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Stir occasionally until meat is cooked through, 5-7 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- To a 13 x 11 cake pan, add the beef mixture, tomato sauce, corn and drained noodles. Stir to combine.
- Top with cheese.
- Bake until cheese is melted, 10-15 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.