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Poor Man's Hamburger Casserole

This ground beef casserole is an affordable and delicious way to feed a crowd.

Updated April 21, 2023
Poor Mans Hamburger Casserole
Poor Mans Hamburger Casserole
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Poor Man's Hamburger Casserole is the perfect dish to whip up when you're on a budget. This easy hamburger casserole does not require much preparation, which makes it a great option for a weeknight dinner.

The combination of warm pasta with cooked ground beef and gooey, pizza-like Cheddar cheese tastes so comforting that it feels like it came straight from your mother's kitchen. It's a good thing this recipe serves a lot of people, because it's so delicious that you'll most definitely be helping yourself to seconds and thirds.

This ground beef casserole recipe is the perfect dish to make when you're hosting a big group, since it's simple to make and features crowd-pleasing ingredients like ground beef and cheese. If you're looking for a dish that will satisfy even the biggest appetite, this is a great one to try. Your family will ask you to make this recipe again and again!


Preparation Time30 min

Cooking Time30 min

Cooking Vessel Size6-quart baking dish


  • 1 pound elbow pasta
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian spice mix
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a large 6-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.

  2. Bring a large pot with 6 quarts water and a pinch of salt to a boil and cook pasta per package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

  3. While the pasta cooks, place a large skillet over medium-high heat and, one pound at a time, crumble and brown the ground beef for 4 to 5 minutes until nicely browned. It does not need to be totally cooked at this point. Drain the meat and set aside, reserving 1 tablespoon of fat in the skillet.

  4. Add the bell pepper and onion to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook and stir another minute. Return the meat to the pan and stir in Worcestershire sauce, Italian spices, salt, and pepper, tossing for 1 minute.

  5. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

  6. In a large bowl, place the drained pasta, the tomato and meat mixture, and one cup of the cheese and toss well to mix. Spoon into the prepared casserole dish and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes.


This recipe requires a large baking dish. It will not all fit into a standard 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Not sure what type of pan to use for this recipe? Check out our guide Types of Casserole Pans: Which One Should I Use?

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This hamburger casserole looks like the perfect example of a comfort food dish. I love how you can make this on a budget and it's quick and easy - perfect for a weeknight dinner.

This probably isn't the healthiest dish in the world, and it won't impress the vegans, but I grew up on this kind of stuff. I am over 35 and still have no serious health problems. When you are a kid and very active and involved in sports, you kind of need dishes like this that are full of protein and carbs. I'm sure this is much better for you than the "liquid gold" velveeta people lead you to believe, since it is much more natural, contains vegetables, and much less sodium and artificial preservatives.

A nice, easy quick recipe that allows for some variations. To answer another commenter, I think pouch is better interpreted as pound. Instead of elbow macaroni, we like using the Italian trottole, which is a corkscrew-shaped macaroni that's similar to elbow, but much longer. We get it at Kroger's, but other stores may carry it as well. I also think a bit of mozzarella on top certainly can't hurt.

One pouch of elbow pasta???????????

This makes amazing leftovers!

I'm always looking for recipes that won't cost me an arm and a leg, and this one is definitely a keeper! Great flavor for not a lot of money.

This casserole is "right up my alley"! Ground beef, noodles and cheese... how can you go wrong? The fact it's budget friendly is a bonus! I'd like to try it with ground turkey to make it a bit healthier.

I liked it. didn't expect a lot based on the title, plus it's also hamburger. Not expecting gourmet. But at about 330/4pm, it certainly hit the spot! ) I liked the mix of noodles and meat. But again, a filler meal and something that's easy for re-heating, and minimal eating utensils.

The flavors in this casserole weren't stunning, but this is the sort of meal I'd make on a busy weeknight if I was pressed for time and money. I can also imagine kids would love this.

I don't think you can expect a gourmet meal from a recipe called Poor Man's anything. But, for a budget meal, this hit the spot!

I was not a huge fan of this casserole. Perhaps a few more spices or a blend of different cheeses would give it that extra oomph.

I'm torn on how I feel about this recipe. On one hand, I thought it was satisfying. On the other, I didn't really enjoy the chunks of beef. They just didn't seem to belong. Also, the pasta was a bit too soggy. If I made it again, I'd probably undercook the pasta before putting it into the casserole dish.


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