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Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole

Picky eaters are going to love this Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole. Mom called it busy day casserole because it’s a quick and easy dinner.

Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole

Alright, this Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole recipe is definitely not my norm, but it is who I am and it happens to be a recipe that I get a crazy amount of emails about. I get loads of emails about our fabulous buttermilk pancakes too…have you tried those?! Total comfort food just like this casserole.

A long time ago (and seriously, check out the picture and you’ll laugh your heart out at how little I knew about food photography), I posted a recipe called Busy Day Casserole and it has been one of my top recipes for years now. It never disappears from the most viewed recipes. In fact, a lot of our hamburger recipe ideas are our top recipes. You can find them all here.

People love this cheesy ground beef and rice casserole, and while it’s totally simple I know why. This quick and easy dinner idea with ground beef and melted cheese is in fact the cure for all picky eaters. It’s very dependent on you for the seasoning so for picky eaters it’s perfect, but if you want more flavor season it well or add in more vegetables. If you wanted to try something similar, but with chicken, try this cheesy ranch chicken casserole!

read more: Looking for easy casserole recipes? Try our Pork Chop Casserole with Rice next!

a purple plate with a fork with a wood handle next to a ground beef and rice casserole full of bits of bright orange carrots and melted colby jack cheese all over the top.

What’s in This Ground Beef Casserole Recipe?

The ingredients you’ll need for this ground beef and rice recipe will vary depending on whether you want to make this casserole completely from scratch, semi-homemade, or if you’d rather throw together something really quickly (i.e. use a few shortcuts). 

If you have the time and energy, I highly recommend making this casserole recipe with ground beef from scratch. Don’t let the longer ingredients list fool you, I bet you already have most of them on hand already!

To make this cheesy beef and rice casserole completely from scratch, you’ll need some butter, onion, garlic, flour, cream, chicken broth, veggies, cheese, white rice, ground beef, and water. Oh, and salt and pepper, of course! 

If you’re looking for a simpler hamburger recipe idea, the quicker version of this casserole (which is noted in the recipe card below) uses canned condensed soup, veggies, ground beef, cheese, and rice. Pick whichever version of this beef and rice casserole you have time to make — I know you won’t always have time for the from-scratch version! 

a white casserole dish with a ground beef, rice and carrot casserole with melted colby jack cheese on top and parsley for garnish.

How to Make Hamburger and Rice Casserole Without Canned Soup

When you read through the from-scratch recipe for this ground beef casserole, you’ll notice that I use my own mixture for the liquid instead of cream of mushroom soup. You can do either, we just don’t cook with cream of anything soup at our house anymore, but it is what I grew up with, so I wanted you to have all of the versions. 

  • To make this ground beef casserole recipe, you’ll first need to prepare the homemade canned soup. Making a homemade canned soup is actually quite easy. You’ll need some butter, flour for thickening, milk or cream and seasoning to taste. You’re basically making a roux. If you’re making a from scratch canned soup with mushrooms, just add those in too!
  • Start by whisking the melted butter and onion or mushrooms with the flour in a hot pot until it clumps up. Next, add in the liquid and whisk, while boiling until it becomes a thickened creamy sauce. Add in your seasonings and you’ve got condensed soup!
    • We have purposely kept the seasonings in this pretty bland so that it’s kid friendly, so if you want more flavor, this is the time to add it. You could add garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, thyme, basil, oregano, etc.
  • To finish making this casserole recipe, simply combine the soup mixture with the rice, water, browned ground beef, and veggies in a greased baking dish.
  • Place the baking dish in a preheated oven and bake for around 90 minutes, then top with cheese and return to the oven until the cheese has melted. 
a wooden spoon scooping a ground beef, rice and carrots casserole with melted cheese on the top

What Rice to Use in Casseroles?

Long grain, white rice is the best rice to use in casseroles as it doesn’t become sticky or mushy when baked. You cannot use quick rice (Minute Rice) in this ground beef casserole unless you adjust the liquid according to package directions and cook the carrots completely before mixing it all together.

Can I Use Brown Rice?

Yes, but I honestly have never tried it. Brown rice soaks up a lot more liquid and will need longer to cook. I’d add an additional 1/2 cup of water and probably another 1/2 hour of cooking time.

What Vegetables are Good in a Casserole?

This Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole is a great casserole to add any veggies you’d like, but we recommend broccoli, peas, corn or even green beans.

A dark purple plate with a wooden handled fork sitting next to a scoop of cheesy ground beef and rice casserole with carrots and a little parsley chopped up as garnish on top.

Do I Need to Cover a Casserole with Foil?

This Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole does not need to be covered with foil to bake. I know it seems like it will, especially as you see that rice start to cook, but it’s just fine as is. In fact I really like the top and sides to get a very slight crispness as it adds so much flavor and texture to this hamburger rice casserole. You can tent with foil if you can’t resist.

Why Didn’t My Rice Cook?

If your casserole finishes cooking and you find yourself asking why didn’t my rice cook in my beef rice casserole, well I’m guessing you used the wrong rice, or your oven didn’t hold a constant heat. There’s plenty of moisture and time, so there’s no reason this casserole wouldn’t bake up perfectly.

a photo of a white circular ceramic baking dish full of cheesy ground beef and rice caserrole.

What Should I Serve with Hamburger and Rice Casserole?

The beauty of this easy ground beef recipe is that it’s a full meal all by itself. You get carbs from the rice, protein from the beef, and fiber and extra nutrients from the veggies. 

But if you’re trying to bulk up this meal or have a little extra time on your hands, you may want to consider pairing your serving of beef and rice casserole with a simple salad or sauteed veggies. Really though, you don’t need a side for this recipe! 

Best Recipes For Picky Eaters

The cheese is also a little different only because again, we don’t really buy medium cheddar cheese, we usually get Colby Jack and since they are so similar I don’t mind using it, either one will work though. This Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole is something that even as a food blogger, I totally love to eat and the kids do too. It’s one of the best recipes for picky eaters. It’s something really simple on their little palates and it has cheese which is always a good thing.

Watch How This is Made…

Why You Will Love This Recipe

This recipe doubles perfectly to a 9×13 baking dish if you need to feed a larger crowd.

We also have recipes on the blog for making this casserole lower carb with cauliflower rice or in the Instant Pot if you need dinner in a hurry. We have also created a Mexican inspired version too!

Casseroles are pure comfort food and this recipe is no different. It is loved by everyone!

We provide instructions for making this recipe a variety of ways depending on how much time you have and how “from scratch” you want it to be.

Storage Tips

Leftovers of this recipe will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

This casserole stores wonderfully in the freezer and it will keep for up to 3 months. Let the casserole cool completely and place in a freezer safe container.

If the casserole is frozen, allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight (or at least all day) before reheating it in the oven. Place it in a baking dish and reheat at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until hot and bubbly through the middle.

a photo of a ground beef and rice casserole topped with melted cheese and a large serving spoon digging into the casserole.

So, to my sweet momma who had to put up with my picky little self, thanks for this delicious Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole recipe that is feeding people everywhere. I say you’re famous for it now. You didn’t know you’d end up famous did you?

Super Easy Ground Beef Recipes:

You can find all of our beef recipes here.

Servings: 8 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes


Picky eaters are going to love this quick and easy dinner. Mom called it busy day casserole but our readers call is cheesy ground beef and rice casserole. 

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Quick Recipe

  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8×9″ baking dish with nonstick spray.

  • Stir together the soup, rice, water, carrots, and beef.

    1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup, 1 Cup Long Grain White Rice, 2 Cups Water, 1 Cup Carrots, 1/2-1 lb Ground Beef

  • Place in the baking dish and bake for 90 minutes.

  • Top with cheese slices and bake a few more minutes or until melted.

    Cheddar or Colby Jack Cheese

Semi Homemade

  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×9″ baking dish.

  • Whisk together the water, mushroom gravy, and milk.

    2 Cups Water, Pacific Foods Mushroom Gravy, 1/2 Cup Milk

  • Add the mushroom mix, rice, cooked beef and carrots to a bowl and stir to combine.

    1 Cup Long Grain White Rice, 1/2 to 1 lb Ground Beef, 1 Cup Carrots

  • Dump into an 8×9″ baking dish and bake, uncovered for 90 minutes.

  • Add slices of cheese and return to the oven for another couple of minutes or until the cheese is melted.

    Colby Jack or Medium Cheddar Cheese

From Scratch

  • In a medium pan over medium heat, add the butter and melt.

    3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

  • Whisk in the onion, garlic and mushrooms.

    1/4 Cup Onion, 1 Clove Garlic, 1/2 Cup White Button Mushroom

  • Add the flour, whisking continually and cook for 30-60 seconds.

    3 Tablespoons Flour

  • Add the cream and broth and cook until thick.

    1/2 Cup Cream, 1/2 Cup Chicken Broth

  • Season and remove from heat.

    1/4 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper, Salt

  • Heat the oven to 350 and spray an 8×9″ baking dish with nonstick spray.

  • Place the cream mixture, rice, water, beef and carrots into the dish and stir to combine.

    2 Cups Water, 1/2-1 lb Ground Beef, 1 Cup Long Grain White Rice, 1 Cup Carrots

  • Bake for 90 minutes, add the cheese and bake for a few more minutes or until melted.

    Cheddar or Colby Jack Cheese

May be reheated in the oven or microwave.
*The nutritional information is based on the from scratch version of the recipe.

Serving: 1cup*Calories: 208kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 7gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 93mgPotassium: 184mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 3024IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 1mg

Author: Sweet Basil

Course: 100 + BEST Easy Beef Recipes for Dinner

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