Easy 40-minute, family-friendly Creamy Ground Beef and Noodle Casserole! Filling, flavorful, and oh so creamy. Tastes like lasagna without all the fuss. Egg noodles replace lasagna noodles. Pair with an easy ground beef sauce made with jarred marinara sauce, toss with a sour cream and cream cheese mixture, then top with mozzarella cheese. Old-fashioned comfort food for today's modern family!
Quick Note: This post was originally published July 2019 and updated with new pictures December 2020. This post contains affiliate links to my personal favorite items. Please read my disclosure statement for details. Thank you.
Welcome to My Kitchen Serenity! I'm super excited to share with you a recipe from my childhood. My mother has an old cookbook that her church put together nearly 40 years ago. It's so well-loved that the cover is missing, so I don't know the title. I am also just assuming it was printed in 1982 because there's a calendar in the back of the cookbook for that year.
I was skimming through the cookbook and found this ground beef pasta recipe submitted by Sandy Coury (my kindergarten teacher!). Wow! I remember my mother making this recipe for us when I was a child, as it was one of my favorites. I tweaked it just a tiny bit, but all the glory goes to Ms. Sandy. I hope your family enjoys this easy and delicious beef noodle casserole as much as we do.
Why I Love This Recipe
There are a TON of ground beef casserole recipes out there on the ol' inter-webs. What makes this casserole extra special is the combination of cream cheese and sour cream mixed with the egg noodles! Oh, how creamy these noodles are!
I could eat these creamy egg noodles tossed with only the cream cheese and sour cream mixture (and I have taken a taste or two while making this recipe). It's just that good!
The flavorful ground beef mixture reminds me of a thick spaghetti sauce or a simplified Bolognese sauce. The longer you let it slow-simmer on the stove, the more flavorful it will become. If you're in a time crunch you can cut it short. Just promise me you'll let it simmer for at least 20 minutes. The mozzarella cheese adds that cheesy, melty final touch!
Ingredients and Substitutions for Creamy Beef Pasta Bake
please scroll down to the recipe card for detailed ingredients and step-by-step instructions.
One thing I love about this recipe is how simple the ingredients are. There's not a single thing on the list that would be tough to find in any grocery store! All you need is ground beef, garlic, canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, egg noodles, sour cream, cream cheese, mozzarella, salt and pepper.
I told you this was a simple recipe! If you're working from what you already have on hand, there are some easy substitutions you can make:
- Egg noodles can easily be traded out for any short noodle - ziti, penne, elbows, or rotini are what first come to mind.
- If you don't have sour cream, you can lighten things up by using plain greek yogurt instead. Just be sure to use full-fat (4% milk fat) yogurt if you go this route.
- Cream cheese can be substituted for other spreadable cheeses (like Boursin) if needs be. Just make sure not to use any low-fat stuff, as the higher water content will result in a watery bake!
- Mozzarella cheese is my preference for this yummy beef pasta recipe, but other mild and melty cheeses will do the trick in a pinch! Try jack, quesadilla, or even colby if you need.
- If you're looking to cut back on some of the fat, you can substitute ground turkey or ground chicken instead of the beef.
- You can also turn this hearty casserole into a Meatless Monday option by omitting the meat entirely and substituting sautéd vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, or mushrooms.
How to Make Tomato Beef Sauce
Step 1: Brown the ground beef in a large pan or cast iron skillet, then drain off the fat.
TIP: I'm sure most of you already know this, but just in case you don't - DON'T PUT FAT DOWN THE SINK! It will clog it up something awful. Don't ask me how I know this. I just do. You've been warned.
Step 2: Add to the ground beef the garlic, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, and pepper and simmer covered on low heat for 20-40 minutes.
TIP: The longer the sauce simmers, the more flavorful it will be. If you're not in a rush, opt for the full 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 3: While the meat sauce is cooking, cook, then drain the egg noodles. Place the hot egg noodles in a large bowl or the pan you cooked them in, then add the cream cheese and sour cream. Mix well.
TIP: I like to cut the cream cheese into small squares first to help with the melting and mixing. You can also put a lid on the noodles after adding the cream cheese before you stir - this will trap the heat and help the cheese melt a little faster.
How to Assemble and Bake Beef Pasta Casserole
Step 4: After the meat sauce has cooked, spoon most of it into another container, leaving a small amount in the bottom of the skillet. Now you're going to build the casserole, sort of like you're making a lasagna!
Step 5: Add half of the noodle mixture to the skillet.
Step 6: Then add half the meat sauce.
Step 7: Add half the cheese to the skillet.
Step 8: Repeat the layers, finishing with cheese on top. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this beef noodle casserole ahead of time?
Yes! This is a great make-ahead casserole. Assemble the casserole, but don't bake it. Cover it with foil and place in the refrigerator the day before you plan to eat it. When you're ready to bake it, simply pop it in the oven as directed.
NOTE: You may need to add an additional 5 to 10 minutes of baking time to make sure the casserole is hot and bubbly depending on how cold your refrigerator is.
Can I store this beef pasta in the freezer?
This beef noodle casserole freezes very well. Make and bake the casserole as directed, let it cool completely, then freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
What should I do with the leftovers?
Store any leftover ground beef noodle casserole in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I prefer to use BPA-free glass containers with locking lids. Check out this 18-piece set of glass food storage containers with locking lids from Bayco, available now on Amazon.
Do you love easy pantry pasta recipes? If so, check out these other awesome recipes:
- My Easy Rotel Chicken Spaghetti recipe is a quick and easy dinner recipe that uses rotisserie chicken, rotel tomatoes, and velveeta cheese.
- For the ultimate easy lasagna, try my Easy Meat Lasagna Recipe! It's a homemade, traditional Italian lasagna with three layers of lasagna noodles, meat sauce, and lots of creamy ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses. You'll love that it's make-ahead and freezer-friendly, too.
- For an easy, creamy dinner recipe, try my Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Pasta recipe. It's made with chicken breasts, broccoli florets, penne pasta, and an easy homemade alfredo sauce.
If you tried this yummy Creamy Ground Beef Noodle Casserole, please be sure to rate and review it below. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you, and to see if you love it as much as I did when I was just a little girl.
Need more recipe inspiration? Give some of these other great recipes a try!
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Creamy Ground Beef Noodle Casserole
- large pot for boiling noodles
- strainer for the cooked noodles
- large cast iron skillet with cover
- large mixing bowl
- measuring spoons
- large casserole dish (instead of a cast iron skillet)
- 1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 16-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 6 oz egg noodles, cooked
- 1 cup sour cream
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese
- In a large cast iron skillet, cook the ground beef until no longer pink. Drain off the fat. Add the minced garlic, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Simmer covered on low heat for 20-40 minutes. Taste test the sauce and add additional salt if needed. The longer it simmers, the more flavorful it will be.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Boil and drain the egg noodles. Place the hot egg noodles in a large bowl and add the cream cheese and sour cream. Mix well. I like to cut the cream cheese into small squares first to help with the melting and mixing.
- After the meat sauce has cooked, spoon most of it into another bowl, leaving a small layer at the bottom of the skillet.
- Add half of the noodle mixture to the skillet.
- Add half the ground beef mixture to the skillet.
- Add half mozzarella cheese to the skillet.
- Repeat with another layer of noodle mixture, beef mixture, and cheese. Cover and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
- Casserole can be made 1 day in advance. Prepare as directed, and keep covered in the refrigerator. Bake as directed.
- Store leftovers in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Instead of a cast iron skillet, assemble the layers in a casserole dish or another oven safe skillet, then bake as directed.
- Instead of egg noodles, try ziti, elbows, rotini or penne.
- Use full fat sour cream and cream cheese! The low fat versions tend to be runny and just don't taste as good.