This super creamy, cheesy, beefy casserole will take you back to the good ole days when life was simple, and all you mostly had to worry about was that math test you forgot to study for! My Best Friend’s Mom’s Cheesy Beef Macaroni Casserole has stood the test of time, and is still a comforting favorite to this day!
I first had this casserole at my best friend’s house when we were in the fourth grade, and I happened to come across a similar recipe many years later when I was “all grown up” and first married. Her mom’s was a little different than the one I found, though, and this is as close as I have been able to come to recreating it.
It’s just a very simple casserole that uses the old beloved and reliable, canned cream of mushroom soup. But you can certainly make a homemade version of that if you wish. Because they sure don’t make it like they used to. It still works and all, but it just isn’t as good.
But no worries! There are enough other wonderful things going on that it doesn’t really matter anyways.
The only thing that I did differently this time, was that I used a can of “fire-roasted diced tomatoes with garlic” instead of stewed tomatoes.
I very much prefer this casserole made with the stewed over the diced, but my hubby fell in love with it just as I made it this time. So you can use whatever kind you think you might like better.
I also, unlike most casseroles like this, add a little bit of herbs and spices, or I think it’s just too bland. I still stick to keeping it the way we remember it, though, and not go overboard with them. Just a little touch to make it a bit more special.
I also always prefer to bake this casserole covered. Some people actually like crunchy chewy pasta on top, but really prefer tender pasta and cheese that isn’t overcooked for this one.
So there’s that, too. You can bake it either way depending on how you prefer it done.
But baking it covered makes it turn out so creamy, cheesy delicious every time!
And my version is extra cheesy, because I add a little cream cheese, too!!
I also prefer to use a shredded Mexican blend cheese, my personal favorite being Sargento’s. Originally, I used to make this with grated sharp cheddar, but today there are SO many cheeses available now to choose from, it’s hard not to change it up a little!
So you can certainly go old school if you’d like and just use a sharp cheddar. Or use a nice blend. Even try an Italian blend if that makes you happy!
I also use a decent brand of pasta, too, so that it doesn’t turn out mushy. Barilla seems to be about the only macaroni I’ve ever had good luck with, and I only cook it the minimal amount, so that after it bakes it doesn’t get overdone.
And don’t worry too much about two canned products going into this. It’s comfort food, and it is what it is. But you’ll be happy to know that I do include fresh mushrooms, fresh garlic, and a little whole milk.
So yeah, it’s definitely not the healthiest, but it’s not terribly horrible, either. Just a homey casserole that’s easy to make that everyone loves. So just enjoy it now and then!
And please don’t let my horrible photos scare you away! I can’t seem to take a photo of a casserole to save my life! They just aren’t a very easy, pretty subject to capture!
All in all, it’s a VERY delicious casserole! My Best Friend’s Mom’s Cheesy Beef Casserole is total comfort food to the max! And will take you right back to your childhood. It’s super cheesy, creamy, easy to make, budget friendly, and something the whole family will enjoy! Perfect for a family dinner or weeknight supper! Have a wonderful week, and enjoy!
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 6 oz. fresh sliced mushrooms
- ½ cup onion, chopped (1 small to medium-sized onion, to taste)
- 1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 oz. cream cheese, cut up
- 1 (10.5 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with garlic, can sub 1 can stewed tomatoes, broken up / omit sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ tsp. italian seasoning
- ¼ tsp. sugar
- 2 cups uncooked macaroni, cooked and drained
- 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese, or grated sharp cheddar cheese
- In large frying pan, sauté hamburger, mushrooms, onions and garlic over medium heat until done, breaking up meat as you go along. Drain grease. Once drained, over low heat, stir in cream cheese until melted and everything is coated. Stir in soup, milk, tomatoes and seasonings until well combined and creamy.
- In small pot or large saucepan, cook macaroni according to package directions, drain and set aside.
- Layer half of hamburger, then half of the macaroni, and sprinkle with half of the cheese in a lightly sprayed 2-quart casserole. Repeat layers.
- Bake, covered, in preheated 350º oven for 40 minutes.