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Easy & Healthy Mexican Ground Beef Casserole

This easy & healthy Mexican ground beef casserole is bound to become one of your family’s favorite recipes! This casserole packs so much flavor and nutrition in every bite. Perfect for feeding a crowd and makes delicious leftovers!

Can I just come right out and say it? 

This is the ULTIMATE Mexican casserole recipe. Tons of flavor + nutrition + easy to make + DELISH leftovers.

This has become one of our family’s absolutely favorite meals, and if you love Mexican food, I know it’s going to become one of your family’s favorite dinners, too!

Here’s why you’ll love this hearty casserole:

  • It’s packed with so many delicious Mexican flavors. Believe me, your taste buds won’t get bored eating this. 🙂
  • It’s really simple to make. Just follow some basic casserole-y instructions, and you’re good to go. It’s hard to mess this up!
  • This recipe feeds a crowd. You can easily feed 8-10 people with this thing, especially because of all of the toppings! Maybe even 12!
  • It makes super tasty leftovers. If you’re not feeding a crowd, make it and reheat it for lunches or suppers later in the week. It reheats perfectly and maintains great texture and flavor. 
  • There’s so much nutrition in it! Overall, this is a pretty healthy casserole. Lots of lean protein, good-for-you quinoa, and fresh veggies inside and on top of the casserole. 
  • It’s basically a “one pot meal” in the sense that you really don’t need to think about or prep any sides for it. There’s so much in it & on it that just the casserole & the toppings are perfect for a hearty meal!

You’ll only need some pretty simple ingredients for this recipe – some standard pantry staples + easy-to-get fresh items.

Here’s what’s inside this easy & healthy Mexican ground beef casserole:

  • Quinoa – I love subbing quinoa for rice when I can. If you prefer, you can definitely use rice to make it more of a rice casserole, but the quinoa in it is DELISH & packs that extra nutritious punch.
  • Chicken broth – cooking quinoa in chicken broth vs. water is one of my super easy kitchen secrets. Super easy way to add more flavor to your meals!
  • Lean ground beef – if you really want to use ground turkey, I’m sure that’s an easy sub to make, but we’re beef people. 🙂
  • Chopped onion 
  • Assorted sweet peppers – the colors don’t really affect the flavor of the casserole much, so you can use whatever you’d prefer. I like using a mixture of the smaller sweet peppers because I love all the color, but if you want to use green bell pepper or any other sweet (not spicy) pepper, you can! 
  • Spices –  cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt
  • Canned black beans
  • Canned pinto beans
  • Cottage cheese – I feel like I need to make a special note on this because I know there are a lot of cottage cheese-phobic folks out there. Just trust me on this: it makes the casserole absolutely delicious, and it loses most of it’s…cottage cheese-y texture…when it’s mixed with the sour cream and baked into the casserole. 
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded Mexican cheese blend or cheddar cheese
  • Toppings: sliced black olives, shredded lettuce, fresh tomatoes, sliced avocados, chopped cilantro, little bit of lime juice (you can include any and all of your favorite taco toppings…this is basically a taco casserole!)

Easy & Healthy Mexican Ground Beef Casserole 1

Let’s talk about how to make this easy casserole!

How to make Easy & Healthy Mexican Ground Beef Casserole:

You’ll first begin by cooking the quinoa in the chicken broth according to your package directions. (I usually add my quinoa + broth into a sauce pan over medium heat, wait for the liquid to begin to bubble, then cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for 10 minutes. The quinoa always comes out perfectly!)

(Also, go ahead and heat oven to 350 so it’s ready to go when the rest of the ingredients have been prepped.)

While the quinoa is cooking, you can brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat. (I usually also cook the chopped onions at this time, too – I add them in to the beef once the beef is about halfway done cooking.) 

Once the beef is cooked, you’ll add in the peppers and beans. 

Easy & Healthy Mexican Ground Beef Casserole 1

Mmm-mmm – already looks so fresh and tasty, doesn’t it?!

Then add in the cooked quinoa & seasonings to the meat mixture. 

Give it a stir. 

Add in half of the shredded cheese. (You want to save the other half for the top of the casserole.)

Stir it all together. 

Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and add half of the ground beef mixture to it. 

Make the cottage cheese + sour cream mixture…

And then spread it over the top of the beef mixture to make the creamy cheese layer. 

Then add the other half of the beef mixture on top and sprinkle it with the remaining cheese. 

Bake it in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes, and then top it off with all of those fresh toppings before serving!

Easy & Healthy Mexican Ground Beef Casserole 1

Just look at all that fresh flavor!

Easy & Healthy Mexican Ground Beef Casserole 1

Such an easy recipe that makes for TASTY and healthy comfort food!

Easy & Healthy Mexican Ground Beef Casserole 1

Slice it up for the whole family to gobble up, or save a portion of it to reheat for lunches or suppers later in the week. 

Easy & Healthy Mexican Ground Beef Casserole 1

Tips for making this easy Mexican casserole recipe:

  • Spice it up. This recipe is very mild – there’s really no heat in here at all. I love me some spicy food, though, so if you do too, you could easily slice up a jalapeno or serrano pepper (or two!) and include them when you add in the other sweet peppers. 
  • Only top off the portion you’re going to eat the evening that you make this. In other words, you don’t want to add the fresh toppings to the entire casserole if you’re not going to finish the casserole that same meal. Since you want to be able to easily reheat the casserole, if you know you’re going to have some leftovers, top off only the portion that you’re going to dish out (or just top off individual servings), and then save the rest of the toppings. You want those toppings to be fresh and crisp, so you don’t want them following the casserole to the microwave when you reheat it. 
  • You can prep this as a make-ahead meal. You can easily prep the ingredients ahead of time – the morning of or even a day or two before – and then bake it when you’re ready. Or, you can make it & bake it all at once, but still reserve it to reheat later. Have I mentioned this makes great leftovers? 😉
  • Serve it as taco filling. Get some flour tortillas or corn tortillas, spoon this down the middle, and then top it off with the same toppings. Instant, make-ahead tacos. Done!
  • If you’re serving this up for a group and you need some easy Tex-Mex appetizers to go with, you’ll LOVE these homemade salsa & homemade guacamole recipes! They’re absolutely delicious and super easy to whip up!

I think that’s it, my friend! I’m sure this is about to become one of your favorite Tex-Mex items to add to your meal rotation! 💃😋

Easy & Healthy Mexican Ground Beef Casserole 1

Just the best Mexican beef casserole that makes for an easy weeknight meal or on a weekend when you’re having company. It really is such a great recipe that you & your people will love!

Easy & Healthy Mexican Ground Beef Casserole

Easy & Healthy Mexican Ground Beef Casserole

Yield: 8-10 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This easy & healthy Mexican ground beef casserole is bound to become one of your family's favorite recipes! This casserole packs so much flavor and nutrition in every bite. Perfect for feeding a crowd and makes delicious leftovers!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 c dry (uncooked) quinoa
  • 3 c chicken broth
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 sweet or yellow onion, diced
  • 1-1.5 c diced assorted peppers (any combo of red, green, yellow, or orange bell peppers/sweet peppers)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Dash of salt (to taste)
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¾ c cottage cheese
  • ¾ c sour cream
  • 1.5 c shredded Mexican blend (or cheddar) cheese
  • Toppings: sliced black olives, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sliced avocados, chopped cilantro, little bit of lime juice***

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350.
    2. Cook quinoa according to package directions in the chicken broth (instead of water)*
    3. In the meantime, begin to brown the beef over medium heat in a large skillet.
    4. Add in diced onion to the beef and continue cooking until beef is cooked and onion is soft –about 8 minutes.
    5. Add in diced peppers and cook those until soft, about 5-8 minutes.
    6. Stir in seasonings & beans.
    7. Stir in cooked quinoa with the beef/bean mixture.
    8. Stir in half of the shredded cheese.
    9. Lightly spray a 9x13 casserole pan. Pour in half of the quinoa/beef/bean mixture.
    10. In a separate bowl, stir together the cottage cheese & sour cream, and pour that mixture on top of the quinoa layer. Spread evenly around.
    11. Add the second half of the quinoa mixture. Top with remaining shredded cheese.
    12. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
    13. Remove from oven, and sprinkle toppings on top.**

Notes

  1. This makes DELICIOUS leftovers! 🙂
  2. You can easily transform this from a casserole into a taco filling. Just spoon some of this down the middle of flour or corn tortillas, and boom - instant tacos!

*When I cook quinoa, I always add quinoa + chicken broth in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. When the liquid starts to bubble, I turn the heat down to medium low, cover with a lid, and set the timer for 10 minutes. Quinoa is always fully cooked after that!

**When I make this, we almost always have enough for leftovers, so I usually just add toppings to the portion I think we're going to eat that evening. Since you want the toppings to be fresh (and not reheated in the microwave), I'd suggest only adding toppings to the section you're going to eat, that way it's easier to reheat the leftover casserole later. Then, add more toppings to the portion you reheat.

***If you want to include some lime, you can either lightly drizzle lime juice over the top of the toppings once they're on the casserole, or you can mix the toppings together in a separate bowl, add some lime juice, stir, and then sprinkle on top of the casserole.

2 Comments

  1. I made this for dinner tonight & it was great! Easy to make and didn’t take much time or effort. I especially loved the fresh ingredients on the top. Lots of yummy flavors, and more nutrient-rich than the typical Tex-Mex casserole. Thanks!

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