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Our Hamburger Cheese Bake casserole combines egg noodles, ground beef, tomato sauce, onions, green bell pepper, and scallions with a creamy combination of sour cream and three kinds of cheeses. It’s pure, delicious comfort food!
A comfort food classic with a twist!
If you’re like me – the taste and flavors of some recipes can send you back in time. This Hamburger Cheese Bake is the perfect example of a long-forgotten dish that my mother used to make – but after just one taste, I’m a little kid back home again, sitting at the dinner table!
There’s nothing fancy at all about this comforting, family-friendly dish – egg noodles, tomato sauce, ground beef, onions, green bell pepper and scallions, plus a combination of cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese and Parmesan cheese – all layered together, then baked in the oven.
But the slightly tangy flavor from the combination of sour cream and cream cheese in the sauce, plus the freshness of the scallions and green bell pepper is distinctive in this dish – and as soon as I took a bite, I remembered this recipe from my childhood! (It’s really quite different from a pasta goulash or American Chop Suey.)
Why You’ll Love Hamburger Cheese Bake
- The creamy, cheesy sauce with the fresh bites of green bell pepper and scallions throughout add a wonderful zesty flavor to this beef and pasta casserole.
- It’s so easy to make – and perfect for a weeknight dinner.
- It’s budget friendly and feeds up to eight portions, so you can feed a large family or enjoy leftovers at another meal.
“Typing with a full and happy tummy. Made this for dinner for the family tonight. It was very delicious and comforting. My young picky eaters enjoyed it too. It was like a yummy cross between a macaroni beef and baked ziti. Creamy cheesy perfection…” – Brenda
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
- Ground Beef – Choose 80/20 ground beef for the best flavor and cost savings. Just note that you will need to drain off any excess fat after browning the beef.
- Onions – Any variety of onion will work in this dish.
- Tomato Sauce – Make your own, or use your favorite jarred sauce.
- Seasonings – Including granulated sugar, kosher salt, garlic powder, black pepper
- Egg Noodles – We prefer wide egg noodles, but the thinner noodles can also be used in this recipe.
- Sour Cream
- Cream Cheese
- Cheese – You’ll use a combination of cottage cheese, cream cheese, and Parmesan Cheese
- Green Bell Pepper
About that cottage cheese…
Cottage cheese, as an ingredient, often gets a bad rap – but it blends nicely with the sour cream and cream cheese in this recipe.
You won’t even know that it’s there once you’ve baked this casserole. And, one reader comment below even said, “Even if you don’t like all the cheeses that’s in it, trust me you will still love this.”
Ricotta cheese can be substituted instead, but the ricotta cheese will give this casserole a slightly different, wetter, and less silky texture.
We used plain cream cheese in our Hamburger Cheese Bake, but a number of readers over the years have written to tell us that they used jalapeno cream cheese to add a zestier bite.
Special Tools You’ll Need
- 9×9-inch deep baking dish (ours has 3-inch high sides). You can bake this in a 9×13-inch casserole dish but it will be shallower (and take less cooking time) and overall the texture will be drier since the top surface area hitting the heat of the oven is larger.
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Cutting board & sharp knife
- Large skillet
- Large mixing bowl
- Cheese grater
How do I make Hamburger Cheese Bake?
- Brown the ground beef and onions in a skillet, draining off any excess fat.
- Add tomato sauce and seasonings and heat through.
- Cook the egg noodles, then drain.
- Mix cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, scallions, and bell pepper in a bowl.
- Assemble the casserole – layering noodles, beef mixture, and cheese mixture. Top with a layer of beef and grated Parmesan cheese.
- Bake until hot and bubbly and the top is golden.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I make Hamburger Cheese Bake ahead of time? Yes – you can assemble ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to bake. Just be sure to take the casserole out of the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to come back to room temperature before baking. Also note that the bake time might be longer if the casserole still has a chill to it.
- How do I store leftovers? Cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to three days.
- How do I reheat leftovers? We typically microwave individual portions to reheat, but you can cover with foil and reheat in the oven instead.
- Can I freeze this casserole? Yes – the baked casserole freezes nicely.
This Hamburger Cheese Bake recipe originally appeared on A Family Feast in 2015. We’ve updated the photos and post and clarified a few steps in the instructions, but the delicious recipe remains the same.
For those of you who are regulars readers here at A Family Feast , you already know that Jack and I have poured through my mother’s old recipe box over the years – and it’s filled with magazine and newspaper recipe clippings, plus some handwritten recipe cards. This Hamburger Cheese Bake is a recipe from her collection. After a little bit of research, I was able trace this back to an old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook and we adapted it slightly – using tomato sauce in our version instead of tomato juice for a thicker sauce.
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 cups prepared tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups uncooked egg noodles (any size)
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 8 ounces softened cream cheese
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup chopped scallions, tops and bottoms
- 1/4 cup green bell pepper chopped
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray a 9x9x3-inch casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a large skillet, brown beef and chopped onion in olive oil. Drain off fat and discard.
- Add tomato sauce, sugar, salt, garlic powder and black pepper, mix then remove from heat. Set aside.
- Cook egg noodles to just under al dente. Drain and set aside.
- While noodles are cooking, in a large bowl mix cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, scallions and bell pepper. Mix to combine.
- In the prepared casserole dish, spread half the noodles. Top with half the beef sauce. Cover with all of the cheese mixture. Cover with remaining noodles and remaining beef sauce then top with Parmesan cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes (the casserole should be hot and bubbly and the top golden). Serve immediately.
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