Italian Beef and Rice Casserole is an all in one dinner the whole family loves! Using our special method to bake the flavor right into the rice, it is hard to believe that so much flavor is so simple to pack into one easy ground beef dinner!
Ground Beef & Rice Casserole – Easy + Delish!
When it comes to weeknight meals, it has got to be
- Family friendly
- Bonus points – make ahead!
and this easy casserole recipe checks all the boxes!
I love to use ground beef in meals because I can bulk cook it and freeze, then just take it out and already be 3 steps ahead in cooking dinner.
This casserole uses ground beef and combines it with rice and Italian seasonings for the perfect combo of easy and tasty.
You can even make it a day (or more) ahead and just reheat it when you are ready to eat since it saves so well. More on that below!
What to Serve with Italian Beef Casserole
This dish has it all- rice, lots of veggies, and ground beef for protein. It can be a filling meal all on it’s own, no sides or extras needed.
If you want to stretch the meal, or add a little extra, there are a few things I think go really well with this casserole.
Side dish ideas
- Garlic Bread – Best ever, I promise!
- Side Salad
- Roasted Asparagus
- Sheet Pan Roasted Veggies
Cooking Tips & Tricks
This casserole is awesome because you can have it from the fridge to the oven in minutes and then go about your busy evening while it cooks to perfection with no babysitting necessary.
I am going to walk through a few tips and short cuts with you here to answer questions that may come up and help you get the best out of the recipe. Make sure to find the full recipe at the bottom of this post.
Since this casserole bakes in the oven with plenty of other delicious flavors, I recommend a lean ground beef. I used 93% lean when making this batch. This will prevent the dish from being greasy when serving.
For this recipe you will use uncooked white rice. I frequently use jasmine but regular rice is just fine too.
If you want to use quick cooking rice, you can reduce the cooking time to about 30 minutes.
I use green pepper, diced tomatoes, carrot shreds, and onion in this dish. You can have a little bit of wiggle room if there are other veggies you want to use. Just be aware that since it bakes for so long to get the rice nice and tender, more delicate veggies like squash won’t work well.
For simplicity, I use premade Italian seasoning blend in this recipe. It is simple to keep on hand and gives just the right flavor.
If you don’t have Italian seasoning you can substitute:
- 2 tsp basil
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1/2 tsp rosemary
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp marojam
Baking this ground beef casserole in broth and the juice from the tomatoes is a crucial part of really getting the flavor of the dish infused in the rice.
You can experiment with using low sodium, chicken, vegetable broth, or bullion, but beef broth really works well to seal in that rich flavor of the ground beef!
Cooking the Casserole
To successfully make this casserole, this step is KEY!
You must tightly wrap the top of the dish with foil before baking. This keeps the moisture in and allows the rice to cook. If you do not cover the dish, the rice will not cook well and may still be crunchy.
Once it is covered, the dish will take awhile to cook. This allows the rice to soak up all the flavor of the ground beef and Italian seasonings.
Once the casserole is done, the broth will be gone and the rice will be tender.
You can then sprinkle the top with cheese and let it bake a couple of more minutes until it is perfectly melted.
Recipe Short Cuts
If you really need to get the casserole into the oven fast, there are a few short cuts you can take to speed up the recipe.
- Pre-brown the ground beef– You can do this up to 3 days ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, or up to a month ahead if it is frozen.
- Buy pre-chopped veggies– Carrot shreds are readily available at almost all grocery stores. You can also find bell pepper and onion pre-chopped frequently in the fresh produce or frozen section.
- Use quick cooking rice– speed up the cook time by using quick cooking rice. It should be done in around 30-40 minutes.
- Make ahead as a freezer meal – Then you can dump and bake! See instructions below.
Freezer Meal Instructions
Italian Ground Beef and Rice Casserole makes a nice freezer meal for a hectic night or to bring to someone in need. These freezer meals are best when used in 1-2 months.
To prepare this dish as a freezer meal:
- Brown and drain the ground beef.
- Place the beef,
- When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator 24-48 hours.
- Place in a baking dish and bake as directed.
If you are cooking for someone with special dietary restrictions, this recipe can comply with many needs.
Gluten Free– This recipe is naturally gluten free as written. Make sure to double check all store bought ingredients to comply.
Dairy Free– The cheese can be omitted from the casserole to make it dairy free.
More Ground Beef Recipes
If you love simple hands off recipes with only a few ingredients, I hope you will check out a few more of our reader favorites!
You can also see more Easy Casserole Recipes here!
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Italian Beef and Rice Casserole
- 1.5 lbs ground beef
- 1 onion diced
- 1 green pepper diced
- 14.5 oz canned tomatoes (1 can)
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 2 cups white rice (I use jasmine)
- 2.5 cups beef broth
- 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- parsley chopped
- Brown and drain the ground beef. Place the ground beef in a large casserole dish.
- Mix in the onion, green pepper, diced tomatoes, shredded carrots, rice, broth, garlic powder, salt, and Italian seasoning.
- Cover tightly with foil and bake at 400˚F for 50-60 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
- Once the rice is tender, remove the foil, add the cheese to the top, and bake for 5 more minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
- Once the cheese is melted, remove from oven, garnish with chopped parsley (optional) and serve warm.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)
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