I’m always looking for a quick and easy dinner idea and this Mexican Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole just became our favorite of 2018.
The absolute most popular recipe on our site is my Mom’s Busy Day Casserole, well that’s what we called it growing up, but on the blog it’s, Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole. It’s a great classic recipe for a family or picky eaters. Having grown up on it it doesn’t bother me a lick that it’s such a basic recipe, but I can’t help but tinker and finding a new version of a big hit was my next goal. This Mexican Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole blows the original out of the water.
Actually, if I’m being honest, it doesn’t. But it’s a nostalgia thing for me. I grew up on the first so no matter how amazing a recipe I create I can’t help but love the original and think of all the times my mom made it for us. But don’t worry, I already called her and told her she has to try this new version, that way it can still be a family favorite. 🙂
Quick and Easy Dinner Idea
As you know, we really like to make things from scratch, but sometimes we just flat out need a quick and easy dinner idea.
We feel like it’s better for our bodies to cook from scratch and we just flat out like to cook. However, this is one of those times when we are going to bust out the canned soup, because it’s easy and tastes great in this dish.
Homemade Canned Soup
To make a homemade fiesta soup, you could use our homemade recipe in our Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole, but you’d need to add in some cheese, spices and peppers to hit that same flavor and by the time you do that the condensed soup really is easier.
It’s up to you though, so if you want to try it, please let us know what you did in the comments.
Mexican Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole
Alright, the casserole is rice, taco flavored ground beef, a creamy fiesta soup blended in to make it even more flavor rich, black beans, though you could add corn as well, and cheese on top. We like it plain just like that, or served up with salsa and avocados, or guacamole.
How to Make Rice Casserole
Alright, let’s chat about our most asked questions on how to make a rice casserole.
You’ll start this recipe out with white long grain rice. Mixing the rice, water and soup together evenly is really important as you’ll end up with dry spots otherwise.
- Do I cook the rice first?
No, the long grain rice will completely cook in the oven along with all of the other ingredients which is why proper combining of the ingredients is important so that everything is mixed with the water well.
- My Casserole Came Out Like Soup
If you cook for the entire 90 minutes, there’s no possible way your casserole will come out undercooked as long as you followed the recipe, using the correct rice, measurements of liquid etc.
Which brings up a good point, liquid ingredients should always be measured in a glass measuring cup, and never in a standard measuring cup which is meant for dry ingredients.
- My Casserole Came Out Dry
Unfortunately I’ve been making this recipe for 20 years and the ONLY time is has ever come out dry is when I didn’t properly cook it or measure the ingredients properly. There’s plenty of liquid, you should not have a dry casserole.
- The Casserole Was Bland
Well, with all of that seasoning and the fiesta soup you really shouldn’t have a problem, however everyone’s taste buds are totally different, so if something tastes bland to you, add more salt, seasoning or flavorful ingredients to your liking. That’s the best part about cooking, it’s so easy to amp up or tone down the flavor train!
Which Ground Beef Tastes Best
Well, to be honest, the fuller fat ground beef tastes best but let’s break it down.
- Ground Beef – 73% Lean, 27% Fat
73% Lean is the most flavorful of all the ground beefs because of the fat in it. This will also make it the most juicy, which is good, but you’ll have a good amount of fat to drain off.
This is a great option for a burger or a dish where ground beef is the sole star.
- Ground Chuck – 80% Lean, 20% Fat
An 80/20 is what we use most often if we are cooking with ground beef. It has enough fat to keep things juicy and still really taste that umami beef flavor.
- Ground Sirloin – 85% Lean, 15% Fat
Ground Sirloin is another great option though that fat number is getting low. We often cook with this one because it’s a tad bit healthier and still isn’t as dry as a 90%.
- Ground Round – 90% Lean, 10 % Fat
90% is very lean and will cook up a lot drier because of the low fat. Which isn’t a problem if you’re adding it into a recipe like a saucy pasta, casserole, or soup.
Any of these grades will work for this dish. Usually Round and sirloin are best in chilis, soups, sauces etc while the fattier grades are best for burgers, meatloaf etc.
How Ground Beef is Made
Ground beef is taking certain cuts of beef, like the sirloin and cutting it into portions then processing it through a grinder. Sometimes, if meat is a little too lean they will add trimmings from another cut to amp up the fat, however if you’re shopping at a good store and using a good brand of beef you should literally only have meat in your ground beef.
How Long Will Ground Beef Keep?
- How Long Will Ground Beef Keep in the Fridge?
Fresh ground beef will keep in the fridge for only 2 days. After that you need to freeze it or use it.
- How Long Will Ground Beef Keep in the Freezer?
As long as your ground beef is uncooked you can keep it in the freezer for up to 3-4 months. Make sure it’s sealed well or you’ll get freezer burn.
Cooked Ground beef will only last for 2 months in the freezer.
How to Know if your Ground Beef Has Gone Bad
Can we just quickly mention how to know if your ground beef has gone bad?
Bacteria will build up on raw ground beef. Here’s three things to watch for.
- Feels Slimy
- Smells Off or Weird
- Looks Grey or Grey/Brown
If any of those things are happening, you’ve got spoiled meat.
- Will Ground Beef go Bad in the Freezer?
Unfortunately meat can still go bad in the freezer which is why you shouldn’t bury it under things where you’ll forget about it.
- Will Ground Beef go Bad in the Fridge?
Ground beef, though stored in the fridge will still start to go bad over time.
Can Ground Beef be Re-Frozen After Being Thawed?
Let’s look to the USDA for this one, “Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods.”
However, leaving defrosted meat for a week in the fridge and then finally freezing it increases your chances that it had already begun to go bad.
Can Ground Beef be Cooked in the Microwave?
Well, yes it can, but we really don’t recommend it. The meat cooks up weird, and rubbery. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Will Rice Cook in a Casserole?
Yep! The rice does not need to be cooked ahead of time and using minute rice is a big no, no. Just stir the long grain rice into everything and it will all cook evenly.
Can You Freeze Cooked Rice Casserole?
Yes, you can freeze cooked rice casserole! You can freeze Mexican Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole right in the pan, wrapped well with saran wrap and foil. It will only last for a couple of weeks, to a month, and please don’t add the cheese ahead of time, wait until serving to do that. If it’s leftover, well just make sure you fully defrost it in the fridge and reheat in the oven to firm things back up.
How to Make Rice Casserole in an Instant Pot
You can totally make this Mexican Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole in an instant pot, but the pot will be removed, rice put in a pan and then cheese added to be finished in the oven as the cheese gets too much moisture in the instant pot.
Merely, brown the ground beef and drain using the saute mode. Drain the fat and proceed like normal.
Turn the instant pot to manual high pressure and place the lid on to cook for 5-8 minutes. You’re all set!
What to Make with Rice Casserole
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Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 387 Total Fat: 18g Saturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 81mg Sodium: 967mg Carbohydrates: 25g Fiber: 6g Sugar: 1g Protein: 29g