Packed with rice, black beans, and seasoned ground beef, this Mexican casserole is the perfect recipe for busy weeknights!
Easy Mexican Ground Beef Casserole
The 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 called our 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 Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Mexican 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. 🙂
What’s Needed for This Cheesy Mexican Casserole?
The ingredients list for this easy Mexican casserole is super short, which is one of the many reasons why we love this recipe! Here’s what you’ll need to make this ground beef Mexican casserole:
- Canned fiesta nacho cheese soup
- Long grain white rice
- Black beans
- Ground beef
- Taco seasoning
- Cheddar cheese slices
- Salsa and avocado, for serving
Do I Have to Use Canned Soup?
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.
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.
What’s the Best Ground Beef for Mexican Casserole?
Well, to be honest, the fuller fat ground beef tastes best but let’s break it down.
73% lean ground beef is the most flavorful of all the ground beef options because it contains the most fat. This will also make it the most juicy, which is good, but you’ll have a good amount of fat to drain off.
An 80/20 ground beef 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) 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%.
90% lean ground beef 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 Mexican ground beef casserole. Usually round and sirloin are best in chilis, soups, sauces etc. while the fattier grades are best for burgers, meatloaf, and so on.
How to Make Mexican Casserole
This taco rice casserole requires just 10 minutes of hands on prep work, and then it’s ready to go into the oven! Here’s the basic rundown of how we make this Mexican casserole at home:
- Brown the ground beef in a skillet and drain the fat.
- Stir in the taco seasoning and the water called for on the package.
- Stir together the ground beef, soup, remaining water, beans, and rice. (Mixing the rice, water and soup together evenly is really important as you’ll end up with dry spots otherwise!).
- Turn the mixture into a greased 8×9-inch baking dish and bake for 90 minutes.
- Top with cheese slices and return to the oven to melt the cheese.
read more: Looking for casserole recipes? Try our Easy Pork Chops and Rice Casserole next!
Will the Rice Cook in the 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 Mexican Rice Casserole?
Yes, you can freeze the cooked Mexican casserole! You can freeze this taco rice casserole right in the pan, wrapped well with plastic wrap and foil. It will last up to 1 month, but 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.
Can I Make Mexican Casserole in an Instant Pot?
You can totally make this cheesy Mexican casserole in an Instant Pot, but the pot will need to 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.
To make this Mexican ground beef casserole in an Instant Pot, brown the ground beef and drain using the sauté 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!
Tips for Making the Best Mexican Casserole
Alright, let’s chat about our most asked questions on making this taco rice casserole.
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 Mexican rice 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 it’s 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!
What to Serve with Mexican Rice Casserole
Looking for sides to go with this cheesy Mexican casserole? Here are some of our favorites:
- Elote Grilled Mexican Corn Salad
- Our Best Broccoli Salad
- Italian Veggie Salad
- Garden Balsamic Avocado Salad
- Grilled Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Salad
More GROUND BEEF RECIPES:
You can find all of our beef recipes here.
More EASY CASSEROLE RECIPES:
- Cheesy Hamburger Casserole (with Rice!)
- Teriyaki Beef Casserole
- Teriyaki Chicken Casserole
- Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Tater Tot Pizza Casserole
- Hawaiian Ham and Pineapple Casserole
- Cheesy Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
- Coconut Curry Chicken and Rice Casserole
- One-Skillet Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas Casserole
- Low-Carb Cheesy Ground Beef and Cauliflower Rice Casserole
- All our EASY CASSEROLE RECIPES here!
Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Mexican Casserole
- 1 Can Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup
- 1 Cup Long Grain White Rice, (uncooked)
- 2 Cups Water
- 1 Can Black Beans, , drained
- 1 Pound Ground Beef
- 1 Taco Seasoning Packet, (+ the water called for in the package instructions)
- 9 slices Cheddar or colby jack cheese
- Salsa, , for serving
- Avocado , , for serving
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray an 8×9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Heat a skillet to medium heat and brown the ground beef.
- Drain off the fat and add the taco seasoning packet along with the water called for on the package directions.
- Simmer until thickened.
- Stir together the soup, rice, remaining water, beans, and cooked beef.
- Place in the baking dish and bake for 90 minutes.
- Top with cheese slices and bake a few more minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
- If you'd like to double this recipe, simply double the ingredients and bake it in a 9x13-inch pan. The bake time remains the same.
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I like to shake this up a bit. I add a small can of corn, a small can of Ro-tel tomatoes, and a couple dashes of Frank’s Red Hot. Then when it’s done I take a scoop, put it in a warm flour tortilla with some sour cream and Guacamole and it the PERFECT burrito. I make this on sunday and it feeds my wife and I all week!!! LOVE IT
Hi Paul! I love this!! What a great idea! Thank you so much for taking time to leave a comment!
This was a great recipe! I misunderstood the guidelines for adding water and thought the “additional water” meant the difference of 2 cups and what was called for with the seasoning. I ended up checking on the dish at the 60 minute point and adding much more water to soften the rice. Adding avocado, salsa, sour cream, etc. is a must. Great family dish!
Hi Lauren! Yes, so sorry for the confusion! Rice absorbs so much water as it cooks. I’m so glad you checked it! Thank you for the feedback!
This was delicious, especially with the (hot) salsa and avocado on top. I had thought it was going to be dry, but it wasn’t, although some of the rice got a bit crunchy on the sides of the baking dish. I also was doubtful about topping it with 9 slices of cheese, but I did as instructed, and it made for a wonderfully cheesy topping. Definitely one I’ll be making again!
Yay! Thank you Helen! Those crunchy rice bits are my favorite! So glad you enjoyed this recipe!
Love this recipe – it is easy, versatile and tasty. I used low sodium taco seasoning and 1/2 lb ground turkey with added green chilis, onions, green pepper, frozen corn and pepper jack and Mexican cheese mix for the top. It filled a deep 9×9 casserole dish and 90 minutes baking time was perfect. I didn’t have avocado, but a dollop of sour cream added a nice touch. It was perfect for this cold winter day and smelled so good while baking! I found the soup at Walmart.
Yay! Thank you so much for the feedback Kat! I love hearing all your additions and changes. It sounds amazing! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Can I make this in an 8×8 inch dish, I don’t have 9×8??
Love this recipe, but it only takes 60 minutes, not 90 minutes.
I’m so glad you love it! I know cooking time can vary for different reasons, but I’m glad it was it hit!
We left out the beans and it was great!!!
So good to hear you liked it!!
What are the little green flakes in the photos? I do not see parsley listed.
It is chopped cilantro. It’s not necessary, but sure is delicious! It also makes for prettier pictures.
Best thing we’ve head for supper in a long time. I cooked my ground beef and added the taco mix the day before. Finished assembly and baked today. It was Soo good and a big hug with children too!
That’s when we know it’s a winner…when the kids eat it! Thank you for taking time to leave a comment!
If freezing this recipe, how do you heat it to serve?
There is a section in the post with some tips for freezing and reheating. Make sure you defrost it in the refrigerator completely and then you can warm it up in the oven…300 degrees for about 20 minutes should do the trick!
My whole family loved it! Improvised a little. I added onions and garlic to the hamburger. I couldn’t find the right cheese soup so I used cheddar cheese soup and added finely chopped green jalapeno peppers. Will definitely make it again!
I love your improvising! Thank you so much for the feedback Jessica! So happy your family enjoyed it!
I made this taco beef rice casserole. Was super easy to put together. It smelled great baking and tasted just as good. I put the cheese on top when the cook time was 10 minutes remaining. I added the corn just to add veggies. It helped amp up the Mexican flavor. We are going to try adding jalapeños the next time to amp up the heat. (We like spice). I chunked up an avocado for garnish. The creaminess of the avocado and the tartness from the lemon juice I squeezed over it rounded out the dish. If you have big eaters I would either double the recipe, or have a salad with it.
Thank you for the great feedback!! So glad you enjoyed it!
where is the full recipe?
The recipe card is down at the bottom of the post. Here is a link to the printable recipe: https://ohsweetbasil.com/wprm_print/recipe/49773
Too tired to make
Too much chatter! Should just be link at the top that jumps down to the recipe. I got bored fast. Put all the tips after the the recipe. If people want to read it, they can but jimney! I am sure it’s a great meal!
Where is the recipe that shows measurements for Mexican cheesey ground beef and rice casserole
It is down at the bottom of the post. Here is a direct link to the printable recipe: https://ohsweetbasil.com/wprm_print/recipe/49773
We have 2 people in the family who can not have rice for medical reasons-can cauliflower rice be substituted?
This is such a great question! I honestly have never tried it, so I can’t answer with any confidence on this one. I don’t think it would hold up well for the 90 minute bake time, so maybe a shorter bake time would work. I would have to do some trial an error. I would just worry about the text turning out correctly. Sorry I can’t be more help!
Do I cover with foil or just bake it uncovered
Bake uncovered. Enjoy!
Has anyone doubled this recipe for a larger family? I’m wondering if cook time is still 90 minutes?
Yes, it can totally be double. Put it in a 9×13 pan and cook time stays the same.
Made this last night. Added some.chorizo and a can of corn. I can no longer get the fiesta.cheese soup ao used a jar of Tostito’s queso con salsa. Paired it woth corn pudding. Family loved it. First meal in a long time with no leftovers!
Chris!! You made our day! Adding chorizo…that is a genius idea! And I’ll have to try it with the Tostito’s queso con salsa. I bet that is equally delicious!
When we made it our first time it was actually a little on the bland side, at least for my hot sauce devouring husband. Any ideas on how to spice it up??
You could add some jalapenos, either fresh or canned, use pepper jack cheese, add a can of well-drained Rotel, or if you want more flavor but not as much heat, you could add a can of green chiles.
Hi, any idea of how to turn this into a crockpot recipe?
Gotta love crockpots
That is a great question! I don’t see why it wouldn’t work, but I haven’t tested it at all.
This maybe a stupid question, but does the rice have to be cooked before it goes into the casserole, or just it is?
Nope, uncooked! So easy!
Thank you, much appreciated.
I sauteed an onion and garlic just before browning the beef. It added a bit more flavor. My husband really liked this dish. We will make it again for sure!
So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for taking time to leave a comment!
I couldn’t find the specific soup the recipe called for and I toyed with the idea of using Campbell’s cheddar cheese soup and mixing it with well-drained Rotel tomatoes and green chilies. I ended up opting for some ready to use nacho cheese sauce made by La Preferida (15oz). Turned out really good. Also, not all ovens are made equally so keep an eye out on the casserole. If it begins to brown too much you might want to cover it in foil for the last little bit of cooking or adjust your oven temp down a bit.
Thanks Mike! That is great information if the soup is hard to find. So glad it turned out well!
Second time sround I scattered some sliced pickled jalapenos across the top before putting it into the oven. Came out really good. Look great and tasted a great.
May I substitute noodles for the rice?
Looks delicious! I’d like to double the recipe to make sure there are leftovers. If I double all of the ingredients does the cook time stay the same? Thank you! 🙂
Do you cover the Mexican cheesy casserole with rice while cooking
No, leave it uncovered!
I am confused by the ‘add water as per package instructions’. Which package? Is this in addition to the 2 cups you add with the soup and rice?
I’m confused about the amount of water. Do you add the 2 cups plus the water specified on the taco packet?
The recipe ingredient list states 2 cups of water, then states “Water, per packet instructions.” The directions also state adding water twice.
Hi Linda, you will need an extra amount of water in addition to the 2 cups. The amount can differ per package of seasoning so check the packet, then add that amount with the seasoning to the meat. The 2 cups of water gets stirred into the rice.
Hello I have had a question, I followed the directions exactly to a t and it came out burnt the first time and I took it out early the second time to save it a little, and it was dry, but how big of a can of fiesta cheese soup are u using and I figured out reading the comment I, I thought the 2 cups of water was also including the season pack which ask for 3/4 cup of water.
Hi Isaac! You brown the meat and add the seasoning packet and the amount of water called for on the packet instructions and let it simmer and thicken. So the meat is completely cooked and seasoned. Then you mix everything together (the soup is an 11oz can) including an additional 2 cups of water and bake for 90 minutes. Does that make sense?
Hi. Do you bake this uncovered or does it need to be covered with foil?
Is the rice cooked before you add it?
No, it is uncooked. It gets perfectly cooked as it bakes!
The. instructions say to add carrots there is no amount listed in the ingredients list.
Sorry, typo as our other version has carrots!
It has been my experience that you cook the ground beef before you use it in any casserole. Also, carrots is a typo. I think she meant beans. 🙂
Yes, thank you!
Carrots are mentioned in the directions but not listed in ingredients. Are carrots part of recipe and if so how much?
Sorry, it was a typo
Sorry, that was a typo. Our original version has carrots so I was used to saying that.
Does the ground beef need to be browned first?
And I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that soup anywhere?
I found mine at Target.
Yes, per instructions, cook it with the seasoning packet
Hi! Want to make this so bad but can’t find that soup anywhere. Any substitutions?!?
Hey Christina! Please don’t tell me they have stopped making it!! We had one reader substitute the soup with the jarred nacho cheese and it turned out great. Another option would be to use just regular Campbell’s cheddar soup and adding a can of very well drained Rotel chiles. I hope this helps!
You don’t cook the meat ahead of time? What about the taco seasoning? Does not mention it I’m the directions, but I’m thinking maybe you cook the beef and add the taco seasoning before you add it to the other ingredients. I also think that maybe “carrots” in the directions is a typo and should say beans.
Yes, per instructions, cook it, add the seasoning packet and water and simmer until thickened. Yes, carrots was a typo, I’m used to saying it in our original cheesy ground beef and rice recipe. Have you tried that one? http://www.5boysbaker.com/cheesy-ground-beef-rice-casserole/
This recipe looks delicious. Any idea what adjustments (w/ the liquids) I would need to make if I used cauliflower rice to make it lower carb?
Hi Nancy, I haven’t tried that but if you do i’d just love to hear the results so we can post them along with any tips you have!
I would love to hear how that works as well. I was thinking of trying quinoa instead for same reasons.
Just wondering about the ground beef…do I cook it up before adding it to the mixture or just add it raw?
Yes, per instructions, cook the beef, add the seasoning and simmer.
Sorry, that was a typo. Our original version has carrots so I was used to saying that.