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.
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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