Mexican Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole


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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.


a white casserole dish with a Mexican cheesy ground beef and rice casserole being scooped up with a large spoon


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.

Sorry, Mom.

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.

a white casserole dish with a Mexican cheesy ground beef and rice casserole

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!


a white casserole dish with a Mexican cheesy ground beef and rice casserole


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.


a white casserole dish with a Mexican cheesy ground beef and rice casserole


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.


a white casserole dish with a Mexican cheesy ground beef and rice casserole


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 thawingAfter 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.


a white dish with a blue rim full of Mexican cheesy ground beef and rice casserole


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

Looking for sides to go with a rice casserole? Here are some of our favorites! Elote Grilled Mexican Corn Salad, Our Best Broccoli Salad, Italian Veggie Salad, Garden Balsamic Avocado Salad


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Mexican Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole

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.


  • 1 Can Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup
  • 1 Cup Long Grain White Rice
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 Can Black Beans, drained
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 Taco Seasoning Packet
  • Water, per package instructions
  • Cheddar or colby jack cheese, sliced about 9 pieces
  • Salsa for serving
  • Avocado for serving


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8×9″ baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Heat a skillet to medium heat and add the ground beef.
  3. Drain off fat and add the seasoning packet along with the water called for on the package directions.
  4. Simmer until thickened.
  5. Stir together the soup, rice, remaining water, beans , and cooked beef.
  6. Place in the baking dish and bake for 90 minutes.
  7. Top with cheese slices and bake a few more minutes or until melted.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 6 servings, Serving Size: 1 cup

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 314 Calories
  • Total Fat: 12.9g
  • Cholesterol: 66.4mg
  • Carbohydrates: 21.4g
  • Fiber: 5.3g
  • Sugar: 0.8g
  • Protein: 27.5g
All images and text ©Carrian Cheney for Oh Sweet Basil.

a white casserole dish with a Mexican cheesy ground beef and rice casserole being scooped up with a large spoon

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Carrian Cheney

Lover of all things beautiful, good and delicious. Wife, mother, friend, foodie.

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34 comments on “Mexican Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice Casserole”

  1. 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.

  2. May I substitute noodles for the rice?

  3. 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! 🙂

  4. Do you cover the Mexican cheesy casserole with rice while cooking

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. Hi. Do you bake this uncovered or does it need to be covered with foil?

  8. Is the rice cooked before you add it?

  9. The. instructions say to add carrots there is no amount listed in the ingredients list.

  10. 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. 🙂

  11. Carrots are mentioned in the directions but not listed in ingredients. Are carrots part of recipe and if so how much?

  12. Does the ground beef need to be browned first?
    And I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that soup anywhere?

  13. 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. 

  14. 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?

  15. Just wondering about the ground beef…do I cook it up before adding it to the mixture or just add it raw?