Dive into a heartwarming dish that blends the savory goodness of ground beef with the comforting taste of potatoes: Oven Baked Cheesy Potato and Hamburger Casserole. This easy-to-follow recipe, with step-by-step pictures, offers layers of diced potatoes smothered in a rich meat sauce, all topped with a generous sprinkle of melted cheddar and baked until hot and bubbly. Perfect for both weeknight dinners and special occasions!
A casserole is, at its core, southern comfort food in a dish. It's that oven-baked concoction where ingredients come together into a hearty meal. This potato and hamburger casserole stands out in the league of casseroles, leaning into the classic charm but with a modern twist.
There is a time and a place for Velvetta - like our family favorite broccoli casserole, but really other than that - I never use it or any processed cheese. And I never use any can of anything condensed soups either. This dish is made with a homemade creamy white sauce instead of relying on canned soups and processed cheese.
While recipe testing, making this simple sauce gave it the creamy texture those other things can give but with far fewer ingredients, a much better taste, and so much better for you.
And it is not difficult. I walk you through it step by step below (with pictures!).
Hamburger potato casserole is a breeze to put together. The process is pretty straightforward—start with browning the ground beef, mix in those onions and garlic, and follow up with diced potatoes. And here's the game-changer - the velvety cheese sauce.
Because cheese is always a good addition. 😜
Whether it's a laid-back Sunday dinner, a potluck with friends, or just one of those days when you need some good old Southern comfort, this dish has got you!
And the casserole options don’t stop there! You’ll love making Southern Cheesy Corn Casserole, Brown Butter Sweet Potato Casserole, Broccoli and Rice Casserole, and Kitchen Sink Breakfast Casserole any time you’re craving comfort.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Ground Beef
- Garlic and Onion - dice the onion and mince the garlic.
- Flour - Acts as a thickening agent to the sauce - skipping the need for any can of processed condensed soups.
- Butter - helps create the thick sauce.
- Whole Milk - whole milk is best for this recipe.
- Beef Broth - chicken can be used if you don't have any beef broth on hand.
- Seasonings (salt, parsley, thyme, pepper, white pepper)
- Potatoes - regular russet baking potatoes work best for this. You will want to peel and dice them into small cubes so they bake evenly and quickly.
- Shredded Cheddar - I always think it is best to grate your own cheese from a block instead of using pre-shredded bagged cheese.
PRO TIP: while the meat is cooking, peel your potatoes to utilize your time well. Have the sink filled with ice-cold water. Place the peeled and diced potatoes in there as you are working on them. This will help them not to brown as your work. Drain the water and pat it dry before placing into the casserole dish.
How To Make Potato Hamburger Casserole In The Oven
Prepare for baking: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Set aside.
Cook the ground beef: In a large pot, add ground beef over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, breaking up while stirring and cooking. Add in onion and garlic and cook for another 10 minutes or until the ground beef is cooked all the way through. Make sure everything is broken up into small pieces.
Prepare the potatoes: While the meat is cooking, peel and dice potatoes into small cubes. Place them in a large bowl or sink of clean, cold water to prevent them from browning as you dice them. Set aside.
Make the sauce: Drain off as much of the liquid fat as you can after making the ground beef. Add in flour and butter. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn heat to medium-low. Slowly whisk in milk. Stir until starting to thicken. Add in broth and whisk together. Add in the spices and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Assemble the casserole: Drain the cubed potatoes and remove as much liquid as you can. Spread evenly across the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the meat mixture over the top. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
Bake and cool: Bake covered in foil for 60 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 more minutes to fully melt and brown the cheddar cheese. Remove and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
- Opt for lean ground beef to reduce excess fat, ensuring a cleaner, more flavorful end result without a greasy feel.
- Soaking the diced potatoes in cold water helps reduce excess starch, which can result in a clearer, more appetizing sauce.
- While cheddar is recommended, feel free to mix in other melting cheeses like Gouda or Monterey Jack to introduce a new depth of flavor.
- The sauce's consistency is crucial; if it's too thick, add a splash more broth or milk, and if too runny, let it simmer a little longer.
- A glass or ceramic 9x13 dish distributes heat evenly, ensuring the casserole cooks uniformly without any hotspots.
- Using foil to cover the casserole during the initial baking helps keep the moisture in, preventing it from drying out.
- For that extra golden and crispy cheese top, consider broiling the casserole for a minute or two after the primary baking.
- Always allow the casserole to rest for a few minutes after baking; this helps the flavors meld and makes it easier to serve.
A meat chopper * can be a super helpful tool to help break up ground beef into smaller pieces while browning.
Recipe Variations & Add-In Ideas
I always love taking a recipe and making it your own. Casseroles are meant to be easy and I am all about "this needs to be eaten so let me throw it in this dinner recipe to use it" kinda of situation. 😜 Here are some additional ideas you could do.
- Introduce diced bell peppers, zucchini, or mushrooms for added texture and a veggie lift to the casserole.
- For a different flavor profile, consider using ground turkey or chicken instead of beef, keeping the preparation the same.
- If you enjoy a touch of heat, incorporate some crushed red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños into the meat mixture.
- Swap regular potatoes for sweet potatoes or even pre-made hashbrowns to provide a different texture and taste foundation.
- Experiment with cheeses like smoked mozzarella, fontina, or pepperjack.
- For an ultra-creamy sauce, incorporate a splash of heavy cream or half-and-half into the milk mixture.
- Fresh rosemary, basil, or cilantro can be a great addition, imparting a fresh and herby depth of flavor.
How to Store & Freeze
Storing: Once ground beef and potato casserole have cooled to room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container or tightly wrap the baking dish with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. When you're ready to enjoy it again, reheat individual servings in the microwave or place the entire casserole in the oven at 350°F until warmed through.
Freezing: If you're planning to freeze the casserole for future meals, it's best to do so before baking. Assemble the dish in a freezer-safe container, then wrap it securely with both plastic wrap and aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you're ready to cook, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then bake as per the original instructions, adding a few extra minutes if necessary to ensure it's cooked through.
Using low-fat milk will make the dish slightly less creamy - you can use it but I recommend using full-fat whole milk for this dish. Plant-based milks are not recommended.
Yes, you can. While fresh garlic and onion impart a more vibrant flavor, in a pinch, you can substitute ⅛ teaspoon of garlic powder for each clove and about 1 teaspoon of onion powder for a medium-sized onion.
Assembling the casserole a day in advance can save time and actually allow the flavors to come together even more. Just ensure it's stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly, and brought to near room temperature before baking the next day.
More Ground Beef Dinner Recipes
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