Here's an easy and delicious cheeseburger casserole recipe the whole family will love. Only 15 minutes of prep and the crock pot does the rest...and no one will ever know there's a hidden veggie for extra nutritional impact!
Have you ever had a mac and cheese cheeseburger? I couldn't believe it when I saw that option on a menu once. It's literally a cheeseburger topped with mac and cheese.
Of course, my younger son ordered it, and I have to admit, it was totally awesome. Which gave me an idea to come up with a crock pot recipe to copy that mac and cheese cheeseburger taste!
Another good non-traditional option to get the yummy taste of cheeseburgers on the table is with this Instant Pot Cheeseburger Soup recipe!
Why I love this recipe!
This recipe works on every level needed for a busy mom with a hungry family to feed. It is:
- Easy - I made it a crock pot recipe, because slow cooking is just so darn simple.
- Nutritious - I added cauliflower. (No one even noticed!)
- Lightened up - I used ground turkey instead of beef.
- Filling - I used a fiber-enriched pasta.
- Tasty - I added sharp cheddar cheese, mixed in ketchup, and topped it off with chopped pickles and tomatoes. Yum!
Crock pot recipes are great for feeding a crowd, or in my case, two hungry teen boys. We need a lot of food even though we are only a family of four! So I have a few other recipes like this in my arsenal as well, like my Slow Cooker Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. Or, if you are looking for something with a tomato-based sauce, this Slow Cooker Baked Ziti with Mushrooms and Spinach is delicious! We enjoy it often.
How to make Crockpot Cheeseburger Casserole - Step by Step
You will need ground turkey, chopped onion (I use frozen...yep, I'm too lazy to chop!), ketchup, frozen cauliflower, shredded sharp cheddar, macaroni, pickles, and a tomato. Also a bit of salt, and pepper to taste.
Boil a pot of water and cook the macaroni until it just starts to become tender - definitely no more than 5 minutes. While waiting for the pasta to cook, combine the ground turkey, onion, ketchup, and salt in a large bowl.
Next add the shredded cheddar and cauliflower.
Once the macaroni is done (remember it will still be fairly hard since you only cooked it for 5 minutes), add it to the bowl.
Mix gently until everything is fairly well distributed.
Add the mixture to the crock pot and cook on high 3-4 hours or low 5-6 hours.
Do I need to brown the ground turkey?
There's no need to brown the ground turkey before placing it in the crockpot. However, if you would like to substitute ground beef, either make sure it is extra lean, or brown it ahead of time so you can drain off the extra grease.
Do I need to thaw the frozen onion or cauliflower?
In the interest of keeping this recipe as simple as possible, I have never bothered with thawing. Just toss them in while still frozen!
Can I use fresh onion or cauliflower?
Absolutely! Fresh is always better, if you have the time!
Can I just mix everything right in the slow cooker instead of in a bowl?
Yes, you definitely can. I personally find it easier to mix in my nice light stainless steel bowls, but of course that creates another dish to wash, so that's a good reason to do everything right in the crock pot.
More tips for making Crockpot Cheeseburger Casserole
- Don't overcook the pasta before adding to the turkey mixture. Boil it no more than 5 minutes.
- Crockpots can definitely cook differently. I advise you to check the casserole at the 2 hour mark (for cooking on high) or the 4 hour mark (for cooking on low), and if the turkey is all cooked, turn the crockpot to warm until you are ready to eat.
- If you need a recipe that can cook in the crockpot all day while you are away, this probably isn't the best recipe to use. Overcooking causes the edges to get crunchy and the middle will be mushy.
- Be sure to use really flavorful sharp cheddar for the best taste.
- Make sure you don't skip the pickles and tomatoes, they are not just garnish, they really help round out the cheeseburger experience!
Variations for Crockpot Cheeseburger Casserole
- More of a beef fan? Go ahead and substitute extra lean ground beef for the ground turkey. Just a note to reiterate - if you aren't using EXTRA lean ground beef, you may want to brown it first to be able to drain off the extra fat, or your casserole will be greasy.
- Do you like your casseroles a little creamier? Substitute 8 ounces of Velveeta for 1 cup of the shredded cheddar.
- Looking for more zing? Add hot sauce to taste, or put it out when serving for everyone to use as they like.
- Hoping for a chophouse burger experience? When serving, drizzle some steak sauce on top.
If you are interested in another slow cooker ground beef recipe, check out these Crock Pot Barbeque Burgers! So easy and delicious, your family will eat them up!
Or for a lightened up pasta meal with ground meat, check out my Ground Turkey Alfredo Casserole!
Crockpot Cheeseburger Casserole Recipe
This dish pairs well with a side salad, Baked Dill Fries or Ramen Noodle Coleslaw.
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📋 Recipe Card
Crockpot Cheeseburger Casserole
- 6 ounces whole grain or fiber-enriched elbow macaroni (I used SmartTaste by Ronzoni)
- 1 pound lean ground turkey or extra lean ground beef
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ½ cup chopped onion (I used frozen)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 15 ounces frozen cauliflower
- 3 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (good, sharp cheese is important in this recipe or it will be a bit bland)
- pepper to taste
- 1 medium tomato (chopped)
- 2-3 pickles (chopped)
- fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
- Cook the pasta until just becoming tender (about 5 minutes). Drain.6 ounces whole grain or fiber-enriched elbow macaroni
- While the pasta is cooking, mix the turkey, ketchup, onion, and salt in a large bowl. Add pepper if desired. Add the frozen cauliflower, and shredded cheddar, and combine.1 pound lean ground turkey or extra lean ground beef, ¼ cup ketchup, ½ cup chopped onion, ½ teaspoon salt, 15 ounces frozen cauliflower, 3 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, pepper to taste
- Once the macaroni is done, drain it and fold it into the turkey mixture.
- Place entire mixture into the crockpot and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 5-6 hours.
- When plating, sprinkle each serving with the chopped tomatoes and pickles, or set out in bowls for self-service.1 medium tomato, 2-3 pickles
- Garnish with parsley if desired.fresh parsley for garnish
- There is no need to brown the turkey or beef beforehand.
- There is no need to thaw the onion or cauliflower beforehand.
- The pasta will just be very slightly cooked when you add it to the mixture for the crockpot. Be careful to not overdo it or it will be mushy by the time you serve it.
- The pickles and tomatoes are important to get the cheeseburger experience!
Nutritional information is an estimate. The nutritional values for your final dish may vary based on measuring differences and products used.
Update Notes: This post was originally published in April 2014, but was republished with tips, step by step photos, and a recipe change in April 2019.
If you are a fan of cheeseburgers...
You might also like this Slow Cooker Bacon Cheeseburger Pie, or these yummy Cheeseburger Quesadillas!
Thanks so much for reading! I also invite you to follow me on FACEBOOK, PINTEREST, or INSTAGRAM to keep up with what's going on in my kitchen.
And you might want to check out my Dizzy Busy and Hungry store on Amazon for a whole bunch of great kitchen products I love!
This meal is OUTSTANDING! Flavorful and healthy make the best combination for dinner. I used gluten free pasta (chickpea) and lean ground turkey for a satisfying meal. This recipe is now part of our family’s collection of go to meals. Thank you!
Oh that's wonderful to hear. So glad you and the family like this recipe! 🙂
i dont have a crockpot but would like to make this on stove top..any ideas?
Hi Tanya, I think you can simply cook the turkey mixture in a large skillet and then combine the cooked pasta and the cooked turkey mixture together. I hope that works for you!
I haven't tried this recipe yet, but one less pot or pan you could remove is when you par-cook the pasta. I make a mean crockpot lasagna and do NOT pre cook my pasta at all! It comes out great every time.😉 I have done this recipe in a regular crockpot, an InstaPot and a Foodi. There will be enough moisture to cook the noodles.
Good luck everyone!
I am pregnant and have been craving some type of cheeseburger and came across this recipe and it is SO DELICIOUS! Myself and my husband loved it. We don’t like cauliflower so I just substituted it with corn and kept everything else the same and it was so delicious! Thank you!!
Oh wow, so glad to hear it! Substituting corn is an awesome idea. Thanks for stopping by, and best wishes for a healthy, happy baby!
What are the macros? And serving size?
I'm not sure what you mean by the 'macros', sorry! The serving size is 1/6 of the recipe. Thanks for stopping by!
I don’t usually write comments, but I felt I had to because this recipe seemed to get a lot of flack in the comments prior. Knowing many people had mentioned it being bland, I added some ingredients that really worked for me. I browned the onions and ground beef together. I then added half a packet of onion soup mix, 1 Tbsp of Worcestershire sauce, and 1 1/2 Tbsp of yellow mustard to the mix for the slow cooker. Used 4 cups of cheese, boiled noodles for 4 minutes to adding to slow cooker, and cooked on high for 4 hours. Loved it topped with diced dill pickle!
Those are GREAT ideas. Thank you so much for sharing, Brittany! 🙂
I was wondering. I"m currently making this recipe and I'm noticing how dry it is. Is there something I can place in it so that it doesn't burn on the sides.
Hi Tammy, I do find that mine burns on the sides, but actually most everything I cook in my crock pot burns on the sides so I just figured it was my crock pot. You can definitely add a little bit of milk if it seems dry and/or a bit more cheese. I hope that helps!
This looks like a very delicious recipe . I have one question what size Crockpot do you use . I have a few different size ones ... hanks .
Good question! I believe mine is a 5 quart. I really need to get a bigger one though. Now that my boys are getting older, it would be good to be able to make larger amounts! 🙂