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!
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.
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Crockpot Cheeseburger Casserole Recipe
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Crockpot Cheeseburger CasserolePrint Recipe
- 6 ounces whole grain or fiber-enriched elbow macaroni (I used SmartTaste by Ronzoni)
- 1 pound lean ground turkey or extra lean ground beef
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (I used frozen)
- 1/2 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Garnish with parsley if desired.
- 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!
If you are a fan of cheeseburgers...
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