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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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!
Check out my Dizzy Busy and Hungry store on Amazon for other great kitchen products I love!
Lacking in flavor. Will add more cheese when I reheat leftovers. Pickles and tomatoes helped a bit but was still very bland.
Thanks for your feedback. I had to change my original recipe which used a cauliflower and cheese sauce product that is no longer available (at least not in my area). To compensate, I now add more shredded cheddar, but the kind of cheddar is more important than it used to be and I didn't call that out in the recipe. So I have changed that ingredient to read that it should be *extra-sharp* shredded cheddar. My other suggestion is to add a little more ketchup and/or adjust your salt and pepper to be more in line with your tastes. I appreciate your input which will help others since it pointed out to me where the recipe needed to be more clear!
So you don't brown the turkey meat before putting it in the Crock-Pot?
Hi Tanya, that's correct, you don't need to brown the turkey before putting it in the crock pot! Let me know if you have any other questions! 🙂
Such a perfect weeknight staple! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!
This recipe looks great. I will be featuring this tonight at my Swing into Spring party that opens at 8pm EST. Please stop by and pick up an I've Been Featured button. Thanks. http://diybydesign.blogspot.com
Helen at the Lazy Gastronome
What a delicious and easy idea! I love it! Pinned - Thanks for sharing your great recipes at the What's for Dinner party.
My kids would love this! Thank you for sharing at the To Grandma's House We Go DIY, Crafts, Recipes and More link party! Pinned!
Sounds yummy! Thaks for the recipe! Thank you for sharing on Merry Monday! Hope to see ya next week!
I, too, was disappointed. The recipe doesn't call for any liquid. I had to add 3 cups of water half way through in fear of it burning. It came out mushy and tasteless. I added a bunch of salt and pepper but doesn't taste real good. I wanted to love this recipe so much. I am curious how you cooked it without burning as there's no liquid. Also, is it supposed to be so bland?
Hi Stacey, I am sorry to hear you did not have success with this recipe. I have made it many times and it turned out fine for me. I imagine the water you added contributed to it becoming mushy and tasteless, but I understand why you added it. My suggestion would be to brown the ground turkey first, and then follow the directions but reduce the cooking time to low for 3-4 hours or so (which will be OK because the turkey will be cooked already). I haven't ever actually done it that way, but that is what I would try (I am thinking that I might do that the next time I make this, just to test it and see if that works out for me, too). My kids love the flavor from the ground turkey, the cheese sauce, and the shredded cheddar (make sure you get good cheddar!), although my husband typically squirts some hot sauce on top of his to better suit his adult taste buds. Also, the pickles are very important in adding flavor to this as well. Again, I am sorry to hear you were disappointed, but I thank you for stopping by and I appreciate your honest feedback!
It was great! I didn't use the pickles and threw in a lot more cheese to make up for not having cheese sauce.
I only cooked it for roughly 4 hrs because the pasta, onion, cheese combo started baking to the side of the crockpot and in some places burned a wee bit. Mixed it all up and scraped off the caked stuff off the bottom...it was delicious!!
Yay! So glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by to let me know! 🙂
Wow! I home chef who can handle criticism without hurling back an insult! I am very impressed! Very, very well done!
I try to be open to all reasonable comments, I find that one can learn a lot from listening to others. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
I wonder what the carb and calorie counts would be if I didn't add the noodles?
This recipe looks yummy!! I'm going to try this tonight but I'm going to try using the oven. I've tried the recipe from Hungry Girl. I'll let you know how it turns out 😀