This Flavorful Pizza casserole with beef, macaroni pasta and basic, yet fresh ingredients, is the perfect comfort food for after a busy day. With only 15 minutes of prep time this meal can be made ahead and done in the crockpot or it can be baked in 30 minutes! This easy pizza casserole is kid and budget friendly as well which makes it a week night win for everyone. See below the recipe for photos and notes.
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Delicious pizza casserole
- 8 oz. dry macaroni or 1 3/4-2 cups
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3/4 cup diced onion white or yellow
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3-4 cups marinara or pizza sauce
- 4 oz. canned mushroom pieces, drained optional
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning *see note
- 3 oz. sliced pepperoni
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- shredded mozzarella for topping
- Brown beef in 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then drain the grease if needed.
- Place the browned beef, onions, minced garlic, mushrooms (optional) sauce (3 cups for lighter sauce and 4 cups if you prefer a saucier casserole), seasonings, pepperoni and parmesan cheese into a 2.5-4 quart crockpot. Stir the sauce, pepperoni and veggie mixture to combine, then cover with the lid and cook on low for 5-6 hours (cooking times may vary according to crockpot size and strength).
- Add the Macaroni at the last 25-35 minutes of cooking and stir occasionally (*see notes below). After the macaroni has softened, add shredded cheese and allow to melt before serving. Enjoy!
- Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta, then meanwhile in a large skillet, brown ground beef in olive oil, along with minced garlic and diced onion. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Once beef is browned, add pasta sauce of your choice, mushroom pieces, and seasonings, then stir well. Allow to simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
- Drain pasta, then dump into a large bowl. Separate pepperoni and toss over cooked macaroni, then pour beef and sauce mixture over top. Mix well, then gently mix in grated parmesan.
- Pour contents of the bowl into a 9 by 13 inch dish, (or two 8 inch dishes and freeze one for later.) then top with shredded mozzarella cheese ensuring pasta mixture is well covered. Bake for 20-30 minutes until cheese is melted and edges are starting to brown. Cool slightly before serving.
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Ingredients needed: pizza or marinara sauce, dry macaroni, shredded mozzarella cheese, diced onion, garlic cloves, salt, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, parmesan cheese, pepperoni, and ground beef.
Note*1 The homemade marinara sauce used to test this recipe may be sweeter than most store bought sauces. Feel free to adjust the salt and garlic salt to taste.
Note 2* You can also add one cup sliced, fresh mushrooms. Just stir them into beef and onion mixture (about 5 minutes before you add the pasta sauce) to allow them to cook and soften. If using the crockpot there is no need to sautee the vegetables first, unless you simply prefer to do so.
Note 3* Cooking macaroni in the crockpot carries a risk of the macaroni becoming mushy if over done. If you wish to avoid this you can also cook the macaroni separately and add to the sauce mixture at the end.
Step 1-2 for the crockpot: Brown beef in 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then drain the grease if needed.Place the browned beef, onions, minced garlic, mushrooms (optional) sauce (3 cups for lighter sauce and 4 cups if you prefer a saucier casserole), seasonings, pepperoni and parmesan cheese into a 2.5-4 quart crockpot.
If using the crockpot you can simply dump and go! Add the pasta at the last hour or two to prevent it from over-cooking and turning to mush.
- Stir the sauce, pepperoni and veggie mixture to combine, then cover with the lid and cook on low for 5-6 hours (cooking times may vary according to crockpot size and strength).
- Add the Macaroni at the last 25-35 minutes of cooking and stir occasionally (*see notes below). After the macaroni has softened, add shredded cheese and allow to melt before serving.
Allow the sauce enough time to develop a good flavor and for the veggies to soften.
Can I add fresh herbs to this pizza casserole?
Absolutely! In the summer months I like to chop fresh herbs such as parsley, oregano, and thyme, then add a tablespoon or so into the beef mixture instead of Italian seasoning. You can adjust the herbs according to your preference.
This photo is of the baked version, using 3 cups of marinara sauce. My preference is a lighter sauce, but my husband prefers his pizza casserole saucier as pictured in the crockpot photos. Feel free to adjust the amount of pasta sauce to fit your preference.
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