Easy Zucchini Ground Beef Casserole
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This easy Zucchini Ground Beef Casserole is full of nutritious veggies and packed with incredible flavor– the perfect low carb casserole! A one skillet meal, that kids love! Giddy-up!
Serve a heaping scoop of this cheesy goodness to your dinner guests, and I promise not a bit will be left behind.
If you are a zucchini fan and love finding easy dinner recipes, this is the one! After you have made this zucchini hamburger casserole, you’ll have to try my Zucchini Corn Fritters, this Bacon Beef Minestrone Soup, or even my Rich Chocolate Zucchini Cake—Yes, that’s right. Zucchini in a fudgy chocolate cake!
Why You Will Love this Recipe
- Just One Dish | If you use an oven-safe cast iron skillet, you’ll only need one dish to make this entire recipe! Who doesn’t love delicious recipes with fewer dishes to wash?
- Quick and Simple | In just over 30 minutes, you have a tasty and filling meal for the whole family!
- Crowd-pleaser | Even if you have picky eaters at the dinner table, no one can resist this cheesy beef and creamy delicious casserole, easy dinners rock.
This casserole is perfect for hosting family over the holidays. Even better, it’s a little on the healthier side and kid friendly too!
- Packed with Veggies | This recipe includes all kinds of veggies—onion, squash, bell peppers, and, of course, zucchini. A great way to sneak veggies into our diets.
- Low Carb Alternative | Using zucchini provides the texture of a noodle in the dinner casserole! Plus it’s keto and gluten-free to boot!
We devoured this! So good! Even my kids that don’t love zucchini. 🙂
Ingredients for Best Zucchini Casserole
Ingredients, directions and nutritional information in the printable recipe card at the end of the post.
- Ground Beef | For the fullest flavor, use ground beef that has some fat. Or you can make this dish a little healthier by choosing lean ground beef, leaner ground beef will have less fat, but also less flavor, so adjust your seasonings. Ground turkey or chicken is an excellent substitute for making this recipe as healthy as can be.
- Butter and Oil | You’ll use one tablespoon each of butter and olive oil for sautéing the vegetables. You may use double the oil and omit the butter if you prefer.
- Garlic & Onions | Garlic makes a meh recipe into a great recipe, fresh is best, but use garlic powder if you need too! And onion are a must have!
- Zucchini | Zucchini is the star vegetable full of nutritional value and tender zucchini noodles texture without carbs.
- Yellow Squash | This ingredient is optional, but I love how it adds a subtle nutty taste.
- Bell Pepper | Green pepper is excellent for enhancing the mild flavors of the zucchini, squash, and onion. You may use whatever color variation of bell pepper you prefer.
- Sour Cream and Cream Cheese | These creams essentially glue all the ingredients together and add a tangy, cheesy, and silky texture.
- Kosher Salt and Black Pepper | Sprinkle in a dash of kosher salt and black pepper for taste.
- Tomato Paste & Tomato Sauce | For a robust tomato flavor, you’ll only need a spoonful of tomato paste, but about half a jar of spaghetti or pasta sauce. Try homemade spaghetti sauce too!
- Worcestershire Sauce & Italian Seasoning | Worcestershire sauce increases the meaty umami notes in the casserole. A touch adds great flavor!
- Shredded Cheese | I like to use sharp cheddar cheese or white cheddar. However, if you prefer, you may use regular cheddar, mozzarella, pepper jack, parmesan cheese or any other type. For fewer carbs, shred the cheese yourself. Packaged shredded cheese has added starches to keep the pieces from sticking together.
How to Make Ground Beef and Zucchini Casserole Recipes
To begin this delicious and flavorful casserole, prepare your veggies by chopping the onion and slicing lots of zucchini and squash. You’ll also want to dice the bell peppers and mince the fresh garlic cloves.
Next, preheat the oven and lightly spray a 9×13 inch casserole dish with spray oil, or even better, use a large skillet; cast iron is best since it can go from oven to table, and heats evenly.
In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium heat and sauté the diced onions for about 5 minutes. Then, add the bell peppers and sauté for a couple more minutes. Finally, add the minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute or until fragrant.
Next, push the veggies to the side. Or, you may remove them to a plate for now. Brown ground beef until just browned and crumbled.
Then, move the ground beef to the side of the pan and sauté the sliced (or shredded) fresh zucchini and yellow squash for 4 to 5 minutes until they become tender and soft. Combine zucchini back with the onions and peppers and stir the ingredients to combine.
- Shredding your zucchini and squash will literally make it melt or disappear into the recipe, making it kid-friendly so they aren’t suspicious of you sneaking veggies into their food.
Now, for the seasoning and cheese! Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in your favorite tomato sauce, the tomato paste, some Worcestershire sauce, a dash of Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, mixing into the zucchini mixture until thoroughly combined. Then, mix in the cream cheese and sour cream until they are melted and fully incorporated into the meat mixture.
You may keep the freshly cooked ingredients in an oven-safe skillet or transfer the mixture to a 9×13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes uncovered. Remove from the oven and let the dish sit for 10 minutes before diving in!
If you choose to shred the zucchini rather than slice it, be sure to squeeze out the excess moisture. You may use a paper towel to absorb the juices or a clean tea towel. Otherwise, your easy zucchini casserole may be more of a soggy casserole.
Topping Ideas for Ground Beef and Zucchini Casserole Recipes
For a garnish, save two to four zucchini slices to fry and top the cooked dish. Just heat some oil in a pan and sear the slices, flipping them halfway through. Remove the zucchini from the pan and place them on top of the zucchini ground beef casserole for a picture-perfect meal!
Variations & Substitutions
What’s great about this simple recipe is that you can change it up to make it even more scrumptious for yourself, your family, or those you are serving. Here are some excellent ideas:
- While sautéing the onions, add 1 cup of savory sliced mushrooms.
- Add 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, and a shake of red pepper flakes for a Mexican ground beef casserole—YUM!
- To make a more hearty meat sauce casserole, add up to 1 pound of cooked and drained pasta and increase the tomato sauce to a whole jar.
- Or, you may add up to 1 ½ cups cooked and cooled white or brown rice or another favorite grain. You should also increase the jar of spaghetti sauce to a full jar if you’re adding a grain.
- You can use full-fat, low-fat, or whatever variation you prefer for the sour cream and cream cheese. Additionally, you may replace the sour cream with plain Greek yogurt.
- We love our Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, these skillets are workhorses, when properly cared for will last for decades and are non-stick.
- Ground Beef Chopper | make ground beef easier and evenly cook with this simple tool.
Refrigerate- If you happen to have some leftovers of this delicious dish, you can store them in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.
Freeze- This zucchini and ground beef casserole also freezes well. You can store the dish in a freezer-safe container for about 3 months.
Cut this recipe in half, eat a few servings, then place individual servings in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer, pop out when you need a quick, nutritious meal!
Frequently Asked Questions
With the holiday season approaching, it’s always wise to note the dishes you can prepare ahead of time during these busy months. This easy zucchini and ground beef casserole are perfect for making ahead and storing away to bake later.
All you need to do is make the entire casserole and stop before adding the cheese to the top. First, allow the meat mixture to completely cool, and then you may sprinkle on the shredded cheese. Next, tightly wrap the dish in aluminum foil and place it in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Just be sure to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, then remove it for 30 minutes before you slip it into the oven. Bake as directed, and you’re good to go! You can also freeze the casserole for up to three months before baking.
Yes! Keep the ground beef in it for a heartier side dish or omit it and add up to 4 cups additional veggies of choice.
A casserole by definition is a kind of stew or side dish that is cooked slowly in an oven. It has come to mean any dish that is baked in the oven in a deep dish, such as a cast iron skillet or casserole dish.
Casseroles can have layers like a lasagna, even a deep dish pizza is considered a casserole (who knew!), but typically anything baked in the oven with a starchy binder (like these Potatoes Dauphinoise) and a combination of a protein and veggies is considered a casserole. (source)
More Delish Casseroles
If you’re craving more easy and oh-so-delicious casseroles, check out my following recipes:
What to serve with your ground beef and zucchini casserole
- Already a well rounded and balanced recipe, since it is loaded with veggies, it is easily a stand-alone meal. However; you may wish to serve it with a crisp green salad try it with my quick and easy homemade buttermilk ranch dressing.
- Serve with these tender Tarragon carrots that are ready in minutes in the Instant Pot.
- Start the meal off even healthier with this Mediterranean Layered Dip.
- Treat the family with these soft, chewy Copycat Crumbl Chocolate Chip Cookies.
I hope you loved this Ground Beef and Zucchini Casserole recipes — if you did, would you share your creation on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest? And be sure to comment below!
Ground Beef and Zucchini Casserole Recipe
- 1-1 ½ pounds ground beef, use your favorite
- 1-2 tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cups zucchini, sliced or shredded
- 1 cup yellow squash, sliced (or increase zucchini)
- 1/2 cup bell pepper, red, green, yellow or orange, diced
- 1/3 cup sour cream, or Greek yogurt (plain)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, regular or neufchatel
- ½-1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½-1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, make sure Gluten-free if GF
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ½ 26 ounce jar pasta sauce, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce; use more if using more ground beef
- 1 ½ cups sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (or try cheddar, jack, pepper jack, Mexican cheese and mozzarella)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and if not using a cast iron skillet for baking, then prepare a 9×13 inch casserole dish by spraying lightly with spray oil.
- In a large (cast iron skillet) heat oil and butter over medium heat and saute onions for 5 minutes. Add peppers and saute 2 more minutes, add garlic saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Scoot veggies to the side or remove to plate. Brown ground beef until just browned and crumbled, scoot ground beef to the side of the pan and saute sliced (or shredded) zucchini and yellow squash 4-5 minutes until tender. Then add back onions and peppers, stirring to combine.
- Reduce heat to medium-low stirring in tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper mixing until combined. Stir in cream cheese and sour cream, until melted and incorporated into the meat mixture.
- May keep in an oven safe skillet if desired or transfer to a 9×13 inch baking dish, sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake, uncovered for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
- See notes for how to garnish with more crispy zucchini!
✱ Kathleen’s Tips
Make Ahead TipsMake the entire casserole up to the point of baking, but leave cheese off until the meat mixture is cooled completely. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and refrigerate up to 2 days, freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, thaw overnight in the fridge, then remove for 30 minutes before baking. Add shredded cheese and bake as directed. Storage Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Variations
- Optional add 1 cup sliced mushrooms during sautéing of onions
- Optional add 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and a shake of red pepper flakes for a Mexican ground beef casserole.
- Add up to 1 pound cooked and drained pasta (increase tomato sauce to full jar)
- Add up to 1 ½ cups cooked (and cooled) white or brown rice or other favorite grain, increase jar of spaghetti sauce to full jar)
- Make larger portion for a crowd | use up to 2 pounds of meat, increase tomato sauce and veggies and adjust seasonings to taste. Bake in 9×13 inch casserole dish.
The Fresh Cooky is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.
About Kathleen Pope
Recipe Innovator | Food Photographer | Food Writer
Hi, I’m Kathleen Pope. Here at The Fresh Cooky you will find easy, mostly from-scratch, trusted recipes for all occasions. From speedy dinners to tasty desserts, with easy step-by-step instructions. I am here to help teach you how to make mouthwatering recipes without spending hours in the kitchen. Read more about Kathleen here.
I love how flavor-packed is this!! And so healthy too!! A new favorite at my house!
Thank you so much Jen, that is great to hear!
Holy. Guac. A. Mole. This is exactly the kind of thing I love to make for my family. It’s so hearty and cheesey. I mean, you can’t beat beef and cheese!
Happened to have everything on hand last night and made it — such a hit with my family! Thanks for sharing the recipe!
YAY!! So glad you enjoyed it!
Delicious, easy, and healthy – everything I look for in a dinner! Thanks for the wonderful recipe.
So glad you enjoyed it Gen!
This is definitely on my to-try list! I absolutely love zucchini and the seasonings in this dish are right up my alley!
You will love it!
Really easy weeknight meal – and the leftovers are tasty with a poached egg for breakfast, too.
Oooh I love that idea with the poached eggs, thanks Renee!
What a delicious combination of flavors. My family really enjoyed this, and the kids didn’t even realize it was good for them!
Well that is a huge win! Thank you Stephanie!
I love a good one-pot meal. Even better that it’s low carb, too!
This delicious and simple casserole won’t weigh you down with lots of carbs. It makes great leftovers too.
Exactly Sharon! Thank you for your kind words!
Gotta love a one pot meal! This is so good with great flavors.
Thanks so much Katharine!