If you’re craving a comforting pasta casserole, this recipe will deliver. Ground beef in a savory sauce with cheese and pasta is the best dinner when you’re craving something hearty and satisfying. It’s an old family favorite of ours and easy to make.

Kay's pasta casserole on a plate with full dish in background

These days it’s so easy to turn to the internet when you’re trying to figure out what to make for dinner. I do it a lot, too, but when I want to make baked pasta, there’s one recipe I turn to again and again. 

It’s one of my favorite pasta bake recipes, and I call it Kay’s pasta casserole because I didn’t make it up myself or find it on the internet or clip it from the pages from a magazine. Instead, it was shared with me by a close friend who got it from his Mum, Kay, who resides in Australia. It’s been passed down over generations, and, one day, I’ll pass it to my daughter to keep the chain going.

It’s an easy pasta casserole that satisfies all the comfort food cravings. So whenever I crave a hearty baked pasta, I make it, and I’m reminded that family recipes are always the best.

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients
  2. How to Make Pasta Casserole
  3. Recipe Tips
  4. Side Dishes to Serve Alongside Kay’s Pasta Casserole
  5. Kay’s Pasta Casserole Recipe Recipe

Ingredients

  • Ground beef
  • Penne
  • Diced yellow onion
  • Grated mozzarella cheese
  • Brown gravy packet
  • Canned tomato soup
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Salt and pepper

How to Make Pasta Casserole

Boil the pasta following the package direction. Drain it and then transfer it to a medium-sized casserole dish.

Prepare the gravy using the directions on the packet. Once it’s made, set it aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions. Cook them for three to four minutes or until they’re translucent. Take them out of the pan and set them aside in a bowl or on a plate.

In the same skillet, brown the ground beef over medium heat until it’s no longer pink. This should only take four to six minutes. Add the cooked onions, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper to the skillet and mix well to coat the meat. Pour the gravy into the skillet and stir.

Bring the gravy to a boil and then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes so the sauce can reduce and thicken. It shouldn’t be watery when it’s done. Season it with salt and pepper to taste once it’s thickened.

Pour the soup over the pasta in the baking dish. Next, spoon the beef and gravy mixture evenly over the top of the soup. Finally, sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake the pasta casserole for 30 minutes at 375°F. The pasta bake is done when the cheese is melted, and the sauce is bubbling hot around the edges.

Overhead shot of Kay's pasta casserole with one corner missing

Recipe Tips

Salt: Depending on the soup and gravy you use, the dish may have enough salt without adding more. I like to taste the ground beef mixture once it’s simmered and add more salt at that point if it needs it.

Meat: You can use what you prefer, but90% lean ground beef is good for this dish because it has some fat but not enough to make the pasta greasy. Or, you can use ground chicken or ground turkey in place of the beef.

Cheese: Switch the cheese to change the flavor of the dish. Shredded cheddar cheese, provolone, Gruyere, Swiss, Monterey Jack, or pepper jack cheese are all great choices.

Gravy: Try a light gravy instead of a brown one. Just be sure to taste for seasoning in case the dish needs more salt.

Leftovers: This recipe makes great leftovers. Store them in the refrigerator, and they’ll keep for three to four days. The flavors get even better the next day.

Make-Ahead: You can assemble the casserole and keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to a day in advance before baking it. This pasta casserole recipe traveled across the world from Australia to our family in California, and now I’m sharing it with you. So, if you’ve been searching for new pasta casserole recipes to try, you should definitely add Kay’s pasta casserole to your list. It might be a new family favorite you’ll hand down, too. I hope you enjoy it!

Two plates of Kay's pasta casserole with full dish in background

Side Dishes to Serve Alongside Kay’s Pasta Casserole

Kay's pasta casserole on a plate with full dish in background

Kay’s Pasta Casserole Recipe

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When you’re craving pasta, try our old family recipe – it’s a hearty, cheesy baked pasta dish.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Yield 8 servings
Serving Size 1 serving

Ingredients
 

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ pound penne Pasta
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese grated
  • 1 brown gravy packet .87 ounce
  • 1 can tomato soup 10 ounce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste note, the gravy has some saltiness so go slow when adding

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Cook pasta per instructions on box and drain. Add cooked pasta to a medium casserole dish.
  • Follow instructions on gravy packet and prepare gravy. Set aside
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions. Cook until translucent (about 3-4 minutes stirring often). Set onion aside.
  • Add ground beef to skillet and cook over medium heat until no longer pink (4-6 minutes). Add onions, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper to the skillet and mix well with the ground beef. Add gravy, stir in and bring to a boil
  • Lower heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. It should not be watery.
  • Add tomato soup over the pasta and combine. Take the beef mixture and place on top of the pasta. Add mozzarella cheese on top of the beef mixture.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Cheese should be melted, and casserole should be hot throughout. Serve

Recipe Notes

  • You can try different flavors by using chicken or ground turkey instead of beef and using a light gravy instead of brown gravy. You can mix up the cheese you use as well.
  • The flavor gets better over time and makes great leftovers.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 296kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 216mg | Potassium: 217mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 194IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 159mg | Iron: 2mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword baked pasta, baked pasta casserole, comfort food, pasta, pasta casserole
Close up shot of kay's pasta casserole on a fork with recipe title on bottom of photo

Kay’s Pasta Casserole is an easy pasta casserole that satisfies all the comfort food cravings. It’s an old family favorite of ours.

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