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Southwestern Casserole Recipe

Southwestern Casserole Recipe

I've been making this mild family-pleasing casserole for years. It tastes wonderful, fits nicely into our budget and, best of all, makes a second one to freeze and enjoy later. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 15 min. Bake: 40 min. YIELD:12 servings


  • 2 cups (8 ounces) uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies, drained
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped


  • 1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook beef and onion over medium heat, crumbling beef, until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain. Stir in next eight ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Drain macaroni; stir into beef mixture.
  • 2. Preheat oven to 375°. Transfer macaroni mixture to two greased 2-qt. baking dishes. Top with cheese and jalapenos. Cover and bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake until bubbly and heated through, about 10 minutes longer. Serve one casserole. Cool the second; cover and freeze up to 3 months.
  • 3. To use frozen casserole: Thaw in refrigerator 8 hours. Preheat oven to 375°. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake, increasing time as necessary to heat through and for a thermometer inserted in center to read 165°, 20-25 minutes. Yield: 2 casseroles (6 servings each).
Editor's Note: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face.

Nutritional Facts

1 cup: 321 calories, 15g fat (7g saturated fat), 64mg cholesterol, 673mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 4g fiber), 24g protein.

Reviews for Southwestern Casserole

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Debbie User ID: 9232967 271505
Reviewed Aug. 8, 2017

"I am giving this 5 stars, but only because it is a wonderful starting point for a very tasty, economical casserole. I read the reviews and noted some people's comments on it needing "something". Yes, it does, and I think I have found the solution. First of all, lose the kidney beans and sub black beans. Brown the beef, drain the fat thoroughly then saut?e the onions and garlic separately. Cook the pasta to almost al dente, about 5 minutes. Add 4 chicken or beef bouillon cubes, crushed, to the mix. Substitute one can of tomatoes with the same amount of good salsa. Use pepper jack cheese that you grate yourself. Add about a cup and a half of corn. Mix everything together in a large container. DO NOT COOK/BOIL!!! That ruins it and turns it into mush! This recipe does not need to be overcooked. I make it in the morning, cover the dishes, put one in the freezer and one in the fridge. That way they have all day for the flavors to blend. I dice the jalape?os and mix them right in with everything. I cook it covered for all but the last 20 minutes. With 20 minutes left I uncover and cook for 10 minutes. Then with 10 minutes left I sprinkle the top with crushed (not obliterated) leftover tortilla chips. I have used hint of lime chips, regular ones, even a stray Dorito or two. It is a great way to use up those chips and it adds a nice casserole topping. I finish baking it for 10 minutes with the chips on top. It is perfect, especially when served with sour cream, guacamole, chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce. Don't forget the margaritas! ?Ol?!"

thejureks User ID: 4715642 266065
Reviewed May. 17, 2017

"Great dish! I used sausage as I was out of ground beef, subbed a jar of salsa for one can of tomatoes, black beans in place of kidneys and used taco seasoning mix instead of spices. I also threw it all in the crock pot on low."

emsijo User ID: 5238521 261827
Reviewed Feb. 26, 2017

"This is a terrific dish. I cooked the pasta for 8 minutes. Sauteed the onions in olive oil until tender, removed from the pot, browned the meat and then added the onions. I added the garlic for about a minute and then added the remaining ingredients except the cheese. I especially liked that it makes two casseroles and I did freeze one. Will make again."

Kilyena User ID: 6143949 260023
Reviewed Jan. 21, 2017

"I made this first as written. It's good but it needed something. I think more chili powder and more cumin. Next time I made this I will add the additions along with pinto beans instead of kidney beans and medium spicy green chili's. Can't really drain the chili's so not sure what that's about. Don't cook the pasta until done like only cook it for 3 - 4 minutes, that way it doesn't become too soft. Or don't cook it at all and add before you put into the oven. Remember to use a good quality pasta too. I think it needed cheese in the dish so I will add most of the cheese the same time I add the pasta. I will probably use a Mexican blend cheese or Taco blend because although I love Monterey Jack it's so mild and probably not right for this dish. Sevrve with sour cream, guacamole, and if you have on hand some chopped cilantro!"

ejshellabarger User ID: 3870843 259560
Reviewed Jan. 12, 2017

"I didn't think there was anything particularly special about the recipe except that it was budget friendly and filling for a big crowd. Always enjoy experimenting with new recipes but probably won't take the time to make this again."

Angel182009 User ID: 6228642 259438
Reviewed Jan. 9, 2017

"This was deliciousl I loved how simple it was to make and the jalape?os really added that extra kick of flavor."

rwippel User ID: 4262008 259181
Reviewed Jan. 4, 2017

"This recipe was good. The amount of seasoning didn't seem like it would be enough for this large meal. I ended up substituting the chili powder and cumin for 1 1/2 Tbsp. Taco Seasoning."

NH-rescue User ID: 4255840 257286
Reviewed Nov. 25, 2016

"Very popular at our house! Because we are from the Northeast and not the Southwest, we opted for fewer jalapeno slices on top, but otherwise found the casserole tasty and spiced just right."

pajamaangel User ID: 1603339 256378
Reviewed Nov. 4, 2016

"This just wasn't that flavorful. For the amount of time it takes to bring it all together, I was expecting more."

lolohiser User ID: 5362556 256237
Reviewed Nov. 1, 2016

"Jimmy said I could make this again!! The only thing different to do is stir in the cheese before putting it in the casserole dish. Then add extra cheese on top. We like cheese!"

aug2295 User ID: 4631582 256111
Reviewed Oct. 30, 2016

"Yummy and easy - this one you can put together in a few minutes on a weeknight for sure. I used jarred salsa instead of the canned tomatoes."

cynandtom User ID: 2224843 255952
Reviewed Oct. 26, 2016

"Delicious!! The only changes I made were seasoning the chicken with Southwest Spice, using Fire Roasted Tomatoes (because I had them on hand and like them with these flavors), and for the topping I used Pepper Jack Cheese (because I find it zippier) and combined with crushed Fritos. Not only is it a fabulous dish, It's is a great make ahead weeknight dinner."

amehart User ID: 1464390 255858
Reviewed Oct. 24, 2016

"Fabulous! The only thing I did differently was changed the chopped green chilies to a can of the chopped jalapenos to increase the heat factor. Have one in the freezer and DH is already asking for it!"

pusspuss01 User ID: 8525717 255659
Reviewed Oct. 20, 2016

"Loved this recipe! I used Rotel tomatoes w/green chilies so I didn't have to buy them. I only made half the recipe and it was great. I had some leftover, so it's in the freezer now. Next time I'm going to use Kroger's sweet & spicy jalapenos. It's a keeper!"

annrms User ID: 2649709 255643
Reviewed Oct. 20, 2016

"We loved this casserole! I loved it even more because DH cooked and served it. We had it with sliced jalapenos as seen in the picture...plenty of zip there!!! DH said he "undercooked" the macaroni so it would not overcook while cooking in the oven. He put the other half of the casserole without cheese and jalapenos in a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer. When we have it again, he will put it into a casserole and finish the prep."

HBcook User ID: 2966570 255591
Reviewed Oct. 18, 2016

"I made have half this recipe for two of us and it would serve more than 6! It was good but needed more zip - chili powder, cumin, etc. I used a whole can of chilies for half the recipe and did heaping chili powder and cumin but it could have been more. More cheese too, maybe half in the casserole and half on top and maybe Pepper Jack! I used mild Italian Sausage and maybe even hot would take it up a notch!"

mikenmarg User ID: 8582934 254572
Reviewed Sep. 24, 2016

"Pretty tasty, but I added more chopped jalapeno for a little extra kick. Otherwise, I followed directions exactly ... for half the amount of recipe, which almost filled a 2 qt. casserole dish."

cab9162 User ID: 7924849 254417
Reviewed Sep. 21, 2016

"Very tasty...I used the petite diced tomatoes with chiles...a bit milder and easier too...don't have to deal with the fresh jalape?os ..these also come with diced jalepenos."

recyclefraulein123 User ID: 3447440 254412
Reviewed Sep. 21, 2016

"I can't wait to try this without the hot peppers. None of us like spicy foods so I am sure it will be amazing with the beans."

kaylenn2172 User ID: 1286066 236910
Reviewed Nov. 7, 2015

"Easty, simple, quick and delicious! Nice heat and flavor. Makes wonderful leftovers."

acatlover8 User ID: 8048094 236265
Reviewed Nov. 3, 2015

"I love this recipe! Since my hubby had a heart attack I've been making food to freeze for lunch. Although the cheese doesn't make it all that healthy, I can control the amount of sodium and it's so much healthier than the fast food he was eating before. It's my go to recipe!"

jdogg22 User ID: 8421733 233351
Reviewed Sep. 23, 2015

"Very good! I did add some thawed out frozen corn and left out the jalapenos but that is the only change. I made it in my big roaster instead of two casserole dishes. This is a keeper. We had sour cream with it also! Thank you for sharing!"

Lizanne915 User ID: 1243493 231365
Reviewed Aug. 17, 2015

"easy to make and VERY tasty!! Even my picky husband ate it (But plucked out the beans like a little kid, Lol) !"

jstowellsupermom User ID: 7101358 229091
Reviewed Jul. 6, 2015

"Simple to make, hearty and delicious!! My family loved it!"

keith5898 User ID: 5917175 227364
Reviewed Jun. 3, 2015

"delicious,have made several time s ,friends loved it, substituted chillies with chipolte peppers"

momtocam97 User ID: 8395038 227155
Reviewed May. 30, 2015

"I made this but did not add the beans. I also added a few more spices and more cheese. Substituted the chiles with bell pepper and added a tad of lItalian dressing too was an added gem.'easy and simple. My family loves it. No,leftovers here.."

Sherrypie1953 User ID: 1323243 226545
Reviewed May. 18, 2015


Made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing.

thebigapple User ID: 8031442 226113
Reviewed May. 9, 2015

"It seemed a little dry. If I make it again, I will add more liquid."

fascinator User ID: 7633968 223443
Reviewed Mar. 23, 2015

"Great casserole. Used black beans instead. Frozen one tasted great."

toothwarriorprincess User ID: 5187964 222810
Reviewed Mar. 15, 2015

"It was good. easy to make and something different than the usual stuff."

hchambers User ID: 7140928 220897
Reviewed Feb. 19, 2015

"This is a great dish for a potluck. I increased the spices a bit as we like a bit more heat in our food. This is a definite crowd pleaser."

SuzBrinkman User ID: 4499086 220122
Reviewed Feb. 9, 2015

"This is an excellent base but it's rather bland. I used mild chilis and doubled those and the beans. Then to give more flavor, added my own taco seasoning. We're a little sensitive to spicy so I omitted the jalape?os."

everydaymomsmeals User ID: 6318150 219933
Reviewed Feb. 7, 2015

"This is a fantastic weeknight meal filled with protein and flavor! A busy mom's best friend for when everyone is hungry and there is little time!"

raysue User ID: 3126582 214396
Reviewed Dec. 9, 2014

"It was easy to make and my family loved it!!"

mbaulch User ID: 7600486 36674
Reviewed Nov. 30, 2014

"Very easy!"

JGa2595176 User ID: 496732 81245
Reviewed Nov. 23, 2014

"I can see why this is such a popular recipe. It makes quite a bit of food, is fairly inexpensive to make and the flavors can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike. Next time I make it I would add more cheese and amp up the spices, and we served with sour cream on the side. I would very much consider making this a go-to potluck dish, or one to bring as a meal gift for friends."

ms11145 User ID: 1604521 108654
Reviewed Jul. 17, 2014

"Very good. easy to make. I like that it makes two: one to serve immediate; one to freeze. I like serving this with a dollop of sour cream and guacamole."

bjsilve0 User ID: 172187 90231
Reviewed Oct. 1, 2013

"Very good. I might try different cheeses just to try different flavors but I thought it was good as is. I definitely would not add more cheese."

Dawn Humphreys User ID: 5175289 126122
Reviewed Feb. 3, 2012

"Have made this for our family several times and they love it! With 5 growing boys we are always looking for inexpensive meals that fills their bellies. This does the trick!"

MarlaB User ID: 202066 49835
Reviewed Oct. 11, 2011

"Great inexpensive casserole. With our large family I just made this into 1 big casserole. Family really enjoyed it! Added a dab of sour cream and cilantro when serving. This and a green salad make a great easy dinner!"

Pegjp User ID: 5673288 31478
Reviewed Oct. 7, 2011

"I added a can of green bean and Mexicali corn. Next time I will double the chili powder and cummin. Love that you can freeze the second casserole."

angelasandoval User ID: 2401339 80750
Reviewed Jan. 21, 2011

"The only thing I did different was substitute Ro-Tel for the diced tomatoes and the green chilies. The only thing I'll do differently next time is add a little more cheese."

krispillgirl User ID: 4610689 91881
Reviewed Dec. 8, 2009

"quick and easy, flavor is great, we used pepper jack cheese"

tedibear User ID: 2097498 49834
Reviewed Nov. 7, 2009

"This was a wonderful casserole! I would surely make it again. I didn't freeze half but served all of it. It was great leftover. I love the cheesy topping. Very good."

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