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31 Best Baked Pasta Recipes with Ground Beef

~ These Baked Pasta Recipes with Ground Beef are practically the dictionary definition of family-pleasing, ultimate comfort food! From baked rigatoni to lasagna, spaghetti casseroles to baked ziti … and way beyond! Revel in a tried-and-true classic, or venture into one of the updated, unique variations. And be sure to check out all the handy “upgrade” tips at the end of this article, too! ~

Pinnable collage of 4 recipe photos with text overlay "31 Baked Pastas with Ground Beef".

There’s nothing like welcoming your family home to a comforting meal you know they’ll love. It just feels terrific to serve up some hugs on a plate, doesn’t it? And to see the smiling, happy faces around the table as everybody digs in (and asks for seconds!).

Good ol’ beefy pasta bakes are classics for a reason … because they pretty much guarantee those happy faces and second helpings.

Mmmmmm … perfectly al dente pasta draped in a rich meat sauce with flavorful Italian seasoning and melty cheese. Yes. Everyone is smiling! And making lots of those mmmmmmm sounds.

Bonus for you, busy cook?

Usually, this type of pasta casserole can be prepped ahead – often even frozen for later. Easy weeknight dinner options that’ll make your hectic life a little bit less stressful, a little bit more blissful.

Are You Surprised?

Now, I know that you guys might be surprised to find beefy, cheesy pasta bakes highlighted here, on a recipe blog where we normally focus on healthy recipes. I hear ya on that … but I also know that sometimes this is the kind of food we all just relentlessly crave.

But all is not lost, friends.

You might also be surprised how many of the recipes in my list below offer optional tweaks, tips, and “upgrades” for those of us who want to revel in all the comfort-food vibes, but keep things a little lighter and healthier, too!

Many of these recipes suggest optional ways to leverage leaner meats or lower-fat dairy, strategies for working in extra veggies and whole grain pastas, or tips for making the meal gluten free and even dairy free if needed.

This type of comfort food really can have a place in today’s more modern, nutrition-focused meals.

Pssssst … Don’t miss all my tips at the end of this article!

So drool your way through this hand-picked list of bloggers’ very best baked pasta recipes with ground beef … and feel good knowing that you can make these comforting meals straight up, or use some handy tweaks to modify them for your own healthy eating goals.

And get ready for all those happy, smiling faces around the dinner table tonight!

Baked Pasta Recipes with Ground Beef

Baked Spaghetti Recipes Featuring Ground Beef

Specifically looking for a pasta bake that uses spaghetti noodles? You've got some delicious options!

Baked Lasagna Recipes

No list of ground beef pasta bake recipes would be complete without a few good lasagnas! Whether you like your lasagna with ricotta or without ... or maybe a little on the unique side ... there's sure to be one here that you'll love!

Baked Ziti Recipes

Baked ziti is a family weeknight staple, but there are so many ways to change it up. Try one of these variations to discover a new favorite dinner tonight!

Tips and Tricks for “Upgrading” Your Ground Beef Pasta Bakes

Ok … so let’s talk about those “upgrades” I keep mentioning.

Are you looking for ways to take any of your easy pasta recipes up a notch, and to make your comfort-food casseroles a little bit healthier?

Awesome! You know I’m a big, big fan of that!

I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to improve the nutrition profile of whatever I’m cooking. And I’ve got some go-to strategies for these type of pasta casserole recipes.

Sure, lots of the recipes above offer healthier ingredient upgrades, either on their recipe cards, or in the text of the accompanying article. But what if your favorite recipe doesn’t include suggestions?

I can help!

First, a little disclaimer: all of the authors who’ve worked hard to test and perfect the dishes in the recipe showcase above have their own reasons for offering (or not offering) lighter tweaks and ingredient alternatives. Changing up their tried-and-true recipes means that a recipe might turn out a bit differently. So, especially if the author doesn’t specify options and alternatives, it’s sometimes best to make the recipe exactly as written the first time you try it, saving your personal tweaks for the next time around, so you know how the dish is meant to turn out in its original form.

Having said that, here are some strategies you can try:

#1 Opt for Healthier Pasta Noodles.

To boost fiber and nutrients, reach for a whole grain or whole wheat pasta, if you can find one that works in your recipe.

Admittedly, it can be hard to find good, whole grain versions of every pasta shape, especially lasagna and short pasta shapes like elbows. But these days, most grocery stores carry at least a whole grain spaghetti brand and maybe a penne, ziti or rotini option.

Closeup of uncooked, ridged whole wheat penne pasta noodles.

Alternately, grab a gluten-free pasta if you’re following a gluten-free diet. As a bonus, many brands of gluten-free pasta use ingredients like beans or lentils, which also boost fiber, protein and nutrition, so there’s a lot to love there!

Remember, though, that both whole grain and also gluten-free pastas usually have a different cook time, compared to “regular” pasta, so be sure to check the package instructions to ensure you get that perfect al dente.

#2 Choose Leaner Meats.

Reach for extra lean ground beef, and try subbing Italian turkey sausage in a recipe that calls for traditional ground pork sausage. We use Italian turkey sausage extensively in our own recipes (like in our Stuffed Pepper Casserole, and our Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Spinach), and it works extremely well as an alternative to fattier pork sausage.

You can, of course, also try substituting ground turkey (we’re talking “plain” turkey here … not sausage) for the ground beef in a recipe, although you’ll be sacrificing true “beefy” flavor. Also, be aware that some ground turkey blends are actually LESS lean than very lean ground beef, so it’s important to check the nutrition panel to be sure.

#3 Add in Some Veggies.

This suggestion is definitely more art than science. Exactly which veggies will work – and how much of them to use – can vary massively depending on your recipe.

Many of the featured recipes above suggest veggies that can be used for that specific dish. But if you’re going it alone on this, start by choosing vegetables you know your family likes.

Overhead of large skillet on stove with cooked onions and ground beef with wooden spoon stirring.

Another good option is to sauté some diced onions and finely chopped mushrooms with the ground meat. Mushrooms are full of umami flavor, and the texture of cooked mushrooms often goes practically unnoticed when combined with crumbled ground beef.

#4 Choose Lower Fat Dairy.

You can shave a lot of unwanted calories, fat, and saturated fat by selecting a reduced-fat dairy product – especially in baked pastas that include a large amount of milk or cheeses. (A perfect example is our 5-Ingredient Pizza Pasta Bake.)

I generally don’t recommend fat-free cheeses, since those often hugely compromise melt-ability and introduce some “weird” ingredients. But cheeses made with reduced-fat milk can be a fantastic middle ground.

Let’s say a recipe calls for heavy cream or whole milk. Scaling all the way back to fat-free (skim) milk might really change the creamy, luscious texture … but downshifting to half-and-half or 2% milk could be a happy compromise for you.

#5 Use a Little Less Cheese.

Another option for approaching full-fat cheese and dairy is simply to use a bit less of it.

Hand sprinkling shredded mozzarella cheese on casserole before baking.

I’m not saying you have to go drastic here. If you’re stealthy, your whole family might be surprised that they don’t even notice much difference!

An example? Maybe your recipe calls for 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese. Even scaling back to just 1 3/4 cups (or maybe 1 1/2 cups if you’re daring) will cut the calories and fat, and might be surprisingly undetectable. Play around to find the sweet spot in your favorite recipes!

#6 Serve It Up Right!

I know I mentioned that your whole family is gonna want seconds of these recipes. (Because … YUM!)

But, don’t forget to keep portion sizes in check if your pasta bake is particularly decadent.

Even a “naughty” main course can work out pretty well if the portion size is reasonable and you serve it along with healthy side dishes. Maybe go with a simple green salad, and some gorgeous roasted vegetables, plus juicy and refreshing watermelon wedges for dessert.

Smart portion sizes and well-chosen sides can go a long way toward making room at the table for more indulgent main courses.

Pasta Casseroles Will Never Be the Same!

Alrighty! You’re armed and ready with terrific recipe suggestions … plus ideas on how to customize them and make them your very own.

Pinnable collage with photos of 4 of the recipes, with centered overlay text "31 Baked Pastas with Ground Beef".

The only thing left to do is pick which great dish to start with. (Decisions … decisions …) Then grab that baking dish and get cookin’!

Your family says “thank you” BTW. And I think they just might be smiling already! 😉


  1. I love all of these ideas! So many to choose from. I’m going to print a bunch of them off and add to our menu plan for the next few weeks!

    1. They all look so delicious, don’t they?!? I had so, so many to choose from – lots of submissions to sort through – but I absolutely love the final list. Every single one looks amazing! I’ll be excited to hear which ones you try and which you love most! 😀 ~Shelley

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