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This ground beef rice casserole with zucchini is the epitome of comfort food. With layers of rice, zucchini, cheddar cheese, and saucy ground beef how can you go wrong?
This is a great way to use up your extra zucchini and hide it from those who don't want to eat it - all while adding extra nutrition.
Quick to prep and finishes in the oven in no time. While you cook your rice and ground beef, you can prepare all the other ingredients by shredding the zucchini and cheese.
You will add the tomato paste, spices, and seasonings and cook briefly to combine and thicken.
The rice is layered on the bottom with the zucchini layer following. Next comes your first layer of cheese followed by the saucy beef mixture. Topping with the rest of the cheese makes it complete.
You will cook the casserole on 350 uncovered for 30 minutes or until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbly.
What You'll Need
1 pound of lean ground beef
3 cups cooked rice
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6 ounces tomato paste
1-½ cups water or beef broth
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups zucchini, about 1 very large, grated
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
drizzle of oil (for bottom of pan)
How to Make
Cook the rice according to your package directions. During the last 15 minutes of rice cooking, cook the ground beef in a large skillet.
While the rice and ground beef are cooking, you will grate the zucchini and press the excess moisture out of it with a paper towel. It's okay if it's still a bit damp. You just don't want it soggy.
Once the ground beef is browned, you will drain the excess oil from the pan and add the tomato paste, water or broth, cumin, salt, black pepper, and onion and garlic powders.
Then mix all ingredients together to incorporate.
In the bottom of a 9 x 9 baking dish, drizzle about 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the cooked rice and press it snuggly down. Top evenly with shredded zucchini and press lightly down.
Next, you will add half the shredded cheese in an even layer followed by the cooked ground beef. Top with the remaining cheese and bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.
You can use either white or brown rice. I like brown rice, so that's what I cook with. Just make sure it's cooked before adding to the casserole.
It's pretty important to remove the excess moisture from the zucchini, as you don't want the casserole to be runny. If done correctly, it should turn out saucy, but not runny.
I like to place my zucchini in a bowl after shredding and measuring and then pressing down firmly with a couple layers of paper towels until the paper towels aren't getting wet any more.
Brown the ground beef before adding to the casserole to ensure that it gets thoroughly done and has good flavor.
If you add the ground beef to the casserole uncooked, it will likely still be pink. Plus, you won't be able to remove the excess oil. You don't want the casserole to be swimming in oil.
I hope you love this zucchini casserole with ground beef & rice as much as my family and I did! Try it and let me know in the comments what you think!
Other Casseroles to Love:
Tuna and Rice Casserole Recipe (on the stove top)
Philly Cheesesteak Casserole with ground beef
Ground Beef Rice Casserole with Zucchini
- 1 pound ground beef lean
- 3 cups rice cooked
- 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded, divided
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 1-½ cups water or beef broth
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cups zucchini grated (one very large or 2 medium)
- 1 teaspoon salt more to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Cook the rice according to your package directions.
- During the last 15 minutes of rice cooking, cook the ground beef in a large skillet.
- While the rice and ground beef are cooking, grate the zucchini and press the excess moisture out of it with a paper towel. (It's okay if it's still a bit damp. You just don't want it soggy.)
- Once the ground beef is browned, drain the excess oil from the pan.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Add the tomato paste, water or broth, cumin, salt, black pepper, and onion and garlic powders. Mix all ingredients together to incorporate.
- In the bottom of a 9 x 9 baking dish, drizzle about 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the cooked rice and press it snuggly down. Top evenly with shredded zucchini and press lightly down.
- Add half the shredded cheese in an even layer followed by the cooked ground beef.
- Top with the remaining cheese and bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Don't Forget to Pin For Later!
We loved this casserole! I had just the right amount of rice leftover from another ear and was looking for a new way to use the leftovers. I grated the zucchini right into a tea towel and then twisted it tightly so the juices ran into the sink, and followed all of your other suggestions as well. So yummy!
Awesome Stacey! Thanks for letting me know!