Mexican Casserole

Have you ever longed for a recipe that:

  • Is delicious?
  • Is a universal pleaser?
  • Makes tons of leftovers?
  • Makes delicious leftovers?
  • Is ridiculously easy?

You have? Well, ok then, friends, step this way and allow me to introduce you to Mexican Casserole!

This is another AllRecipes find from a long time ago, but really, it’s just plain old good. It’s great on weeknights because the ingredients in it can stand to be around a long time and it’s cheap, too. Plus it makes you get over that case of the Wednesdays. At least it did for me.

So here we go! The cast of characters: tortilla chips, broken up, enough to line the bottom of a 9×13″ pan, ground beef (I use 93/7 because I tried it with turkey once and it just….it just….it just wasn’t the same), Rotel (this is in lieu of the tomato in the recipe, I’ll explain later), chili beans, sour cream (I use light), and green onions. Which I forgot to photograph.

It happens.

Everyone say hi to my cat Madison in the background!

First, preheat a pan over medium-to-medium-high heat and brown the pound of ground beef.

Mmmmm, beef.

After a few minutes the ground beef will be browned and the world will be yours to conquer. Well maybe not, but you know what I mean. Moving on. Now, even though the recipe doesn’t call for it, I like to add in some taco seasoning to give the recipe a little…oomph. You can surely go without it, but it does add something extra to it.

So add in the taco packet and the 3/4 cup of water…

And stir it around for about 5 minutes. This is what it will look like after the water is all absorbed.

Now, having grown up with seasoning packets as one of the primary ingredients in many recipes, I would be more than happy to do as the packet instructs and “place in warm taco shell and enjoy”, but that is not why we’re here, as happy as I would be to stay.

So dump in a 16-ounce jar of salsa.

Reduce the heat. Stir it around.

Let this concoction sit for about 20 minutes, uncovered, so the salsa reduces a little bit and the liquid parts of it are gone. But now is not the time to go dilly dally! (Though I typically do approve of all forms of both dilly and dally, we know this.)

Here’s what you’re going to do in the meantime, other than stirring the mixture every so often, which you must do.

Break out your 9×13″ baking pan.

Lightly grease it.

Crumble up some tortilla chips in your 9×13″ pan. The recipe calls for 3 cups worth, but I’ve never been bothered to measure it out and just line the bottom of the pan.

Now this is important: grab a chip from the bag that you didn’t use….

And dip it into the ground beef concoction. Let it cool for a second and eat it.


Because it’s just that good.

What good is cooking if you’re not constantly “tasting,” right? So say it with me, it’s not snacking, it’s tasting.

In between tastings, preheat the oven to 350°.

So now it’s 20 minutes later, and here, ladies and gentlemen, is where you’re going to have to come on a wonderful imagination ride with me and pretend, with all your mights, that I followed the instructions and poured the drained can of chili beans into the beef mixture.

(I didn’t pour the drained can of chili beans into the beef mixture.)

In fact, I just plum forgot.

But do that step. Please, do that step. So, pretending that you’re not a flake like me and actually managed to heat through the beans into the beef mixture for a minute or so, spoon the beef mixture over chips.



Is that all you can say? Gently?


(It’s the Princess Bride. Go watch the movie if you did not understand that interchange. Immediately.)

So now, with the beef and bean mixture on top of the chips, ladle over the 16-ounce jar of sour cream and smooth it out. You don’t have to be as gentle with this part.

And only then, if you’re me, realize you’ve forgotten the beans and heat them up really quickly in the pan….

…And put them on top of the sour cream.

So we’re still pretending the beans aren’t there, right? Right? Ok.

When I first made this recipe it was in the dead of winter during whatever tomato shortage of whatever year it was and fresh tomatoes cost about $5000 plus whichever finger you hadn’t already given up trying to buy whatever else was in shortage that year. So I improvised and bought a $0.79 can of Rotel.

I haven’t gone back since. The Rotel adds a little spice and green chillies that otherwise the dish was lacking. But please, if you feel inclined, do use fresh tomatoes. I am never one to discourage this activity.

So drain the can of Rotel (I used the hot variety, but feel free to use your personal favorite), and then spoon it over the (no-beans) sour cream.

And then cut up some green onions (scallions)…

And sprinkle them on top of the tomatoes.

(If you’re cooking this for my mom, don’t tell her these are in there. She’s very picky and won’t eat things with green onions in them. But if you don’t tell her, she won’t notice. It’s a little secret I have. That said, they do add deliciousness to the dish, so try to put them in.)

The recipe says to now use the black olives here, but I just think black olives are so-so, and thus I cut them out of the recipe. C’est la vie.

Then it’s time for the grand finale: the cheese. This dish would not be this dish without the cheese. It would be like watching Rudy all the way through to the end and then stopping right before the entire stadium starts cheering his name. No? Ok, then just trust me. It’s delicious.

So sprinkle on the cheese, and then some more cheese….

Until your casserole looks like this.

Put it in your 350° oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Now is the time for dilly-dallying. So go! Dilly dally! Have fun! Watch Jeopardy. Pretend you’re as awesome as Ken Jennings. Fail miserably at this prospect. (Unless it’s Kids Week.)

When you take out the casserole, it should look like this.

Eat for dinner and lunch every day until it’s gone. The leftovers reheat wonderfully. I haven’t ever tried freezing it because, well, LSB and I like it so much that we have no problem eating it for days on end. But if you do try it, let me know how it goes!

And that’s it.

Here’s the full recipe again from AllRecipes, with my edits in italics.

P.S. Having the beans on top of the sour cream was still delicious! It didn’t really matter at all. Happy munching!


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cups salsa
  • 1 (16 ounce) can chili beans, drained
  • 3 cups tortilla chips, crushed (I just enough to layer the bottom of the pan)
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 (2 ounce) can sliced black olives, drained (I don’t use these at all.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato (Or 1 can of Rotel)
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef until no longer pink. Stir in salsa, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in beans, and heat through.
  3. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread crushed tortilla chips in dish, and then spoon beef mixture over chips. Spread sour cream over beef, and sprinkle olives, green onion, and tomato over the sour cream. Top with Cheddar cheese.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

3 thoughts on “Mexican Casserole

  1. Ha! Not so easily fooled…… I KNEW those awful little onions were in there – but the whole thing was soooo delicious, decided not to make a mom-fuss over the issue.

  2. Hi Madison! Can’t wait to try this recipe next week….the leftovers concept is a huge sell for my lazy dinner making self! Plus, I have never actually used Rotel! All I know it from is the addictive cheese (well if you can call Velveeta that) Rotel dip that frequently pops up at parties due to its insanely easy prep and ever popular deliciousness.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s