Fusilli with Meat Sauce (Quick & Easy!)

Fusilli with meat sauce in a pan garnished with parsley.

Fusilli with meat sauce is the perfect one-pot meal.

Tender pasta (fusilli in this case) is simmered in a simple meat sauce. A few additions take a pantry staple from ordinary to delicious!

Fusilli with meat sauce in a pan garnished with parsley.

Why We Love This Recipe

Quick When you’re short on time this easy pasta dish is the perfect recipe, it’s ready in about 30 minutes.

Easy This recipe transforms a jar of pasta sauce to make it taste homemade with a few simple additions (of course you can skip the jarred pasta sauce and start with homemade marinara if you prefer).

Yummy It’s a family-pleasing kind of meal, everyone loves this easy version of a meat sauce and there are never complaints at the dinner table!

Meat sauce in a pan with parsley and a jar of fusilli pasta


FUSILLI The twists and twirls of fusilli capture the sauce for the perfect bite.

Use any medium pasta; penne, rotini, bowties or even cheese tortellini! Or use up any leftover cooked pasta in your fridge.

Fusilli with Meat Sauce in a pan topped with grated parmesan cheese and parsley.

SAUCE This uses jarred sauce as a shortcut! A splash of red wine, some onion, garlic and seasonings make it taste homemade!

Variations: You can substitute the ground beef for any ground meat you have on hand. Try using ground chicken, pork, or Italian sausage.

Out of red wine? Substitute in beef broth (if using ground chicken) and mix with marinara sauce or any tomato sauce that’s already in your pantry.

No Pasta Sauce? Use tomato sauce and a spoonful of tomato paste with a dash of garlic powder and onion powder (and a teaspoon of sugar if needed).

CHEESE No pasta is complete without a sprinkle of cheese! For this recipe,  I enjoy mozzarella and parmesan but you can use any cheese you have on hand. Try pepper jack for a little spice or try cheddar cheese.

Meat Sauce in a frying pan topped with parsley

How to Make Fusilli with Meat Sauce

  1. Brown the beef and onion, drain the fat.
  2. Add red wine and simmer. Add remaining ingredients
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente, don’t drain!
  4. Stir it all together until hot and sprinkle with some parm!

Serve topped with cheese and a side of homemade garlic bread to sop up all the juicy meat sauce!

A serving spoon of fusilli with meat sauce topped with parmesan cheese

Tips for Perfect Pasta Every Time

  • Since the pasta is simmered in the sauce, cook only until al dente so that it doesn’t overcook and become too soft.
  • When cooking pasta, use generously salted water. There is no need to add oil to the water as it will just float to the top.
  • Do not rinse the pasta once cooked, the starches help the sauce cling. Save a little bit of the drained pasta water to thin out your sauce if needed.
  • Keep leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Just stir, reheat, and top with a little extra cheese before serving!

Easy Pasta Dishes

Did you enjoy this easy Fusilli with Meat Sauce?  Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

Fusilli with meat sauce in a pan garnished with parsley.

Fusilli with Meat Sauce

Pasta noodles are tossed in a rich tomato sauce for a family favorite all year long!
Course Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 554
Author Holly Nilsson


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup red wine or beef broth
  • 24 ounces marinara sauce or pasta sauce
  • 8 ounces fusilli or medium pasta
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese grated


  • Brown beef, onion, and garlic in a deep skillet over medium-high heat until no pink remains. Drain fat.
  • While the beef is browning, cook pasta in salted water just until al dente. Drain but do not rinse.
  • Stir in red wine and Italian sesoning. Simmer until it evaporates about 3 minutes. Add sauce and simmer a few minutes more. Stir in cooked pasta and simmer an additional 2-3 minutes or until heated through.
  • Top with cheeses and serve.


For this recipe we use fusilii, but any pasta will do. Try penne, rotini, or bowtie pasta.
Cook pasta noodles just to al dente as they continue to cook when simmered with the meat sauce. 
Ground beef can be substituted for ground chicken, pork, or Italian sausage.
No Red Wine? Substitute a splash of beef broth.
No Pasta Sauce? Use tomato sauce and a spoonful of tomato paste with a dash of garlic powder and onion powder (and a teaspoon of sugar if needed).


Calories: 554 | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 1055mg | Potassium: 1090mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 803IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 122mg | Iron: 5mg

Beef and Macaroni Soup {A Family Favorite!}

Beef and Macaroni Soup in a bowl

Also called “Cowboy Soup,” this beefy macaroni soup is fully loaded with flavor!

This hearty soup can be made with leftover or fresh ground beef, cooked with tender veggies, canned tomatoes, elbow macaroni and a handful of Italian herbs and spices.

A bowl of macaroni soup topped with parsley.

Why We Love This Recipe

It’s crowd pleasin’ – kids and adults both love this tomato-based pasta filled Macaroni Soup

It’s the perfect way to use up leftover ground beef (even leftover taco meat works in this recipe)!

The ingredients are simple and you probably have most of them in the pantry already meaning this easy soup can be made at moments notice!

Best of all, the prep is quick. While the beef is browning, measure the remaining ingredients and it comes together in no time!

Ground beef, tomatoes, tomato paste, and seasoning in a soup pot with remaining ingredients in bowls around it.


Some people refer to this recipe as an American goulash but in our house a goulash is much thicker and doesn’t contain veggies.

GROUND BEEF This soup is perfect for leftover ground beef but can easily be substituted for ground chicken, pork, or even Italian sausage for a little spice. Whatever you have on hand!

PASTA Macaroni is a great addition to this soup but can be substituted for any short pasta you have on hand. Other great kinds of pasta to use are fusilli, shells, or even fun shapes for the kids!

BROTH Made with a handful of savory spices this broth is full of flavor. You can spice it up by adding in some red chili flakes, or complete change the flavor with taco seasoning or chili powder.

VEGGIES Fresh or frozen veggies make a great addition to this soup. To keep it simple I used a frozen mixed vegetable blend but you could add in whatever veggies you have on hand! Leftover roasted veggies work well in this recipe too!

Macaroni and mixed veggies being added to the macaroni soup.

How to Make Macaroni Soup

This easy homemade comfort soup is the perfect ending to a busy day, a chilly day, or any day!

  1. Brown ground beef and onion, drain fat.
  2. Add tomatoes, broth, and seasonings. Bring to a boil and then simmer.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and cook until the macaroni is tender.

Serve hot with a sprinkling parmesan cheese, a side of cheesy garlic breadsticks, and a classic wedge salad.

PERFECT PASTA As this recipe sits, the pasta will soak up the broth.

If you are not going to be eating this all at one sitting, cook the pasta separately and add it to each bowl. If the macaroni is left in the soup overnight, it can become mushy.

Macaroni soup being ladled out of a soup pot.

Delicious Additions

There are lots of additions and toppings that can add flavor to this hearty soup. Really, almost anything goes!

  • Veggies: Corn, peas, carrots, potatoes
  • Beans: black beans, northern beans, or kidney beans
  • Flavorful: black olives, jalapenos, green chiles
  • Toppings: diced avocados, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, sliced green onions

Tried & True Tips

This hearty soup is easy to prepare. But for the best results every time I have a few simple tips!

  • If adding in fresh potatoes or carrots be sure to parboil them first. Or add before the pasta so they have time to cook as they take longer than frozen veggies.
  • When adding additional spices, be sure to start small and add more if necessary. Remember that the flavors will become more potent as the soup simmers.
  • If making this soup to freeze, cook the pasta on the side or leave it out. This will prevent it from going soft when thawing and reheating.

A serving of macaroni soup next to the soup pot.


Beef and macaroni soup makes for great leftovers if there’s any left!

To refrigerate, allow to cool, then cover and keep in the refrigerator. Simply reheat on the stove and add a bit of salt and pepper to brighten up the flavors.

To freeze, ladle it into zippered bags, write the date on the outside and place flat in the freezer. Once frozen, store the bags upright to save freezer space. Macaroni soup will keep in the freezer for about 3 months. The pasta may be a little soft after it’s thawed, but that’s easily solved by adding fresh pasta!

Hearty Ground Beef Soups

Is Beef & Macaroni Soup a family favorite in your house?  Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

Beef and Macaroni Soup in a bowl

Beef and Macaroni Soup

This hearty soup is a family favorite.
Course Beef, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 359
Author Holly Nilsson


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup onion diced
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 14 oz diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni uncooked
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables


  • In a large soup pot brown beef and onion until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  • Add broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes.
  • Stir in macaroni noodles and vegetables, simmer an additional 8 minutes or until macaroni is tender. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  • Serve with shredded cheese if desired.


  • If adding fresh potatoes or carrots add before the pasta so they have time to soften. 
  • If you are not going to be eating this all at one sitting, cook the pasta separately and add it to each bowl. If the macaroni is left in the soup overnight, it will soak up the broth and become mushy.
  • Change up the flavor of this soup with seasonings and toppings.
    • Try taco seasoning, with avocados, sliced jalapenos, and a dollop of sour cream on top for a taco soup. 
    • For a meatless option, swap out the ground beef for black beans, pinto beans, or black eyed peas. 
  • For best results when freezing, leave the pasta out and add when reheating.


Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 359 | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 661mg | Potassium: 1083mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2469IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 3mg
A serving of beef and macaroni Soup with writing
A serving of beef and macaroni Soup with writing
A serving of beef and macaroni Soup with writing
Top image - a serving of macaroni soup. Bottom image - macaroni and veggies being added to the soup.

Ground Beef and Rice Casserole {Easy Prep}

Ground Beef and Rice Casserole is a hearty and comforting combination of flavors.

Simply mix rice, frozen veggies and ground beef into a simple easy to make sauce. Top it all with cheese and bake until bubbly!

Close up image of Ground Beef & Rice Casserole on a plate garnished with parsley.

Why We Love This Rice Casserole

Casseroles are easy to make, comforting and delicious, this recipe is no exception!

It’s versatile since you can use whatever veggies (or meats) that you happen to have on hand!

Cooking ground beef with onion adds lots of flavor. Using instant rice keeps the cook time quick while making a hearty meal.

Prepare this recipe in advance and bake just in time for dinner.

Overhead of ingredients for Ground Beef & Rice Casserole in a casserole dish.


This recipe is so easily adaptable.

  • Make it with chicken instead of ground beef.
  • Make it with any “cream of” soup you have on hand
  • If you don’t have Instant rice, add in any type of cooked rice can replace instant rice. If using cooked rice, reduce water to 1/2 cup.
  • To replace frozen veggies, steam fresh veggies until tender crisp or use leftover veggies.

To Make a from scratch sauce, use the same sauce we add to our Broccoli Rice Casserole or create your own homemade condensed cream of mushroom soup.

How To Make Ground Beef and Rice Casserole

It’s hard to find something this easy to make that still tastes terrific, but here it is!

  1. Brown ground beef with onions and garlic.
  2. Add all other ingredients and bake (per recipe below).
  3. Top with cheese and broil until bubbly and golden on top.

Overhead image of Ground Beef & Rice Casserole in a casserole dish.

What To Serve With Ground Beef and Rice Casserole

This casserole is a full meal itself, especially with the addition of veggies. To stretch the meal or feed a crowd, add in one of the following:

Side – Grilled or boiled corn on the cob or steamed veggies are the perfect addition!

Salad – Try a simple salad or a more make-ahead layered salad if you have time!

Dessert –  How about a slice of strawberry cheesecake pie or some peach cobbler!

Got Leftovers?

Seal all leftovers in an airtight container. According to the USDA food storage guidelines, leftover dishes with meat added can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days, and frozen for 2 to 3 months.

To reheat:

  1. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Mix well and place in a covered casserole dish.
  3. Reheat at 325° F until steaming hot and bubbly.

This can also be reheated in the  microwave.

Easy Beef Casseroles


Beef and Rice Casserole

This Beef and Rice Casserole is cheesy, creamy, filling, and full of flavor!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 48 minutes
Total Time 53 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 365
Author Holly Nilsson


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 can sliced mushrooms drained
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 10 oz chopped spinach frozen, squeezed dry
  • 1 cup instant rice
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 10.5 oz cream of celery soup condensed
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup frozen veggies


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Brown beef, onion and garlic until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  • Combine beef mixture with all remaining ingredients except cheese.
  • Spread mixture into a 9x13 pan and bake covered for 40-45 minutes or until rice is tender.
  • Add cheese, broil for 3 mins or until golden.


  • Replace ground beef with ground chicken (or rotisserie chicken).
  • Any “cream of” soup will work in this recipe
  • Replace instant rice with any type of cooked rice (reduce water to 1/2 cup if rice is cooked).
  • To replace frozen veggies, steam fresh veggies until tender crisp or use leftover veggies
Leftovers can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days or frozen for 2 to 3 months.


Calories: 365 | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 480mg | Potassium: 526mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 6656IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 210mg | Iron: 4mg
Overview of a serving of ground beef and rice casserole.
Close up of a serving of ground beef and rice casserole.
Top image - a serving of ground beef and rice casserole. Bottom image - ground beef and rice casseorle ingredients.

Instant Pot Meatloaf {Juicy & Flavorful!)

Instant Pot Meatloaf is a complete meal in just one pot!

A flavorful ground beef meatloaf is cooked on a bed of potatoes in the instant pot for a full meal! You’ll love how easy it is and your family will rave over the flavor!

Instant Pot Meatloaf with glaze on a plate with baby potatoes

No-Fail Instant Pot Meal

Homemade Meatloaf is a classic dinner recipe for good reason! It’s delicious, easy to make and it reheats well (and even makes for great patty melts).

The great news is that this meal also cooks easily in the Instant Pot!  Because it is cooked under pressure, this meatloaf comes out nice and flavorful while the potatoes cook right along with it. 

A full meal in just one pot.

Ingredients for Meatloaf in a glass bowl.


BEEF this recipe is the perfect combination of ingredients for a tender juicy meatloaf.

I use ground beef but a combination of beef and pork (or even veal) will work just fine in this recipe. Use lean ground beef (80/20) as you need a little bit of fat for flavor and moisture.

SEASONINGS I add onion to the mixture but if you’d like, add some chopped up veggies (green bell pepper is delicious in this). Swap out the spices for your favorites like chili powder or even taco seasoning!

TOPPING Hands down my favorite part! Ketchup and chili sauce is the perfect tangy topping. Chili sauce is not spicy, it’s like extra zesty ketchup and so good!

If you prefer a brown sugar topping, combine 1/2 cup ketchup, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon cider vinegar.

POTATOES potatoes make the perfect side for this meatloaf. Baby potatoes are the best choice as they don’t get mushy and can just be tossed in whole.

If using whole potatoes just be sure to cut them into large pieces so they don’t overcook and fall apart (or cut them smaller and make mashed potatoes right in the Instant Pot).

How to Make Instant Pot Meatloaf

When it comes to making meatloaf in the Instant Pot it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3! I use this Instant Pot here to make this recipe.

1. Place the baby potatoes and broth on the bottom of the Instant Pot.

baby potatoes and onions in an instant pot.

2. Prepare the meatloaf and place it on a piece of aluminum foil in the Instant Pot right on top of the potatoes (per recipe below).

Uncooked meatloaf in an Instant Pot ready to cook.

3 Cook on high. Once cooked, remove from the Instant Pot, brush with topping and broil!

Let meatloaf rest before slicing (this seals in the juices), and serve with potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Tips for Success

Preparing meatloaf is a simple enough task but there are still a few tips that will help you make the perfect meatloaf every time!

  • This recipe has only been tested in a 6qt Instant Pot. If your Instant Pot is a different size, cooking instructions may vary.
  • If skipping the potatoes make sure to place the meatloaf on a trivet and add the broth or some water to make pressure.
  • To prevent dry spots in the meatloaf, make sure all ingredients are mixed together well.
  • Once cooked, add the topping and broil the meatloaf. This step is optional but it helps to caramelize the topping!
  • Before slicing, be sure to let it sit for at least 10 minutes to prevent the slices from crumbling or falling apart before serving.

Serve It With…

Everything goes with meatloaf! But as an entrée, here are some sides, salads, and bread you are sure to love!


Leftover meatloaf is great to freeze or store in the refrigerator!

  • Refrigerate: Keep meatloaf in an airtight container if you are keeping it in the refrigerator. It should last about 5 days.
  • Freeze: Place it whole or in portions in a zippered bag or an airtight container and label with the date on it. Frozen meatloaf should keep about six weeks in the freezer.
  • Reheat: Thaw and reheat easily in the oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes or in the microwave.

Nothing is better than next-day meatloaf sandwiches! Reheat a slab of leftover meatloaf and pop it between two slices of bread with some mayo, mustard, some onion, and lettuce and you’ve got a hearty and delicious lunch!

Easy Instant Pot Recipes

Loved your Instant Pot Meatloaf?  Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!


Instant Pot Meatloaf

This Instant Pot Meatloaf is juicy, melt-in-you-mouth and so easy to make!
Course Beef, Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 43 minutes
Rest Time 10 minutes
Total Time 58 minutes
Servings 6 slices
Calories 537
Author Holly Nilsson


  • 1 1/2 lbs baby potatoes
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth


  • 1/2 onion finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs



  • Place the baby potatoes, chopped onion, garlic, and broth in the bottom of a 6QT Instant-Pot.
  • Cook diced onion (for the meatloaf) in butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Cool completely.
  • Combine all meatloaf ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Form into a loaf and place on a piece of foil. Fold the edges of the foil to make a "pan" for the meatloaf. Place the meatloaf on the trivet and add to the Instant Pot.
  • Select manual and cook on high pressure 28 minutes. Allow to naturally release for 10 minutes.
  • Remove any remaining pressure. Open the lid and ensure the meatloaf has reached 165°F. Remove meatloaf to a cutting board.
  • Combine topping ingredients and brush over meatloaf. (Optional: Place under the broiler 3-4 minutes)
  • Rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with potatoes.


Beef Use an 80/20 mix. Use use a combination of beef and pork if preferred.
If you'd like to skip the potatoes, place the trivet in the bottom of the Instant Pot. 
Be sure to let the meatlof sit 10 minutes before servings to help prevent it from falling apart when slicing. 
Glaze If prefer a brown sugar topping: combine 1/2 cup ketchup, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon cider vinegar.
Broiling, while optional, caramelizes the topping providing a delicious flavor. 
Potatoes can be served whole or smashed with a potato masher. If mashing, potatoes can be mashed in the instant pot, no need to drain the liquid.
Larger potatoes can be cut in this recipe but may not hold their shape. If you use larger potatoes, mash them before serving.


Calories: 537 | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 163mg | Sodium: 781mg | Potassium: 1103mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 252IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 5mg
Top image - instant pot meatloaf slice on a serving tray. Bottom image - Instant pot meatloaf ingredients.
Close up of an Instant Pot meatloaf sliced on a serving tray.
Close up of an Instant Pot Meatloaf on a serving tray with potatoes.

Easy Cheesy Pasta Bake (with Spaghetti & Meatballs)

Everyone loves a nice saucy Pasta Bake recipe! This meatball casserole is made with homemade meatballs (or frozen if you’re in a rush), spaghetti and a variety of cheesy toppings all baked into a delicious casserole.

Add a loaf of crusty bread and fresh tossed salad for a perfect meal!

Spaghetti and Meatball pasta bake garnished with parsley.

Casseroles involving pasta, like a cheesy baked penne or a spaghetti casserole, are always welcome potluck at work or as the main attraction for any crowd!


    • PASTA Spaghetti is my choice here but any long pasta will do. Keep in mind it will bake more in the oven so be sure to cook it al dente (firm to the bite).
    • SAUCE Make your own homemade marinara or use store bought to keep this extra quick!
    • MEATBALLS This is one place I almost always use homemade. You can prep meatballs ahead of time and freeze them, the flavor is so much better than store bought.
    • VEGGIES  You can add veggies to the sauce in this reicpe if you’d like! Zucchini, peppers, and mushrooms are great options!
    • CHEESE Cheese is added to the spaghetti as well as on top for great flavor! Shred it yourself for best results, pre-shredded has additives to keep it from clumping and it doesn’t melt as well.

Left image - cheese, egg, and seasonings being combined in a glass bowl. Right image - spaghetti mixed with egg mixture in the casserole dish.

How to Make Spaghetti Pasta Bake

Any decent meatball casserole calls for delicious meatballs! If you don’t want to make them by hand, replace them with defrosted/cooked premade meatballs for simplicity!

  1. Prepare the meatballs. Try spicy Italian sausage meatballs or even turkey meatballs!
  2. Mix pasta and cheeses (per recipe below) and place in the bottom of a 9×13 dish.
  3. Top with meatballs and sauce and bake until bubbly and browned.

Serve with a slice of garlic bread to soak up every last drop of that sauce!

TIP: Bake the meatballs right in the 9×13 pan you’ll use for the casserole… one less dish to wash!

Left image - spaghetti topped with meatballs. Right image - prepared spaghetti and meatball pasta bake.

What To Serve With Spaghetti And Meatball Pasta Bake

Anything that goes with regular spaghetti and meatballs or baked spaghetti goes with this super tasty pasta bake!

Spaghetti and meatball pasta baked being lifted out of a casserole dish!

Easy Pasta Dishes

Spaghetti and Meatball Pasta Bake

Noodles are tossed with a cheesy sauce and then topped with homemade meatballs and pasta sauce!


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1 egg


  • 8 oz spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded, divided)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 large egg (slightly beaten)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 28 oz pasta sauce (jarred or homemade)
  1. Grease a large casserole dish.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine all meatball ingredients and form into 1″ balls.

  3. Place meatballs in a 9×13 dish and bake 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350°F. Remove the meatballs and set aside.

  4. Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain well and toss with olive oil.

  5. Stir together egg, parsley, pepper, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese & pepper to taste. Toss with the pasta and place it in the 9×13 dish.

  6. Top with meatballs and pasta sauce. Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes. Remove foil, top with remaining cheeses and continue to bake until cheese is melted and browned, about 10 minutes.

Top image - pasta bake being scooped out of a casserole dish. Bottom image - Pasta Bake in a casserole dish.
Spaghetti Pasta Bake being scooped out of a casserole dish.
Pasta Bake in a casserole dish. Garnished with parsley.

Try this traditional Shepherd’s Pie!

Shepherd’s Pie is a traditional Irish dish made with a saucy ground lamb (or beef) base, peas, and carrots and topped with a mashed potato crust. Easy and tasty, all year round!

Shepherd's Pie served on white plates and topped with cheese

What is Shepherd’s Pie?

Shepherd’s Pie is a delicious combo of ground lamb (although many people use beef) that has been cooked with carrots, sweet green peas and corn in a gravy or sauce. The lamb mixture is then topped with a crust of creamy mashed potatoes.

This casserole traditionally made with ground lamb.  Many people make this recipe with ground beef however, if you use ground beef it’s actually called Cottage Pie! (You can also replace the meat for a vegetarian lentil version).Either way, this crustless meat pie is topped creamy mashed potatoes and baked until bubbly.

Do you put cheese on top of Shepherd’s Pie? Traditionally, a Shepherd’s Pie is not topped with cheese, but as you all know, cheese is my love language. You can add a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top of the mashed potatoes or just brush them with a little bit of butter before baking.

Ingredients for shepherds pie like mashed potatoes, meat sauce, and veggies.


Shepherd’s Pie can be prepared fresh but it’s also a great way to use up any leftover meat, veggies, gravy or mashed potatoes.

    • MEAT Lamb is traditional but you can use any ground meat in this recipe (I most often use ground beef). Leftover roast works too!
    • VEGGIES Frozen mixed vegetables make prep quick and easy but leftover roasted veggies work perfectly too. If using fresh, steam them until tender before adding.
    • SAUCE Shepherd’s Pie is so versatile, I’ve given a couple of shortcut sauces in the recipe below but you can use leftover gravy (or gravy mix), tomato sauce… the sky is the limit here.
    • POTATOES Traditional mashed are what I most often use but garlic mashed potatoes add great flavor to this dish! If you are in a hurry, you can use store-bought mashed potatoes

A pot of meat sauce with veggies next to mashed potatoes and cheese.

Prep Ahead and Tips for Shepherd’s Pie

You will love how easy and convenient this dish is.  It can be made a day in advance, which makes dinner prep easier.

  • Layering After prepping the meat mixture, let it cool and then chill it in the fridge for 20 minutes.  This will help keep the mashed potato layer separated.
  • Prep Ahead Prep and assemble up to one day in advance and refrigerate. Let it come to room temperature 30 minutes before baking it.
  • Quick Clean Up If your baking dish is very full, place it on a parchment lined baking sheet to avoid any juices spilling in your oven.
  • To Freeze Before Baking
    • Cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil. Freeze.
    • Thaw overnight in the fridge. Bake for 45 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered

Shepherd's Pie topped with cheese in a casserole dish served with parsley


Serve this With…

And finish the meal with a belly warming Irish Coffee!

A serving of shepherd's pie on a plate topped with cheese

More St. Patrick’s Day Favorites


Easy Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Shepherd’s Pie is a traditional Irish dish made with ground lamb cooked with peas and carrots and topped with a mashed potato crust.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Irish
Keyword Shepherd's Pie
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 648
Author Holly Nilsson


  • 1 pound ground lamb or beef
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 cups mixed vegetables defrosted
  • 10 oz can tomato soup or mushroom soup
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups prepared mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded


  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Cook lamb or beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  • Stir in soup, mixed vegetables, Worcestershire sauce, salt, basil and pepper. Spread into the bottom of a 2 qt casserole dish.
  • Spoon mashed potatoes overtop and top with cheese.
  • Baked 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.



Note:  This recipe has been updated 10/8/2018.  Original recipe inspiration from Alton Brown, Food Network.


Calories: 648 | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 730mg | Potassium: 916mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 47g | Vitamin A: 2775IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 180mg | Iron: 2.5mg

Shepherd's Pie with peas, carrots, mashed potatoes and cheese on a wood ladle

Why is it called Shepherd’s Pie?

Originally a meat pie made with minced (or ground) meat and mashed potatoes was known as a Cottage Pie (and it was even sometimes made with pastry many years ago). It is very popular in Ireland, Scotland and England as well!   In the late 1800’s the pie was named Shepherd’s Pie if made with lamb (since the shepherd looked after the sheep) and if  made with beef it was called Cottage Pie.

Regardless of the name, this recipe is a classic Shepherd’s Pie recipe loaded with flavor and the perfect make ahead meal to serve all year long!

A serving of shepherd's pie on a plate topped with cheese.
Shepherd's Pie topped with cheese in a casserole dish served with parsley.
Top photo - A serving of shepherd's pie on a plate topped with cheese. Bottom photo - Ingredients assembled to make Shepherd's Pie.
A serving of shepherd's pie on a plate topped with cheese.

Cincinnati Chili {Served over Spaghetti!}

If you’ve never had beefy, seasoned Cincinnati Chili, then you’re in for a delicious treat. Different from any chili you’ve ever had, this dish has a meaty sauce with an unusual blend of spices. It’s all simmered until thick and delicious and piled high on a bed of spaghetti. 

It’s savory dish full of complex flavors that will delight your family and win rave reviews.

Cincinnati Chili served 3 way style.

Unlike a typical chili recipe, Cincinnati Chili is made with unexpected seasonings that include cocoa powder, cinnamon, and allspice!

What is Cincinnati Chili?

Named for the city of its origin, Cincinnati, this chili is a deliciously spiced meat sauce typically served over spaghetti, not in a bowl like typical chili. It is a famous regional specialty; in fact the Smithsonian has honored this dish by designating it one of the “20 Most Iconic Foods in America.”

Cincinnati chili was invented in the 1900s and some have said it is a variation of moussaka, or similarly spiced Greek meat dishes. It was spread and popularized by the Skyline diner chain, and remains a staple on its menus. No visit to one of these eateries would be complete without ordering a plate of “Skyline Chili.”

Two ingredients showing the ingredients before and after being cooked.

How to Make Cincinnati Chili

This yummy recipe is easy to prepare but it takes time, most of which is spent simmering away. There are a few unique parts to this recipe.

  1. Sauté onions. Add the uncooked beef and other ingredients to the same pot (the beef is not browned first).
  2. Simmer for 2 hours skimming fat off the top as needed.
  3. Serve over spaghetti Cincinnati style (more serving info below).

Go ahead and vary the spices according to your preference. Cumin would add another level of character to the dish. Tabasco or Worcestershire sauces would add a little more zing, if you need it.

Spaghetti topped with Cincinnati Chili, chopped onions, and shredded cheese.

Ways to Serve Cincinnati Chili

The traditional toppings for Cincinnati style chili are kidney beans or chili beans, shredded cheddar and chopped onions. When it comes to eating this dish, pile it high with toppings and cut the spaghetti with a fork (instead of twirling it like you would an Italian spaghetti and meatballs dish).

For the way system always start with a base of spaghetti.

  • 2-way: topped with just chili.
  • 3-way: topped with chili and shredded cheese.
  • 4-way onion: topped with chili, chopped onions, and shredded cheese.
  • 4-way bean: topped chili, beans, and shredded cheese.
  • 5-way: the works! Top with chili, beans, onions, and cheese.

The best way to serve this dish is with the toppings on the side and to let your family choose their way!

What to Do With Leftover Chili

Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to four days, or in the freezer up to four months.

To reheat, just replace in a pot on the stovetop or in a dish in the microwave and heat until bubbling hot. No need to thaw in advance.

If your family loves chili, but hasn’t tried the Cincinnati version yet, they’re in for a real treat!

Chili Favorites

Cincinnati Chili

Easy yet savory dish full of complex flavors that will delight your family and win rave reviews.

  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 4 cups water
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf

For Serving

  • spaghetti
  • cheddar cheese
  • white onion (chopped)
  • beans (kidney or chili beans)
  1. Add onion and olive oil to a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until onion is tender.
  2. Add remaining ingredients including uncooked beef.
  3. Bring to a boil and skim any fat off the top. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours or until thickened.

  4. Remove bay leaf and discard. Serve over hot spaghetti.

Nutrition information is for the chili only. 

Cincinnati Chili served 4 way with onions.
Top image - Cincinnati Chili cooking in a sauce pan. Bottom image - Cincinnati Chili served 4 way with onions.
Cincinnati Chili served 4-way with onion.

Instant Pot Lentil Soup {Easy & Hearty!}

Everyone needs a standby recipe for an easy, healthy soup, and Instant Pot Lentil Soup fits the bill! 

Lentils are pressure cooked with ground beef and vegetables for a tasty and healthful soup that just takes minutes to prepare!

A serving of Instant Pot Lentil Soup with a crostini for dipping.

Lentil Soup Made Easy

The best recipes with legumes and vegetables like cajun bean soup or this stovetop lentil soup are so easy to make.

Lentil soup is traditional in many cultures. Made with red lentils, green lentils, or any other variation, it creates a thick, stew-like broth. Beans and legumes of all kinds are heart healthy, inexpensive, and delicious!

In this variation, I use ground beef and veggies with a flavorful broth and put it all together in the Instant Pot. (If you don’t have an Instant Pot you can get one here or make lentil soup on the stovetop).

What Kind Of Lentils Are Best?

Use any kind of lentils in this soup. It just depends on what consistency and color you prefer!

  • Brown and Green Lentils hold their shape and texture well, making them the centerpiece of the soup. These are the lentils you see most often in stores and both tend to have a mild flavor. These are my preferred choice for this soup.
  • Red/Yellow Lentils are “split” meaning that they have been processed into small pieces. They do not hold their shape and almost melt into the soup (but they do thicken it nicely). Also known as Dahl, they will mix in with the broth and thicken it but aren’t ideal in this soup!
  • Black Beluga and Puy Lentils can be hard to find and are also more expensive. Use these exotic varieties in a salad or as a special dish of their own. They’re a bit firm and have an earthier flavor.

Two images showing the lentil soup ingredients being added into the Instant Pot.

How To Make Lentil Soup

You’ll love how simple this recipe is. It’s versatile, swap out beef for bacon or sausage… add in your favorite veggies!

  1. Sauté beef, onions, and garlic right in the Instant Pot. (Ground turkey or sausage work in this recipe too).
  2. Add remaining ingredients except for spinach. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.
  3. Naturally release a few minutes, quick release any remaining pressure and stir in spinach. (Learn more about natural release/quick release here).

Garnish and enjoy! A delicious homemade soup ready in under an hour!

Serve this with…

Serve lentil soup with a fresh green salad or kale salad.

When serving soup recipes, I love to serve with either French bread or dinner rolls to dip and sop up any broth in the bowl.

Can You Freeze Lentil Soup?

You sure can! Just like ham and bean soup, this freezes like a dream. Ladle into freezer bags (we do individual servings) and lay flat until frozen. Once frozen, they can stand up nicely in the freezer to save space.

Easy Instant Pot Soups

Instant Pot Lentil Soup

Pressure cooked with ground beef and vegetables, this is a tasty and hearty soup that just takes minutes to prepare!

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes (cubed)
  • 1 1/4 cups lentils
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 cups baby spinach (chopped)
  • fresh parsley and parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
  1. Turn a 6QT Instant Pot onto saute. Cook beef, onion, and garlic until browned and no pink remains. Drain fat if there is more than 1 tablespoon or so.

  2. Add olive oil, celery, red bell peppers, and sweet potatoes. Cook 3-4 minutes or until veggies start to look tender.

  3. Add remaining ingredients except spinach.
  4. Set instant pot to high pressure for 15 minutes. Once the instant pot has cooked 15 minutes, allow to naturally release 10 minutes. Release remaining pressure.
  5. Remove bay leaf and stir in chopped spinach.

  6. Serve with parmesan cheese.

Easy & Delicious Tater Tot Hotdish

Tater Tot Hotdish is a quick, no-fuss crowd-pleaser. This tasty family-friendly recipe that layers ground beef, mixed veggies and tater tots in a rich and cheesy sauce.

Prepping is a breeze, and you can cut your work down to almost nothing if you use frozen mixed vegetables.

Tater Tot hotdish with a scoop missing.

What is Tater Tot Hotdish?

Hotdish is another name for a casserole, and most have some kind of starch as a central ingredient. In this simple recipe, tater tots take center stage. Not only are these bite-sized and pre-cooked potato tidbits easy to work with, (requiring no prepping) they are delicious and always a favorite with kids (who am I kidding, adults too).

  • Meat This tater tot hotdish calls for ground meat but you could sub in any kind of meat or even shredded chicken.
  • Veggies Keep it simple and easy… frozen veggies are great in this recipe.
  • Sauce The creamy sauce is a simple mixture of canned cream of mushroom soup (or homemade condensed mushroom soup), sour cream, and shredded cheddar.  There’s room for variation here too.  A basic white sauce could substitute for the soup.  Colby or Asiago, or Monterey jack are also good cheeses to use in this casserole.

Keep the ratios the same but swap up the veggies and sauces to create your own hotdish recipes. This pairs well with taco inspired flavors to create a taco Tater Tot casserole or

Tater tot hotdish meat mixture ingredients in casserole dish.

How to Make a Tater Tot Hotdish

Easy peasy!

  1. Brown the ground beef.
  2. Combine the sauce ingredients with the shredded cheese.
  3. Pour over the sauce, top with cheese and bake until bubbling and browned on top.
  4. Layer tater tots with meat and vegetables in a casserole dish.

This easy recipe works as a Slow Cooker Tater Tot Casserole as well!

Two images showing the steps to layer the meat mixture and the tater tots in the casserole dish.

What to Serve it With

Tater tot hotdish is such a hearty, filling one-pot meal that you won’t need to fuss too much with side dishes.

I love serving it with easy cornbread or buttermilk biscuits.  A simple tossed salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette is also a nice accompaniment. A salad will provide some welcome freshness and crunch while cutting through the savory richness of the casserole. Broccoli salad would also pair well for the same reason.

How To Reheat Leftover Tater Tot Hotdish

Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for as long as four months.

To reheat, first, thaw in the refrigerator. Then pop in the microwave or in a foil-covered dish in a preheated oven at 300°F for as long as it takes for the amount in your portion to be piping hot throughout.

Easy Casseroles

Easy Tater Tot Hotdish

This Easy Tater Tot hotdish is a family favorite!

  • 1 bag Tater Tots ( approx 32 oz)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables ( fresh or frozen)
  • 10.5 oz cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese ( shredded and divided)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
  2. Brown ground beef and onion over medium heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  3. In a bowl mix together soup, milk, garlic powder, dry mustard, 1/2 cup of cheese, and salt and pepper. Set aside
  4. Layer beef, mixed vegetables, and tater tots and finally the remaining cheese.
  5. Pour sauce over top, cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.


A serving of tater tot casserole on a plate.
A serving of tater tot casserole on a plate.
Top photo - Tater Tot casserole with a scoop missing. Bottom photo - Tater tot casserole meat mixture ingredients in casserole dish.

Bacon Double Cheeseburger Stuffed Mushrooms

Meaty, cheesy and BACON LOADED. These stuffed mushrooms are crazy good. Ground beef, bacon, and three different cheeses plus some of our favorite burger toppings make this mouthwatering recipe a perfect game day snack.

Prep up to 48 hours ahead of time making this an easy favorite for any party!

Close up of stuffed mushrooms on a cutting board.

Mushrooms are a great appetizer! They can be crab stuffed or you can add with anything from salsa,  to your favorite pizza toppings and of course in this recipe seasoned beef and bacon!

What Mushrooms to Use

What mushrooms should you use for stuffed mushrooms? The variety doesn’t matter too much, look for fresh and firm mushrooms.

I’ve used white, button or crimini mushroom caps all with great results. Alternately you can pile the stuffing high into giant Portobello caps, then baking and serving as a savory, hearty (and low carb) entrée.

How to Prep Mushrooms for Stuffing

Mushrooms are very absorbent, so don’t submerge in water. Instead, wipe the caps with dampened paper towels to remove any bits of compost sticking to them. If you must, give them the quickest rinse under the faucet and immediately dry and wipe with paper towels.

To prepare for stuffing:

  • Remove the stem by bending slightly. I then use a tomato huller (they cost about $1 at the dollar store) to core out some of the flesh.
  • Scrape the black gills from portobellos. Or, if using button or criminis, snap the stems off to produce hollow spaces for the filling.
  • There’s no need to remove the gills from the smaller mushrooms (but do scoop out some of the middle for more of that luscious filling).

Stuffed mushroom filling ingredients in a frying pan before and after being combined.

How to Make Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms are easy and require very little prep. They can be made up to 48 hours in advance and baked as your guests arrive.

  1. Cook and drain bacon and ground beef with onion and garlic
  2. Stir in cream cheese and seasonings.
  3. Pile onto mushroom caps and bake until cheese is melted and mushrooms are cooked.

Stuffed mushrooms topped with cheese on a baking tray.

Can You Freeze Them?

Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to four days. Reheat by popping in a preheated oven or microwave.

You can freeze stuffed mushrooms for make ahead convenience, provided you do not bake them first. Prepare them with the stuffing but do not top with cheese. Place in a single layer in a freezer container. They will keep for three months.

To bake, first thaw at room temperature or in the refrigerator overnight. Then top with cheese and bake.

More Mushroom Faves

Cheeseburger Stuffed Mushrooms

Juicy mushrooms stuffed a seasoned beef and bacon filling, topped with cheese and baked until hot & bubbly.

  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 onion ( finely chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 15 medium to large mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

  2. Cook bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels, crumble & set aside.
  3. In a pan, brown ground beef, onion & garlic powder until beef is cooked through. Drain any remaining juices.
  4. Meanwhile, pull the core out of the mushrooms & discard… I use my strawberry/tomato huller to scrape out a little bit more of the mushrooms.
  5. Stir cream cheese into the beef until melted. Add ketchup, mustard, 1/4 cup cheese, Worcestershire sauce, crumbled bacon and stir until combined.

  6. On a parchment lined pan, fill each mushroom with the beef mixture. Top with remaining cheese and bake 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and mushrooms are cooked.

Stuffed mushrooms on a cutting board.
Close up of stuffed mushrooms on a cutting board.
Top image - close up of stuffed mushrooms on a cutting board. Bottom image - stuffed mushroom filling ingredients in a frying pan.