Grandma’s Budget Friendly Ground Beef Zucchini Casserole

May 25, 2023

By: Miranda Lamb

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Thankfully, I had the privilege of getting to know Grandma Lamb, my husband’s paternal grandma. But I wasn’t around during her hay day of cooking. She raised 12 children to adulthood and was in the kitchen most of her life cooking up hearty meals for her brood. Grandpa Lamb was a farmer so Grandma learned how to use everything grown on the farm to keep everyone fed. This ground beef zucchini casserole is inspired by Grandma Lamb!

Meaty Ground Beef Zucchini Casserole

As a hungry, growing teenager, my husband has lots of memories of meals at Grandma’s. He farmed with his grandpa most weeks. One of his favorite meals was a ground beef zucchini casserole. Since Grandma Lamb didn’t use exact measurements for most meals, I had to ask my mother-in-law to help me out. And then I added an ingredient or two of my own. While I am sure my ground beef zucchini casserole isn’t quite as good as Grandma’s Lamb original, I am excited to pass along this budget friendly zucchini ground beef casserole!

Meals to Make with Zucchini

Who doesn’t run to check the garden every day when the first veggies began to grow? You can’t wait to have fresh vegetables from your garden. And summer squash and zucchini are typically the first plants to come in season.

ground beef zucchini casserole

But soon, your counter is full of zucchini! You are desperate for recipes to use up all the zucchini from your prolific zucchini plants. And while zucchini bread is so delicious, you can only make so much!

But this meaty zucchini casserole with ground beef is very healthy and a great recipe to make with zucchini. For a regular recipe, the casserole uses two medium zucchini. But the recipe can be doubled easily to make a huge casserole if you have a bigger crowd to feed or if you want to use up some more zucchini. And as you already have lots of zucchini in your garden, the ground beef zucchini casserole is economical.

Ingredients for Ground Beef Zucchini Casserole

Ground beef zucchini casserole uses mainly household stables so it is easy to whip the zucchini casserole up last minute. Which is probably why it was a stable in Grandma Lamb’s kitchen.

Zucchini Casserole with ground beef

Ground Beef Zucchini Casserole Ingredients:

  • zucchini
  • ground beef
  • can of tomatoes
  • garlic
  • onion
  • bread crumbs (you can make your own)
  • orgegano
  • italian seasoning
  • mozzarella and/ or parmesan cheese
  • marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • butter

Steps to Making Ground Beef Zucchini Casserole

First, you need to prep your zucchini. Pick two medium zucchinis. Grate or slice the zucchinis for the casserole.

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I tried the zucchini casserole both ways, and I actually prefer the texture of the sliced zucchini over grated zucchini. And I felt like it was faster to slice. But you can experiment with how your family likes their zucchini. And if you have younger children, grating zucchini is often a “fun” way for them to help in the kitchen, that is slightly safer than cutting with a knife.

ground beef zucchini casserole

Next, brown your ground beef for the casserole, adding your diced onion and garlic cloves. Continue to brown ground beef, but stop shy of completely cooked. You still need to add your zucchini to cook down, so you don’t want to over cook your beef.

Drain your ground beef and add your zucchini. If you grated your zucchini, then make sure to squeeze out any excess liquid. Finish cooking ground beef and begin to cook down zucchini.

zucchini with beef casserole

Add the can of tomatoes, drained, along with all the spices. Simmer for 8-10 minutes to allow some of the zucchini and tomato juice to cook out.

ground beef zucchini casserole

How to Make Homemade Bread Crumbs

If you want to be very budget friendly, you can make you own breadcrumbs from leftover stale bread you have in the cupboard. I like to use up all the old hot dog or hamburger buns.

Simply break or cut your stale bread into small inch pieces. Place bread on baking sheet and drizzle with melted butter. Place baking sheet in a 350 oven for around 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it. Making breadcrumbs in the oven may take longer depending on the type of bread or buns you are using.

ground beef with zucchini casserole

The day old bread will dry out quickly in the oven. Allow bread to cool slightly for 5 minutes. Then you can either place bread crumbs in a ziploc bag and crumble by hand or using a rolling pin. Or you can place oven dried bread into a food processor. Pulse until you have smaller bread crumbs. But stop before you turn your nice bread crumbs into powder!

Zucchini with Ground Beef and Tomato Sauce

Pour your beef, zucchini, and tomato mixture into a greased casserole dish. The basic recipe fits into a 8 X 11.5 inch dish well. If you double recipe then definitely use a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.

zucchini ground beef casserole

Spread bread crumbs over top of the zucchini with ground beef and tomato sauce. Next spread the mozzarella cheese over the bread crumbs. You can either use all mozzarella or you can use mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 350 oven for 15-20 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Serve your ground beef zucchini casserole with a side salad, fresh veggies or a slice of homemade bread! Yum! Enjoy!

zucchini with ground beef casserole

What are your favorite dishes to make with zucchini? Comment down below!

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Grandma’s Ground Beef Zucchini Casserole

A hearty casserole that uses up your garden fresh zucchini. This flavorful zucchini, ground beef and tomato casserole is meaty, easy to make, and will feed a houseful on a budget.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Casserole, ground beef, zucchini, zucchini casserole
Servings: 6 people

Equipment

  • 1 8 x 11.5 casserole dish Use a 9 x 13 dish if doubling recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced.
  • 2 medium zucchini sliced about 2 cups
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 1 cup marinara or pasta sauce
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese you can add parmesan cheese if you have it
  • 2 tsp butter – melted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Brown ground beef in skillet. Add diced onions. Cook till onions are translucent. Add garlic. Cook another minute.
  • Slice zucchini into thin slices while ground beef is browning.
  • Drain beef and onion mixture.
  • Add sliced zucchini. Add drained tomatoes and spaghetti sauce. Add oregano, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning to browned ground beef. Stir.
  • Simmer for 5-10 minutes till liquid is mostly gone.
  • While beef and zucchini mixture is simmering, melt butter. Add bread crumbs to melted butter and stir to coat bread crumbs.
  • Pour cooked beef and zucchini mixture into greased casserole dish
  • Add buttered bread crumbs over top of mixture.
  • Spread cheese over casserole on top of bread crumbs.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes til hot and bubbly.

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2 thoughts on “Grandma’s Budget Friendly Ground Beef Zucchini Casserole”

  1. 5 stars
    Tried this recipe tonight. Made it exactly as written and it was delicious! Great flavor! Will definitely make again and adding it to my recipe collection!! 😋

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