Easy Chili Hashbrown Casserole {Family Favorite}

When you need an easy dinner that even your pickiest eaters will love, turn to this Chili Hashbrown Casserole. A quick stovetop chili, easy frozen shredded potatoes, and plenty of melty cheese come together in just a few minutes of prep time.

This busy night dinner is budget-friendly and truly easy. Minimal chopping, not too many dishes, and a complete meal in one.

Kids and husbands will all love this recipe. (And so will you.)

close up view of casserole being served

Easy Chili Hash Brown Casserole

Easy on the budget and loved by the whole family, this casserole recipe is cheesy, delicious, and simple to make.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Serving Size 8 servings

Equipment

  • 1 casserole dish 9 x 13 or slightlly smaller

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (15 ounce ) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans or black beans rinsed
  • 1 pound frozen shredded hashbrowns
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions 

  • Prep. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the center.
  • Make the chili. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and spices and cook for 5 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the meat, breaking it up as it cooks. Add the beans and tomatoes. Simmer uncovered for fifteen minutes.
    process of chili cooking down in saucepan.
  • Assemble the casserole. Pour the chili into the casserole dish. Sprinkle potatoes on top and season them with salt. Sprinkle cheese on top of the potatoes.
    casserole dish showing layers of chili, shredded potato, and cheese.
  • Bake. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the chili is bubbling. If you prefer a browned top, broil on low or five minutes. Serve immediately.
    scoop of finished chili hashbrown casserole

Notes

If you have a set of small ramekins, bake these as individual casseroles.  The baking time will be more like 20 minutes.
Be sure to cook the chili long enough for it to thicken up. It should not be thin or soup-like.
To get a browned top on your casserole, broil it on low for a few minutes. Keep an eye on it!
If you like spicy chili, add a teaspoon of cayenne in step 2.

Casserole ingredients

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

  • olive oil
  • onion 
  • spices (chili powder, garlic powder, cumin)
  • ground beef
  • canned diced tomatoes
  • canned red kidney beans or black beans (pinto beans are fine too!)
  • frozen shredded hashbrowns (these are a real time-saver; they go straight from the freezer into the casserole, no prep needed)
  • cheddar cheese or a similar blend like cheddar jack (Note: If you grate your own, it will melt better!)

You can use fresh shredded potatoes too, if you’d like. But why? The frozen shredded ones are cheap and ready to go

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Don’t get too worked up about the size of your casserole dish. 9 x 13 is fine; slightly smaller is fine. Relax!

ingredients on counter.

The key ingredients for this recipe are fairly straightforward and most can be found in your pantry.

You probably have most of these things on hand!

Tips for the best casserole

Meat Quality: Use good quality ground beef for better flavor. If you prefer, you could also substitute with ground turkey or even a meatless alternative.

Onion and Spice Mix: Make sure to sauté the onions until they’re soft. This makes them easier to eat and also brings out their natural sweetness which balances well with the spices.

overhead view of scoop being removed from finished casserole

Tomatoes and Beans: You can choose either red kidney beans or black beans based on your preference. If you want, you can even add both for more texture. As for the diced tomatoes, it’s a good idea to drain them slightly so the casserole isn’t too watery.

Hashbrowns: While the recipe calls for frozen hashbrowns, you can certainly shred your own potatoes if you have the time. Just make sure to squeeze out any excess moisture.

Cheese: Don’t be shy with the cheese. If you love cheese, feel free to add more than the recipe calls for.

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Remember, recipes like this are pretty flexible. Substitutions like cheese, beans, or meat are no big deal.

If you want to try another version of casserole, here’s a recipe for Ham and Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole.

How to store leftover casserole

In the fridge: Store leftovers in the fridge for up to three days or freeze them for up to two months, then defrost in the fridge

How to make this recipe ahead of time

  • Make the recipe, but do not bake it. Freeze, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Defrost overnight in the fridge and then bake as directed in the oven.
  • Or, make just the chili ahead of time. It can be made up to three days in advance, and then you can assemble the rest right before baking.

How to bake a casserole recipe in ramekins

Converting a casserole recipe from a 9 x 13 dish to small ramekins requires a shorter cooking time.

For this recipe, instead of the 30-40 minutes needed for a single large casserole dish, you’ll likely need around 20 minutes for the ramekins.

Just keep an eye out for the tell-tale signs of readiness: bubbling chili and a slightly browned, melted cheese top

🍽 Serve it with

Don’t make life too hard. You’ll love these easy, from-scratch sides:

More dinners for busy nights

Everyone needs more simple dinners, right? Here are some of our favorites:

scoop of finished chili hashbrown casserole

All of these will earn a spot in your weeknight dinner rotation!

Easy Chili Hashbrown Casserole {Family Favorite}

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4 Comments

  1. I’m going to try this recipe tonight and would love a clarification. In your recipe directions, you say, ” Add the tomato paste and stir until it is absorbed.” But, unless I missed it (very possible – I’m very old) tomato paste is not listed anywhere else as an ingredient. May I ask if I should add the paste, and if so, how much? Thank you, Katie, for this delicious sounding recipe!

  2. I’m going to make this tomorrow. The ingredients list doesn’t show tomato paste, but the directions do. I assume a 6-oz can will work. Also, if the paste is added, is any water needed to thin?

    1. hey ginny. Yes! i’m sorry i no longer use the paste (just because I find the small amount annoying), i should take that out. if you use it (it does add flavor), you’ll need to thin it with water.