This Chinese noodle casserole is filled with ground beef, brown rice, creamy soup, and spices. This classic recipe, sometimes known as Chow Mein noodle casserole, is an easy comfort food the whole family will love.
This recipe was a childhood favorite of mine and now it’s a family staple dinner recipe. Packed with protein, healthy fats, and a source of carbs, this gluten free casserole recipe is the perfect comfort that doubles as a balanced meal.
One thing I love about this Chinese casserole is that it’s creamy on the inside with a crunchy chow mien or pretzel (for gluten free) topping. The balance of savory textures satisfies your hunger cravings like no other.
I remember someone bringing this to my mom when my little brother was born. It was the perfect comfort food that we loved. You’re going to love this belly-warming chow mein casserole recipe too!
Why you’ll love this noodle casserole recipe
- With only four simple steps, it’s super easy to make
- It makes eight servings, perfect for family dinner and a few leftover lunches!
- It’s a creamy comfort food recipe that’s different from traditional recipes
- The crunchy pretzels on top add a good balance of textures
- Beef – I prefer to use grass fed ground beef but any kind will work. Make sure to drain the grease if using a higher fat cut of beef!
- Rice – Brown or white rice work great
- Onion soup mix – Onion soup mix contains a variety of spices that give this chow mien hot dish so much extra flavor but regular onion soup mix has gluten (this gluten free onion soup mix is the best)
- Cream of mushroom soup – If making this recipe gluten-free, make sure the soup is gluten free cream of mushroom soup (you may ask yourself, can you substitute cream of chicken for cream of mushroom… Yes! Our gluten free cream of chicken soup works too)
- Sour cream
- Chow Mein Noodles or Pretzels – Chow mien noodles are great but if you are gluten-free, pretzels work great and can be crushed in a ziplock baggie.
- Seasoning – Along with the soup mix, grab some soy sauce (make sure it is gluten-free if needed), pepper, and salt.
How to make a Chinese noodle casserole
Step 1: Brown beef and Mix ingredients
Brown the beef on medium-high heat until cooked. Make sure to drain the grease with a paper towel after it’s done.
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In the casserole dish, or a separate medium bowl, combine all of the beef mixture with the rest of the ingredients but leave some of the pretzels out.
Step 2: Spread into a baking dish
Spread all the ingredients evenly in a casserole dish.
Pro tip: Crush the pretzels in a ziplock bag into small pieces, but not completely crushed. You want them to be a crunchy topping and not breadcrumb pieces.
Step 3: Bake!
Bake then top with the remaining pretzels. This casserole is best served hot!
Casserole Tips and FAQs
What is chow mien?
Chow mien is traditionally a dish with noodles, ground meat (beef, chicken, or pork is most common), rice, and vegetables. However, this recipe is a casserole version of chow mien with rice, crunchy pretzels, and ground beef.
Can you prepare this casserole ahead of time?
Since there are some pretzels inside the casserole, I would not recommend prepping this casserole ahead of time because the pretzels will become soggy. Also, cooked rice does not retain the same texture after refrigerated.
Storage – After the casserole has cooled to room temperature, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
The texture of the casserole will change just a bit, but it makes for a great quick lunch. Top with more pretzels after reheated.
Freezing – I do not recommend freezing this casserole.
More easy recipes
- This gluten-free green bean casserole is one of my favorite easy side dishes
- You can never go wrong serving a tater tot casserole with gluten free burgers or another hearty meat.
- My gluten free orange chicken is another Chinese dinner recipe the whole family loves.
- For a side dish to this casserole, try my egg rolls in air fryer.
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Chinese Noodle Casserole
- 1 pound beef
- 3-4 cups brown rice
- 1 packet onion soup mix gluten-free
- 1 cup cream of mushroom soup gluten-free
- 1 pint sour cream
- 2 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce
- 1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels gluten-free
- 1/2 teaspoon real salt
- dash black pepper
- In a large skillet, cook ground been on medium high heat until browned all the way through.
- In a medium sized round casserole dish, combine all ingredients except half of the pretzels
- Cook at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
- Top with remaining pretzels and serve hot.
This recipe was originally posted on May 27, 2010. I have updated it with new photos and helpful information. Here is the original photo…
What a fun casserole idea! I’m always looking for new casseroles so I was excited to find it. It’s so incredibly tasty. I liked having it for leftovers the next day too.
That looks good; I have seen chow mein noodles from Grandma Ferdon, but they are the skinny ones, so the pretzels are a great idea if you like the bigger noodles. What brand of Gluten Free soup do you use? I have heard that Progresso is the only one that really is gluten free. I was using Health Valley but it turned out to be a problem for me. Thanks for posting this recipe. It looks fast and good, and my husband will love it.