What you will need to prepare this super easy, Tex-Mex Beef Fajita Casserole, with Gluten Free options: 1-pound lean ground beef or ground chuck, one medium onion, one green bell pepper, one red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, one package fajita mix, one cup sour cream, one cup shredded Mexican style cheese, one 10 ounce can Mexican style tomatoes with garlic, corn starch, water, tortilla chips, and green onions. You will also need a casserole dish approximately 2 inches deep and 8” by 11”. A Mexican-style crock ware casserole dish is what we have used.
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What is a casserole?
Technically any dish made in a casserole dish and baked in an oven would be called a casserole. A casserole can have layers such as our Easy Tex Mex Fajita casserole or it can be made with an evenly distributed combination of vegetables, protein (most often meat), and starch. Casseroles are a one-pot dish thought to date back to the eighteenth century although the term has existed much longer than that.
Common in French cooking ‘cassa’ or ‘pan’ dishes with combined ingredients were popular in France. The actual casserole was thought to have been invented by a French-Canadian immigrant in the late eighteen hundreds. It quickly became a go-to in the US for the money-saving aspects during the depression and world wars of the 20th century. With its ease of preparation and the ability to make a low-cost, one-pan dish in the oven, the casserole became a hit and started showing up in the cookbooks of that period.
History of Fajitas
Fajitas are thought to have originated in Texas as an alternate use of the meat cut commonly called skirt steak. It is a traditional Texan American dish of beef cooked on a grill and cut into strips. A similar dish in Mexico is known as arracheras, which is Spanish for skirt steak or carne asada when grilled.
The skirt steak was once considered a throwaway along with the head, entrails, and trimmings of fat and cartilage during the slaughter of cattle. As was a common practice when cowboys and Mexican Vaqueros were herding cattle the camp cook would take the throw-away parts from a butchered cow and cook them on a campfire grill along with onions, peppers, or whatever vegetables were available. Often the vaqueros were partially paid with the leftover meat trimmings and skirt steak.
The first commercial fajita emerged in the late sixties when an enterprising meat market manager in Austin Texas first put the practice of grilling the skirt steak with pepper and onions into a specialty dish to sell at free-standing concession stands. Restauranteurs quickly jumped on the fajita bandwagon and fine-tuned them into the sizzling fajita dish we know today. Of course, now we have many varieties of fajitas from shrimp to chicken and even veggie fajitas.
I love fajitas and when I first tried them, they were still scarce in some areas as a readily available restaurant dish. So, I started making them myself and still do on occasion. Back then they were a time-consuming dish to prepare at home as you rarely found the meat cuts of beef strips that are common in markets today, so you did your own cuts, which meant trimming and cleaning the skirt steak slab first. There was also no commercial fajita mix that is common today. I used lemon pepper and other spices that I blended myself.
Check out this awesome cast iron fajita set here.
In conclusion, our Easy Tex-Mex Beef Fajita Casserole
Fast forward to the new millennium and our modern world with its fast-paced, needed it yesterday urgency. So little time and so much to do! I recently decided to make an easy casserole fajita dish that could be prepared and cooked in less than an hour. This creamy ground beef recipe is an easy-peasy, no-fuss alternative to traditional fajitas and is very tasty. You will still need a real ‘sizzling’ fajita fix occasionally, but when you get a craving and have no time, this dish is sure to please.
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Easy Tex-Mex Beef Fajita Casserole
- 1 large skillet
- 1 casserole dish Approximately 8" x 11" & 2" deep
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 orange or red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 package dry fajita mix (*GF if desired)
- 1 cup sour cream (*GF if desired)
- 1 cup cup shredded Mexican style cheese (*GF if desired)
- 1 10 oz. can Mexican Style tomatoes with garlic (*GF if desired)
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup cold water for use with corn starch
- 2 tbsp corn starch (*GF if desired) add to container with ½ c. water and shake to combine well
- 1 11 oz. bag tortilla chips (*GF if desired)
- 5 green onions chopped
- Preheat oven to 375 F
- Prepare bottom of casserole dish lightly with olive oil and add one layer of chips to bottom.
- In a large skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat. Drain excess fat if needed.
- Add chopped onions and bell pepper.
- Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring to brown onion and bell pepper slightly.
- Add fajita mix, 1 cup water and one 10 oz can Mexican style tomatoes with garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a medium simmer.
- Add corn starch and cold water mix stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from burner.
- Fold in sour cream and ½ cup shredded cheese into precooked mixture.
- Spoon or pour half of cooked mixture on chips in casserole dish.
- Sprinkle with ¼ cup shredded cheese.
- Add another layer of chips to casserole dish and repeat steps as above ending with sprinkled shredded cheese.
- Cook in oven for 15 minutes.
- Top with green onion when serving. Serve with a side of refried or charro beans.
- Additional toppings if desired: avocado, chopped tomato, sour cream, salsa, or Pico de gallo
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as a courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.
Gluten-Free options are provided as a resource only. Always check your product labeling or contact the manufacturer of the ingredients you are using. If there is not a gluten-free or GF on the label of the product packaging, read the ingredients label thoroughly. Check for hidden or questionable ingredients. Some ingredients may contain hidden gluten.
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A creamy ground beef fajita casserole recipe is an easy-peasy, no-fuss alternative to traditional time-consuming fajitas.
If you’re living with gluten sensitivity gluten-free recipes will help you create delicious meals without worrying about gluten. From flavorful dinners and desserts to savory sides and light snacks, there are plenty of options to choose from!
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