56 All-Time Favorite Casserole Recipes
Hooray for casseroles! From good old mac ‘n’ cheese to creamy chicken and rice, they’re the ultimate comfort food. We’ve collected our best recipes, plus answers to all your casserole questions.
Juggling a lot these days? Chances are good you could use a break in the kitchen in the form of some easy comfort food. Enter the casserole, home cooking at its most flexible. Whatever’s hanging out in your fridge, freezer, and pantry this week — maybe some chicken, some noodles or a package of tater tots, some bits of leftovers that you want to use up — a casserole will put all the seemingly random ingredients to delicious and thrifty use. Need a make-ahead meal that leaves you free before dinner to spend time with the family? The casserole stars again.
And while casseroles are endlessly versatile, the humble one-pan meals have endured for decades because they’re good. Cheesy pasta baked with tomato sauce until crusty and melty? Bubbling Mexican chicken and tortilla chip casserole with just the right amount of spicy heat? Yes, please.
So in honor of the casserole, we put together some tips for making the best casseroles, along with 56 all-time favorite casserole recipes.
Here’s what you’ll find in this post:
Casserole questions, answered
Whether you’re a beginning cook or you’re just trying to up your casserole game, mastering a few basics can help you cook the very best casseroles.
What makes something a casserole?
A casserole can be many different things. It can be a breakfast bake like bread pudding (also known as French toast casserole), a pasta bake like mac and cheese, or an egg dish like a frittata, strata, or Spanish omelet (or, more accurately, Spanish tortilla). And it doesn’t even need to bake; you can make a casserole in a Crock Pot or an Instant Pot.
How do you make a casserole?
Much like a salad, a casserole can be whatever you want it to be. You can mix together as many or as few ingredients as you'd like; however, a typical casserole has four main components.
Base: vegetables and/or meat. This is the ingredient you’ll build the casserole around.
Binder: egg or egg substitute. This is the ingredient that holds everything together.
Liquid: This can be many things: mayonnaise, cheese, milk, condensed soup. This is the ingredient that keeps the casserole moist.
Starch: noodles, bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, pie crust, biscuits. This ingredient gives the casserole body and can act as a crispy topping (if you’re not using noodles — though you can have a crumb topping on a noodle casserole).
Not every casserole uses all four components. If you're using egg, you might not necessarily use liquid and vice versa. Or you might skip meat and vegetables as the base, like in a baked penne.
Pick the right casserole dish
A casserole is also the name of a type of baking dish; they can be tempered glass, earthenware, stoneware, porcelain, cast iron, or enamel-covered cast iron. For earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain, make sure there's a stamp on the bottom that says it's oven-safe.
When you find the glorious casserole recipe you want to make, pay attention to the size of the dish the recipe calls for. If a recipe requires a 13 x 9-inch casserole dish, don't use an 8 x 8-inch baker. Not only won’t the ingredients all fit, the cook time will be off.
If you don't have a casserole dish, you can make a casserole in a metal pan or a cake pan, but you’ll need to adjust the baking time. Whatever dish or pan you use, it’s a good idea to spray it with cooking spray or butter it so the ingredients don't stick.
Should casseroles be covered when baking?
The answer is yes, most of the time, but it depends on the recipe. A covered casserole cooks faster than an uncovered casserole because the cover traps the steam from any moisture in the ingredients that are being cooked and recirculates the heat. Covering casseroles also prevents the top of the casserole from burning, which is key for very dense casseroles like lasagna. If your casserole dish doesn’t come with a lid, you can always use a sheet of aluminum foil.
One downside to covering casseroles is that you won't get a crunchy top crust. A workaround for that is to remove the cover near the end of cooking so the top has a chance to crisp up. Some recipes, like Biscuits and Gravy Casserole, need to be uncovered the whole time so the topping will cook through and brown.
Can you freeze casseroles?
Casseroles are great for make-ahead meals so you can have a hot weeknight dinner like chicken enchiladas without putting in a lot of effort after your work day. They’re also the go-to comfort food for delivering to loved ones who are going through high-stress situations. All this means they have to be freezer-friendly.
Freezer-friendly ingredients: Most casseroles freeze well, but not all of them. Casseroles with tomato sauce work, but a fresh tomato casserole won't freeze well because when tomatoes (and other vegetables with high water content) thaw, a big puddle will form that you can't correct. If you're making a casserole to freeze, just make sure there's a starchy component to soak up any displaced water.
Freezing egg casseroles: Even though we've been cooking eggs for millennia, what they can and can't do is still a mystery to most. Egg casseroles (like frittatas) can be frozen uncooked — in general, raw eggs freeze really well. That means that, yes, you can freeze breakfast casseroles! But depending on how eggy the casserole is, it may not do well cooked and then frozen. Cooked egg shrinks up and hardens fairly quickly, so an eggy casserole may not respond well to the yo-yo-ing temperatures.
How to cook a frozen casserole: You don't have to thaw frozen casseroles before baking, but it's helpful if you want them to cook quickly; they’ll take a lot longer to cook if they’re frozen all the way through. Just remember that you should thaw them in your refrigerator overnight rather than leaving them on the counter to defrost. For a cold start with a frozen casserole that has not been thawed, just stick the frozen, covered casserole in a cold oven and let the casserole heat up with the oven set at 350° for an hour (or longer) until the internal temperature reaches 165°. This works for both pre-cooked and uncooked frozen casseroles.
How to reheat casseroles
Casseroles tend to be very forgiving of reheating, perfect for make-ahead meals and leftovers.
How to reheat a casserole in the oven: For a thawed pre-cooked casserole, reheat it covered with a lid or foil at 350° for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°.
How to reheat a casserole in the microwave: First, be sure the casserole container is marked microwave-safe and that it will fit inside. The food should be fully thawed and already cooked. Drape the dish with a sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper or loosely cover it with microwave-safe plastic wrap (plastic wrap should not touch the food). Microwave on high until the food reaches 165° in the center (how long depends on how much food you’re cooking).
All-time favorite casserole recipes
Now that we’ve covered the basics for the best ways to make casseroles, let’s get to some crowd-pleasing casserole recipes.
Noodle and pasta casseroles
Casseroles have been warming American kitchens for decades, and one of the original American casserole recipes (since the 1890s) is the Johnny Marzetti Casserole, which was basically used as a vehicle for leftover sauce, meat, and noodles. The version below is made with ground beef, pork sausage, egg noodles, and canned tomato soup.
Frugal home cooks have run with pasta casseroles throughout the mid and late 20th century to give us much-loved dishes like tuna noodle casserole — egg noodles, canned tuna, frozen peas, and cream of mushroom soup all blended together and baked. This can be a from-scratch situation, as in the Tuna Casserole recipe, or a super-quick and easy recipe, as in Mom's Favorite Tuna Noodle Casserole, which starts with a can of cream of mushroom soup.
Lasagna, of course, is one of the most-loved pasta casseroles of all, and here we have a version with meat, the Easy Lazy Day Lasagna (pictured above), a version with chicken (with three kinds of cheese!), and a meatless casserole with spinach. For another vegetarian noodle casserole, just add cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, and pasta sauce to leftover cooked spaghetti and you’ll have yourself some Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole.
Frittatas, stratas, and other eggy casseroles
Eggs’ seemingly magical power to bind ingredients together plays out in delicious and varied ways in this category. With eggs as the only liquid, you can create a dense, sliceable Spanish omelet (the classic Spanish potato dish) or a healthy frittata with tomato and broccoli.
Add just a touch of milk and you have a lighter custard, perfect for Spring Vegetable Egg Casserole, a mushroom and egg casserole with six more kinds of vegetables, plus garlic and feta cheese. Sour cream works beautifully in place of milk, as in the Spinach and Artichoke Egg Casserole. Increase the liquid considerably if you want to create a strata, a layered casserole with bread, eggs, and milk. These need to refrigerate overnight for the bread to soak up the liquid so it will bake up nice and custard-like. The ham casserole below takes the simple route with plenty of cheese, butter, milk, and eggs, while the chiles rellenos casserole includes salsa and sour cream for some of the liquid.
Chicken casserole recipes
For generations, busy American cooks have casserole-ized more time-consuming chicken dishes from other countries, especially from Mexico and Italy, to create no-fuss meals with the flavors of the original in a fraction of the time. Home cooks have also put their ingenuity to some easy chicken casseroles that we’ll just call American originals — much-loved and of no particular heritage.
Of the Mexican casseroles, consider the wildly popular Easy Chicken Enchilada Casserole, a four-ingredient wonder made with boneless skinless chicken breasts cooked in store-bought enchilada sauce, and then layered with corn tortillas and Monterey jack cheese, and baked. Prep time: 20 minutes; total time, about 1 hour. If you’re looking for a chicken and rice casserole, maybe with Tex-Mex leanings, try Chicken Enchilada Rice Casserole, which includes pantry-friendly canned corn and refried beans. And don’t miss Rotel Mexican Chicken Casserole, a soothing combo of Rotel tomatoes, cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, chicken, onion, cream of chicken soup, and Velveeta. The chips swell up from the soup, cheese, and tomatoes to create something akin to chili con queso in meal form. For any of these, if you want to go all-out, you can top your casserole with a dollop of guacamole, sour cream, and a sprinkling of green onions — if you're clearing out the fridge in the process, we'll call it a win.
Parmesan Chicken Casserole swings wide from Italian tradition (mayo is the secret ingredient), but the results are a melt-in-your-mouth combo to serve over pasta. As for those American originals, consider Chicken Pot Pie, Chicken Noodle Casserole, and Chicken, Broccoli, & Pasta Skillet Casserole the perfect opportunity to use up any cooked chicken, frozen veggies, and canned soup for meals Marie Kondo would be proud of.
Meaty casserole recipes
Ground beef is made for stockpiling in the freezer, and you may be ready to liberate some to create a family-friendly dish like One Pot Mexican Beef and Rice Casserole, which cooks entirely on the stovetop in 40 minutes total time. Taco seasoning, Ro-tel tomatoes, and a little chili powder and cumin provide plenty of flavor to keep things interesting.
Think of this category as a blank canvas for foods from your extended pantry. Five-ingredient, highly Yummed Hamburger Casserole pairs ground beef with pasta shells, canned tomato soup, cheddar cheese, and mozzarella cheese. If you have a bag of tots hiding in the freezer, put them to delicious use in a Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole. Got some Yukon Gold potatoes? Mash them with sour cream and butter for a creamy topper for shepherd's pie.
Maybe you stashed some prepared meatballs in the deep-freeze, which calls for another five-ingredient recipe, Meatball Parmesan Casserole, made with prepared marinara and plenty of cheese. A kitchen overflowing with shredded mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, and pasta calls for Pepperoni Pizza Casserole. It combines everything you love about the Italian pie, minus the crust. Have breakfast sausage and refrigerator biscuits? Treat the gang to Biscuits and Gravy Casserole.
Health food or guilty pleasure? Vegetable casseroles are an equal-opportunity player. On the healthier side, consider that butternut squash (or bags of pre-cubed squash) waiting in your kitchen. Why not try a savory vegetarian main with spices, Swiss cheese, sourdough bread, and eggs? While casseroles can be a bit rich as a rule, Broccoli, Cheddar and Wild Rice Casserole combines whole grains, broccoli, and only a modest amount of cheese for a healthy one-pan meal.
A pound of bacon, three cups of sour cream, and four cups of cheese put Twice Baked Potato Casserole into serious splurge territory — but oh, the bliss. Likewise, Ultimate Green Bean Casserole features cream of mushroom soup, canned fried onions, bacon, and canned green beans, but when it comes to casseroles, the heart wants what the heart wants. Since there are few things sadder than letting mini marshmallows go to waste, we're offering you a Sweet Potato Casserole as their salvation. Do canned regular corn and creamed corn count as veggies? We recommend you not ponder this too deeply but go right to enjoying a spoonbread-style corn casserole.
Casseroles for special diets
What’s really great about casseroles is their flexibility. You can get a balanced meal out of them and create a one-pot meal that’s vegetarian, vegan, paleo, keto, or whatever dietary preference you're cooking for.
Admittedly, casseroles can be on the indulgent side. A few strategies to lighten them up: Use skim milk and only a modest amount of cheese for this chicken casserole, try ground chicken or turkey plus fat-free sour cream and cheese for the taco casserole, and cut the fat by using equal parts cottage cheese and cheddar, as in the zucchini casserole.
Finding a gluten-free casserole recipe is easy, if you're open to quinoa, spaghetti squash, corn, rice, and potatoes. The ingredients you should look out for are canned soups, and prepared sauces like enchilada sauce. If the recipe you want to cook has one of these, just be sure to read the ingredient label and buy a gluten-free brand.
Low-carb or keto casseroles
If you follow a low-carb or keto diet, there are plenty of ways to make a casserole without the extra starch (and without any hard-to-find ingredients). Swap pasta for zucchini, as in the first recipe, or add a custardy egg and cheese layer, as in the next two.
There are many amazing recipes for dairy-free casseroles and for ones that don't call for meat or eggs. These three are a vegetable-lover’s dream.
Slow cooker and Instant Pot casseroles
Casseroles aren’t just for the oven! You can put your favorite time-saving kitchen tool to good use to slowly — or quickly — create a family-friendly meal that suits your schedule. For Creamy Slow Cooked Pork Casserole, you’ll brown pork, mushrooms, and onions on the stovetop to develop extra flavor, then transfer them to the Crock Pot to cook slowly with an elegant combination of hard cider, chicken stock, and herbs. (See the slow-cooker directions at the bottom of the recipe.) Stir in some cream and crispy bacon just before serving.
Ground turkey and beans star in the chili for Crock-Pot Cornbread Chili Casserole, a two-stage recipe where you add the cornbread during the second half of cooking. Along with Slow Cooker Spicy Chicken & Rice, it’s a great option if you’re in the mood for a little heat. Looking for something vegetarian? Try Greek-style lentils with tomatoes, bell peppers, and feta cheese.
The best strategy for working with pasta depends on the recipe. For the Crock Pot Ravioli Casserole you’ll cook the ravioli on the stovetop and add it at the end of cooking, but for Instant Pot Chicken Cordon Blue Casserole, you’ll put rotini right from the box into the pressure cooker along with chicken, ham, and chicken broth. Looking for twice-baked potatoes in a hurry? Spuds cook in only 6 minutes in an Instant Pot. Mash and mix them with all your favorite loaded-potato toppings, bake for 20 minutes, and you'll have yourself an Instant Pot Twice Baked Potatoes Casserole.