Celebrating the Casserole Dinner: 19 Versions of an American Classic
Nothing says “comfort food” like a hot, tasty casserole dinner. The beauty of this delectable dish is that it’s so versatile! And, you can skip all those extra dishes since it’s a main course that’s all-in-one! Perfect as a side dish for a potluck or a cozy night at home with the fam, you can’t go wrong with a tasty casserole dinner recipe.
What Makes a Dish a Casserole Dinner?
Typically, you’ll find casserole with 3 components: protein (usually meat, poultry, or fish), vegetables, and a starchy binder such as flour, potatoes, or pasta. However, some argue that it has 5 components, adding sauce and cheese. Sometimes known as a “bake” or a “hot dish,” this one-bowl or one-dish meal is a staple in American households.
Since there’s a wide variety of casserole options, we’ve divided them into four categories. But a casserole can be a combination of whatever ingredients you’d like!
What Do You Serve Casserole With?
If your casserole is a little more basic, there are plenty of great ways to balance out your meal. Sides like oven-roasted broccoli, lemon almond asparagus, fruit salad, buttermilk biscuits, grilled honey balsamic-glazed peaches, or garlic-rosemary brussels sprouts can really take your meal from good to AMAZING.
What’s the Best Casserole Dinner?
Well, that depends on who you ask. Personally, my family is partial to the spinach and artichoke pasta bake. But one of the quintessential American casseroles is Chicken Divan— a rich casserole made with chicken pieces, almonds, broccoli, and a hollandaise sauce.
Another popular dish is tuna casserole–consisting of pasta or noodles, canned tuna, various vegetables, and creamed, condensed soup. After the casserole has been baked, it is often topped with potato chips, crumbled crackers, or breadcrumbs to provide extra crunch. Finally, one of the most popular casseroles is baked ziti–consisting of tubular pasta called ziti baked with various other ingredients, mostly chunky sauces, cheese, meat, and vegetables such as mushrooms, peppers, and onions.
Chicken Casserole Dinner Ideas
The Classic Casserole Dinner: Chicken-and-Rice-Casserole
It doesn’t get much more comforting than this. Add 1-1/2 cups long-grain white rice, 1 can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup, 2 cups milk, 1 cup water, and one envelope of onion soup mix to a bowl and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a prepared pan. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Nestle 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into the rice mixture. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour 30 min to 2 hours, or until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven and sprinkle 3/4 cup cheese on top. Allow to cool, then serve with fresh roasted veggies or a green salad.
Fiesta Chicken Casserole
This is packed with cheesy Tex-Mex flavors, and it’s an easy weeknight dinner idea. You’ll need 4 cups of cooked shredded chicken, 1 can of Ro-tel diced tomatoes/green chiles, 1 cup of instant rice (uncooked), 2 cups of grated cheese (divided, try using a three-cheese or Mexican blend), 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 2 Tbsp taco seasoning, 2 Tbsp of milk, 1/2 cup can of corn (drained), and 1/2 cup of black beans (drained).
You can also add sautéed onion, smoked paprika, substitute ground beef, jalapeños, chives, or green onions. Mix it all together, then pour into a greased 9×9 baking dish. Top with remaining cheese, cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes garnish with guacamole, sour cream, or shredded lettuce.
Teriyaki Chicken Casserole
If you love stir-fry, then you’ll love a teriyaki chicken casserole that combines all the ingredients into one dish. This casserole-style recipe idea happens to be full of ingredients that are good for you, and it is so delicious!
Chicken Enchilada Casserole
This easy casserole idea combines layers of tortillas, shredded chicken, enchilada sauce, and cheese, all baked together to golden brown perfection. It’s a quick and simple meal that the whole family will love.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. You’ll need 2 cups of red enchilada sauce, 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast, 2 cups of Monterey jack cheese, and 1 15-oz can of pinto beans. Spread 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce over the bottom of the baking dish.
Layer 4 tortilla halves over the sauce so that the bottom of the pan is covered. Layer 1/3 of the chicken, 1/3 of the beans, 1/2 cup of the cheese, and 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce over the tortillas. Repeat this process two more times until you finish your third layer with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
Cover with foil that’s been sprayed with cooking spray and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned. Let it cool, then garnish with olives, sour cream, red onions, cilantro, green onions, avocado, or tomato.
- 1 lb cooked spaghetti noodles one standard package of spaghetti
- 1 lb cooked chicken cut into bite-sized pieces; any type of chicken meat is fine
- 10 oz cream of mushroom soup 1 standard can
- 10 oz cream of chicken soup 1 standard cam
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1/2 cup butter, melted 1 stick of butter
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 tsp salt you might need more or less depending on the saltiness of the soups
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray, and set aside.
- In large bowl, whisk together soups, sour cream, butter, chicken broth, salt, and pepper until combined.
- Add your chicken. Gently fold it in and make sure it's coated.
- Add spaghetti, mozzarella, and cheddar cheese to the rest of your ingredients. Pour your mixture into your baking dish.
- Sprinkle your parmesan cheese on the top.
- Bake for 45 minutes, until the cheese has melted. It should be hot and bubbling.
- Let it cool and enjoy!
Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
If you want to add a little bit of green to your casserole, sometimes the creamy and/or cheesy goodness can cover any flavors you’d rather mask than savor. Or maybe you’re just a big broccoli fan. Either way, chicken and broccoli casserole is a tasty and hearty dish we love at my house. And it’s so convenient to use a whole, cooked rotisserie chicken.
Add 2-1/2 cups chicken broth, 1 Tbsp EVOO, and 1-1/4 cup long-grain rice to the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover tightly and cook for 7 minutes. Add 2 cups fresh, chopped broccoli florets and replace the cover. Cook for 8 more minutes. Refrain from stirring. Turn off the heat and leave covered. Let the rice stand for 10 minutes; do not stir. Any rice on the bottom of the pot will release.
Add the cooked chicken, 1 10.5 oz can condensed chicken soup, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 garlic powder, and one cup of cheddar cheese. Add to a lightly greased 9 x 13 casserole dish and top another 1/2 cup of cheese. Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Combine 2 Tbsp melted butter with 1 cup of Ritz cracker crumbles, top the casserole, and bake uncovered for 10 additional minutes.
Buffalo Chicken Casserole
Buffalo chicken dip will always make me think of football season. That spicy, cheesy, savory, creamy goodness really can’t be topped. I could easily just eat it with a spoon. Fortunately, with this recipe idea, you can (without getting strange looks). It’s more like a buffalo-style cauliflower casserole.
Preheat oven to 450°. In a baking dish, toss 1 head of chopped cauliflower florets with 2 Tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tender, 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together 12 oz. softened cream cheese, 1/3 cup of buffalo sauce, 1/4 cup of ranch, 1/3 cup of green onions, and 1 Tbsp garlic powder until combined. Set aside. Toss 2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken with roasted cauliflower in a baking dish and spread the cream cheese mixture on top. Top with 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/2 cup of gouda and bake until cheese is completely melted and bubbly for about 20 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then drizzle with ranch and garnish with green onions or chives and serve.
Loaded Potato and Buffalo Chicken Casserole
This combines two of my favorite comfort foods in one: Loaded baked potatoes and buffalo chicken. You may need a little nap after this one, though. It’s extra-rich.
Beef Casserole Dinner Recipes
A Throwback Casserole Dinner: John Wayne Casserole
Named after the famous cowboy actor, this southwestern dish incorporates all the flavors of the south. It’s delicious layers of ground beef, cheese, vegetables, and bell peppers baked onto a biscuit crust. Supposedly John Wayne contributed the recipe to a 1979 cookbook titled “Cooking with Love from Cara and Her Friends.”
Preheat the oven to 350 F and place your oven rack in the center. Spray a 13×9 glass baking dish. Place the dough from a can of 16 oz biscuits in the pan in a single layer and press into the pen, joining them together, pressing the dough halfway up the sides of the pan.
Place pan on a baking sheet and bake the dough in preheated oven for 15-25 minutes; checking every few minutes after 15. The dough should be very light brown where the edges are just starting to get color. Remove from oven and set aside, leave the oven on.
Prepare 2 lbs of ground beef with taco seasoning and water according to the seasoning package directions. Transfer cooked taco meat to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the pan.
In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup of sour cream, 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 4 oz of the cheddar cheese, and half of 1 medium onion, chopped. Stir well and set aside. Saute the rest of your onion and 1 medium chopped bell pepper on the taco meat pan until slightly tender.
On top of a baked biscuit crust, layer ingredients in the following order: taco meat, tomato slices (from 2 medium tomatoes), bell pepper and onion mixture, 4 oz sliced Jalapeno peppers, sour cream mixture, and sprinkle with 4 oz of shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until edges of the dough are lightly browned, and cheese is melted.
Baked Spaghetti Casserole
Who knew spaghetti and meatballs had such an amazing cousin? This has a zesty meat sauce combined with tomatoes and spaghetti and topped with cheese, then baked in the oven until hot and bubbly. This easy recipe idea is perfect served with homemade crusty garlic bread and a caesar salad.
Preheat oven to 350°. Cook spaghetti according to package directions for al dente. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook 1 lb of ground beef and 1 medium chopped onion over medium heat until beef is no longer pink and onion is tender, 6-8 minutes, breaking beef into crumbles; drain. Stir in 1 24 oz jar of pasta sauce and 1/2 tsp seasoned salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk 2 large eggs, 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and 5 Tbsp melted butter. Drain spaghetti; add to egg mixture, and toss to coat.
Place half the spaghetti mixture in a greased 13×9-in. or 3-qt. baking dish. Top with 1 cup of cottage cheese, 1/2 the meat sauce, and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake until heated through, 20-25 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with basil.
This recipe dates all the way back to the 1950s. Frito pie is a simple dish: At its most basic, it is just an amount of Frito corn chips with beef chili as a topping. It was historically served by some right inside the chip bag; layered toppings typically include shredded cheese and chopped raw onion and may also include sour cream and jalapenos. However, you probably don’t want to serve your family a meal right out of a bag of Fritos, so a casserole is a much better solution.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put the 1 lb ground beef and 1 yellow onion (chopped) in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until cooked through, then layer in the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan. Add the 1 15 oz can of drained Texas-style beans on top, followed by the 20 oz. enchilada sauce, 2 cups of cheddar cheese, and 4 cups of Fritos chips. Bake for 20 minutes uncovered and garnish with green onions if desired.
If you have a “meat and potatoes” fan at your house, this is the perfect solution. With ground beef, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, and a flaky crust, this is a hearty meal all rolled into one dish. Check out this authentic recipe.
More Casserole Dinner Recipes
Spinach-Artichoke Pasta Bake
Spinach artichoke dip is one of my favorite appetizers, especially at parties. With some tortilla chips, I could probably polish off the whole thing. This casserole dish makes those dreams come true but adds yummy pasta for some extra sustenance. You’ll have trouble pulling people away from the dinner table with this tasty casserole. It’s vegetarian, too!
Butternut Squash Casserole
In the fall, butternut squash recipes are in full swing. With this versatile ingredient, you can make your casserole sweet or savory.
The sweet version includes 1 small butternut squash, 1/4 cup milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 2/3 cup unsalted butter, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 2 large eggs, topped with pecan halves, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and marshmallows.
A savory version of the recipe is just as tasty, with a salty, herby, crunchy topping. For the filling, use 2 Tbsp EVOO, 1 large butternut squash, 2 tsp thyme, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 12 oz kale, 1 medium yellow onion, and 1 cup low sodium chicken stock. For the topping, you’ll need 1 cup of breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp fresh sage, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 2 Tbsp melted, unsalted butter.
Tater Tot Casserole
A bag of frozen tater tots is one of the most useful ingredients you can keep in your freezer. The buttery potatoes with a crunchy exterior create the perfect base for a casserole. Check out this recipe in one of our other articles!
Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole
This is adapted from one of Paula Deen‘s recipes, and best of all, it only has 7 ingredients!
Cook the rice according to package directions minus 1/4 cup water. Let cool. Bring 2 cups water and 1/2 tablespoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan and cook 1 lb of medium shrimp for 1 minute. Drain immediately and set aside. Heat 2 Tbsp butter in a saucepan and sautèe the 1/2 of chopped green bell pepper and 1/2 a yellow onion until soft, about 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the rice, 1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, 1-1/2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, shrimp, and vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Spray a 9-inch square aluminum cake pan or an 11×7 inch glass casserole dish with vegetable spray. Place the mixture in the pan and top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly.
Sweet Casserole Recipes
Sweet Potato Casserole
This Thanksgiving classic has been gracing American tables for decades. The great debate: marshmallows or no marshmallows? Whichever camp you’re in, I think we can all agree that this sweet side dish always has the potential to steal the show at any meal or holiday dinner party.
For the sweet potatoes: Add 1-3/4 pounds peeled and cubed sweet potatoes to a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and cool. Mash the sweet potatoes.
For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
Whisk together 4 Tbsps melted butter, mashed sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 2 large eggs in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
For the cinnamon streusel pecan topping: Combine 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt in a medium bowl until moist and the mixture clumps together. Stir in the 3/4 cup chopped pecans. Spread the mixture over the top of the sweet potatoes in an even layer. Bake until mostly set in the center and golden on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot. And don’t forget the marshmallows if you want!
Are your tastebuds ready to experience something a little…different? Who would have thought that pineapple, cheddar cheese, and buttery Ritz crackers made a tasty combo? Also known as “pineapple gratin,” this old-school recipe makes an amazing Easter side dish, especially with ham! Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Drain one 20oz can of pineapple tidbits, but reserve 1/4 cup juice and set aside.
Then drain 20 oz of crushed pineapple. In a bowl, combine the 6 Tbsp flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, reserved pineapple juice, tidbits, and crushed pineapple. Pour the mixture into a deep dish 9″ pie plate or 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Mix the crumbs of 40 crushed Ritz crackers and 1/3 cup of melted butter in a small bowl and sprinkle over the pineapple mixture. Bake for 35 minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve warm.
Sweet Breakfast Casserole
While the classic breakfast casserole with sausage, egg, cheese, and biscuits is a tasty breakfast entree, its sweeter counterpart is also a fun treat from time to time. It seriously tastes just like a danish!
Add 4 large, chopped croissants to a greased baking dish and top with 1-1/2 cup of mixed berries. Beat 8 oz softened cream cheese with a hand mixer until smooth, then beat in 1 cup of milk, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tsp lemon zest. Pour over the croissants and berries.
Cover and refrigerate overnight. Let the baking dish sit on the counter while your oven preheats to 350 degrees F. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake another 15 minutes or so. While the casserole is baking, combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2-3 Tbsp heavy cream, and 1 tsp vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk to create the glaze. Drizzle over top of warm casserole when finished baking and enjoy.
Try Out Your Next Casserole Dinner Recipe!
Which of these casserole ideas are you going to try next? Ask your family in a FamilyApp group chat which casserole recipe they’d like to try, or share your favorite casserole dinner recipe with friends and family! Dinner is served!