15 Classic Casserole Recipes Every Home Cook Should Know

There’s something incredibly satisfying about a classic casserole. Whether you’re trying to feed a crowd at a potluck or simply getting dinner on the table, there’s nothing quite like a bubbling hot dish of pasta, protein, and the occasional vegetable. In many cases, these casserole recipes can serve a small army, and are complete meals by themselves. And though we might think our modern recipes have evolved past the casserole, they can be some of the most comforting (and easy!) dishes around.

Casseroles typically aren’t known for being a jump-starter to your new diet program. They’re often full of cheese, or creamy sauces, or both. However, it doesn’t hurt to pull out one of these tried-and-true recipes every now and then. Many of them can be made ahead of time, and popped in the oven for an hour or less before dinner. They’re often simple to prepare, and won’t break the bank with a laundry list of obscure ingredients. These are the recipes perfected over generations, and in all likelihood they’re a throwback to your childhood dinner menus.

The next time you’re looking for a fast and simple crowd-pleasing dish, pull out one of these classics. They’re great in a pinch, and their easy preparation buys you extra time while your oven does the heavy lifting before dinner.

1. Chicken Tetrazzini

chicken casserole
Chicken casserole | iStock.com

The most classic of all casseroles goes something like this: Start with a protein, add a bunch of pasta, pick a sauce, and add a vegetable or two. Put the whole mixture in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, and pull it out of the oven an hour later for dinner. If you’re using egg noodles, shredded chicken, and mushrooms in a sherry cream sauce, you’ve got the basics for chicken tetrazzini. This version from Rachael Ray, featured on Food Network, tosses in cauliflower for some extra veggie power, and tops everything with a panko breadcrumb and butter mixture for crispy bites along the way. Rachael Ray provides a recipe for poached chicken breasts, but you can use any shredded chicken you prefer.


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 8 ounces extra-wide egg noodles
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces assorted fresh mushrooms or white mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 to 4 cups shredded chicken breasts
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring 1 ½ cups water to a boil in a pot and season with salt. Add the cauliflower, cover and steam until just tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and cut into florets.

Meanwhile, bring another pot of salted water to a boil and cook the noodles to just shy of al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain.

Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender and browned. Add the garlic and shallots and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Deglaze with the sherry, stirring and scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Whisk in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for a few minutes, then stir in the heavy cream. Season with salt, pepper and a few grates of nutmeg.

Combine the cauliflower, noodles, chicken and sauce. Transfer to a casserole dish.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in small pan, then drizzle over the panko in a bowl and toss to combine. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the casserole. Bake until hot, bubbling and golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley before serving.

Note: The unbaked casserole (without the breadcrumbs) can be covered and refrigerated for a make-ahead meal.

2. Shepherd’s Pie

shepherd's pie
Shepherd’s pie | iStock.com

This classic dish is a perfect example of a complete meal in one baking dish. The recipe began as a way to use leftover roast beef, though the version from Midwest Living uses precooked and packaged beef roast. You’ll cube the beef, though other variations of this will use ground beef instead. This recipe suggests using leftover mashed potatoes to top it, though you can also purchase some or make a quick batch. It also calls for fines herbs, a mixture you can purchase in the spice aisle that typically contains a blend of chervil, chives, parsley, and tarragon.


  • 1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated cooked beef roast au jus
  • cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried fines herbs, crushed
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • ½ cup rose or beef broth
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups mashed potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions: If you’re making your own mashed potatoes, cook 2 pounds of peeled russet potatoes in lightly salted boiling water for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender; drain. Mash. Add 3 tablespoons butter, ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper. Beat in enough milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach spreading consistency.

Cut meat into ½-inch cubes; discard the au jus. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt ⅓ cup butter; stir in flour. Gradually stir in milk and fines herbes. Cook and stir over medium heat until sauce thickens and bubbles. Meanwhile, stir meat, vegetables, onions, rose and pepper into sauce. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Pour into a 2½-quart baking dish or casserole. Spread mashed potatoes over the filling. Drizzle with the 2 tablespoons melted butter.

Bake in a 400-degree-Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and potatoes are brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

3. Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole

close up of Tuna casserole
Tuna noodle casserole | iStock.com

It doesn’t get much more classic than a casserole filled with noodles, tuna, and cheddar cheese. It’s incredibly easy on the wallet and is a longstanding favorite among many home cooks, likely because of the simple preparation. This version from Better Homes and Gardens tosses in red peppers, onions, and celery for some extra crunch and flavor, but otherwise remains true to its roots. This version includes day-of and make-ahead adjustments, meaning you can store it in the freezer for up to a month, and thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before baking.


  • cups dried wide egg noodles
  • ¼ cup butter
  • cup chopped red sweet pepper
  • cup chopped celery
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1  to 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2¼ cups milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can chunk white tuna (water pack), drained and broken into chunks; 2 (5-ounce) pouches chunk light tuna in water, drained; or 2 (6-ounce) cans skinless, boneless salmon, drained
  • cup cubed cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • tablespoon snipped fresh parsley
  • tablespoon butter, melted

Directions: Lightly grease a 2-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside. In a large saucepan cook noodles according to package directions; drain. Return noodles to pan.

Meanwhile, for sauce, in a medium saucepan heat ¼ cup butter over medium heat until melted. Add sweet pepper, celery, and onion; cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour, mustard, salt, and black pepper. Gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly.

Gently fold sauce, tuna, and cheddar cheese into cooked noodles. Transfer noodle mixture to the prepared baking dish. In a small bowl stir together panko, Parmesan cheese, and parsley; stir in melted butter. Sprinkle crumb mixture over noodle mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, and allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

To make ahead: Cover baking dish with plastic wrap, then with foil. Freeze for up to 1 month. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake, uncovered, for 65 to 75 minutes or until heated through. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

4. Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole
Green bean casserole | iStock.com

This classic is firmly in the side-dish category, but is popular nonetheless. Whether it’s your turn to make it for Thanksgiving or you’re simply tired of plain green beans, this casserole with cream of mushroom soup and crispy French fried onions is a staple. We turned to Campbell’s for their traditional recipe, and of course they suggest using their own brands of products. However, feel free to use any version you prefer.


  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked cut green beans
  • 1⅓ cups French fried onions

Directions: Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans, and ⅔ cup onions in a 1½-quart casserole.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the bean mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining onions.

Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown, and serve immediately.

5. Beef, Macaroni and Tomato Casserole

A small casserole dish of macaroni in a beef
Macaroni, beef, and cheese | iStock.com/MSPhotographic

Most casserole recipes will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters, and this dish from Food.com is no different. Who doesn’t love macaroni and ground beef, combined with a tomato sauce and topped with cheese? All you have to do is cook seasoned ground beef and combine it with macaroni noodles and sauce. From start to finish, this version should take you 40 minutes or less — meaning dinner is on the table in no time.


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 5  to 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni or 8 ounces bow tie pasta
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook noodles until al dente, 8-10 minutes, and drain.

Meanwhile, cook ground beef with garlic, oregano, basil, onion, green pepper, and salt and pepper until beef is browned, cooked through, and veggies are tender. Drain any fat.

Add tomatoes and tomato sauce to beef mixture, then simmer 5-10 minutes. Mix beef mixture with cooked macaroni and place in a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish or lasagna pan. Top casserole with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly.

6. King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Baked squash with meat
Chicken casserole | iStock.com/BravissimoS

Some traditional recipes began as regional favorites, as is the case with this chicken casserole. It’s extremely popular in Texas, and uses green chiles, Mexican-style chili powder, and strips of corn tortillas for some Tex-Mex flair. (As the recipe notes, you can substitute 1 teaspoon chili powder and ⅛ teaspoon ground red pepper if you can’t find the Mexican style.) This version from Southern Living has you cook an entire chicken with vegetables to create a stock and flavored chicken, though you can likely try to save time by using a rotisserie chicken instead. Otherwise, it’s a perfect candidate for a make-ahead meal that you pull from the refrigerator throughout the week.


  • 1 (4½- to 5-pound) whole chicken
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 3 pieces each
  • 2 carrots, cut into 3 pieces each
  • 2½ to 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 (10-ounce) cans diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican-style chili powder
  • 3 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 12 (6-inch) fajita-size corn tortillas, cut into ½-inch strips

Directions: If applicable, remove giblets from chicken, and reserve for another use. Rinse chicken. Place chicken, celery, carrots, and salt in a large Dutch oven with water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 50 minutes to 1 hour or until chicken is done. Remove from heat. Remove chicken from broth; cool 30 minutes. Remove and reserve ¾ cup cooking liquid. Strain any remaining cooking liquid, and reserve for another use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 6 to 7 minutes or until tender. Add bell pepper and garlic, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in reserved ¾ cup cooking liquid, cream of mushroom soup, and next 5 ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes.

Skin and bone chicken; shred meat into bite-size pieces. Layer half of chicken in a lightly greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Top with half of soup mixture and 1 cup Cheddar cheese. Cover with half of corn tortilla strips. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining 1 cup cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

7. Traditional Lasagna

Lasagna | iStock.com

Not every casserole dish comes from Midwestern or Southern roots. In this case, the dish comes straight from Italy. This favorite from Taste of Home has you make your own meat sauce, then layer with noodles and six different cheeses for a hearty and rich take on lasagna. Making the sauce takes about an hour, so it’s the perfect dish to make over the weekend and save for a dinner in the week ahead.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ¾ pound bulk pork sausage
  • 3 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 3 cups 4% small-curd cottage cheese
  • 1(8-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
  • 6 slices provolone cheese 
  • 3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

DirectionsIn a large skillet over medium heat, cook and crumble beef and sausage until no longer pink; drain. Add next seven ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add parsley; stir in cottage cheese, ricotta, and Parmesan cheese.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread 1 cup meat sauce in an ungreased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Layer with three noodles, provolone cheese, 2 cups cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup mozzarella, three noodles, 2 cups meat sauce, remaining cottage cheese mixture and 1 cup mozzarella. Top with remaining noodles, meat sauce and mozzarella (dish will be full).

Cover; bake 50 minutes. Uncover; bake until heated through, 20 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.

8. Breakfast Sausage Casserole

bread pudding casserole made from French baguette bread
Breakfast casserole | iStock.com/wsmahar

Dinnertime has the most claim over traditional casseroles, but there’s something equally as classic about a sausage, egg, and cheese casserole for brunch or a weekend breakfast. Traditional versions used up stale loaves of bread, soaked in an egg mixture overnight. The beauty of this dish from Trisha Yearwood, featured on Food Network, is its make-ahead nature: You put it together the night before, allowing you to sleep in the next morning and still get a delicious breakfast out of the deal. These casseroles are also notoriously flexible. You can substitute the sausage for a preferred protein like turkey or ham, and switch out the cheddar for any melting cheese you prefer.


  • Butter, for greasing
  • ½ loaf of sliced white loaf bread
  • 1 pound fresh bulk pork sausage with sage
  • 10 ounces sharp cheddar, grated
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten

Directions: Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and spread in the bottom of a greased 9- by 13- by 2-inch casserole dish.

In a medium skillet, brown the sausage over medium heat until fully cooked and no longer pink. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to drain the fat. Spread the cooked sausage over the bread and top with the cheese. Then stir together the half-and-half, dry mustard, salt, and eggs. Pour this mixture over the cheese. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the covered casserole until set and slightly golden, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the casserole to set for 15 minutes before serving.

9. Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Casserole

Broccoli gratin with cheese
Cheesy broccoli casserole | iStock.com/Lcc54613

Most casserole dishes contain meat, but this baked mushroom and broccoli dish from the Food Network’s Sunny Anderson is vegetarian-friendly. The combination of shiitake mushrooms, rice, broccoli, and Cheddar is so tasty, even meat eaters will want to add some of this comforting dish to their plates. You’ll need a little over an hour to prepare and cook this dish, but it can be made ahead of time and reheated later. Yields 6 to 8 servings.


  • 3 tablespoons butter, plus extra for casserole dish
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ pound shiitake or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ cup onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar-Monterey blend cheese
  • 3 cups cooked rice

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Butter a 1⅛-quart oval casserole dish. In a large pot, melt 3 tablespoons butter and flour over medium heat until golden in color to make a quick roux. The roux should resemble the color of peanut butter. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, heavy cream, and chicken stock. Add broccoli, 1 cup of the cheese, and the 3 cups of cooked rice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour into buttered dish and top with remaining shredded Cheddar. Bake until cheese is melted and golden, about 20 minutes.

10. Cassoulet

Cassoulet | iStock.com

To be fair, cassoulet doesn’t look much like what many Americans think of when they think of casserole. There’s no cheese, no “cream of” anything soup, and no noodles or potatoes. But this French dish is packed with tons of other tasty ingredients, including bacon, beans, sausage, and fresh veggies. It will take a bit longer to make than your average casserole, but the results are well worth the extra effort. Recipe from Epicurious. Makes 12 servings.


  • 12 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups dry navy beans, presoaked
  • 1 pound slab bacon, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 1 pound garlic sausage
  • 2 small yellow onions, peeled and left whole
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 bouquets garnis
  • Salt as needed
  • 1½ pounds boneless pork loin, cut into large cubes
  • 1½ pounds boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into large cubes
  • Freshly ground black pepper as needed
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced leeks
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced parsnips
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1¾ pounds duck confit
  • 1½ cups bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions: Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large sauce pot and add the beans and bacon. Return the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are nearly tender, about 40 minutes.

Add the sausage, onions, garlic, bacon, and 1 bouquet garni to the pot. Return the mixture to a simmer and cook until the sausage is cooked through and the bacon is fork tender, about 30 minutes. Remove and reserve the sausage and bacon. Remove and discard the onions, garlic, and bouquet garni.

Season the beans with salt to taste and continue to simmer until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Strain the beans, reserve them, and return the cooking liquid to the pot. Continue to simmer until the liquid reduces by ½ and is beginning to thicken, about 30 minutes. Reserve the sauce for later use.

Season the pork and lamb with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a casserole or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer. Sear the pork and lamb in the oil on all sides, turning as necessary, until deep brown. Transfer the meat to a pan and keep warm.

Add the leeks, carrots, and parsnips to the casserole and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is pasty, about 5 minutes.

Add the wine and 3 cups of broth to the casserole, whisking or stirring until smooth. Stir in the tomatoes and the remaining bouquet garni. Return the seared meats to the casserole, along with any juices they may have released, and the duck confit. Add more broth if necessary to keep the meat completely moistened. Bring to a slow simmer over medium-low heat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the casserole and braise the meat in the oven, skimming the surface as necessary, until the meats are fork tender, about 1 hour.

Peel the reserved sausage and slice it ¼-inch thick. Slice the reserved bacon ¼-inch thick. Add the sliced sausage and bacon to the casserole. Cover the meat with a layer of the reserved beans. Add the duck confit in a layer, topped with the second half of the beans. Pour the sauce from the beans over the cassoulet. Toss together the bread crumbs and parsley and sprinkle in an even layer over the cassoulet.

Turn the oven down to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the cassoulet, uncovered, periodically basting the crust with the juices that bubble up at the sides of the casserole, until it is heated through and a good crust has formed, 1½ to 2 hours. Let the cassoulet rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serve in heated bowls.

11. Tamale Pie

Cooking ground beef
Cooking ground beef for tamale pie | iStock.com/vinicef

Tamale pie may bear only a passing resemblance to actual tamales, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty. Popular in the Southwestern U.S., this classic casserole is made with a mix of ground beef, cheese, vegetables, and seasonings like cumin and chili powder, then topped with a cornbread crust. This recipe is from Brown Eyed Baker and yields 8 servings.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 1½ cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ cup sliced black olives (optional)
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

For the cornbread topping

  • 1½ cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Add the onion, green pepper, and jalapeños. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until browned, using a spoon to break up any large chunks of meat. Return the onions and peppers to the pan, then stir in the corn, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and salt until fully incorporated.

Bring contents of the pan to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest while you prepare the cornbread.

Add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to a medium bowl and whisk until combined. In a second medium-sized bowl, add the eggs, milk, and melted butter and whisk to combine. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until everything is just incorporated, being careful not to overmix.

Stir the olives (if using) and the cheese into the beef mixture. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, using a spatula to make a smooth, even layer. Pour the cornbread batter over, again using a spatula to form an even layer. Transfer to the preheated oven and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top layer is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center of the cornbread comes out clean. Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes before serving.

12. Tater Tot Hot Dish

tater tots
Tater tots | iStock.com

A staple at potlucks and church suppers in Minnesota, tater tot hot dish isn’t fancy, but it is filling. Consisting of a mix of ground beef, frozen veggies, and cream of mushroom soup and topped with a layer of crunchy tater tots, this is a simple dish designed to feed a crowd without breaking the bank. Recipe from Cooking Channel. Makes 8 servings.


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound 80% lean ground beef
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups frozen cut green beans, thawed
  • 1¾ cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 (10-ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 pound frozen shredded potato nuggets

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Add the beef to the onions and cook until the meat is brown, stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet to release the brown bits, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the beef and onion mixture from the skillet into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Scatter the green beans and corn evenly on top. Spread the cream of mushroom soup over top and top with frozen potato nuggets. Bake uncovered for 1 hour; the potato nuggets should be golden brown. Serve.

13. Sausage, Pepper, and Grits Casserole

sausage, peppers, and onions
Ingredients for sausage casserole | iStock.com

You could serve this Southern-style casserole, which involves a filling of mild Italian sausage, peppers, onion, and tomatoes topped with a layer of cheesy grits, for breakfast or brunch, but it would be just as great on your table at lunch or dinner. Recipe from Southern Living. Serves 6 to 8.


For the cheesy grits topping

  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the sausage filling

  • 1 (19-ounce) package mild Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 large red bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 medium-size red onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, drained
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups reduced-sodium or organic chicken broth
  • 1½ tablespoons grape jelly
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions: To make the grits crust, bring milk and 1 cup water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat; add grits, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese and next 3 ingredients; remove from heat. Gradually stir about one-fourth of hot grits mixture into eggs; add egg mixture to remaining hot grits mixture, stirring until blended.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook sausage in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat 7 to 8 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove sausage from Dutch oven, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in Dutch oven.

Sauté bell peppers and onion in hot drippings 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 2 minutes. Cut sausage into ½-inch-thick slices. Stir together tomatoes, bell pepper mixture, and sausage in a large bowl.

Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat; whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 4 to 5 minutes or until smooth and medium brown. Gradually whisk in broth, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in jelly, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir into sausage mixture, and spoon into a lightly greased 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Gently spread cheesy grits crust over top.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Let casserole stand 10 minutes before serving.

14. Mac and Cheese with Ham and Broccoli

macaroni and cheese with breadcrumb topping
Macaroni and cheese | iStock.com

A classic side is upgraded into a main dish in this recipe from Belle of the Kitchen. Simply stir cooked chopped ham (it’s a great way to use up leftovers) plus roasted broccoli into a homemade mac and cheese, and top with panko breadcrumbs for a meal that’s pure comfort food. Serves 8.


  • 1 medium head broccoli, chopped
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 12 ounces cooked ham, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or aluminum foil and coat with a thin layer of cooking spray or olive oil. Place the chopped broccoli on the prepared baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the broccoli is soft. Remove from oven and set aside.

As the broccoli cooks, fill a medium pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Cook macaroni pasta until it’s al dente.

Add ¼ cup of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Add the diced onion to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Whisk in the 3 tablespoons of flour and let cook for 1 minute. Then, slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly until the sauce has thickened.

Remove pan from heat. Stir in the shredded cheese until the sauce is smooth and creamy, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the macaroni noodles, the ham, and the broccoli.

Lightly coat a large casserole dish or baking pan with cooking spray. Pour in the noodles, ham, and broccoli. Sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs. Place pan under the broiler and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the top is crusty and golden brown. Serve.

15. Chicken, Mushroom, and Wild Rice Casserole

wild rice
Wild rice | iStock.com

Chicken, mushroom, wild rice casserole is a common dish in the Upper Midwest. Eating Well has put a new and healthier spin on a classic recipe by skipping the high-sodium canned soup in favor of a homemade cream sauce made with sherry (look for the dry sherry at the liquor store rather than purchasing high-sodium cooking sherry), low-fat milk, Parmesan cheese, and sour cream. Serve 8.


  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup wild rice
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, chopped and rinsed
  • 1½ pounds mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • ⅓ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups frozen French-cut green beans
  • ½ cup sliced almonds

Directions: Combine water and rice in a small heavy saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, place chicken in a large skillet or saucepan. Add lightly salted water to cover and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a clean cutting board and let cool.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until their liquid has been released and has evaporated, 12 to 14 minutes. Add sherry, increase heat to high and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle the vegetables with flour and stir to coat. Add milk; bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Stir in Parmesan, sour cream, parsley, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Spread the rice in an even layer in the prepared baking dish. Top with the chicken, then green beans. Pour the sauce over the top and spread evenly. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake the casserole until it is bubbling and the almonds are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Casserole tips

Spinach casserole in a dish with fork and knife
Casserole | iStock.com

Casseroles are usually pretty foolproof, especially the simpler dump-and-heat versions. But there are still a few things to keep in mind if you want to produce a dish that encourages people to clean their plates.

Simple steps like draining meat after browning and not adding extra moisture to vegetables will keep your casserole from being a greasy, soggy mess. (There’s no need to cook or even thaw most frozen vegetables before adding them to the dish.) If you’re including noodles, you should slightly undercook them before adding them to the casserole, since the pasta will continue to soften as it bakes. Otherwise, you’ll end up with mushy, overcooked macaroni or ziti.

When you take the casserole out of the oven, let it rest for a few minutes before serving. This gives the liquid in the dish time to settle and reabsorb and makes serving much neater. Finally, if you’re assembling the casserole in advance to cook later, take it out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before it needs to go in the oven. This ensures that everything will cook evenly and there are no lingering cold spots in your dish.

Nikelle Murphy contributed to this article.