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What Is a Casserole?

What Is a Casserole?

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A short history of this classic American one-pot meal

The history of the casserole.

The casserole became a quintessential American dish during 1950s and '60s. With the emerging market for Tupperware and lightweight glassware in the mid-20th century, casseroles (both the name of the baking dish and dish itself) became the perfect dinner meal. The popularity of the casserole declined in the next few decades, but recently there has been a resurgence of this American staple dinner, most likely because of its convenience. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Darice)

Getting down to the basics, a casserole is any food that is cooked and served in the same dish. They are typically baked and can consist of proteins like beef, chicken, or fish, a variety of vegetables, or almost anything else you can think of. They usually include a starchy binder such as flour, pasta, or potatoes, and are often topped with cheese or breadcrumbs. Liquids such as stock, wine, milk, or juice can also be added once the dish is assembled. Then, it is cooked uncovered in an oven.

Popular American casseroles are green bean, potato gratin, tuna, taco, and mushroom, though essentially almost any ingredients can be put into a casserole. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/dolescum)

With the abundance of different recipes for casserole, it is quickly becoming the "go-to" dish for families all across America once again. It’s easy and delicious, and sure to be a family favorite!


Baked dishes have existed for thousands of years. Early casserole recipes consisted of rice that was pounded, pressed, and filled with a savoury mixture of meats such as chicken or sweetbread. Some time around the 1870s this sense of casserole seems to have taken its current sense. [2] Cooking in earthenware containers has always been common in most cultures, but the idea of casserole cooking as a one-dish meal became popular in the United States in the twentieth century, especially in the 1950s when new forms of lightweight metal and glass cookware appeared on the market. By the 1970s casseroles took on a less-than sophisticated image. [3]

In the United States, a casserole is typically a baked food with three main components: pieces of meat (such as chicken or ground meat) or fish (such as tuna) or other protein (such as beans or tofu), various chopped vegetables, and a starchy binder (such as flour, potato or pasta) sometimes, there is also a crunchy or cheesy topping. [4] [5] Liquids are released from the meat and vegetables during cooking, and further liquid in the form of stock, wine, beer, gin, cider, vegetable juice, or even water may be added when the dish is assembled. Casseroles are usually cooked slowly in the oven, often uncovered. They may be served as a main course or side dish, and, conveniently, may be served in the vessel in which they were cooked.

Many baked dishes served in the baking dish can be classed as casseroles. Examples include: Lancashire hotpot (English), cassoulet (French), moussaka (Greek), shepherd's pie (UK), timballo (Italian).

This recipe is a combination of mac and cheese and a loaded baked potato but made a bit healthier with cauliflower. The vegetable is roasted first and then added to a cheese sauce studded with bacon and green onions. The mixture is placed in a casserole dish, topped with more bacon and cheddar, and cooked until bubbly and golden. A hearty and delicious dish the whole family will love.

What is John Wayne Casserole?

Let&rsquos just cut to the chase.

John Wayne Casserole is delicious layers of ground beef, ooey, gooey cheese, fresh veggies and jalapeno peppers for a kick, all baked on top of a crust made from flakey biscuits.

Or, we&rsquoll just call it dinner.

Originally it was a crustless egg and cheese casserole.

Rumor is that The Duke directly contributed the recipe to a 1979 cookbook, &ldquoCooking with Love from Cara and Her Friends&rdquo with recipes collected and compiled by Cara Connery.

I believe this is the Mississippi version as a crust has been added, the eggs have been dropped.

Connery was a 10-year-old California girl who decided to put together a celebrity recipe book to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Several of her relatives had battled cancer and she wanted to raise money for research.

Her Mom helped her send letters to various celebrities, asking for their favorite recipes.

This cheese, chile, and tomato bake is what she got from John Wayne.

Do a Google search and you&rsquoll discover so many variations of this casserole.

The largest variant is that some have meat and some do not.

I like to add ground beef to my casserole, but you could certainly add ground turkey or skip the meat completely.

So here it is, the John Wayne (Macho Cheese Fest) Casserole Recipe version my family loves!

You may also want to check out my Pinterest Recipes board for more great recipes like this pressure cooker rice pudding!

What is a Casserole? (with pictures)

A casserole has two definitions. It is an ovenproof dish invented by the French in which an entree, often containing rice and meat was served. The name of the dish inspired the plethora of entrees with the same name that gained great popularity during the 1950s.

People may still use a casserole style dish to create a casserole meal. Alternately, many simply use a square or oblong glass oven safe dish to cook this dish. One of the most common is the very popular green bean casserole, a mix of green beans and cream of mushroom soup, topped with French fried onions. Another common offering is the tuna casserole, a combination of tuna, noodles, a sauce base like mushroom soup, and topped with breadcrumbs to provide extra crunch.

With the return to some homestyle cooking methods, some have gone back to older cookbooks to produce comfort foods like the tuna casserole. It can be safely said, however, that this type of dish has never been quite out of style. Mixing meat and a starch together and baking it has been a popular way of serving food that even predates the invention of the serving dish.

For example, Shepard’s pie is a combination of thin slices of beef, lamb or ground beef, covered in gravy and then topped with creamy mashed potatoes. The result is an impressive casserole that makes for an excellent entrée. The top of the potatoes are crisped to a golden brown. This dish has been served in England for hundreds of years.

Another quite popular variant on the casserole is the way in which many Hispanic families make enchiladas. The individual enchiladas are placed as closely together as possible in a dish and then topped with a spicy red sauce. Cheese and olives may cover the top and the dish is baked to perfection. Lasagna and Manicotti can both be served in a similar style.

Packaged products have helped many a housewife turn ground beef into a tasty casserole. Many actually prefer their own degree of flavoring, and it remains an easy dish to make when only a few ingredients are added. For example, tamale pie casserole is sautéed ground beef with a bit of tomato, onions and chili that is topped with a layer of polenta, cheddar cheese and olives.

In all, the casserole food entrée evokes the comfort foods of the 1940s and 1950s, but actually far predates this time. Various recipes exist in cookbooks and on the Internet that can help inspire one’s next cooking endeavor.

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent DelightedCooking contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent DelightedCooking contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

How to Make a Casserole

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Casserole is French word for "saucepan," and like the French cassoulet, refers to any recipe baked in the dish of which it shares its name. In a casserole, any variety of starches, meats, and vegetables may be combined and baked together to create a meal. Casseroles can be a great way to combine leftover ingredients into a single dish, stretch a small amount of protein into a full meal, or reinvigorate old stale foods and give them some new life. Because many casseroles follow a similar prep, the basics are covered first, with more specific recipes for pasta, rice, and vegetable-based casseroles to follow. See Step 1 for more information.

Crowd-Pleasing Ground Beef Casserole Recipes

Potlucks are always a great excuse to make something you've been meaning to make but haven't gotten around to yet. If you need ideas of what to bring to your next church potluck, these beef casserole recipes are just the thing. From ground beef casseroles with tater tots to others with pasta, cabbage and more, any of the recipes below will make a nice addition to the spread.

This BBQ Tatertot Casserole is a hearty and easy dinner that would even fill up a hungry cowboy! You can also use your favorite BBQ sauce in this recipe, and enjoy a tasty comfort food dinner!

When searching for easy dinner recipes the whole family will enjoy, So Easy Ground Beef Stroganoff Casserole hits the spot. Everything you love about ground beef stroganoff is conveniently thrown together in one simple dish.

For a quick and easy beef and noodles recipe, try Stupidly Easy Wicked Beef. This homemade beef and noodles recipe is super simple and packed with amazing flavor. You'll want to add this easy ground beef recipe to your weekly dinner rotation.

Try one of the best slow cooked cabbage casserole recipes around! This Slow Cooked Cabbage Roll Casserole is a delicious and easy cabbage roll casserole recipe that is sure to please everyone.

For more easy and comforting recipes, try our collection: The Best Funeral Foods: 21 Easy Potluck Recipes for a Crowd

17 Best Casserole Recipes for the Ultimate Comfort Food

These easy, hearty meals will help you spice up that revolving door of go-to weeknight dinners. The best part? Less cleanup.

Not all casseroles require gobs (and gobs) of cheese. If you're looking for something on the lighter side, this cherry tomato casserole will fill you up without weighing you down.

Avoid the winter blues with this toasty, cheesy potato dish. If you're looking for more flavor, sprinkle fresh basil and parsley on top of this ooey gooey delight.