Creative Takes on One-Dish Casseroles

Creative Takes on One-Dish Casseroles

Creative Takes on One-Dish Casseroles -url

Casseroles are a culinary wonder. They're easy to prepare, simple to serve, and delicious to eat. No wonder that casseroles are one of the most popular meal options in the world. This hearty food can save your sanity on a busy day while feeding a hungry family and providing second helpings. Here are some tips for making a casserole to remember.

What is a Casserole?

A casserole cooks all your ingredients at once in a single delicious dish. At its broadest, it's a collection of foods baked together in a dish, which covers everything from gratin to ziti.

The key to a good casserole is the sauce or broth that binds those ingredients together as they bubble in the oven, allowing the flavors to meld together into a harmonious, comforting meal. This can be something as simple as the McCormick Brown Gravy Mix used in this tasty Hamburger Casserole dish.


Another component in most casseroles is the topping — typically a layer of cheese or breadcrumbs that browns in the oven for a golden, crispy crust. For one of the crispiest toppings ever, look no further than our irresistible Taco Tater Tot Casserole recipe.


Casseroles' simplicity is matched only by their versatility. You can vary the ingredients and cook versions of this classic dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We've seen sweet versions filled with cinnamon and hearty savory ones brimming with meat and potatoes. Whatever flavor profile you choose, casseroles excel at feeding lots of people simply and quickly, making them perfect for big families with busy lives.

Casseroles Through the Ages

Casseroles in their current form began showing up in late 19th century immigrant communities. They gained traction as a cheap way to eat during the depressions of the 1890s and 1930s, and during the second world war. But they really came into their own during the 1950s, when oven-proof cookware and canned foods made casseroles even easier to prepare. Their prevalence today shows just how convenient and flavorful these recipes are.

Tips for Making Perfect Casseroles

Choosing the right ingredients

A casserole is only as good as its ingredients. Include a protein (which could be a vegetarian one like beans or lentils), along with a starch like rice, pasta or potatoes. The latter will help soak up the sauce, which helps the flavors mingle and keeps the casserole moist while complementing the crispy topping. Also, don't forget the seasoning. Get creative with herbs and spices to elevate the flavors in the final dish.

Properly prepping ingredients

Ensure that your ingredients are cut into similar-sized pieces so that they will cook evenly. Brown any meat before it goes into the casserole. It's also important to drain any ingredients that will release lots of moisture during cooking, to avoid swamping the dish (this includes frozen veggies and non-lean meat).

Layering your casserole

Some recipes layer the ingredients rather than dumping them all in together. Putting the starch ingredient on the bottom can enable it to soak up the liquid in the casserole more effectively while cooking. The rice in our Broccoli and Rice chicken casserole cooks in the casserole stock during the bake.


The final layer is the chewy or crispy topping. Check out our Mexican Tortilla Casserole to see how layering — including a lightly browned cheese topping — can transform simple dinner casserole ingredients.

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Covering during baking

While not all casserole recipes call for covered backing, but many advise on covering the dish with a lid or foil baking to prevent the top from browning too quickly. An alternative is to add the topping partway through the bake.

Let it rest

Letting casseroles rest helps the ingredients to cool and set slightly, making it easier to serve from the dish. Our Tuna Casserole Recipe recommends a five-minute pause after removing it from the oven — if you can bear to wait that long.


Creative Takes on Casserole Recipes

Casseroles are so versatile that the only limit when making one is your own creativity. How about trying casserole recipes with an international twist? Our Quesadilla Casserole layers rich ground beef and tortillas with spicy McCormick Chili Powder and fragrant McCormick Ground Cumin.


Alternatively, check out our Easy Chicken Enchilada Casserole Recipe for a cheesy chicken treat, supercharged with piquante salsa verde. Or seven ingredients and 30 minutes of prep and cook time will deliver this delicious Taco Casserole, courtesy of our McCormick Original Taco Seasoning Mix.


Casserole recipes are creative, convenient, and pack a nutritious punch while helping to stretch your ingredients a long way. They're also perfect for making ahead and freezing, winning back valuable time during your day when you need it the most. What's not to love?

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