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14 comfort food casserole recipes

We drew inspiration from around the United States for these hot dishes.
An illustration of a casserole.
An illustration of a casserole. [ Illustration by Lisa Merklin | Times ]
Published Feb. 24, 2020
Updated Mar. 3, 2020

Call them what you want — casseroles or hot dishes — they are the staple at potluck parties across the country. We’re betting they will show up on March 3, a.k.a. Super Tuesday, when voters in several states line up to cast ballots in the presidential primary elections.

Sounds like a good time for some comfort food.

Growing up in a military family, we ate a lot of casseroles, mostly because they were a cheap way to get dinner on the table for a family of five. With the exception of tuna casserole, which my siblings and I hated, or that one time my mom tried to sneak rabbit into a dish, we devoured those single-dish meals of noodles, ground beef, cheese and a few vegetables.

My husband, on the other hand, was fed baby food with a silver spoon. He never ate casseroles. I can count on two fingers how many times I have tried to serve one to our family.

But whenever I host a brunch, I make a cheesy potato casserole that is always the most popular dish on the buffet. Most of us love a gooey hot dish once in a while.

We figure Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s Taconite Tater Tot Hot Dish is likely to take center stage in her home state of Minnesota on March 3, even though the senator recently dropped out of the race. We took a guess at what might be served in some of the other participating states and territories.

Democrats living abroad will also vote on Super Tuesday, as will voters in the American territory of Samoa. But for this story, we stuck with the 14 states in this country. We looked for recipes with a homegrown ingredient, like avocados from California, Maine lobster and maple syrup from Vermont. Mostly, though, we just wanted to have some fun. Bring on the cans of cream soup and frozen packages of potatoes.

All of these recipes serve about 10 to 12 people.


Squash Casserole

2 tablespoons butter, plus ½ cup melted butter

6 cups raw summer squash, sliced

2 medium onions, chopped

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup mayonnaise

3 eggs, beaten

12 saltine crackers, crushed

1 (1-ounce) package dry ranch-style dressing mix

2 cups dry bread stuffing mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add squash and onion and cook until tender.

Remove from heat and stir in cheese, mayonnaise, eggs and crackers. Stir in ranch mix.

Spread squash mixture into a medium baking dish. (Think 9 by 13 inches.)

Mix stuffing and melted butter and sprinkle over the squash mixture. Bake 20 to 30 minutes until lightly browned.

Source: Lee Ethel Childs


Parmesan Shrimp and Rice Casserole

¼ cup butter

1 small red onion, chopped

½ cup red bell pepper, chopped

½ cup green bell pepper, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups okra, sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

2 pounds large peeled shrimp

1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup

½ cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 cups long-grain rice, cooked

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Lemon slices, for serving

Fresh parsley, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion and bell pepper and saute 5 minutes. Add next four ingredients and saute 5 more minutes. Add shrimp and cook 3 minutes.

Stir in next five ingredients, then pour into a 9- by 12-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.

Garnish with lemon slices and fresh parsley.



Avocado Breakfast Casserole With Spinach and Sweet Potatoes

2 ½ cups sweet potato, peeled and diced

½ cup yellow or white onion, diced

2 teaspoons canola oil

⅛ teaspoon salt

Pinch of black pepper

9 large eggs

1 (10-ounce package) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, water squeezed out

¾ cup low-fat milk

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (can substitute ½ teaspoon dried basil)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 avocados, seeded and peeled

½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

Place one oven rack 6 inches below the broiler element, then place a second rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to high broil.

Place sweet potatoes and onions in an 8- by 8-inch glass baking dish. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil on the top oven rack until potatoes begin to brown and are fork tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

After removing the baking dish from the oven, set the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk eggs in a large bowl and add spinach. Stir in milk, basil, mustard, soy sauce, salt and additional black pepper if you’d like.

Place the lemon juice in a medium bowl. Cut the avocado into ½-inch pieces and coat in the lemon juice. Gently stir the avocados into the eggs, then pour the egg mixture evenly into the baking dish with the potatoes and onions. Sprinkle the tomatoes on top.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven until the middle is set and no longer jiggly, about 45 minutes. Allow to set for 10 minutes. Cut into servings.

Source: California Avocado Commission


Cowboy Casserole

1 pound lean ground beef

½ onion, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup

⅓ cup milk (any kind)

1 (15.25-ounce) can corn, drained

1 (4-ounce) can mild green chiles, undrained

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

2 ½ cups tater tots

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish.

Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat, then drain excess liquid. Add onion, garlic powder, salt, pepper and chili powder and heat through. Remove from stove.

Stir in cream of mushroom soup, milk, drained corn, undrained chiles and ½ cup cheese to ground beef mixture. Mix well. Spoon into greased casserole dish.

Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese, then top with tater tots. (You may use more or less of the 2 ½ cups, depending on the shape of your dish.) You can sprinkle extra cheese on top, if you prefer.

Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees until lightly browned and bubbly. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.



Lobster Casserole

6 tablespoons butter, divided

1 pound cooked Maine lobster meat, cut into bite-sized pieces

3 tablespoons flour

¾ teaspoon dried mustard

1 cup milk

1 cup lobster stock, or water

Salt and black pepper, to taste

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

1 cup crumbled oyster crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Briefly saute the Maine lobster meat in the butter until it starts to turn pink. With a slotted spoon, remove the lobster meat from the butter. Whisk the flour and dried mustard into the butter. Stir in the milk and stock, then bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a saute pan, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Saute the sliced mushrooms until they just start to give up their water. Remove the mushrooms from the pan. Stir the cooked lobster meat and sauteed mushrooms into the lobster sauce.

Add the minced garlic, chopped parsley and cracker crumbs to the mushroom butter. Stir well to combine.

Spoon the lobster and mushroom mixture into a large nonstick casserole dish. Cover with the buttered crumb mixture. Bake until bubbly and the top is golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Serves 4.

Source: Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative


Green Bean and Cauliflower Casserole

1 pound fresh cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 cup french-fried onions, crumbled

2 tablespoons butter

8 ounces thinly sliced fresh mushrooms

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup dry vermouth or reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 ½ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ cup cubed cooked ham

½ cup sour cream

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a Dutch oven, bring 12 cups water to a boil over high heat. Add cauliflower and green beans; cook, uncovered, just until beans turn bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and immediately drop into a bowl filled with ice water. After a few seconds, drain and pat dry.

In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat. Add bread crumbs and cook and stir until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in french-fried onions, remove mixture to a bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat butter and remaining oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and shallot, cook and stir until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in flour until blended, gradually whisking in vermouth. Cook, stirring until most of the liquid is gone. Whisk in broth and seasonings.

Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Cook and stir until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt, sour cream, ham and reserved vegetables. Transfer to a greased 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with bread crumb mixture before serving.



Amy Klobuchar’s Taconite Tater Tot Hot Dish

1 to 1 ½ pounds ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup

1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of chicken soup

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

8 to 12 ounces Pepper Jack cheese, shredded

1 package tater tots

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat, then drain off fat and reserve beef to a plate using a slotted spoon. Saute onions and garlic in the beef fat until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together beef, onions, garlic, soup, salt and pepper. Spread evenly into the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Cover with about half of the shredded cheese. Place tater tops in one layer over the entire pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until tater tots are crisp. Cover with remaining cheese and bake just until the cheese melts.


North Carolina

Sweet Potato Casserole

For the filling:

½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering the baking dish

3 to 4 large sweet potatoes (about 1 ¾ pounds), peeled and cubed

½ cup milk

¼ cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs

For the topping:

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup brown sugar, packed

½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.

Add 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.

Make the filling: Whisk together the butter, mashed sweet potatoes, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and eggs in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

Make the topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium bowl until moist; the mixture should clump together. Stir in the 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.



Spicy Dr Pepper Shredded Pork

1 large onion


Freshly ground black pepper

1 pork shoulder, 5 to 7 pounds

1 (11-ounce) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

2 cans Dr Pepper

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Flour tortillas

Toppings like shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese, avocado slices, salsa

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Peel the onion and cut it into wedges. Lay in the bottom of a large Dutch oven.

Generously salt and pepper the pork roast, then set it on top of the onions in the pan.

Pour the can of chipotle peppers over the pork (include the sauce). Pour in the Dr Pepper. Add brown sugar to the juice and stir.

Place lid tightly on pot, then set pot in the oven. Cook for at least 6 hours, turning roast two or three times during the cooking process. Check meat after six hours; it should fall apart (use two forks to test.) If it’s not falling apart, return to the oven for another hour.

Remove meat from pot and place on a cutting board or other work surface. Use two forks to shred meat, discarding large pieces of fat. Strain as much of the fat off the top of the cooking liquid as you can and discard it. Return the shredded meat to the cooking liquid and keep warm until ready to serve.

Serve on warm flour tortillas. Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese, avocado slices, salsa and whatever else you’d like.



Tennessee Pride Hashbrown Casserole

2 pounds breakfast sausage, hot or mild

2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

1 (10-ounce) can cream of chicken soup

1 cup sour cream

8 ounces French onion dip

1 cup chopped onions



30 ounces frozen shredded hash browns

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown breakfast sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. When cooked, drain excess liquid and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine cheese, soup, sour cream, French onion dip, chopped onion and salt and pepper to taste.

After the sauce is mixed thoroughly, fold in shredded hash browns.

Lightly coat a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and press half of the potato mix into the bottom of the dish. Make sure the mixture is even in thickness, then evenly distribute sausage on top of the potato mix. Add the rest of the potato mix, then cover the entire casserole with remaining sausage.

Bake for about an hour or until casserole is golden brown.



Texan Ranch Chicken Casserole

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 celery ribs, finely chopped

1 medium green pepper, finely chopped

1 medium sweet red pepper, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

3 cups cubed chicken breast, cooked

1 (10.5-ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup

1 (10.5-ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup

1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained

1 tablespoon chili powder

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch strips

2 cups shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in a large skillet, then saute onion, celery and peppers until crisp-tender. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

Stir in the chicken, soups, tomatoes and chili powder, then turn off the heat.

Line the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish with half of the tortilla strips, then top with half of the chicken mixture and 1 cup cheese. Repeat layers. Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly.



Utah’s Best Funeral or Comfort Potatoes

½ cup (1 stick) butter, divided

½ cup diced onion

1 (32-ounce) package frozen shredded hash browns, thawed

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of celery soup

2 cups sour cream

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 cup coarsely crushed butter-flavored crackers, like Ritz

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In a small skillet over medium heat, melt half the butter. Add onion and saute 4 to 5 minutes or until soft.

In a large bowl, combine hash browns, cheese, soup, sour cream, salt and pepper. Stir, then add in the cooked onion. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish.

In a small microwaveable bowl, melt remaining butter in microwave, then stir in cracker crumbs. Sprinkle cracker mixture over potatoes. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 to 15 additional minutes, or until golden brown and heated through.



Maple Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole

10 cups 1-inch bread cubes (preferably from day-old bread)

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

3 to 4 tablespoons sugar (optional, or to taste)

8 large eggs, slightly beaten

1 ½ cups full-fat milk

⅔ cup half-and-half

½ cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla

Powdered sugar, for serving

Place the bread cubes in a buttered 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

In a bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth and well combined. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Add in milk, half-and-half, maple syrup and vanilla. Beat until well combined.

Pour the cream cheese mixture over the bread cubes in the baking dish, using a fork or spoon gently mix the cubes so that they coat evenly with the egg mixture.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours. When ready to cook, set oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the dish from the fridge and let sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes. Bake, uncovered, for about 45 to 50 minutes or until set and golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with more maple syrup.



Mother’s Ham Casserole

2 cups cubed, peeled potatoes

1 large carrot, sliced

2 celery ribs, chopped

3 cups water

2 cups cubed cooked ham

2 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper

2 teaspoons finely chopped onion

7 tablespoons butter, divided

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups 2 percent milk

¾ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon pepper

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large pot, bring the potatoes, carrot, celery and water to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook about 15 minutes or until tender. Drain.

In a large skillet, saute the ham, bell pepper and onion in 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat until tender. Add to the potato mixture. Transfer to a greased 1 ½-quart baking dish.

Wipe out skillet and return to heat. Melt the remaining butter, stirring in flour until smooth. Gradually add the milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat, add cheese and stir until melted.

Pour over the ham mixture. Sprinkle casserole with bread crumbs.

Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through.