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Appetite for Knowledge

Casserole Creations

Have you run out of supper ideas? Create a casserole! Cooking can be inspiring, and it is a great way to repurpose leftovers. Think of a casserole as a dish in which the whole is more than the sum of its parts. I am providing you with some casserole basics and a guide you can use to create a variety of dishes that will make it easy for you to get a meal on the table in no time.

To create a casserole, select one ingredient from each category: protein, vegetable, grain, sauce, flavoring and/or seasoning, and if desired, a topping. The casserole creation guide is not set in concrete. There are no hard rules, so use more than one type of protein, switch broth for milk, and/or use less cheese. Make cooking fun rather than a chore!

Protein: Select 1 ½ – 2 cups of cooked or canned protein. The meat can be diced, ground, sliced, or shredded. It can be beef, chicken, corned beef, ham, lamb, pork, poultry, sausage, turkey, or wild game. Beans, lentils, and tofu also make good protein choices for a casserole. Feel free to supplement meat with beans, lentils, or tofu.

Vegetables: Choose 2 cups of a cooked vegetable. The vegetables can be canned, fresh, or frozen. By cutting veggies into pieces that are all the same size, you make sure they will cook uniformly, leading to better cooking results. The sky is the limit on which vegetables you select. Make up a vegetable blend of your favorites.

Grain: Pick out a grain. Pasta, rice, quinoa, whole-grains, and wild rice make an excellent component to a casserole. Undercook the pasta, rice, or grain, by 1/4 to 1/3 of the suggested cooking time. Otherwise, the additional cooking and liquid absorption will cause the grain to become overdone.

Sauce: Casseroles need a sauce or binder to hold it all together. Add 2 cups of sauce for each casserole. Options include alfredo, broth or stock, ‘cream of’ soup mixed with milk, enchilada sauce, gravy, marinara, pasta sauce, pesto, pizza sauce, sour cream, tomato juice or soup, and white sauce.

Cheese: For a casserole, add 1-2 cups of cheese. Half the cheese can be mixed or layered into the casserole, and the other half sprinkled on top. Use any variety of cheese your family likes.

Casserole Creation Ideas

  • Chicken Casserole 1: chicken, sliced potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, onions and garlic, chicken stock mixed with heavy cream, shredded cheese, and crumbled bacon
  • Chicken Casserole 2: chicken, asparagus, brown rice, cream of chicken soup, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumb topping
  • Turkey Casserole 1: turkey, diced tomatoes, sweet peas, small pasta, onion, garlic, mozzarella cheese, and herb-seasoned croutons topping
  • Turkey Casserole 2: turkey, butternut squash, dried cranberries, wild rice blend, white sauce or cream of celery soup, onion, thyme, salt, pepper, and shredded Parmesan cheese topping
  • Ground Beef Taco Casserole: ground beef, sweet corn, diced tomatoes with green chilies or jalapenos, elbow macaroni, Cheddar cheese soup, taco seasoning mix, Mexican blend shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips topping
  • Ground Beef Pasta Casserole: ground beef, whole-wheat pasta, marinara sauce, onions, garlic, Italian seasoning or parsley, shredded Monterey jack, provolone, mozzarella or Italian blend cheese topping
  • Oriental Stir-fry Casserole: ground beef, bean sprouts, celery, onion, sliced water chestnuts, rice noodles or other noodles, cream of celery soup, low sodium soy sauce, Chinese five-spice powder, and black pepper
  • Shrimp Casserole: shrimp, diced tomatoes, chopped jalapeno, sweet onion, cilantro, quinoa, tomato sauce, Cajun spice seasoning, salt, and fontina cheese topping
  • Salmon Casserole: salmon, chopped broccoli, sliced mushrooms, small shell pasta, roasted garlic alfredo sauce, Monterey jack cheese, crushed French fried onions topping
  • Pulled Pork Casserole: pulled pork, corn, barbeque sauce, sliced scallions, topped with mashed potatoes mixed with cheddar cheese, and crushed potato chips topping
  • Sausage Casserole: smoked sausage, cold-pack sauerkraut, diced peeled apples, diced onion, apple juice mixed with 1 Tablespoon vinegar and ¼ cup brown sugar, caraway seeds topping
  • Ham Casserole: ham, vegetable blend, egg noodles, cream of celery soup,
    minced garlic, cheddar jack cheese topping
  • Curried Lentil Casserole: brown lentils, chopped onion, fresh baby spinach, brown rice, coconut milk, garlic, yellow curry powder, salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetarian Cabbage Casserole: shredded cabbage, onion, diced tomatoes, rice, tomato sauce, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper to taste
  • Zucchini Casserole: zucchini, tomatoes, onions, garlic, rice, basil, paprika, oregano, and cheese
  • Sweet Potato and Bean Casserole: sweet potatoes, black beans, fire-roasted diced tomatoes, bell pepper, sautéed onion with garlic, salsa, smoked paprika, 1 cup cheese, salt, and cheese topping

For a casserole creations handout, visit https://uwyoextension.org/uwnutrition/resources/.

The one thing I love about a casserole is that you can easily mix and match the ingredients to make it yours! Use these casserole creation ideas to get started!

Written by Vicki Hayman, MS, University of Wyoming Extension Nutrition and Food Safety Educator

Sources:

  • Michigan State University Extension, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Virginia Cooperative Extension
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Mexican casserole in white square shaped dish

Contact Our Experts

Email: nfs@uwyo.edu

Extension Educators:
Shelley Balls – (307) 885-3132
Denise Smith – (307) 334-3534
Vicki Hayman – (307) 746-3531

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Issued in furtherance of extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kelly Crane, Director, University of Wyoming Extension, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming Extension, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071.

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