tamale pie

Delicious Casseroles Our Grandmothers Made

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tamale pie

Retro Reboot

Some things never go out of style, and casseroles are one of them. Baked dishes are homey, comforting and usually simple to make, and they got even easier once canned cream soup came around. Suddenly it took hardly any time to make a full meal from just a few ingredients, so many women in the middle of the 20th century became masters at casserole cooking, including your grandmothers. Here are 21 casserole recipes that she knew like the back of her hand.


Related: 12 Clever Twists on Comfort Food That Mom Would Make

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

King Ranch Chicken

If you're from Texas, you are already familiar with King Ranch chicken, a casserole that's been in Junior League cookbooks for decades. The creamy, cheesy layered mix of chicken, corn tortillas, and mild peppers was even a favorite of Ladybird Johnson. Each family might have their own variation, but the standard recipe is simple with canned cream soup and canned chiles.

Recipe: Allrecipes

Related: 25 Recipes That Transform Canned Soup Into a Meal

Poppy seed chicken

Poppy Seed Chicken

Poppy seed chicken has become a beloved Southern dish because it's easy to put together with just a few ingredients and it serves a lot of people. Not to mention the buttery, cracker crumb topping! Use store-bought rotisserie chicken or leftover cooked chicken for simplicity, and serve it with rice or egg noodles.

Recipe: The Girl Who Ate Everything 

Pork Tamale Pie

Tamale Pie

This Southwestern casserole of a saucy beef and chile base baked with cornbread on top is at least a century old. It may have originated in Texas, and was taught in some home economics classes in the early 20th century. This recipe for tamale pie uses canned enchilada sauce and green chiles so it's quick to put together on a weeknight.

Recipe: Pillsbury

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Tater Tot Hotdish

Tater Tot Hotdish

Famously Minnesotan in origin, hotdish can mean practically any kind of casserole, but tater tot hotdish is the most popular variation. It starts with a layer of cooked ground beef, frozen vegetables and cream soup, and it's topped with a layer of frozen tater tots and cheese that get brown and crusty as it bakes. (Are you addicted to spuds? Try these 27 Tasty Ways to Cook Potatoes.)

Recipe: Spend With Pennies

Related: Hotdish and Other Strange But Surprisingly Tasty Local Foods to Try

Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini

Named after opera star Luisa Tetrazzini in the early 20th century, turkey tetrazzini now most commonly refers to a casserole with spaghetti noodles in a creamy sauce with mushrooms. The classic version your grandma would have made includes cream of mushroom soup, cheddar cheese, and jarred pimentos for a pop of color. 

Recipe: Taste of Home

Related: 15 Ways to Spice Up Thanksgiving Leftovers

Tuna Casserole

Tuna Casserole

Though it gets a bad rap, tuna casserole is an economical and filling casserole that is pure comfort food to a lot of people. Cream of mushroom soup is what forms the sauce in this recipe, while lots of cheddar cheese gives the casserole some bite. Crushed potato chips on top are key though, so don't skip them.


Recipe: Allrecipes

Related: 25 Betty Crocker-Era Holiday Recipes That We Secretly Love

Restaurant-Style Hashbrown Casserole
D. Homer/istockphoto

Hashbrown Casserole

Frozen hashbrowns have never been better than when baked into a creamy, cheesy and decadent casserole. This casserole has many names all over the country, including cheesy potatoes and funeral potatoes. This version includes a buttery, crunchy topping of corn flakes for texture and a hint of sweetness.


Recipe: Shugary Sweets

Classic Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole may be the most famous casserole in the U.S. It was created by Campbell test kitchen manager Dorcas Reilly in 1955 and it's graced Thanksgiving tables every year since. The soy sauce is key so don't skip it.


Recipe: Campbell's  

Broccoli Casserole

Broccoli Casserole

Casseroles aren't just for entrees, as proven by this broccoli casserole, which has been a popular side dish for a long time. This version calls for fresh broccoli that's steamed in the microwave, which is pretty easy, but frozen broccoli florets can also be substituted. This recipe has been getting kids to eat their veggies for decades.

Recipe: Dinner Then Dessert

Related: 30 Vegetable Recipes for People Who Hate Vegetables

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

When you think casserole, mac and cheese probably isn't a dish that comes to mind. But those baked, creamy noodles are technically a casserole, and one of the best. Every Southern family has their own recipe, but this one uses Velveeta for that gooey factor, plus cheddar for extra flavor.


Recipe: Taste of Home 

Related: 20 Super Simple Twists on Boxed Mac and Cheese

Johnny Marzetti

Johnny Marzetti

This unusually named casserole comes from Columbus, Ohio. The owner of Italian restaurant Marzetti's created a baked pasta with ground beef, noodles, tomato sauce and cheese and named it after her brother, Johnny. The restaurant doesn't exist anymore, but the comforting casserole lives on.

Recipe: The Kitchen Magpie

Related: 20 Meals You Can Make Even When You're Exhausted

Chicken Spaghetti
Squash Casserole

Squash Casserole

Another Southern staple, squash casserole is one of the best ways to use up an overabundant crop of yellow summer squash. Cooked squash and onions are combined with a creamy mixture of sour cream, mayonnaise, eggs and cheese, then topped with buttery Ritz crumbs.


Recipe: Southern Living

Baked Spaghetti

Baked Spaghetti

A quick and easy alternative to fancier pastas, baked spaghetti can feed a crowd. A jar of your family's favorite pasta sauce eliminates the need for extra spices, saving time. Cottage cheese, meat sauce and mozzarella are layered with spaghetti mixed with eggs, so it sets up and can be sliced like a lasagna.


Recipe: Taste of Home

Related: 55 Big-Batch Meals That Will Last for a Week

Chicken pot pie with carrots and peas
Chicken Divan

Chicken Divan

Named for the Divan Parisien Restaurant in New York City where it was created, chicken divan appeared in lots of cookbooks in the 1950s and '60s when shortcut cooking was popular. It consists of cubed chicken and broccoli in a sauce made with canned cream soup, cheddar and sour cream.


Recipe: Jo Cooks

Chicken Wild Rice Casserole

Chicken Wild Rice Casserole

Chicken and wild rice casserole is a favorite in Minnesota where a lot of wild rice is harvested. This recipe is so simple it's called dump-and-bake, and it includes a box of wild rice mix, cream soup, chicken and onion soup mix for seasoning. Because the chicken breasts are baked whole, they stay moist and there's less prep work.


Recipe: The Seasoned Mom

Chicken Stuffing Casserole

Chicken Stuffing Casserole

Boxed stuffing mix is a flavorful time saving base ingredient for a casserole. Some chicken stuffing casserole recipes call for cooked chicken to be mixed up with everything else, but this one uses raw cubed chicken with a canned cream soup and stuffing mix topping. It certainly wouldn't hurt to ladle some gravy on top of this.


Recipe: Kraft

Related: Unexpected Stuffing Recipes to Shake Up Thanksgiving Dinner

Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Scalloped potatoes and ham is a homey casserole that's a one-dish entree or a side dish to a more elaborate meal. While there are some recipes that call for canned soup, it's simple enough and delicious to just use cream or whole milk, like in this version. The starch from the potatoes thickens the sauce as it's cooking.


Recipe: The Kitchn

Related: 21 Hearty Casserole and Stew Recipes That Reheat Well

Classic Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet potato casserole isn't just for Thanksgiving. Your grandma or auntie may have made this year round since it's uncomplicated and everyone loves it. This recipe mashes the sweet potatoes with brown sugar, butter and vanilla, and it's topped with both pecans and marshmallows to keep everyone happy.


Recipe: Cooking Light

Pineapple Casserole

Pineapple Casserole

Though it's more obscure than some of the casseroles on this list, pineapple casserole is made by many families for Easter. It's an unusual combination of canned pineapple, sharp cheddar cheese, and crunchy Ritz crackers. It can be eaten either as a dessert or side dish, and makes a great pairing with ham.

Recipe: Southern Living

Related: 25 Simple Depression-Era Desserts That Actually Are Indulgent