8 Casserole Tips Grandma Would Want You to Know
Grandmas know how to make the best casseroles. They just taste better with her secret ingredients and expert casserole tips. Learn how to replicate her cozy meals at home.
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Don’t forget to add crunch
We love casseroles because they’re the food equivalent of a warm hug. But don’t stop at just warm and gooey when making your casseroles—keep texture in mind.
Adding a crunchy element on top of your one-dish wonder is an easy way to add extra texture and flavor. Try crushed crackers, buttered bread crumbs, toasted almonds, French fried onions or—if you’re really Midwestern—frozen tater tots.
Cook pasta to al dente
Many casseroles use noodles as a base. The secret to getting these dishes just right is to boil the noodles until al dente. That means the pasta is cooked but still slightly toothsome (it shouldn’t be totally soft all the way through). By not cooking the pasta completely before adding to your casserole pan, you’re ensuring that your pasta won’t overbake and get mushy in the oven.
Turn casseroles into single-serve dishes
Not every casserole needs to be served up in your favorite 13×9 pan. You can make single-serve casseroles in small ceramic dishes and ramekins. These mini casseroles are perfect for serving up at dinner parties or for freezing for a single-serving of your favorite dish later on.
Just keep in mind that these little dishes will bake up more quickly, so be sure to adjust your baking time.
Use ceramic baking dishes
When it comes to baking your casserole, you can use any baking pan you like. However, if you want your casserole to stay hotter for a bit longer, opt for a ceramic baking dish. Ceramic dishes hold onto heat for a longer period of time, which means your bakes will stay hot in time for seconds.
Pre-cook raw veggies
The enemy of a good casserole is excess moisture. Too much will turn your dinner into a soupy mess. To cut down on the moisture, pre-cook any raw vegetables that you plan to add. This will pull out some water before your veggies go into the baking dish; it’s one of our essential casserole tips.
Pre-cooking is especially important with vegetables like squash, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers and celery. Keep this in mind when you bake up these zucchini casseroles.
Using canned soup? Hold the salt
Many casseroles, particularly favorites from Grandma’s kitchen, start with a can of soup—think cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup. Because canned soups are pretty salty on their own, you can go easy with the salt elsewhere in the recipe. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you shouldn’t add any additional flavors. Opt for salt-free spice blends or your favorite herbs.
Remember casseroles aren’t just for dinner
When you hear the word casserole, your mind likely goes to tater-topped hot dishes served up at dinnertime. But that’s not the limit when it comes to these one-dish makes. There are so many delicious breakfast casseroles—both sweet and savory—that you can bake for an easy breakfast to serve a small crowd.
Casseroles are an extremely freezer-friendly dish. You can make them when you’ve got time and pop them in the freezer. When you’re in the mood for a hearty dinner without any prep work, just defrost and pop them in the oven. (Here’s the full scoop on how to freeze casseroles.)
As much as we like the idea of a freezer full of casseroles, we don’t want to tie up all of our favorite baking dishes by stashing them full of lasagna and cheesy casseroles in the chill chest. That’s where you can get a little creative!
First, know that disposable aluminum pans are always a good option for storing casseroles in your freezer. They also are great in case you want to share dinner with a friend (no worrying about getting your favorite dish back). Plus, you can write cooking directions and other details right on the foil lid.
Another creative way to store your casseroles is to line your baking dish with foil, then fill it up with your casserole of choice. Once frozen solid, remove the casserole from the pan, wrap it up tightly and label it with directions and what pan it fits in. This will allow you to keep your pans in regular rotation and have some extra dinners for a rainy day.