4 Secrets to a Perfect Casserole

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4 Secrets to a Perfect Casserole
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4 Secrets to a Perfect Casserole

1. Remove extra moisture from wet vegetables before cooking.

If you don’t want to end up with a swimming pool at the bottom of your casserole, give vegetables some TLC before baking. Frozen vegetables can be particularly problematic. Thaw them in a strainer so they lose their extra liquid. You can squeeze moisture out of frozen greens like spinach to dry them out.

2. You might have to “par-cook” vegetables that take longer to finish.

“Par-cook” is chef speak for partially cooking something. If you want to mix and match ingredients, you need to ensure that everything finishes at the same time. Give ingredients that are slower to cook a head start and then add them to a casserole.

3. Don’t cook pasta all the way through before using in a casserole.

Regular pasta doesn’t really have the chance to cook properly if you add it in its dry state to your casserole. If you cook it all the way, it turns to mush. Cook your pasta 2-4 minutes shy of the suggested time on the package. It should be “al dente” before you add it to the casserole.

4. Make sure your casserole is the right temperature before you bake it.

The beauty of casseroles is that you can freeze them. Unfortunately this can wreak havoc if you don’t do it properly. Defrost your casserole completely in the refrigerator before you bake it. This can take up to 2 days. Also, let it come up to room temperature as your oven preheats.

Click through for our best casserole recipes!

Mini Chile Relleno Casseroles

Everyone gets an individual portion with this vegetarian, Tex-Mex mini casserole. A normal-size casserole like this would take close to an hour to bake--these are ready in half the time.

Click here for the recipe: Mini Chile Relleno Casseroles

Broccoli & Cheese Casserole

Here's a fabulous side dish that pairs well with almost any entrée. Broccoli is mixed with a flavorful cheese sauce, topped with buttered bread crumbs and baked to perfection - all in less than 45 minutes!

Click here for the recipe: Broccoli & Cheese Casserole

Summer Vegetable Casserole

The restaurant at Abruzzo's Sextantio hotel serves centuries-old recipes like this simple dish of layered summer vegetables .

Click here for the recipe: Summer Vegetable Casserole

Tofu Casserole

This dish is already supernutritious; to simplify it, use supermarket ingredients and combine everything in the pot?no dipping required.

Click here for the recipe: Tofu Casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Using egg noodles and cream of mushroom soup, this casserole is known for its smooth texture.

Click here for the recipe: Tuna Noodle Casserole

Beefy Cornbread Casserole

A BBQ twist punches up this version of a time-honored family favorite, all ready for the oven in only 15 minutes.

Click here for the recipe: Beefy Cornbread Casserole

Layered Vegetable Enchilada Casserole

Feeling a little sneaky? When you layer veggies with tortillas, enchilada sauce and melted cheese, it's a sure-fire way to get them to eat their vegetables.

Click here for the recipe: Layered Vegetable Enchilada Casserole

Baked Eyeballs Casserole

Here, Prego® Italian Sausage Hearty Meat Sauce is mixed with bow-tie pasta, ricotta and Parmesan cheeses and baked until hot, then topped with fresh mozzarella cheese balls that have been decorated with an olive slice to look like an eyeball.

Click here for the recipe: Baked Eyeballs Casserole

Lasagna With Mushrooms and Lamb Sausage

Sick of beef-based casseroles? Try this recipe with lamb and dry red wine.

Click here for the recipe: Lasagna With Mushrooms and Lamb Sausage

Beef & Mushroom Lasagna

You can feed up to six people with this hearty lasagna recipe featuring creamy mushroom sauce and Italian tomato sauce layered between sheets of pasta with cheese and beef.

Click here for the recipe: Beef & Mushroom Lasagna

Vegetable Lasagna

Convenient products like no-boil lasagna noodles and cream of broccoli soup makes this flavor-packed lasagna simple and delicious. Plus, it takes just 30 minutes to prep before it goes in the oven.

Click here for the recipe: Vegetable Lasagna

Squash & Leek Lasagna

If lasagna is just a layered noodle casserole, there's no reason to stand on ceremony. Here's a vegetarian, autumnal version with butternut squash, leeks, pine nuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Click here for the recipe: Squash & Leek Lasagna

Roasted Squash & Spinach Lasagna

Everybody loves lasagna and, even better, you can adapt this specific recipe at will, adding roasted mushrooms (roasted to drive off the moisture), or sautéed fennel.

Click here for the recipe: Roasted Squash & Spinach Lasagna

Lasagna With Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Slow-roasting the tomatoes gives the tomato sauce for this lasagna recipe an intense depth of flavor—which is then enhanced by the umami in onions, Parmesan and spinach.

Click here for the recipe: Lasagna With Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Caramelized Onion Lasagna

This unusual lasagna with portobello mushrooms, sweet onions, spinach and Gorgonzola cheese has a rich, complex flavor. It's also great with goat cheese instead of Gorgonzola, if you prefer.

Click here for the recipe: Caramelized Onion Lasagna

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By: Hilary Meyer


I'm a huge casserole fan. Beef, Broccoli & Potato Hotdish is my favorite. (Hotdish is the Minnesotan name for casserole.) In my early "casseroling" days, I would just toss together ingredients that I thought would taste good together in a 9-by-13 inch pan and bake them. It was easy and the results usually tasted good, but there were always some minor imperfections. Depending on the ingredients, sometimes the casseroles came out watery. Other times, some ingredients were overcooked and mushy while some had a little too much bite.

Since I test recipes for a living as an associate food editor at EatingWell Magazine, ending up with something less than perfect became rather irritating, so I had to change my method. Now I've perfected my favorite casserole and can use what I've learned to make others flawlessly too.


Check out the slideshow above for the secrets I've discovered to making perfect casseroles.

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