Skip to main content

3 Fancy Casserole Recipes to Up Your Cooking Game

As cooking from home has become a necessity, we’re constantly looking for ways to make our time in the kitchen more fun and delicious. And although we love spending hours cooking up something super gourmet, it’s not always how we can — or want — to occupy our time. Enter the casserole, a one-dish wonder that you likely ate when you were young, served by moms, grandmas, and aunts everywhere. While your mind may wander to throwbacks like tuna noodle casserole (which we love, btw), really anything that comes together in a baking dish can be considered a casserole. So we chatted with some of our favorite chefs and cookbook authors to snag a few fancy casserole recipes that will definitely up your cooking game when you’re looking for a little inspiration.

Nelly’s Pastitsio

Nelly’s Pastitsio

“Pastitsio is a very popular baked pasta dish that is said to have origins in Venice, Italy,” Anna Francese Gass, author of Heirloom Kitchen, says. “After tasting it, I immediately thought that this dish tastes as if lasagna Bolognese and fettuccini Alfredo had a delicious love child.” In her cookbook Heirloom Kitchen, Gass features recipes from 40 immigrant women who brought their cooking to the United States. Nelly’s Pastitsio is a perfect dish if you’re looking for the ultimate comfort meal.

Related Videos

(Serves 8, prep time: 40 minutes, total time: 1 hour and 25 minutes)


For the meat sauce:

  • 2 tbsp Greek olive oil (Nelly prefers Kosterina)
  • 1.5 lb (680 g) ground beef (93 percent lean)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 (8-oz/240 ml) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 5 to 6 allspice cloves

For the bechamel:

  • .5 cup (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter
  • .25 cup (30 g) all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups (1.2 L) milk, heated until just simmering
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • .5 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp Pecorino Romano cheese

For the pasta:

  • 1 lb (455 g) ziti, cooked according to package directions, still warm
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For assembly:

  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • .25 cup plus 2 tablespoons (37g) grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg


  1. Make the meat sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook until no pink remains. Remove from the pan and drain the meat.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan and cook the onion over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes, then return the meat to the pan. Add the tomato sauce, salt, pepper, cinnamon stick, and allspice. Cook until the ingredients are incorporated, about 15 minutes. Nelly adds .25 cup (60 ml) water if the meat begins to dry out. Divide the mixture in half.
  3. While the meat is cooking, make the béchamel. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Add the flour and whisk until it turns light brown. Slowly add the milk one cup at a time, whisking constantly. Add the salt and nutmeg, stir, and remove from heat.
  4. Slowly add the beaten eggs while continuing to whisk. Once the eggs are incorporated, place the mixture back on the medium heat and bring it to a boil. Add the pecorino and mix until incorporated. Remove from the heat.
  5. Prepare the pasta. Place the cooked ziti in a large bowl and coat with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt. Add the butter and mix until melted. Then add the eggs, half of the beef mixture, milk, and pepper. Set aside.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius). Butter a 10×15-inch (25×38-cm) baking dish and then sprinkle it with flour. Pour the pasta into the bottom of the dish in an even layer. Spread the remaining meat sauce evenly over the pasta. Sprinkle half of the pecorino over the meat.
  7. Carefully pour the béchamel over the meat and spread it with offset spatula. Sprinkle with the nutmeg and the remaining pecorino. Bake uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Heirloom Kitchen: Heritage Recipes and Family Stories from the Tables of Immigrant Women by Anna Francese Gass. Harper Design, 2019.

Peach-Sweet Potato Casserole

Peach Sweet Potato Casserole
Mark Boughton

“This savory dish could almost pass for dessert,” Just Peachy author Belinda Smith-Sullivan says. “Creamy, spiced sweet potatoes get a hit of bourbon and a decadent pecan streusel topping. Serve it as a side to pork, lamb, or turkey — it steals the show every time. Use fresh ripe peaches or peaches you’ve canned or frozen.”

(Serves 6 to 8)


  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1⁄3 cup flour
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • .5 cup chopped pecans


  • 4 large or 6 medium sweet potatoes, baked and cooled
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • .5 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • .25 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1⁄3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 2 to 3 cups ripe peeled peach slices


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  2. Make the crust: In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, and butter with a fork until crumbly. Stir in the pecans and set aside.
  3. Peel the sweet potatoes, discard the skins, and place the flesh in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, and vanilla; beat until thoroughly combined. Add the cream and bourbon and continue beating until smooth.
  4. Pour half of the mixture into a prepared baking dish. Cover with sliced peaches and finish with remaining sweet potato mixture. Top with the brown sugar topping. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  5. To make ahead, prepare the casserole, but do not bake. Cover with plastic wrap, and then cover with aluminum foil and freeze. When ready to bake, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Uncover and bake at 350 degrees F, increasing baking time to 45 minutes or slightly longer.

Recipe and photo from Just Peachy by Belinda Smith-Sullivan. Photography by Mark Boughton. Gibbs-Smith, May 2019.

Fancy Green Bean Casserole

Fancy Green Bean Casserole

“Green bean casserole is a dish I grew up on,” Chef Tim Hollingsworth of Otium says. “My mom’s recipe would have Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom, French’s Crispy Fried Onion, and canned green beans all baked in the oven. Usually, I strive for everything to be as fresh and flavorful as possible, but canned ingredients work just as well — especially during this time. I also like to experiment with different types of mushrooms. Sometimes, I even add thinly sliced shiitake or cremini mushrooms that have been freshly crisped in the oven on top.”


  • 2 cans (10.5 ounce each) Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 7 cups green beans (cut into 2.5 inch pieces)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp white miso
  • 2 cups fried onions
  • 3 cups shiitake mushrooms (thinly sliced)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Black pepper
  • Salt


  1. In a bowl, combine cream of mushroom soup and green beans with soy sauce, white miso, and 1.5 cups of fried onions.
  2. Heat oil in a nonstick pan over medium. Add shiitake mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook until golden brown. Remove two thirds and add to the casserole mixture.
  3. With the remaining one third of the mushrooms, add butter in a pan and continue to cook over low heat until brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels.
  4. Place green bean casserole mixture in a casserole dish and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.
  5. Rest for 10 minutes and garnish with remaining fried onions and crispy shiitake mushrooms.

Editors' Recommendations

Feeling adventurous? 5 of the weirdest cocktails from around the globe
Would you order a cocktail with a pickled human toe? You can in Canada, apparently
unusual and unique cocktails sourtoe cocktail

We all love a good cocktail, but it's easy to tire of the classics. There's nothing wrong with a perfectly frosty, salted-rimmed margarita, or a warm-to-your-bones, cherry-topped old-fashioned, but sometimes, you just want something new. Something that makes you think. Something that, perhaps, gives you a chuckle. These are those cocktails.
Pig's Blood Piña Colada (USA)

Back in 2014, bartender Jason Brown of Chicago's Kinmont restaurant and bar, concocted this cocktail after listening to a Werewolves of London lyric about a werewolf drinking a pina colada. His creativity sparked, and the "Werewolves of London" cocktail was born.

Read more
These foods high in melatonin will help you sleep better
Get a better sleep naturally by eating these 9 melatonin foods
Hands holding wine grapes.

Getting a quality night's sleep becomes more and more of a challenge as we age. Some of us have tried blackout curtains, sleep masks, weighted blankets, or any number of supplements promising better rest. If you're looking for an all-natural solution, though, melatonin is the way to go. Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally in the pineal gland in the brain. Among several functions, melatonin plays a key role in regulating the body’s circadian rhythms, or sleep-wake cycles. Accordingly, the pineal gland produces more melatonin when the sun goes down, and levels dip at daybreak. Foods high in melatonin or even melatonin supplements are a popular way to increase the concentration of melatonin and possibly improve the quality and quantity of sleep.
Melatonin supplements are typically non-habit-forming and safe for adults and children in doses of around 0.5 to 5 milligrams. However, melatonin supplements may cause drowsiness, nausea, and dizziness, and they can interfere with certain medications.

Fortunately, if you’re looking to support your body’s own natural melatonin levels but you don’t want to rely on supplements, there are several sleep-aid foods that contain melatonin. Adding any of these foods high in melatonin to your dinner plate or bedtime snack routine may help regulate your sleep patterns over time and help you get more restful sleep. Though little nutritional data exists about the specific concentration of melatonin in different foods, the following foods are known to be particularly high in melatonin.

Read more
The 8 best protein shakes that are ready-to-go
These shakes come with all the good stuff, and none of the crap

With as busy as we have become as a society, we always seem to be on the go. This can make life challenging, especially when it comes to wellness goals. In a perfect world, you could hit the gym hard, crush a workout, then immediately refuel with a balanced, home-cooked meal. But, since life happens and we are always on the go, it’s not always feasible to take the time to actually cook up a muscle-building meal right after your workout. Whether you’re on the go and short on time, or just can't stomach a full meal after exercising, having a quick and easy, protein-packed option that doesn’t require kitchen time, is a helpful alternative to refuel your body and maximize your results.

This is where protein shakes come in handy. Numerous ready-to-drink shakes are available that provide muscle-building protein, vitamins, minerals, and calories to fortify your body after a workout. They offer the benefits of protein powders with the convenience of eliminating the need for a shaker bottle, or high-speed blender, let alone making a mess with powders. Simply give the bottle a quick shake, pop the top, and you’re good to go.

Read more