Dishes Baked with Love

Cheesy John Wayne Casserole

John Wayne Casserole fills some pretty big britches when it comes to casserole recipes. Hearty ground beef, seasoned with Southwest flavors, lots of cheese, on top of a fluffy biscuit layer.

You can tame some ornery appetites and ride off into the sunset if you like after you serve it. Named after the legendary actor, the dish is also affectionately referred to as “The Duke”.

melted cheese strands from a serving of John Wayne casserole

But just like the actor was a real person as well as a character on screen, there are actually two sides to John Wayne casseroles too…

John Wayne Casserole

For starters, John Wayne casserole is definitely comfort food. In fact, it is like layers of great comfort foods all working together.

A biscuit layer on the bottom forms the foundation. The dough on the bottom bakes and absorbs the liquids from the ground beef, sour cream mixture, cheese, chilis, and tomatoes.

So the biscuit mix actually creates a great biscuit crust that also makes serving easier.

Then you have savory ground beef seasoned like tacos. Finally, cheese, tomatoes, and chilis get layered on top. So, pretty much each layer is a comfort food classic. Combined, they are greater than the sum of their parts!

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All ingredients for John Wayne casserole

Ingredients Needed

  • Ground beef
  • Cheddar cheese (Pepper Jack works well too)
  • Roma tomatoes (sub drained diced tomatoes if necessery)
  • Biscuit dough (Canned biscuits work best)
  • Taco seasoning
  • Onions (Vidalia or Sweet)
  • Chilis (pickled or fresh)
  • Sour cream
  • Mayonnaise
  • Water

How to make John Wayne Casserole

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray.
  3. Open biscuits and spread in a single layer in bottom of pan. Pinch together to form a single layer.
  4. Bake for ten minutes, then remove and set aside.
  1. Next, get the ground meat ready. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef until no longer pink. Drain.
  2. Add back to pan, add water and taco seasoning. Stir to combine.
  3. Add in the sliced pepper and onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until they get tender.
  4. Remove from the heat. Spoon the ground beef mixture over the biscuit mix.
  5. Layer with the sliced tomatoes and jalapenos.
  1. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, mayo, and ½ cup cheese.
  2. Spread over the meat mixture.
  3. Top with remaining cheese.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the edges are bubbly. 
  5. Remove from the oven. Serve warm.
Top view of John Wayne casserole

Can I make it ahead of time?

You can make this casserole ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days before going in the oven. Just make sure to cover it tightly with foil or wrap. Even better if your casserole dish has a lid.

Can I freeze it?

Freezing John Wayne casserole is not a problem. The tomatoes lose a bit of texture, but they still work in the sauce. You can always add some fresh sliced tomatoes on top when you reheat if necessary too.

I recommend creating individual portion sizes to freeze just to make it easier to reheat from frozen.

  • In a microwave, heat on medium high for about 5 minutes. Turn at least one half turn about halfway through.
  • To heat from frozen in a sauce pan, use medium heat and cover. Uncover after about 5 minutes then continue heating until it is warm throughout.
  • With an oven, set at 325 f. and heat the casserole until it is hot enough to serve.
Getting ready to serve John Wayne casserole

Why is it called John Wayne Casserole?

Ok, so how did this casserole earn its spurs as John Wayne casserole? Well, the original recipe was actually submitted by John Wayne himself to a cookbook that was created to raise money for cancer research.

All sorts of celebs contributed recipes, including the Duke himself.

The Difference Between “John Wayne Casserole” And “The Duke Casserole”

But here is the catch.

John Wayne’s original casserole recipe didn’t actually have any meat in it! Yes, you could even say it was a vegetarian recipe, from back when eating eggs, cheese, and using milk was still considered being a vegetarian.

The meatier version of John Wayne casserole was actually created originally at a cafeteria in a Mississippi medical center. So, that version of the dish, goes by “The Duke” nickname.

I guess no one wanted to believe that John Wayne would eat anything that would peg him as a vegetarian. Either way. Hope ya like it, pilgrim.

Best Casserole Tips And Variations

  • A light coat of non-stick spray to the bottom of your casserole pan is useful.
  • You can substitute any type of ground meat like chicken, pork, or ground turkey instead of beef.
  • Sub chopped green chilies for the jalapeno peppers.
  • Make a vegetarian version with veggie chorizo, no need to add the taco seasoning since it is already seasoned.
  • If you use a larger casserole pan, then you can reduce the cooking time by about ten minutes since the ingredients are less deeply layered.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, pin this to your favorite casserole Pinterest board and share it on your favorite social media channels!

John Wayne Casserole title graphic

Need Some Ideas For Sides?

This John Wayne casserole recipe is filling, so lighter sides are ideal, like salads or even some soups. Check out some of these recipes for inspiration:

Craving More Casseroles?

Yield: 9

John Wayne Casserole

john wayne casserole in a white enamel casserole dish

John Wayne Casserole fills some pretty big britches when it comes to casserole recipes. Hearty ground beef, seasoned with Southwest flavors, lots of cheese, on top of a fluffy biscuit layer.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef, lean
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 ounce taco seasoning (1 packet)
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayo
  • 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 medium Roma tomatoes
  • 4 ounces sliced jalapeno (1 small can)
  • 1 can (16 ounces) refrigerated biscuits

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick spray.
  3. Open biscuits and spread in a single layer in bottom of pan. Pinch together to form a single layer.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  5. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef until no longer pink. Drain.
  6. Add the beef back to the pan, add water and taco seasoning. Stir to combine.
  7. Add in the sliced bell pepper and onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until they get tender.
  8. Remove from the heat. Spoon the mixture over the biscuit mix.
  9. Layer with sliced tomatoes and jalapeno peppers.
  10. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, mayo, and ½ cup cheese.
  11. Spread over the meat mixture.
  12. Top with remaining cheese.
  13. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the edges are bubbly. 
  14. Remove from the oven. Serve warm.

Notes

  • A light coat of non-stick spray to the bottom of your casserole pan is useful.
  • You can substitute any type of ground meat like chicken, pork, or turkey instead of beef.
  • Make a vegetarian version with veggie chorizo, no need to add the taco seasoning since it is already seasoned.
  • If you use a larger casserole pan, then you can reduce the cooking time by about ten minutes since the ingredients are less deeply layered.
  • Recommended Products

    As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    9

    Serving Size:

    1

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 471Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 563mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 35g

    This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and we can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

    BestCasseroleRecipes.com. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encourages and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.

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