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What is a Casserole?

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A casserole is a both the name of a type of dish to cook in and the dish itself. Essentially, there are all types of casserole recipes, but they all have these things in common. Ingredients are layered in, then baked and served in the same dish you cook it in.

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So, whether you make a vegetarian or one the meat lovers go gaga for, this is comfort food at its best. You can serve them as main course or use as a side dish. They are great for breakfast and brunch as much as lunch and dinner.

Why is it comfort food?

When it comes to calling anything “comfort food”, it isn’t just about the great full feeling you get after eating it.

Comfort foods are also:

  • Easy to make
  • Easy to clean up after
  • Make awesome leftovers

And of course, easy to take to a potluck dinner without much fuss either!

Generally, all the ingredients are savory and filling and cook well together. In essence, the best recipe, also called a hot dish, is always greater than the sum of their parts.

Because the ingredients cook together, you get so much more out of each ingredient.

birds eye view of veg all casserole in a dish on a cooling rack

What types of ingredients are in casseroles?

Casseroles are truly and endless source of creativity. There are classic French recipes, like cassoulet, and relatively new American standards like John Wayne casserole.

Whether meat focused, or all vegetable, all these dishes are essentially layers of ingredients. These typically include a protein, vegetable, a binder, and oftentimes a special topping, usually cheese.

However, there are other toppings too, like fried onions, or bread crumbs too.

The most popular ones being green bean casserole, breakfast casserole, rice casserole, and potato casserole.

red baking dish on a marble table next to a spatula

What type of dish do you cook it in?

A proper casserole dish always has sides at least 2 inches high. That way you can build the layers of ingredients in the deep dish without it spilling over.

But after that, a dish to bake one in comes in all shapes and a variety of sizes. Square, oblong, round, oval, heart shaped. You name it and there is probably a cooking dish for it.

You can check out this article for more info on the types of pans too. Because, how big is a 1 quart dish really?!?

Where does the word Casserole come from?

Like so many great cooking terms, the word comes from a French word, “casse”, for a small sauce pan. That is because sauce pans tend to be deep enough to layer ingredients in.

Also, cast iron and enamel pans can go from the stove top into the oven too.

ultimate chicken casserole ingredients in individual bowls

What is a binder?

A binder is an essential component of a great baked dish that helps combine the liquids in the dish with the starches. The most popular ingredients which work as binders are rice and potatoes.

However, you can make a starchy binder and add a slurry to help bind the juices as well. The binder is what helps you achieve a dish you can serve to a plate instead of scoop into a bowl.

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!

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