What do you eat for dinner on a cold winter’s day? The best winter foods are the heartiest kind that both satisfy you and give you the energy to keep going even when the temperature is below freezing.
A casserole definitely fits that description; it’s a one-pan meal with meat, vegetables, and a binding element. This is all slowly baked together with a cheesy topping, and sometimes with broth or other liquid, into a gooey, irresistible, mess.
That brings up the important question: which casserole is the best? The answer depends, but here are seventeen casseroles that will make anyone who eats it say “wow!”
17 Winter Casseroles For Chilly Days
1. Chicken Vegetable and Rice Casserole
Trying to figure out what to do with your leftover rice? Rice that has already been cooked a day or so before is firmer than just-cooked rice and can survive getting baked without getting mushy.
The best thing about this casserole is that it packs a protein punch! Chicken and rice both have high amounts of protein, making this casserole healthy as well as hearty.
2. Shepherd’s Pie
This casserole is traditionally made from lamb meat, hence the name. Other meats can be substituted, like beef, pork, or chicken. The version with beef in it is called cottage pie.
A good shepherd’s pie has lots of vegetables and cheese under a mashed potato “crust.” If it’s too much for one meal, you can store it in the fridge and reheat it later.
3. Tuna Casserole
My mom used to make tuna casserole all the time, although I thought it was yucky as a kid. Now I see it for the yummy dish it is.
If you want nutrients, tuna has a lot of them. It’s famous as a source of Omega-3, but it also has a lot of protein and vitamin B, which is a good excuse to put it in a casserole.
4. Chili Cornbread Casserole
Chili is the ultimate winter food. It’s filling, served hot, and can be made spicy for extra “heat.” Now imagine chili topped with a cornbread and cheese crust. Hungry yet?
The advantage to the cornbread crust is that it absorbs liquid from the chili. That means that the crust will have more flavor to it, and the chili won’t be as watery when you eat it.
5. Potato and Leek Casserole
Potatoes and leeks have complementary flavors and textures, so it makes sense to put them together. Add melted cheese and cream for a rich casserole that tastes great!
Potato and leek casserole hold their own, both as a side dish for many different foods, and the main course. It’s a vegetarian-friendly recipe, too!
6. Green Bean Casserole
This is a classic casserole that has been served many times over the years. Green beans, mushrooms, garlic, flour, and broth are the main players to give this dish its taste.
Green beans offer a tough, stringy contrast to the rest of the casserole. They’re also a good low-calorie source for nutrients, including vitamin K and fiber, and they make the casserole into a delicious dish.
7. Chicken Enchilada Casserole
If you’re in the mood for something Mexican, this recipe fits the bill! Corn, beans, rice, and other staple foods are covered in melted cheese and cilantro.
There aren’t any tortillas involved, but you can use one as an edible “plate,” or wrap it up. The combination of foods makes it a healthy meal that tastes great.
8. Winter Squash Casserole
How about winter squash for a winter casserole? That’s appropriate. This casserole can be based on any kind of winter squash, from acorn squash to butternut.
Winter squashes got their name because they’re all picked in late fall and early winter. This means you can make the casserole right in time for Thanksgiving or for the holidays.
9. Pepperoni Pizza Casserole
There’s nothing like pepperoni pizza for hanging out or game night. But combining a pepperoni pizza with pasta in a casserole is a different twist on two meals.
This recipe puts pepperoni and cheese together with spiral pasta, ground sirloin, onions, garlic, eggs, and seasoning. Oh, and since it’s pizza, don’t forget the pizza sauce!
10. Grits and Greens Casserole
Grits are the most famous foods in the southern United States. It’s a kind of porridge made from cornmeal, and it’s also used for seasoning savory foods.
A grits and greens casserole also contains collard greens, with bacon for a meaty flavor. This casserole is almost like having a Southern breakfast in a single side dish.
11. Buffalo Chicken Casserole
Well, here’s something to spice up the winter, and I mean spice! This casserole is made from chicken, buffalo sauce, egg noodles, and cheese. It’s an unexpected pleasure!
Buffalo chicken casserole takes just over half an hour to go from scratch to table. If the spiciness is too much, you can always reduce the amount of sauce used, but I’ve also heard milk helps with spicy foods.
12. Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole
Potatoes are commonly used as a thickener for casseroles since they have starches in them. Add cheese, ground beef, and sour cream for a decadent dish.
This is a good casserole for a snow day when nobody has to be anywhere. I think it would go very well with some garlic bread or soup if the casserole doesn’t fill you up!
13. Philly Cheesesteak Casserole
A Philly cheesesteak is a sandwich roll with steak, onions, cheese, and peppers. The casserole version trades the roll for macaroni, but otherwise little has changed.
This recipe is ready in around 40 minutes. Make sure that you fully cook the steak before you eat it because a steak that isn’t ready runs the risk of bacteria.
14. Breakfast Casserole
Winter casseroles aren’t just a lunch or dinner food! Breakfast casseroles are filled with the kind of food that will get you going: bacon, eggs, cheese, sausage, and vegetables.
Breakfast casserole isn’t just one recipe; you can change a lot of the ingredients and still have a tasty treat. Did I mention there’s a dairy-free option?
15. Chicken Cacciatore
Does chicken cacciatore count as a casserole? I think it’s similar enough. Either way, I have many fond memories of my mom making this dish when I was a kid.
An Italian recipe, chicken cacciatore traditionally is braised chicken with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and herb seasoning. Add some pasta for casserole goodness.
16. Vegetable Casserole
Let’s look at something good for vegetarians. A vegetable casserole has pumpkins, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and peas smothered in a thick cheesy sauce.
This is a delicious way to get your serving of vegetables in, that’s for sure! It also goes great when served as a side for meat dishes.
17. Vegan Taco Casserole
I can’t leave the vegans off this list, so here is a delicious casserole for them. It has all the taco seasonings, including vegan beef and cheese, baked into a filling dish.
The best thing about this dish is that you can make most of it from scratch. There are online recipes to make vegan cheese and beef, and the vegetables can be found at any farmer’s market.
These casseroles will keep you warm and full for those icy winter days, but don’t forget that they are only a small sample of all the casseroles out there. Try looking online or in a cookbook for more recipes.
And that’s the end of this list. Thanks so much for reading this, and don’t be afraid to try experimenting if any of these recipes don’t feel right to you.