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Eight Make-Ahead Casserole Shortcuts

October 08, 2012
The Betty Crocker Kitchens experts share their tips and tricks for incredible one-dish meals—plus, the casseroles we're falling for this season.

Casserole Tips

  1. Most casseroles can be assembled, covered and refrigerated for several hours or up to the day before.

  2. You can freeze casseroles baked or unbaked. Hint: If you do bake ahead, don't overdo it; the casserole will cook a little more once reheated. And be sure the food is completely cooled before you package or freeze it.

  3. To prevent freezer burn, let the surface of the casserole freeze then wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and foil.

  4. Freeze foods in meal-size portions, either as individual servings, servings for two or enough for a family meal.

  5. Label each package with the name of the recipe, cooking time and date.

  6. Frozen casseroles should be stored at zero degrees and used within three months.

  7. Thaw frozen casseroles overnight in the refrigerator before baking. Add toppings such as breadcrumbs or crackers after thawing the casserole to keep them crisp.

  8. Allow additional bake time to heat frozen casseroles thoroughly (it may need to be increased by about 15 minutes). The center of the casserole should reach 160 degrees when baked.

Baking Tips

  • Use glass or ceramic baking dishes instead of metal, especially if the recipe includes acidic ingredients such as tomatoes. Metal will give the recipe an undesirable "off" taste.

  • Choose the right size dish recommended for the recipe. Most ovenproof casseroles identify the size on the bottom of the dish. Tip: When in doubt, you can measure volume by using quarts of water to fill the dish to the brim.

  • For easy release and cleanup, prep the casserole dish beforehand with non-stick cooking spray or a liner.

  • Know that bake times may vary based on casserole dimensions. If the food is baked in a smaller, deeper casserole dish than recommended, for example, the bake time may be longer.

  • Be careful not to overbake. Casseroles are done when heated through to the center and bubbly around the edges.
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