Whether you dream of a freezer stocked full of your family’s favorites or simply want to learn how to assemble a dish the day before so it’s oven-ready when you walk in the door, mastering the art of preparing casseroles ahead of time will save you both time and money.
To ensure your casserole dinner is every bit as delicious as it can be, here are eight secrets to success, straight from Betty Crocker Kitchens experts.
- Use glass or ceramic baking dishes instead of metal, especially if the recipe includes acidic ingredients like tomatoes. Metal pans can give recipes an “off” taste.
- Choose the right sized dish recommended for the recipe. Most ovenproof casserole dishes identify the size right on the bottom of the dish. When in doubt, measure the volume of the dish in question by using quarts of water to fill the dish to the brim.
- Feel free to freeze casseroles in portion sizes that work for your family, either as individual servings, servings for two or enough for a full family meal.
- For easy release and cleanup, prep the casserole dish beforehand with non-stick cooking spray or liner of aluminum foil. You’ll be grateful you didn’t skip this step coming dish-doing time!
- You can freeze casseroles baked or unbaked. If you do bake it ahead, don't overdo it; the casserole will cook a little more as it’s reheated. And be sure to wait until food is completely cooled before you package or freeze it.
- To prevent freezer burn, let the surface of the casserole freeze then wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and a layer of foil. And don’t forget to label your creation, identifying the name of the dish and the date it was prepared.
- Thaw frozen casseroles overnight in the refrigerator before baking. Toppings such as breadcrumbs or crackers should be added after thawing to make sure they’re nice and crispy.
- Allow additional bake time to heat frozen casseroles thoroughly; usually an additional 15 minutes does the trick. To make sure it’s heated through, pop a meat thermometer in the center of the casserole—if it reaches160 degrees, it’s ready to eat. Remember too, that bake times will vary based on casserole dimensions. If you’re reheating an individual portion, it’s bound to take less time than the full, family-sized dish.
Feeling ready to get started? Dig into these flavor-packed recipes, each one perfectly suited for making ahead.