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John Wayne Casserole

This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

Are you a John Wayne fan? I sure am. I love the way he embodied the ideal of the American cowboy – rugged, independent, and always willing to lend a helping hand.

In honour of this American icon, today I’m sharing my recipe for John Wayne Casserole. This dish is hearty and filling, perfect for a cold winter night. And it’s bound to please even the pickiest cowboy (or cowgirl) around!

This cheesy casserole has loads of tex-mex flavour, and it is made with simple ingredients you probably already have on hand.

So grab your ingredients and get ready to cook up some cowboy-style comfort food!

This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!
This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

What is a John Wayne Casserole?

John Wayne casserole is a dish that is packed with a few different layers of southwestern flavour to create one incredible and comforting meal.

The bottom layer is a simple biscuit crust that comes out soft and fluffy. This is topped off with taco seasoned ground beef.

Then a layer of onion, green pepper, and fresh jalapeno peppers, topped off with fresh diced tomatoes.

A creamy mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise gets smoothed over top of all that. Last but not least, the casserole gets sprinkled over generously with cheddar cheese before being popped into the oven.

This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

Why is it Called John Wayne Casserole?

Did you know that John Wayne loved casseroles? In fact, he was so fond of them that he even had his own favourite recipe for a simple egg and cheese casserole. He contributed this recipe to a 1979 cookbook titled, Cooking with Love from Cara and Her Friends, compiled by an author named Cara Connery as a fundraiser in aid of the American Cancer Society. Cara was only 10 years old at the time!

This cheese casserole has since evolved into what we all know as a John Wayne Casserole. The original recipe is closer to an oven baked frittata with loads of cheese and chiles, topped off with fresh tomato. The version I am sharing today has no eggs but it does have loads of cheese, jalapenos, and tomato.

It’s a quick and easy dish to make with loads of flavour, and it’s perfect for a weeknight family dinner.

This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

Why You Will Love this Southwestern Casserole

  • Easy to make
  • Loads of Southwestern flavour!
  • Can be prepared ahead of time.
  • Loads of cheese!
  • Freezes well.
  • Comfort food the whole family will love.
This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

Tips for the Best Casserole

  • Make sure to prepare your baking dish by greasing it well so your biscuit layer doesn’t stick.
  • The biscuit mix is sticky and not the easiest to spread into the pan. To make it easier to spread, scoop the dough into your casserole dish and cover it with a layer of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Start spreading the dough from the middle out to get it to evenly cover the bottom of the pan.
  • You can adjust the ratios of the layers to suit your tastes, or make some of the substitutions you will find below.
  • Make sure you drain the fat from the beef really well after browning it. We don’t want a greasy casserole.
  • Top it all off with sliced Jalapenos for more of a spicy kick.
  • This certainly isn’t healthy food, so let’s not pretend. It can be modified though to fit many different diets or dietary restrictions including Keto and gluten-free.
This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

Can You Make John Wayne Casserole Gluten Free?

Yes, absolutely! You can use gluten free bisquick, or try using tater tots, or shredded potatoes instead. Just make sure they are gluten free if you go with pre-made potatoes.

This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

What to Serve with a Southwestern Casserole

This casserole is a complete meal, but if you want more stick with tex-mex flavours. Here are some ideas for you!

You can also serve a variety of toppings with this casserole. Anything that works with tacos works here too!

This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

Original John Wayne Casserole Recipe

If you’re looking for the original recipe, here it is!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans diced green chiles
  • 1 lb Jack cheese, coarsely grated
  • 1 lb cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1small can Evaporated Milk
  • 1 Tbsp Flour

Directions:

Beat evaporated milk and flour, with egg yolks, then season with salt & pepper. 

Beat the egg whites until stiff, and fold them gently into the egg mixture. 

Grease a deep casserole dish with butter, and mix together the green chiles and cheese in it. Pour the egg mixture over the cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes in a 325 degree F oven. Remove and top with fresh tomato slices. Bake for 30 more minutes.

This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

Variations on this John Wayne Casserole

  • Make it gluten-free by using gluten-free bisquick.
  • Make it Keto friendly by using carbquick instead of the bisquick.
  • Make it lower fat. Try subbing the ground beef for ground turkey or chicken. You could also use light dairy products.
  • Swap in pre-made biscuit dough instead of the bisquick.
  • Add fire roasted corn to the veggie layer,
  • Change up the cheddar cheese for pepper jack cheese.
  • Use cream cheese instead of sour cream.
  • Throw in some black olives!
  • Top it off with salsa or guacamole – if it works in a taco, it works here!
  • Swap the biscuit base for your favourite cornbread recipe!
This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

How to Store Leftover John Wayne Casserole

Leftover casserole can be stored wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil, or placed in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days. Reheat in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven, covered in aluminum foil, until warmed through. About 15 to 20 minutes.

This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

How to Freeze this Casserole

This John Wayne Casserole is perfect for making ahead of time and freezing. Prepare the casserole in a foil baking pan, once it has been fully baked and cooled off, store the casserole in a large freezer bag with the air removed for up to three months.

When ready to serve, pop the frozen casserole into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until warmed through.

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Equipment Needed for Making Casseroles

No fancy equipment necessary here. You will need a couple skillets, mixing bowls and of course a 9×13 oven-safe casserole dish to make this casserole.

Ingredients for john wayne casserole.

Ingredients for John Wayne Casserole

Beef – Lean ground beef is best here, you still get enough flavour without having to discard a pile of fat. Be sure you do drain off the fat well so that the casserole isn’t greasy.

Seasoning – You can use store bought taco seasoning mix like I did or use your own homemade taco seasoning mix.

Sour cream – Use full fat sour cream for the best flavour and texture.

Mayonnaise – I prefer real mayonnaise and for the best flavour, that is what you should stick with here.

Cheese – I used cheddar cheese but you can use your favourite cheeses here. Pepper jack is really tasty in this casserole too.

Onion – White onion or yellow onion are both finer.

Bisquick – I used bisquick to make a simple biscuit layer at the bottom of the casserole, you can use your favourite homemade biscuit recipe or canned biscuits instead.

Bell Pepper – I used green bell peppers for a bit more colour, you can use red bell pepper instead instead if you prefer.

Jalapeno – Wear gloves when handling the jalapeño peppers. You can use more jalapeno or swap with a spicier pepper if you want more heat.

Tomatoes – Use fresh roma tomatoes for the best flavour. You can use canned if you are trying to use up some pantry staples but the freshness of the tomatoes are needed to lighten up some of the heavier flavours from the sour cream and cheese. You can also swap out the fresh tomatoes and fresh jalapenos for a can of rotel tomatoes with chiles.

This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

Looking for More Easy Family Dinner Recipes?

Check out more of my favourite family dinner ideas!

This Skillet Pizza Pasta Casserole is a one pot dish perfect for family dinner, this is food for kids that adults will love too. Easy!

This Cajun Chicken Alfredo Pasta Recipe is a spicy take on a creamy classic. The best of both worlds in one easy dish with Andouille sausage!

This Jamaican jerk chicken pasta will have your family licking their plates, this Rasta Pasta Recipe is a Jamaican-inspired meal you’ll love!

This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

How to Make John Wayne Casserole

Yields: 8 Servings | Prep time: 10 Minutes | Bake time: 35 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs (900g) Ground beef
  • 1 1-oz (24g) package Taco seasoning mix
  • 1 ¾ cup Water, divided
  • ½ cup Sour cream
  • ½ cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 cups Shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 medium onion, diced and divided
  • 2 cups Bisquick mix
  • 1 Green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Jalapenos, seeded, diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, set aside.

Brown ground beef in a large skillet, until just cooked through over medium-high heat, the drain the fat. Add taco seasoning and 3/4 cup of water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes or until reduced.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix sour cream, mayo, half of the cheese, and half of the onions together and set aside.

Heat green pepper, onion, and jalapenos in a skillet until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Steps for making a john wayne casserole.

In a large bowl, add bisquick and 1 cup water. Mix well to form a soft dough. Spread into prepared pan, press it up the sides of the dish about a half inch high on all sides.

On top of the biscuit dough, layer the remaining ingredients in even layers, in the following order: meat mixture, diced tomatoes, green peppers mixture, sour cream mixture, and then top it all off with the remaining cheddar cheese.

This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

Bake on the middle rack for 30-35 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Let set for 5 minutes before cutting into slices and serving.

John Wayne Casserole
Yield: 8 servings

John Wayne Casserole

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs (900g) Ground beef
  • 1 1-oz (24g) package Taco seasoning mix
  • 1 ¾ cup Water, divided
  • ½ cup Sour cream
  • ½ cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 cups Shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 medium onion, diced and divided
  • 2 cups Bisquick mix
  • 1 Green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Jalapenos, seeded, diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, set aside.
  2. Brown the ground beef until just cooked through over medium-high heat, drain fat. Add taco seasoning and 3/4 cup of water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes or until reduced.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix sour cream, mayo, half of the cheese, and half of the onion together and set aside.
  4. Heat green pepper, onion, and jalapenos in a skillet until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. In a large bowl, add bisquick and 1 cup water. Mix well to form a soft dough. Spread into prepared pan, press it up the sides of the dish about a half inch high on all sides.
  6. On top of the biscuit dough, layer the remaining ingredients in even layers, in the following order: ground beef, diced tomatoes, green peppers mixture, sour cream mixture, and then top it all off with the remaining cheddar cheese.
  7. Bake on the middle rack for 30-35 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Let set for 5 minutes before cutting into slices and serving.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 306Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 342mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 13g

This information is provided as a courtesy and for entertainment purposes only. This information comes from online calculators. Although frugalmomeh.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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This John Wayne Casserole recipe is easy to make and results in a hearty, comforting casserole dish with loads of south-west flavour!

Laurie

Friday 15th of April 2022

Your ingredients call for "2 Jalapenos, seeded, diced" - yet all the pictures show the jalapenos sliced and still with their seeds. Confusing!

Elizabeth Lampman

Saturday 16th of April 2022

Are you referring to the garnish on top of the casserole? The casserole was made exactly as directed, with 2 jalapenos seeded, seeded, and diced then sauteed with the other peppers. I am sorry if you are confused by a garnish, but I believe the recipe is very clear about how to prepare the jalapenos and where to use them.

If you like you can serve the casserole with slices of fresh jalapeno, sour cream, or diced fresh tomatoes. (Sour cream and tomatoes are also shown in the pictures as an optional garnish.)

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