7 Nostalgic Classic Casserole Recipes We Loved as Kids

If your childhood was anything like ours, weeknight dinners often included a casserole. These are some of our favorites from when we were kids.

Updated December 27, 2023
casserole topped with cheese

It's hard not to be nostalgic about the stuff we ate when we were kiddos (except for lima beans). And for members of Gen X like me, casseroles were what was for dinner. Today, the sight and aroma of a casserole at a potluck can take me right back to my late 70s and early 80s childhood when we came home from roaming free with our neighborhood pals and sat down to a big, bubbling pan of mom's love. These are the classic casserole recipes we grew up on. 

Tater Tot Casserole

tater tot casserole

I make a grown-up version of this today with slightly more upscale (and gluten-free/dairy-free) ingredients, but back in the day, this is the version my mom put on the table. Tater tot casserole is the reason I loved casseroles so darn much as a kid and why I still crave one every now and then as an adult. It's comfort food at its finest. It serves 6.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (10.5-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 (32-ounce) bag tater tots (I like the extra-crispy ones)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef on medium-high heat, crumbling with a spoon as you do.
  3. When the beef is browned, add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft, 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the soup, corn, milk, garlic powder, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the mixture simmers.
  5. Pour the mixture into a 9x13" baking pan.
  6. Sprinkle with the cheese.
  7. Place the tater tots in a single layer on top of the casserole.
  8. Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven until the potatoes are browned and crisp and the casserole is bubbly, 40-50 minutes. 
Helpful Hack

Casseroles like to spill over the sides of the pan when they cook. Protect your oven by putting them on a rimmed baking sheet that's larger than your casserole dish. 

Mac n' Cheese

baked macaroni and cheese

This wasn't the stuff in the blue box — although we ate our fair share of that with hot dogs cut up in it. No, this was the special stuff. Oven-baked mac n' cheese with warm, melty cheese sauce, tender pasta elbows, and crispy, buttery breadcrumbs on top. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

If you've only had boxed mac n' cheese, you're in for a treat. Try our oven-baked macaroni and cheese recipe and taste what you've been missing. 

Related: 13 Nostalgic Foods That Send Us Right Back to Childhood

Enchilada Casserole

enchilada casserole

Slightly spicy with lots of gooey melted cheese on top? What's not to love? This kitchen-sink approach to Tex-Mex was a family favorite, and it was super easy to put together with a layered lasagna-style approach to adding the corn tortillas. We think your family will love it like ours did.


  • 1 (19-ounce) can enchilada sauce
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
  • 1 onion, chopped and sautéed
  • 1 cup of your favorite salsa
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of black beans, drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of corn, drained
  • 1 (4-ounce) can of diced green chilis, drained (optional)
  • 16 ounces shredded colby jack cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Pour the enchilada sauce into a shallow bowl or pan.
  3. Dip four of the corn tortillas in the enchilada sauce and line the bottom of a 9x13 pan with them.
  4. Mix the beef, onions, salsa, beans, corn, and diced chilis.
  5. Spread over the tortillas in the pan.
  6. Dip the remaining tortillas in the enchilada sauce and place over the filling.
  7. Pour the remaining sauce over top of the tortillas.
  8. Sprinkle with the cheese.
  9. Bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes until the cheese melts and the casserole bubbles.


pan of lasagna

Warm, aromatic, and bubbly, lasagna was a special treat. My mom served hers with warm, buttery garlic bread that we used to sop up all the goodness of the sauce that was leftover on our plate. Our homemade lasagna recipe reminds us of mom's, and we know you'll love it. 

Green Bean Casserole

green bean casserole

Not a holiday dinner or potluck passed without green beans (the least offensive vegetable, but still a vegetable) disguised as a casserole on the table. But you know what? It worked! For us kids, it turned green beans into something we actually wanted to eat, and for that, we were grateful. The recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.


  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ pound fresh button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 2 cans French-fried onions


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Boil the beans until they are tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Drain the beans and run them under cold water to stop cooking.
  4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter.
  5. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper and cook until the mushrooms lose their liquid and begin to brown, 5-7 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds until the garlic releases its scent.
  7. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about one minute.
  8. Add the chicken broth and stir constantly until the liquid simmers.
  9. Add the cream and reduce the heat to medium. Stir until the liquid thickens.
  10. Stir beans into the sauce.
  11. Pour into a 9x9-inch baking dish.
  12. Top with French-fried onions.
  13. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the topping is golden and the casserole bubbles.

Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole

hash brown casserole

This breakfast casserole was a mainstay at brunches, although we probably would've eaten it for every meal. With a cheesy potato topping and breakfasty goodness inside, it's a keeper that we still make today. It serves 6 to 8.


  • 1 pound sausage, cooked
  • 9 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, slightly cooled
  • 24-ounce package of hash browns
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. If your sausage is in links, cut them into pieces and layer sausage on the bottom of a greased 9"x13" pan. Otherwise, add cooked, crumbled sausage to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Beat the eggs and combine them with the milk and melted butter. Pour the egg mixture over the sausage.
  4. Add the hash browns and top with shredded cheese.
  5. Bake, uncovered, for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, until the potatoes start to brown and the casserole is bubbly.

Creamy Tuna Casserole

tuna casserole

Families looking for an affordable way to feed the entire crew discovered that dumping a couple of cans of tuna and some veggies in a cheesy, creamy pasta casserole was the way to go. And boy did my dad love tuna casserole night. We think your family will, too. It serves 6 to 8.


  • 1 (16-ounce) package penne or rigatoni pasta noodles
  • 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (10-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons minced dried onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 (5-ounce) cans of tuna, drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of sweet corn, drained
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish
  • Optional add-ins: 1 can of peas, carrots, or mixed vegetables (drained)


  1. Heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Spray a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, blend together the oil, milk, cream cheese, soup, and seasonings.
  5. Stir in the tuna, pasta, corn, optional vegetables (if using), and 2 cups of the shredded cheese.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  7. Top with the remaining cheese.
  8. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
  9. Remove from the oven. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Top with chopped parsley after plating.

Nostalgic Casseroles That Hold Up Today

Casseroles may seem a little nostalgic, but they're still just as tasty today as they were decades ago. So whether you're cooking a weeknight meal or you need to bring something to a potluck, our nostalgic casserole recipes will not only taste great, but they're sure to remind at least a few people of simpler times.

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7 Nostalgic Classic Casserole Recipes We Loved as Kids