A casserole (French: diminutive of casse, from Provençal cassa 'pan'[1]) is a kind of large, deep pan or bowl used for cooking a variety of dishes in the oven; it is also a category of foods cooked in such a vessel. To distinguish the two uses, the pan can be called a "casserole dish" or "casserole pan", whereas the food is simply "a casserole". The same pan is often used both for cooking and for serving.

Macaroni casserole with cheese topping
CourseMain course
Place of originEurope
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsChopped vegetables, meat and starchy binder
VariationsVegetable, chicken, cheese, beef, fish, seafood, mutton, etc.
Vegetable casserole


Baked ziti is another popular pasta and ground meat-based casserole.
An ad hoc American casserole with ground beef, onions, peppers, mushrooms, herbs, spices, and bread

Baked dishes have existed for thousands of years. Early casserole recipes consisted of rice that was pounded, pressed, and filled with a savoury mixture of meats such as chicken or sweetbread. Some time around the 1870s this sense of casserole seems to have taken its current sense.[2] Cooking in earthenware containers has always been common in most cultures, but the idea of casserole cooking as a one-dish meal became popular in the United States in the twentieth century, especially in the 1950s when new forms of lightweight metal and glass cookware appeared on the market. By the 1970s casseroles took on a less-than-sophisticated image.[3]

American-style casserole

In the United States, a casserole or hot dish is typically a baked food with three main components: pieces of meat (such as chicken or ground meat) or fish (such as tuna) or other protein (such as beans or tofu), various chopped or canned vegetables (such as green beans or peas), and a starchy binder (such as flour, potato or pasta); sometimes, there is also a crunchy or cheesy topping.[4][5][6] Liquids are released from the meat and vegetables during cooking, and further liquid in the form of stock, wine, beer, gin, cider, vegetable juice, or even water may be added when the dish is assembled. Casseroles are usually cooked slowly in the oven, often uncovered. They may be served as a main course or side dish, and, conveniently, may be served in the vessel in which they were cooked.

Other cuisines

Many baked dishes served in the baking dish can be classed as casseroles. Examples include Lancashire hotpot (English), cassoulet (French), moussaka (Greek), and timballo (Italian).

In English-speaking Commonwealth countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, the term casserole is most commonly used to refer to a dish of meat or chicken with vegetables and a gravy-style sauce; dishes containing a large proportion of starchy ingredients, e.g. pasta or potatoes, or those cooked in creamy sauces are not generally referred to as casseroles, and might be called ‘bakes’ or ‘gratins’. In the UK, the terms casserole and stew tend to be used interchangeably, although some distinguish them by saying stews are cooked on a stovetop while casseroles are cooked in an oven.[7]

See also

  • Dutch oven
  • Güveç
  • Jugging
  • List of baked goods
  • List of casserole dishes
  • List of cooking vessels


  1. Harper, Douglas. "casserole". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  2. Ayto, John (2002). An A–Z of Food & Drink. Oxford University Press. pp. 60–61. ISBN 9780192803511.
  3. Mariani, John F. (1999). The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink. Lebhar-Friedman. p. 59. ISBN 9780756786809.
  4. Yoon, Howard (4 March 2009). "Nouveau Casseroles". Kitchen Window. National Public Radio. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
  5. Ramsey, Sarah (25 September 2018). "What is a Casserole?". Wide Open Eats. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  6. "Casseroles - Main courses for baby boomers in the 50's, these classic American dishes are easy to prepare, low cost and nutritious". Los Angeles Times. 1989-03-02. Retrieved 2022-07-21.
  7. Smith, Delia (15 November 2018). "Slow progress: Delia on casseroles". Delia Online. Retrieved 30 April 2020.

Further reading

  • The dictionary definition of casserole at Wiktionary
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