82 Healthier Versions of Your Favorite Comforting Casseroles
Healthier Versions of Your Favorite Comforting Casseroles
Healthy Casserole Recipes
Few meals satisfy like a hearty casserole. Whether you're hosting a friendly gathering or serving a weeknight family dinner, one of these casseroles is sure to be just right for the occasion. The best part? Many of these recipes are great make-ahead options. Batch cook before a busy week, or freeze one to keep on on hand for unexpected guests.
First up, you'll want to add this flavor-packed chicken tetrazzini to your weeknight rotation. If you’d like to make this comforting classic baked pasta dish ahead of time, you can freeze the unbaked casserole up to three months. Let it thaw completely; top with Parmesan and panko, then bake at 350°F until browned and bubbly, about 45 minutes.
Nothing says autumn like a hearty casserole—something you can make on a weekend afternoon, and have for leftovers over the next couple days. Here, rich Gruyere cheese marries with the bright acid of a dry white wine (try a Sauvignon Blanc) to bring a touch of elegance to this yummy comfort food.
Tuna Noodle Casserole
A comfort-filled classic, the traditional dish features a cast of hefty characters—cream, cheese, and noodles—and delivers nearly 700 calories and a day’s worth of sat fat with just one helping. Canned tuna is a pantry staple that takes center stage in our remake (with just as many beneficial omega-3s as fresh). In lieu of a breadcrumb or potato chip topper, we use fresh dill and sharp cheddar to round out this dinner with bright flavor and cheesy goodness for less sodium.
Extra Creamy Broccoli-Cheddar Casserole
This fresher take on the traditional casserole is loaded with vegetables and comes together with a homemade sauce instead of sodium-heavy canned soup.
Breakfast Hot Dish
If you're not from the Upper Midwest, you may not be familiar with hot dish. Traditionally, it's a casserole of starch (often French fries or tots), meat, and vegetables held together by a creamy sauce. "It's an easy way to feed a crowd," says blogger and cookbook author Molly Yeh, "and it's perfect for the dead of winter because it's so hearty and warm and comforting." Her update uses sweet potatoes flavored with Aleppo pepper. To get a head start, you can roast the potatoes and brown the sausage a couple of days ahead.
Creamy Chicken-and-Wild Rice Casserole
Wild rice is wonderfully fragrant; it’s the perfect counter to the creamy, earthy mushroom mixture and has enough texture that the grains won’t bloat or fall apart in the casserole. Serve with simply sautéed green beans or a mixed greens salad.
This oven-baked side couples the earthiness of poblanos with the sweetness of red bell peppers. Combine those with rich pumpkin and you have a new fall-weather classic you'll make time and again.
Buttermilk Potato, Chicken, and Cheddar Casserole
In this cheesy chicken casserole, leftover mashed potatoes form the base, rather than the topping, as they do in shepherd's pie. Poaching bone-in chicken breasts in stock yields tender, juicy meat—use this method for enchiladas and chicken salad. We love the texture and concentrated flavor of dried minced onion as the casserole topper, but you could skip it or substitute toasted, coarsely ground breadcrumbs.
Ground Beef and Pasta Casserole
This quick and easy recipe delivers a family-friendly dinner to the table in just under 45 minutes.
Skillet Vegetable Lasagna
The best part of this vegetable lasagna—aside from the flavor—is the low-cleanup: Vegetables take turns cooking in a single cast iron skillet, not several. A stovetop simmer quickly cooks the noodles through, so there's no need for a separate pot to boil them. Then the pan shifts easily to the oven for a last-minute broil to melt and meld the cheeses. Perfection!
King Ranch Chicken and Quinoa Casserole
Leftover quinoa, rotisserie chicken, and canned tomoatoes help this dish come together in less than an hour. Throw it in the oven for 25 minutes, and dinner is served.
Mushroom and Bacon Casserole
Very few things embody comfort food as well as this hearty, warming mushroom and bacon casserole.
Lower-Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole
The classic sweet potato casserole often straddles the line between side and dessert (indeed, we've enjoyed the leftovers both ways). Our delicious version has 5 fewer teaspoons (20g) of added sugar per serving than traditional recipes.
Chicken Enchilada Casserole
These enchiladas are a cinch to assemble and easy to freeze—just cover one of the pans with foil. If you plan to serve a crowd, bake in one (13 × 9-inch) baking dish. The chicken stays moist throughout baking and reheating, thanks to a gentle poach and a creamy verde sauce. Fresh cilantro stems have tons of favor; make sure to include them in the sauce.
Cheesy Polenta Skillet
Thanks to its firm consistency, precooked polenta (usually sold in tube form) can be seared, toasted, or even layered and baked like a lasagna. We keep the slices on the thick side so they have a creamy texture when heated through. A little ground turkey goes a long way in this dish; stir the rest into chili, make burger patties, or use as a filling for lettuce cups. In addition to mushrooms, this dish is a great canvas for any vegetables you have on hand, such as sliced greens or chopped cauliflower or broccoli.
Mom's Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
Traditional creamy chicken casserole can have more than 800 calories per serving, but we’re serving up this classic comfort dish with a fraction of the calories.
Double Berry Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole
Rise and shine to a thoroughly red, white, and blue breakfast. This lower-sugar recipe is a great way to use up slightly hard baguette and any berries you have roaming around your produce drawer. You don't have to let it sit overnight, but a few hours in the fridge will only make the casserole creamier.
Sausage and Spinach Spaghetti Pie
Meet your new favorite casserole recipe. This budget-friendly dish (costing under $10) allows you to stretch a small amount of meat over several servings. It's family friendly, filling, and loaded with flavor--the perfect weeknight meal. The high heat on this recipe allows it to cook quickly, crisping the spaghetti slightly on the outside to make the perfect "pie crust" for this dish. You can use crumbled sausage in this dish, or start with Italian sausage and remove the casing, which is what the recipe calls for. Remove the casing by cutting up the side with a knife or kitchen shears, then crumble the sausage using a spoon in the skillet as it cooks.
Marmalade French Toast Casserole
We swap hefty egg bread for sourdough and whip up a low-fat milk custard to replace heavy cream.
OURS 293 calories, 3.2g sat fat
CLASSIC 596 calories, 6.6g sat fat
SAVES 303 calories, 3.4g sat fat
Smoked Salmon Breakfast Casserole
This multilayered marvel is loaded with crispy potatoes, hot-smoked salmon, and a smattering of fresh herbs. Cottage cheese naturally melds into the eggs, creating pillowy lightness throughout the mixture, while goat cheese creates dense pockets of creaminess. Hot-smoked salmon, unlike cured, is fully cooked—look for it in the fish case or packaged in the meat aisle of your grocery store.
Chicken Enchilada Casserole
This bubbling hot casserole is the quintessential comfort food. Prep ahead and bake when you're ready to eat.
Broccoli and Rice Casseroles
This cheesy casserole is bound to be a new favorite. The individual servings are fun and perfectly portioned.
This perfect version of a classic Italian meatless dinner, Parmigiana, will quickly become a family favorite. Add a glass of vino for a Sicilian-style date night or a scoop of gelato for a kid-friendly Italian night.
Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, and Spinach Lasagna
For a complete meal, serve with a fresh salad of grapefruit and fennel, and sip our Pomegranate Fizz.
Baked Pasta with Spinach, Lemon, and Cheese
This casserole makes use of casarecce pasta—a short noodle with a curled edge that provides a large groove to hold the creamy sauce. If you can't find it, use fusilli, campanelle, or radiatore. Use a large, deep pot for the pasta so the spinach will fit inside, as well.
Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna
Silky roasted butternut squash stands in for noodles in this more nutritious take on the starchy pasta casserole.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta
Smoky bacon compliments the richness of butternut squash in this casserole to create a dish that can be enjoyed right away or prepared ahead for a party or weeknight meal.
Cheesy Sausage, Broccoli, and Quinoa Casserole
We traded white rice for whole-grain quinoa and kicked out any processed ingredients for a new take on this comfort classic. To add more flavor to quinoa, try toasting it. Serve with a simple green salad. You can freeze an extra pan of this whole-grain main for kid-friendly comfort or make it ahead of time for a busy weeknight.
Egg and Hash Brown Casserole
This dish is like enjoying an omelet stuffed with spinach, Swiss cheese, and mushrooms, with hearty sides of bacon and hash browns, all in one package.
This creamy baked pasta comes together quickly. Melted, gooey part-skim mozzarella cheese makes it even more decadent—without leaving you feeling guilty. Use any short pasta—ziti or rotini also work.
Chicken Tamale Casserole
This casserole is a quick and easy swap for more traditional tamales—but just as delicious.
Sweet Onion Casserole
Onions, rice, and a creamy cheese sauce make this casserole a winner in our book. We're fairly sure you'll agree.
Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce
These enchiladas are a fresh take on the enchiladas you grew up with. Most noticeable is the lack of canned enchilada sauce. Make your own delicious ranchero sauce and receive rave reviews.
Green Bean Casserole with Madeira Mushrooms
Here's a deliciously updated version of the classic, with fresh green beans and wine-infused mushrooms. We just had to keep the fried onion topping, which is arguably the best part.
Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies
Add pops of color to baked ziti with fresh summer veggies like squash, zucchini, and tomato. This quick and versatile baked pasta can be easily adjusted based on your favorite veggies or what you have on hand.
Baked Vegetable Lasagna
To help ensure that the cheesy layer remains moist and creamy, don’t press out the extra water from the tofu. Serve the lasagna with breadsticks and a green salad.
Mashed Potato Casserole
The combination of buttery Yukon gold and fluffy baking potatoes offers richness and a nice contrast in flavor and texture. We recommend using a food mill to ensure the potatoes are evenly mashed and not overworked, so they won't get gluey. If you don't have a food mill, cream the potatoes and cooking liquid with a potato masher.
Look for veggie protein crumbles in the produce section, near the tofu. Zesty Mexican spices and flavorings sass up the crumbles.
Chicken and Rice Casserole
Although the yellow and green veggies give this hearty, one-dish meal a colorful appearance, you can different vegetables, if you prefer.
Overnight Streusel-Topped French Toast Casserole
Since there’s no chopping involved, this is a great recipe for recruiting your kids to help out—there are lots of opportunities for stirring, and even a chance to use their hands to crumble together the streusel topping. Thin out the glaze with a little extra milk and spoon it over for a casual presentation, or put it in a Ziploc, snip off the corner, and let the kids drizzle their own special designs.
Wild Mushroom Pastitsio
Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese
Instead of the traditional buttery, heavy sauce present in most mac and cheese recipes, we turned to an unlikely hero for a boost: Butternut squash. Combined with nonfat milk and Greek yogurt, the squash adds a rich, nutty flavor, sneaks in some vegetable, and brilliantly mimics the color and creaminess of cheddar sauce. Over 65 5-star reviews agree: Butternut squash is a delicious addition.
Fast Shepherd's Pie
Senior Food Editor Julianna Grimes advises, “Buy lamb loin chops, and have the butcher remove the meat from the bones in the store.” The lean, tender meat cooks quickly, and it’ll stay moist in this speedy take on a comfort classic.
Mexican Chicken Casserole with Charred Tomato Salsa
Instead of the usual jarred salsa often called for in Mexican casserole, this recipe features a homemade salsa made with charred tomatoes that are mixed with cilantro and fresh lime juice. Charring the tomatoes gives a rich flavor to the salsa, which is a good match for this chicken-and-veggie-packed dish.
In this meatless version of the classic Greek dish, bulgur wheat stands in for ground meat in a spiced tomato filling surrounded by eggplant layers and topped with a béchamel sauce. The eggplant and bulgur pack this dish with fiber. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
Cheesy Brown Rice Gratin with Zucchini and Eggplant
The walnuts in this gratin offer a crunchy contrast to the roasted vegetables and cheesy rice mixture, while the splash of half-and-half adds creamy richness. The rice mixture can be made ahead and refrigerated. When ready to prepare, bring to room temperature, spoon into the baking dish, and proceed as directed at the end of step 5.