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John Wayne Casserole Recipe | The Recipe Critic


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This delicious John Wayne Casserole is Mexican comfort food at its finest! Layers of seasoned ground beef, creamy cheddar cheese mixture, and more shredded cheese are baked on top of a biscuit crust for a crowd-pleasing family dinner!

Casseroles make some of the best meals. They always satisfy and are usually super easy to throw together. Try out some of my other favorites like this crowd-pleasing Sloppy Joe Casserole, this family-favorite Cheeseburger Casserole and this delicious Philly Cheesesteak Casserole.

The side view of a slice of casserole being scooped out.

Reasons You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Comfort Food: Looking for delicious, classic comfort food? This John Wayne casserole uses ground beef, cheese, and biscuits to create a yummy dinner.
  • Easy: Whip this casserole up and be eating it within an hour. Thats cooking time included!
  • Uses Pantry Staple Ingredients: Don’t have time to run to the store and grab a million seasonings you will never use again? Me either! This recipe uses classic ingredients that I bet you already have at home!

What is a John Wayne Casserole?

As for the origin of this deliciousness, the recipe was first published in a 1979 cookbook, “Cooking with Love from Cara and Her Friends,” a collection of different celebrities’ favorite dishes. John Wayne’s actual recipe was made with eggs and cheese. Over the years, it has evolved to become more of a southwestern-inspired dish with different ingredients like biscuits, onions, bell peppers and seasoned beef.

It makes such a great family meal with all of the wonderful textures from the biscuit crust and beefy layer to the creamy cheesiness! We love to enjoy it with roasted tomato salsa and/or this classic guacamole with tortilla chips.

What’s in John Wayne Casserole

Using simple ingredients, this casserole is hearty and makes 12 servings, so it’s great for feeding a crowd! See the recipe card below for exact measurements.

  • Grands Biscuits: The dough from a can of biscuits is pressed into the pan to serve as the buttery, fluffy crust. So good!
  • Meat: I like to use lean ground beef, but you can really use any ground meat, from ground turkey to ground chicken.
  • Onion: Sautéed with the beef, diced onion will add savoriness and depth of flavor.
  • Bell Pepper: Use any color for heartiness and flavor.
  • Taco Seasoning: 1 packet of taco seasoning is mixed in with the meat to give this dish great Tex-Mex flavor. If you want to make your own, try my tasty homemade version.
  • Green Chiles: Adds a subtle spice and smokiness.
  • Rotel: This is a combination of diced tomatoes and green chiles, which adds a nice little kick of flavor to any recipe.
  • Sour Cream: Has a milky, rich taste with a slight acidic tang.
  • Mayonnaise: Mixed with the sour cream to balance the tang for the creamy layer.
  • Cheddar Cheese: If you have the time, use freshly grated cheese. It will have the best flavor and melt more smoothly.
A top view of the ingredients laid out in individual glass bowls and each labeled.

How to Make a John Wayne Casserole

Get ready for this to be one of your new favorite dinners! It’s so simple and incredibly delicious that you’ll find yourself making it again and again. Here’s how it all comes together:

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with pan spray. 
  2. Cook the Meat: Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat until no pink remains. Drain off the fat before adding the onion and bell pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
  3. Mix in Seasoning, Chiles and Rotel: Add the taco seasoning, can of green chiles, and Rotel, and cook for 2-3 minutes until heated through and thickened slightly.
  4. Make the Creamy Mixture: In a small bowl mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, and ½ cup of the cheddar cheese. 
  5. Add Biscuits: Remove the biscuits from the can and press them into the bottom of the pan, stretching and pinching as needed for them to completely cover the bottom. Bake the biscuits for 12 minutes.
  6. Assemble: After 12 minutes of baking, top the biscuits with the beef mixture and then spread the creamy mixture as evenly as you can over the top. Top with the remaining 2 cups of cheese.
  7. Bake: Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted and browning. Serve immediately.

Tips and Variations

Follow these tips and ideas for making this John Wayne Casserole just the way your family likes it!

  • Use Italian Sausage: Change things up by substituting 1 pound of ground beef for 1 pound of Italian sausage. This will add some extra spice and flavor to your casserole.
  • Spice Level: This dish is fairly mild. However, if you’re sensitive to heat, be sure to use mild taco seasoning and mild Rotel. You could also use canned diced tomatoes instead of Rotel (which contains green chiles).
  • Toppings: Serve with avocado, diced tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and sliced olives.
  • Adding Cheese: Adjust the cheese to your liking. I love a very cheesy casserole, but you are welcome to change the amount on top to fit your preference. You may even substitute cheddar cheese for another cheese, such as Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese.

A square serving of John Wayne Casserole on a plate with a fork.

Storing Leftovers & Make Ahead Tip

John Wayne Casserole is delicious for lunch the next day because the flavors get even better!

  • In the Refrigerator: Place leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • To Reheat: Reheat in the microwave for 45-60 seconds per serving.
  • Make Ahead: The meat filling and cream topping can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. When you are ready to assemble the casserole, continue with step 6. Par-bake the biscuits before adding the cooked filling and continue as directed.

The top view of John Wayne Casserole in a baking dish.

More Delicious Casseroles

Looking for more casserole recipes? Here are a few more hearty and mouthwatering dishes that your family will devour! They come together with very little effort and are all so warm and comforting. For more dinner ideas, find my full list of casseroles here!

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  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a 9×13 baking dish with pan spray.

  • Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat until no pink remains. Drain off the fat before adding the onion and bell pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the onion is translucent.

  • Add the taco seasoning, can of green chiles, and Rotel, and cook for 2-3 minutes until heated through and thickened slightly.

  • In a small bowl mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, and ½ cup of the cheddar cheese.

  • Remove the biscuits from the can and press them into the bottom of the pan, stretching and pinching as needed for them to completely cover the bottom. Bake the biscuits for 12 minutes.

  • After 12 minutes of baking, top the biscuits with the beef mixture and then spread the creamy mixture as evenly as you can over the top. Top with the remaining 2 cups of cheese.

  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted and browning. Serve immediately.

Calories: 497kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 26gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 674mgPotassium: 490mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 538IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 243mgIron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.





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