A cheese casserole is made up of several ingredients baked in one pot, with cheese as the main ingredient — often multiple types of cheese. Many cheese casseroles can be made on the stovetop instead of in the oven. A casserole without meat is traditionally considered a side dish, but a cheese casserole can be hearty enough to serve as the main course.
Pasta or rice are frequently used in cheese casseroles, along with hamburger, chicken, tuna, or another type of meat or fish. Vegetables can be used sparingly or as the main ingredient. A well-known and popular cheese casserole is macaroni and cheese. Another is broccoli, rice, and cheese.
A cheese casserole recipe may omit all other ingredients, focusing almost entirely on the cheese. A cook might combine ricotta cheese, an easily melted processed cheese, and cheddar cheese, then bake it with eggs, butter, and flour. This is a particularly calorie-dense dish.
Some cheese casseroles are better served baked. For example, if the casserole has a layer of Parmesan or mozzarella cheese on top, baking the dish gives it a golden crust. Baking an egg-and-cottage-or-ricotta-cheese casserole stiffens the filling, allowing a serving to hold together better.
Cheese casseroles, like other casseroles, can be made quickly. It simply entails combining ingredients in a suitable pan and baking for the specified amount of time, which is usually 30 to 45 minutes. Pre-packaged ingredients, such as canned soup, shredded cheese, and frozen vegetables, can be used quickly during a busy day. The casserole can be kept warm in a crock pot or an electric frying pan if necessary. Because of these characteristics, the cheese casserole is ideal for a potluck dinner or any other gathering where guests are expected to bring food.
Making a cheese casserole has a number of benefits, including the ability to use a variety of ingredients. For example, if a recipe calls for peas and carrots, a cook can use whatever vegetables they have on hand. These meals are popular among children, which allows parents to sneak in vegetables to entice picky eaters.
Unlike some other main courses, cheese casseroles are simple to customize to the tastes of the diners. A cook can also make a large casserole and save portions for later use by refrigerating or freezing them. Bringing a tasty leftover casserole to work and microwaving it can be a nice change from cold sandwiches or fast food.