This Ultimate Cheesy Squash Casserole recipe is a delicious southern casserole filled with layers of tender squash, creamy cheese, and savory flavor.
Despite yellow squash being a summer vegetable, I always think of squash casserole as a fall dish. It might have something to do with the fact that squash casserole is a requirement on my Thanksgiving table. Regardless of the time of year, it’s a great side for just about any menu.
Now, I’ve shared a squash casserole recipe with y’all before, but I figure you can never have too much of a good thing, so here’s another! My other recipe forgoes the “cream of” soup and has some bacon in the mix, too. However, this version swaps the eggs and sour cream in the other recipe for a blend of cream of chicken and mushroom soup (keep reading for more on this pantry staple) and sour cream. And while I love both of them, I really love the creamy, velvety texture of this version. Enjoy!
What is squash casserole?
Squash casserole is a delicious and comforting southern dish made with squash, typically yellow squash or zucchini, combined with other ingredients and baked in the oven. Often served as a side dish, the main ingredients in squash casserole usually include lightly cooked squash and onions, cream of mushroom and/or chicken soup, and spices. It is common for some recipes to also include breadcrumbs, crushed crackers, cheese, or eggs.
Squash casserole is traditionally baked in the oven until golden brown and bubbly and served as a side dish at family gatherings, potlucks, and holiday meals. Yum!
Onion & Bacon Grease – When it comes to squash, there has to be onions. And when there is squash and onions, there’s got to be some smoky bacon flavor, too – kinda like my Old School Squash and Onions. So, we start by sautéing our squash and onions in some bacon grease. If you don’t have any bacon grease, you can use butter. But the bacon grease is best. Seriously.
Squash – Feel free to substitute zucchini in for all the squash or do a combination of the two! Also, you will want to drain the vegetables after they have been cooked. Summer squash is something like 95% water and all that water can make for a soggy casserole. Cooking it will bring that water out, so draining it is a little insurance policy against a waterlogged dish. Is it required? Nope. Should you do it? Yep.
No eggs – An ingredient that’s notably missing in this version of squash casserole is eggs. Eggs can help to boost the amount of protein and hold the ingredients together a bit. The thing is, eggs in a dish like this can result in a bit of a curdled texture that I find a little off-putting. I tested the recipe with eggs, and it works just fine. You can add in two eggs if you wish. I just found the texture of the sauce in the casserole much more pleasant without the eggs when using the “cream of” soup.
Cream of Chicken and Mushroom Soup – One of my favorite things to have in the arsenal when it comes to casseroles is a can of Cream of Chicken and Mushroom soup. Now this confuses folks sometimes because they’ve either never heard of it or they think I’m talking about a can of each. Nope. It’s one can that’s cream of chicken and mushroom all in one. And, it’s delicious! It gives you great chicken flavor and savory mushroom flavor altogether. I almost always use it when a recipe calls for one or the other. You should have no trouble finding it in your local grocery store right with the other condensed soups. That said, if you can’t get your hands on it, one can of either cream of chicken or cream of mushroom will work just fine.
Can you freeze squash casserole?
You can absolutely freeze your squash casserole. However, I recommend freezing it before you bake it rather than after you bake it. I find that if you freeze your squash casserole after you cook it and later try to reheat it, it turns into a mushy mess. All the ingredients start to meld together, and it’s not very pretty or appetizing. However, freezing squash casserole is a great way to do some meal prep ahead of time. Here are a few things to note when freezing uncooked squash casserole:
- Leave off the toppings! If your recipe includes any toppings like breadcrumbs or cheese, it’s best to leave them off for now. You can add them before baking the casserole after it’s thawed.
- Allow the unbaked squash casserole to cool down to room temperature before sealing! Since we saute the squash first, this step is crucial to avoid condensation inside the container and a soggy, watery casserole.
- Choose the proper dish and sealing method! Make sure the container is suitable for freezing to preserve the quality of the casserole. You also want to make sure your container is airtight, so that it does not get freezer burn. After covering your dish, use heavy-duty aluminum foil to secure the dish to ensure there is no exposure to air.
- Store your squash casserole in the flat position! When you place your uncooked squash casserole in the freezer, make sure it sits flat so that it freezes evenly and does not shift.
- Store in the freezer for up to 2-3 months!
- Thaw before baking! When you’re ready to cook the casserole, remove it from the freezer and transfer it to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Once thawed, add your toppings and follow your recipe’s baking instructions to cook the squash casserole until it’s fully heated and bubbly.
Ultimate Cheesy Squash Casserole
- 2 pounds yellow squash, thinly sliced (about 1/4-inch thick)
- 1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
- 3 tablespoons bacon grease (or butter)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of chicken and mushroom condensed soup (see note)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- About 30 buttery crackers, crushed (like Ritz)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
- Add the bacon grease to a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted add the onions and squash. Season with the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, but not mushy – about 10 minutes. Drain the squash mixture well in a colander to remove excess liquid.
- In a large bowl, stir together the undiluted cream of chicken and mushroom soup, sour cream, and cheese. Fold in the drained squash mixture. Spread into the prepared dish.
- In a small bowl, combine the crushed crackers with the butter until the cracker crumbs are coated. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the casserole. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.