Casseroles Need A Higher Baking Temperature Than You Might Expect

What's not to love about a well-made casserole? As a one-dish meal, it minimizes cleanup and makes delicious leftovers. Not only that, but a casserole is a comfort food that stirs up the feeling of a home-cooked family meal.

MasterClass defines just about any one-pot meal baked in a deep dish as a casserole, including lasagna and even deep-dish pizza. With such a broad definition, there is plenty of room to improvise. Creating your own casseroles is surprisingly easy, you just need to balance the five main ingredients including protein, starch, vegetable, sauce, and cheese (or cheese substitute). In addition, you also need to bake your casserole at a high enough temperature for the best results.

Choosing the best temperature to bake your casserole is a snap once you understand how to best use your oven. For example, preheating the oven ensures that it reaches your intended temperature, and the heat evenly distributes for consistent, even cooking. It only takes a few minutes. Putting your casserole in before your oven is fully heated may result in the part nearest the heating element being cooked more than the other sides. Of course, it all starts with selecting the right temperature.

The right temperature for the job

People often bake casseroles at a lower temperature than is optimal. Casseroles cook best at moderately hot heat between 300 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit (via UNL Food). Of course, the best temperature depends on the size of your casserole, especially its depth. A deeper dish casserole may require a longer cooking time or slightly higher heat, especially if it includes uncooked ingredients like potatoes.

When in doubt try 350 degrees for an "average" sized casserole as that temperature is well-calibrated to bake a variety of dishes including casseroles. Often, casserole ingredients are pre-cooked so baking just gives the ingredients a chance to fuse into a delicious meal. Parboiling potatoes and other ingredients with a longer-cooked time streamlines the process. Also, for even better results, be sure to position your baking rack in the middle of your oven. Too close or too far from the heat source may result in uneven cooking just like not preheating it.

If you are now craving a casserole, try one of our recipes for delicious casseroles to make for dinner or create your own. Another great thing about casseroles is they freeze well, so you can enjoy the convenience of a frozen ready meal with the flavor of a wholesome home-cooked meal.