If potluck dinners have a mascot, a casserole is it. Casseroles are the best take-alongs for baby showers, religious gatherings and family reunions. You can make all these recipes either the morning of the event or the night before, and reheat any of them a couple of hours before the gathering.
For larger families, a casserole can be a one-dish meal satisfying the entire crowd. For smaller families or just yourself, these casseroles make handy leftovers for another three or four days. Many of these recipes have cheese in them, so if you're concerned about fat content, use a low-fat variety.
Chili cheese hot dogs
Yes, you actually slow-cook the buns, too. Traditional chili cheese dogs require numerous napkins to contain the mess. This version includes all of the taste, but as a casserole, you use a fork or spoon to eat it, making it far less messy. After it's cooked, add whatever toppings you want, such as sour cream or bacon. Get the recipe here.
Bacon cheeseburger tater tot casserole
If 2 pounds of ground beef and 10 strips of bacon don't melt your carnivorous heart, then add some more. This casserole blends all the ingredients of a tasty bacon cheeseburger, with frozen tater tots acting as the starch in lieu of hamburger buns. Peas give it a dash of color, but if the thought of veggies contaminating your meat gives you the chills, omit the peas. Get the recipe here.
If you like creamed corn, but it often reminds you more of soup than a substantial side dish, this casserole is perfect for you. The additions of cheese and eggs provide a creaminess without making the dish runny. Jalapenos add a spicy kick that gets tempered by the other ingredients. Get the recipe here.
If you don't make a homemade sauce, stove-top spaghetti can be quick and easy -- but it will lack flavor. This slow cooker version lets the pasta absorb the flavors of the sauce, even if it's jarred. Add a can of diced tomatoes for extra vitamins and to enhance the sauce. This recipe includes ground beef, but you can make it without meat. Get the recipe here.
Chicken, broccoli and rice
Chicken, broccoli and rice casserole is an inexpensive go-to casserole when you can't think of anything else to make. Add the broccoli at the end of the cooking time to retain its nutrients and the florets' shapes. This recipe calls for cheddar cheese, but you may use any cheese you like. Although white rice is the standard for rice casseroles, brown rice is more flavorful and has a better texture after the long cooking process. Get the recipe here.
This recipe cooks on low for 8 to 9 nine hours, so make it the night before for a quick, hot breakfast or brunch the next morning. A full dozen eggs and frozen hash browns hold everything together, and two types of cheese add natural saltiness. For a vegetarian version, omit the sausage. Get the recipe here.
Chicken enchilada casserole
Made the traditional way, with dipping the tortillas in sauce, enchiladas can get pretty messy and take a lot of prep work. This recipe does away with all that. Layered tortillas, filling and sauce create a satisfying lasagna-style enchilada. Top with sour cream and cilantro for a heaping helping of Tex-Mex goodness. Get the recipe here.
Cheesy bacon cauliflower
Looking to add more veggies to your family's diet? This recipe takes everything you love about loaded potatoes and pairs it with cauliflower. Without the potatoes, this version has far less carbs. Modify the recipe to your taste, adding more or less bacon, or omitting the bacon and using vegetable stock for a vegetarian option. Get the recipe here.
John Wayne casserole
The Duke knew what he was talking about when he gave a breakfast recipe to a child creating a celebrity cookbook in the 1970s. Hearty and full of cheese, this recipe leaves out the eggs from the Duke's version, but it does add frozen tater tots for body. Taco seasoning, ground beef and chilies give this breakfast casserole a Tex-Mex flavor. Get the recipe here.