Southern Squash Casserole is a creamy, classic casserole that tastes great when served on your holiday table or as a side dish for chicken. Made with fresh or frozen yellow squash, this easy casserole can be made year-round and requires minimal prep work without any weird ingredients.
About Healthy Squash Casserole
While yellow squash has never topped my "favorite veggies" list, this squash casserole is a must-have on my Thanksgiving and Christmas table.
The cooked squash and onions with the creamy sauce covered in buttery breadcrumbs make for a satisfying and tasty holiday side. Also, I love serving squash casserole with fried or roasted chicken.
What's nice about this recipe is that it is not mushy, it's creamy but not overly cheesy, and it has just enough spice without overpowering the squash.
The squash is cooked but not overcooked, the sauce is thick but not too rich, and it's nice and comforting.
Onions: Most onions will work well in this recipe. White, red, yellow, or sweet onions are all good options. You can also use frozen diced onion to reduce prep time.
Squash: Same as the onion, both frozen and fresh squash will work in this recipe.
Flour: Any type of flour will work. I've successfully used white whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, and unbleached all-purpose.
How to Make Southern Squash Casserole
Making squash casserole is pretty simple. You have to boil the squash and onion before you assemble the casserole to help cook the squash & onions a little plus allow the squash to release some of their juices.
While letting the squash drain, you will make the sauce by cooking some flour in butter. Whisk in the milk, add the cheese and season.
When your squash is as drained as possible -- this is very important... you want to dry your squash as much as possible, so your casserole isn't soupy -- you'll fold it into the sauce.
Transfer to a casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs (or butter crackers) and butter. Bake and enjoy!
I said it before, but it's worth repeating: make sure your squash is very well drained.
I like to gently press it and then use a towel to blot dry.
If you don't make sure to dry the squash then you run the risk of having a soupy squash casserole, and that sounds terrible!
Make Ahead Ideas
You can prepare the casserole ahead of time, but you don't want to add the topping until just before baking.
And make sure to take the casserole out of the oven before you start to preheat the oven, so your casserole dish isn't very cold when you add it to the oven. Adding a cold baking dish to a hot oven could cause it to break.
I have tried in the past to prepare the cheese sauce in advance and assemble later, but I found that it didn't hold up as well.
You can easily use frozen squash and onions in the casserole, and I generally do because the squash is already sliced for you at the same time.
Any type of flour will work. I've successfully used white whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, and unbleached all-purpose.
To make this gluten-free, you can use cornstarch instead of flour. Use 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and whisk it into ½ cup cold milk. To make the sauce, you'll melt the butter and then whisk in the cornstarch-milk mixture. Add remaining milk and cook until thick. Follow directions as normal.
Also, you will want to use gluten-free bread or gluten-free crackers in place of the regular bread/cracker topping.
Refrigerate leftovers and transfer to an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or the freezer for one month.
What to Serve with Squash Casserole
I'm partial to enjoying this squash casserole on Thanksgiving or Christmas, but it's also great with fried chicken as I previously mentioned. Some of my favorite holiday sides are below.
Looking for an easy Southern squash casserole? This creamy, classic casserole tastes great served on your holiday table or as a side dish for fried chicken.
Made with fresh or frozen yellow squash, this easy casserole can be made year-round and requires minimal prep work without any weird ingredients.
MORE HOLIDAY SIDE RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE:
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Thanksgiving Roasted Vegetables
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Cheesy Brussels Sprouts Dip
- 4 pounds yellow squash sliced
- 1 small onion finely diced
- 2 tablespoons butter divided
- 2 tablespoons flour any kind
- 8 ounces milk whole or 2%
- 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (about 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup breadcrumbs or butter crackers
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add squash and onions. Boil for 5 minutes or 7 minutes if vegetables were frozen. Drain and set aside.
- Melt butter in pot over medium heat. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Very gradually add milk while constantly whisking. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly.
- Remove from heat; add cheese, salt, and pepper, stirring until cheese melts. Add in squash mixture, and stir well.
- Spoon squash mixture into a 2-quart baking dish or keep in the pot. [If making-ahead, cover and refrigerate].
- Meanwhile, mix together remaining tablespoon of butter and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle squash mixture evenly with breadcrumbs.
- Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated and breadcrumbs are lightly browned. Enjoy!
*2 slices bread makes about 1 cup breadcrumbs.
*Can be made ahead up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate without breadcrumbs. Bring to room temperature before covering with breadcrumbs and baking.