Cheesy Taco Casserole

Growing up in the Minnesota meant that I ate lots of casseroles growing up.  Except we called them “hot dishes”.  Since I’m no longer living in Minnesota I thought casserole was a more universal term than hot dish so the recipe title reflects casserole, even though in my heart, it will always be a hot dish to me.

Growing up, we needed hearty and warm food in our bellies to sustain us through those cold, long winters.  Hot dishes were the way to go.  Not to mention, they made planned leftovers, and were an inexpensive way to feed a family.

It wasn’t gogi berries and dulse flakes and locally grown avocados and lemon trees in the backyard where I grew up.

It was food like this.

This casserole reminds me of my mom’s weekly taco night and my grandma’s rice-based hot dishes.


Cheesy Taco Casserole

2 c cooked rice (cook 1 c dry rice with 2 c water for a 2 c rice yield)

1 jar salsa (I used a 12 oz jar of salsa that was corn and bean based, not red sauce based.  Use something you like or have on hand)

optional: 1/2 c to 1 c diced veggies such as carrots, bell peppers, olives, mushrooms, onions (whatever you’d add to tacos)

optional: 1 can beans (red, black, pinto, etc.)

2 tbsp taco seasoning (about 1/2 packet of commercially prepared taco seasonings, or the whole packet if you want extra taco flavor)

1 c sour cream (8 oz)

2 c shredded cheese + 1/2 c


After cooking the rice, combine all the other ingredients with the rice in a large bowl and stir until combined.  Pour mixture into a foil-lined 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 shreeded cheese on top.  Bake at 375F for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until cheese and the top is beginning to brown.  If you added extra beans, veggies, or your salsa was watery, this could lengthen cooking time.

Allow casserole to rest and cool for about 10 minutes to make slicing easier.

Yields: 12 hearty squares of casserole from the 9 x 13 pan.  Store leftovers in fridge or freeze squares in individual sized containers in the freezer for your a homemade, fast, “tv dinner”.

Notes: To make this vegan (and it’s already gluten-free)

For the sour cream, use a vegan/soy-based sour cream such as Follow Your Heart, or use a vegan/soy-based cream cheese such as Tofutti + splash of almond mik or water to thin it out.

For the shredded cheese, use a vegan cheese such as Follow Your Heart or Daiya.


Cook the rice

Add all ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine.

Press into a foil-lined 9 x 13 pan, and top with extra cheese before baking.

After baking….

…Garnish with sour cream and a bit more cheese, and serve with your favorite chips, if desired.

It combines flavors of my childhood into an easy meal.

And Scott and Skylar raved about it. 

Then again, anything with cheese and real sour cream is off to a good start, right?

Planned leftovers save the day.  Refrigerate or freeze, as I suggested in the recipe portion, for a hectic workweek meal option to have on hand.

From my last posts, a big thank you to everyone who continues to wish us a Happy 10 Year Anniversary.  I am blown away by how many of you have commented and how touching your comments are.  Thank you.

And, thanks for congratulating me on being featured in Women’s Health Magazine.  I am pretty excited about that one!


1. Did you grow up eating casseroles or hot dishes?

Oh, you know I did!

Cheap, easy, leftovers, can make in advance.  They were a mom’s best friend.  I understand that all better now that I’m a working mom.

2. Any favorite casserole recipes or go-to dishes that are your salvation for when you’re busy?

I’m all ears!  (One or two links, max, or your comment will go into moderation.)

3.  Best thing you’re eaten or done over the weekend?

Getting to Aruba, celebrating my 10 year anniversary, and being featured in a magazineIt’s been a great weekend for me!

P.S. If you’re just catching up on posts, here are mine since Friday:


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  16. Just made this casserole and it’s fantastic – THANK YOU!!

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  18. Can’t find the nutritional profile. Is there one?

  19. This was fantastic and would make it again, I added Hamburger to it because my husband likes meat in his casseroles and it turned out great…Thanks for the recipe…finally found something different to make and all I have to say is YUMMY

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  26. yummo! looks like the perfect way to camouflage some extra veggies into my boys dinner!! easy chicken and rice and beans! they’ll be sold before they think to start picking through for anything possibly green colored!

  27. Very good recipe! I like that you do pretty casual measuring!
    I would just say- I made this recipe for 4 people and we finished nearly all of it. Not sure if we just eat a ton or if this was meant to be a side dish, but next time I’ll do more rice and maybe some more of the other ingredients.

    • This is an older post for me and at the time, I had a toddler…she’s now a 2nd grader :) So I guess I would say it fed 2 adults and a toddler quite nicely. But casseroles, very flexible. You can always bulk them up or down, as your family size dictates!

      Glad you enjoyed it!

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