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John Wayne Casserole

John Wayne casserole is a scrumptious dish that can feed a crowd. It’s full of spice and Western flavor, and it’s also easy to make!

And thanks to pre-made and canned ingredients, the hands-on preparation will take you only 15 minutes. The rest is up to the oven!

The result is a beautiful medley of flavors and textures that will make your taste buds go nuts. It’s rich and creamy, hot and spicy, and oh-so-cheesy. 

Cheesy and Spicy John Wayne Casserole with Ground Beef and Spices
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John Wayne Casserole

In the mood for comfort food? John Wayne casserole will hit the spot! 

It’s the casserole with an interesting name and an even more interesting flavor.

At the very bottom is a bed of soft and pillowy biscuit crust. But don’t worry, thanks to a trusty biscuit mix, you won’t have to make it from scratch.

Next up are layers of savory ground beef, onions and green peppers, tomatoes, chilies, and a blend of sour cream and mayo. I mean, talk about the ultimate taco!

Completing the casserole is a generous sprinkling of cheddar cheese. When baked, it turns into a stunning golden crust that’s irresistibly ooey-gooey.

It only takes one bite to realize that this casserole is the one thing missing in your life. 

John Wayne Casserole Ingredients: Ground Beef, Taco Seasoning, Tomatoes, Green Pepper, Onions, Mayo and Cheddar Cheese


If you want to make the biscuit crust from scratch, you totally can! Here’s my go-to biscuit recipe.

If you want to keep things simple, though, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Biscuit Baking Mix – The tender crust of the casserole. You can use any brand, but I prefer Bisquick and Pillsbury.
  • Ground Beef – For that beefy, umami-packed flavor. 
  • Taco Seasoning – To transform your ground beef from delicious to drool-worthy.
  • Tomato – For a juicy, refreshing contrast to the rich casserole. 
  • Green Pepper – To give it a bit of a kick!
  • Onion – This recipe uses sauteed onions, but you can also mix in some raw onion slices for a more pungent flavor.
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies and Diced Chilies – For a hot and spicy casserole.
  • Sour Cream and Mayo – The rich and creamy elements that balance out the heat from the chilies.
  • Cheddar Cheese – An integral part of any casserole. When baked, the top part turns into a crisp golden crust, while the inside is wonderfully melty.

Tips for the Best Casserole

As with all good ground beef casseroles, this recipe is super simple and budget-friendly.

And it’s so good, I know you’ll want it on your weekly dinner menu.

So, to make sure your John Wayne casserole is perfect, here are a few tips:

  • Use parchment on the biscuit dough. Pour the sticky biscuit dough into the dish and cover it with parchment. Use that to press the dough into a smooth layer.
  • Make it your own. Feel free to swap out spices or add/reduce the chilies to your liking. Or try adding corn, olives, and jalapenos to make it super hearty.
  • Lighten it up. Use fat-free cheeses and swap the ground beef for turkey or chicken. You can also try low-fat sour cream and mayo.
Spicy Homemade John Wayne Casserole with Ground Beef, Onions, Taco Seasoning and Cheese

How Did This Dish Get Its Name?

It’s really simple: the recipe was invented by the actor himself!

As it turns out, John Wayne donated the recipe to a charity cookbook for the American Cancer Society, years and years ago. 

His original recipe, which was called “Egg and Cheese Casserole,” didn’t have meat in it.

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Over time, the recipe has evolved into many variations, including this one with beef. 

Cara Connery

The cookbook was called “Cooking with Love from Cara and Her Friends,” and was first published in 1979.

Cara Connery had had several relatives pass away from cancer. So, she came up with the idea of curating a collection of recipes from famous people.

But here’s the interesting part: she was only 10 when she took on the fund-raising initiative!

And with the help of her mother, she managed to write to 1,400 famous people in total. 

Many were touched by the young girl’s letter and donated their recipes.

The celebrity contributors included:

  • Alan Alda
  • Senator Hubert Humphrey
  • President Ronald Reagan
  • John Wayne
  • John Paul II

John Wayne Casserole Toppings

This casserole is already super loaded, but you can still make your dinner even more extra by going crazy on the toppings. 

Here are my faves:

  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Black olives
  • Chopped green onions
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Sour cream

More Hearty Casseroles You’ll Love

Easter Breakfast Casserole
Chicken Stuffing Casserole
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
Chili Dog Casserole
Cabbage Casserole

John Wayne Casserole

Course: Recipes, SaveCuisine: American


Prep time


Cooking time





This John Wayne casserole is like tacos in casserole form! It’s full of spice and Western flavor, and it’s guaranteed to satisfy!


  • 2 cups biscuit baking mix

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 (1 ounce) packet taco seasoning

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies

  • 1 green pepper, diced

  • 1/2 cup onion, diced

  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced chilies

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9×13-inch baking pan with oil or cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, stir the baking mix and 1 cup of water until combined. Spread the dough into the bottom of the greased pan. Set aside.
  • Cook the beef in a large skillet over medium heat until brown. Add taco seasoning and 1/4 cup of water and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Spread evenly over the baking mix batter. Top with canned diced tomatoes.
  • Cook the green pepper and onion in a skillet over medium heat until the latter is translucent, about 5 minutes. Spread this over the diced tomatoes followed by the canned diced chilies.
  • In a bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, and 1 cup of cheese until blended. Spoon over the diced chilies and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!
John Wayne Casserole

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

2 thoughts on “John Wayne Casserole”

    • Hi Kay, I usually make and serve this one right away. But you can prep the dish a day ahead and keep it in the fridge (covered with plastic) and then bake when you need it. From cold, I’d add about 5-10 minutes to the cooking time.

      Another option is to make and bake the dish as instructed. Then, cool, wrap, and freeze it. Thaw in the fridge overnight and bake for about 20 minutes or until hot.

      Just keep in mind, the biscuit base may not be as fluffy. The longer it sits under the toppings, the more moisture it absorbs. So it might be dense after time in the fridge/freezer.

      Hope this helps!


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