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John Wayne Casserole

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

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

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

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

John Wayne Casserole

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

This beloved dish is packed with several layers that together, create one stunning dish.

At the very bottom is a bed of soft and pillowy biscuit crust. 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


  • 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

  • The baking mix batter will be sticky, so it might be a challenge to spread it into the pan. Here’s a trick: once the batter is in the pan, place a piece of parchment paper over it and give it a good press.
  • Like many casseroles, this one is easily customizable. There’s no need to be exact with the measurements! Add more or less of the ingredients to suit your taste.
  • Feel free to add whatever mix-ins you like. I’m talking corn, olives, and jalapenos. Use taco or pepper jack cheese for more heat Here’s a simple rule: if it works in a taco, it will also work in this casserole.
  • This casserole isn’t the healthiest of dishes, so stay away from it if you’re on a diet. But if you really can’t resist the urge, you can make it a little lighter by using ground turkey or chicken instead of beef. You can also add less cheese, and use 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 for the casserole was invented by the famous actor himself!

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

However, his original recipe, which was actually called “egg and cheese casserole,” didn’t have meat in it.

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

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

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The idea of coming up with a collection of recipes from famous people came from Cara Connery, who had several relatives pass away from cancer. 

Here’s the interesting part: she was only 10 when she took on the fund-raising initiative. 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.

Celebrity contributors included Alan Alda, Senator Hubert Humphrey, President Ronald Reagan, and John Wayne, to name a few. Even John Paul II sent in a prayer!

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. 

Sliced jalapenos, black olives, and chopped green onions won’t just add flavor and texture, but a pop of color, too. 

This dish is basically tacos in casserole form, so go ahead and finish it off with salsa and/or guacamole. Yum!

You can top it with sour cream, too, for added richness and a cool contrast to the hot casserole.

John Wayne Casserole



Prep time


Cooking time






  • 2 cups biscuit baking mix

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 (1-oz) packet taco seasoning

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 (10-oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies

  • 1 green pepper, diced

  • 1/2 cup onion, diced

  • 1 (4-oz) can diced chilies

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan with oil or cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, mix baking mix and 1 cup of water until combined. Spread into the bottom of the greased pan. Set aside.
  • Cook beef in a large skillet over medium heat until brown. Add taco seasoning and ¼ cup of water and cook for 3 to 5 more minutes, stirring often. Spread evenly over the baking mix batter. Top with canned diced tomatoes.
  • Cook green pepper and onion in a skillet over medium heat until the latter is translucent, about 5 minutes. Top mixture over diced tomatoes. Spoon canned diced chilies on top.
  • In a bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, and 1 cup of cheese until blended. Spoon over diced chilies. Sprinkle remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let it sit for 5 minutes to set before slicing. Enjoy!
John Wayne Casserole

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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 :)

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