Have you ever tried John Wayne Casserole? It’s a layered casserole that’s so good. It’s meaty, hearty, cheesy, and with a biscuit-like bottom layer, it’s got everything you need for a 1-dish dinner. So easy to make and something the whole family will love, grab your ingredients and make this amazing casserole today!

serving of John Wayne Casseroles

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It’s no secret – I love casseroles. I love the hearty warmth of them, and I especially love that everyone digs in and can eat their fill of something homemade and delicious. This John Wayne Casserole ticks all those boxes, and every time I make it, it always disappears!

John Wayne Casserole

This is a great ground beef casserole dish to take to a party, potluck, or gathering. Not only does everyone love it – and I always get plenty of requests for the recipe – but it’s easy to make, and you can assemble it ahead of time and bake it when ready.

serving a meaty, cheesy casserole

Who doesn’t love a meaty casserole with plenty of cheese and big, bold flavors? I sure do, and even though this recipe wasn’t created by John Wayne (the recipe was first published in a cookbook in 1979), it sure is good! Try it; I’m sure you love it, too!

a serving of baked dish with cheese on top

Why I love this recipe

  • It’s an easy-to-make layered casserole with all the good stuff in it! Meat, cheese, veggies, and a biscuit-like base.
  • It makes enough to serve about 8, but if you have leftovers, they heat up so well!
  • Make it in a 9×13-inch baking dish for quick cooking and easy transport to events or gatherings.

ingredients to make a John Wayne Casserole

Gather these ingredients

  • Cooking oil – Any neutral-flavored oil like vegetable oil.
  • Onion – Thinly sliced.
  • Red bell pepper – Thinly sliced.
  • Ground beef – Use lean (90/20) or 80/20 ground beef.
  • Water
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bisquick mix – Or any baking mix.
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sour cream
  • Sharp cheddar cheese – Shredded.
  • Jack cheese – Shredded.
  • Roma tomatoes – Thinly sliced.
  • Canned green chilies – A 4.5-oz can.
  • Fresh cilantro – Chopped; optional garnish.

how to make a John Wayne Casserole

How to make the casserole

  1. Preheat your oven to 325-F and spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set this aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the onions and bell pepper, and saute until they start to soften; about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the ground beef to the onions and peppers and cook over medium-high heat. Cook the beef until it is no longer pink; break up the meat with a spatula as you cook.
  4. Drain the excess fat and discard it.
  5. Add ½ cup of water, chili powder, cumin, and paprika to the skillet and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  6. Combine the Bisquick – or baking mix – and ⅔ cup of water in a medium bowl and mix until a dough forms.
  7. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish and up along the sides.
  8. Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, half the cheddar and half the Jack cheese in a bowl and mix well. Set this aside.
  9. Spread the ground beef layer over top of the dough in the baking dish. Top the beef mixture with the sliced tomatoes and sprinkle the green chilis over the top of the tomatoes.
  10. Spread the sour cream and cheese mixture over top of the green chilies, and finish by sprinkling the remaining cheese over the whole casserole.
  11. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the edges are slightly browned and the meat mixture is hot and bubbly. 
  12. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve!

9x13 John Wayne Casserole

Tips & substitutions

  • You can use ground chicken, turkey, or even pork in place of the ground beef. Try it with bulk sausage!
  • Like it spicy? Add a diced jalapeno to the ground beef mixture.
  • Bisquick or any all-purpose baking mix will work as the bottom layer.
  • If the dough sticks when trying to spread it in the bottom of the baking dish, spray your fingers lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Switch up the cheeses! Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack, any kind of cheddar, and more will work in this John Wayne Casserole recipe.

a fork bite of casserole

Serving suggestions

This is a 1-dish meal with everything you need for a hearty dinner or lunch. Sometimes, I serve it with a house salad and garlic bread or a side of cornbread. Don’t forget about dessert! Brownie Crinkle Cookies are the perfect make-ahead dessert, or serve homemade ice cream at the end of the meal. 

a serving of cheesy baked dish


Store any leftover cooled casserole in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. You can also freeze the leftovers. Simply pack them in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to a month.

cheesy 9x13 casserole

Check out these awesome casserole recipes while you’re here

a serving of baked dish with cheese on top
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Get the Recipe:

John Wayne Casserole

Loaded with flavor, this meaty and cheesy John Wayne casserole is a timeless classic. With a biscuit-like base, it’s a whole meal in 1-dish! 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 8
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  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds ground beef, browned, crumbled and drained
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 ¼ cups Bisquick mix, or baking mix
  • cup water
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
  • 1 cup jack cheese
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 1 4 oz can green chiles
  • Fresh cilantro, finely chopped (for garnish)


  • 9x13 baking dish


  • Preheat the oven to 325° F. Prepare a 9x13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat the oil and add the onions and red pepper;  sauté until they begin to soften about 5 minutes.
  • Add ground beef to the veggies and cook over medium-high heat, crumbling with the back of a spatula, until the meat is no longer pink. Drain excess fat.
  • Add ½ cup water and seasonings to the beef mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl add the baking mix and ⅔ cup water to form a soft dough. Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides (½ inch) of the 9x13 baking dish.
    TIP: Grease your fingers with butter or spray with cooking spray before you press the dough (it is sticky).
  • In a small bowl add the mayonnaise, sour cream, and half of the cheeses. Mix and set aside.

Prepare the casserole:

  • Over the biscuit dough layer, spread the ground beef mixture and then top with layered sliced tomatoes. Evenly sprinkle the green chilies over the tomatoes. Next, spread the sour cream mixture over the green chilies. Top with remaining shredded cheese.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The edges of the crust will be slightly brown and the meat mixture will be heated through with melty cheese on top. Delicious!
  • Sprinkle lightly with fresh chopped cilantro.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Cuisine: American
Course: Main Course
Calories: 699kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 52g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g, Monounsaturated Fat: 19g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 122mg, Sodium: 1077mg, Potassium: 529mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1153IU, Vitamin C: 24mg, Calcium: 316mg, Iron: 4mg
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John Wayne Casserole