Southern Squash Casserole is a beloved traditional dish in the Southern United States, known for its creamy texture and comforting flavors. This casserole combines tender slices of summer squash with a rich mixture of cheese, butter, and crushed crackers, often topped with more cheese or breadcrumbs for a crispy finish. It’s a staple at family gatherings and potlucks, celebrated for its ability to pair well with a variety of main dishes, from fried chicken to barbecue.

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  • Author: recipstep
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Southern Squash Casserole is a comforting and hearty dish that combines tender squash with a creamy, cheesy mixture and a crispy breadcrumb topping. It’s a staple in Southern cuisine, often served at gatherings and holidays to complement a variety of main dishes.



2 tablespoons butter, divided
4 small yellow squash (about 2 lbs.), sliced (about 6 cups total)
1 small onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 eggs
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
¾ cup crushed butter crackers (I used 18 Ritz crackers)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add squash, onion, and bell pepper to the skillet, cooking and stirring for about 10 minutes (or until vegetables are tender). Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise.
Stir the egg mixture into the squash mixture.
Transfer the squash mixture into the prepared baking dish.
In a separate bowl, combine crushed crackers with remaining 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Sprinkle buttered cracker crumbs over top of casserole.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until casserole is set and topping is golden brown.


  • Ensure to drain the cooked squash and onion well to avoid a soggy casserole.
  • For a lighter version, substitute sour cream with Greek yogurt and use low-fat cheeses.
  • The casserole can be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight; just add the topping before baking.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Southern American


  • Calories: 350
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Sodium: 450mg
  • Fat: 26g
  • Saturated Fat: 15g
  • Carbohydrates: 18g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 12g
  • Cholesterol: 115mg

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I use other types of squash in this casserole?

Yes, you can substitute yellow summer squash with other types such as butternut or acorn squash. Keep in mind that harder squashes will need a longer cooking time to become tender.

Is there a way to make this casserole less calorie-dense?

To reduce the calories, you can use low-fat cheese and milk or substitute part of the cheese with nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor without the fat. Additionally, increasing the proportion of squash and reducing the amount of topping can also lower the calorie count.

How can I make this casserole crunchy without using breadcrumbs?

For a gluten-free or lower-carb alternative, you can use crushed nuts such as almonds or pecans, or even pork rinds for a crunch without the breadcrumbs.

Can Southern Squash Casserole be made ahead of time?

Absolutely! You can assemble the casserole a day ahead and refrigerate it overnight. Simply add the breadcrumb topping before baking to ensure it stays crispy.

What’s the best way to reheat leftovers?

Reheat leftovers in an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until they are heated through. This method helps maintain the texture better than microwaving.

Key Ingredients and Variations

The classic ingredients for a Southern Squash Casserole include yellow summer squash, onions, eggs, mayonnaise, and cheddar cheese. These elements are blended with crushed buttery crackers for a touch of crunch and baked until golden brown. Variations of the recipe might incorporate sour cream instead of mayonnaise for a tangier taste or add green chilies or pimentos for a slight kick. Each family tends to have its own version, some adding carrots or bell peppers for extra texture and color.

Preparation Techniques

To prepare Southern Squash Casserole, start by slicing the squash and onions thinly. These vegetables are then cooked until soft, often sautéed with butter to enhance their sweetness. The cooked vegetables are mixed with a binding agent, typically a combination of beaten eggs and mayonnaise, to help set the casserole as it bakes. Cheese is mixed into the casserole for richness and more is sprinkled on top for a cheesy crust. The final touch is a layer of crushed crackers spread over the top before baking, which provides a satisfying crunch.

Cooking Tips for Perfect Casserole

Achieving the perfect Southern Squash Casserole involves a few key tips. Ensuring that the squash is not overly watery is crucial; this can be managed by salting the sliced squash and letting it sit to draw out moisture before cooking. Baking the casserole at a moderate temperature, around 350 degrees Fahrenheit, allows it to cook through evenly without burning the topping. To prevent the cracker topping from getting too brown before the casserole is set, cover it with foil for part of the baking time, removing the foil towards the end to crisp up the top layer.

Serving and Pairing Suggestions

Southern Squash Casserole is incredibly versatile, making it an excellent side dish for nearly any meal. It pairs beautifully with grilled meats, providing a creamy contrast to smoky flavors. For a lighter meal, it can accompany a fresh green salad or steamed vegetables. This casserole is also a popular addition to holiday meals, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas, where its comforting presence is always welcome. For an extra indulgent version, some cooks like to add a layer of crispy bacon or ham pieces within the casserole, enhancing its savory notes.

Seasonal Ingredient Adaptations

Southern Squash Casserole can be adapted to include a variety of seasonal vegetables, making it a versatile dish throughout the year. In the spring, incorporating fresh green peas or asparagus can add a fresh, vibrant touch. During the summer months, adding fresh herbs like basil or parsley enhances the flavor with a bright, aromatic note. For a fall version, mixing in some diced pumpkin or sweet potatoes can introduce a sweet richness that complements the creamy texture. In winter, swapping in heartier vegetables like rutabaga or parsnips can transform the dish into a more substantial side that stands up well to cold-weather comfort foods.


Dietary Considerations

For those with specific dietary needs, there are several ways to modify Southern Squash Casserole. Gluten-free diners can replace traditional breadcrumbs with gluten-free crackers or a crunchy topping of nuts and seeds. Those watching their calorie intake might opt for low-fat milk and cheeses, or reduce the amount of cheese and butter used in the recipe. Vegetarians can ensure the dish is meat-free, as some traditional recipes might include bacon or ham; using a vegetarian cheese can also make the dish suitable for vegetarians who avoid animal rennet.

Advanced Preparation Techniques

For busy cooks, Southern Squash Casserole can be prepared in advance, making meal planning easier. The casserole can be assembled a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Alternatively, it can be fully cooked and then reheated, which can help intensify the flavors. When preparing in advance, add the breadcrumb topping just before baking to keep it crispy. Freezing is also an option; assemble the casserole without the topping, wrap tightly, and freeze. Add the topping after thawing and before baking to maintain texture and quality.

Tips for a Perfectly Crispy Topping

The topping on a Southern Squash Casserole is crucial as it adds a textural contrast to the creamy interior. For a perfectly crispy topping, mix the breadcrumbs or crushed crackers with melted butter, which helps them brown and crisp up beautifully in the oven. Spreading the topping evenly over the casserole ensures that every bite includes a bit of crunch. For an extra layer of flavor, sprinkle a little cheese or herbs into the topping mixture. Keeping an eye on the oven during the final minutes of baking can prevent the topping from burning.

Hosting and Serving Suggestions

When hosting a dinner where Southern Squash Casserole is featured, consider the overall dining experience. This dish is best served warm, with its cheese beautifully melted and the topping crisp. It can be a comforting addition to a potluck or holiday meal, where its warmth and richness can be a comforting presence on the table. Pair it with lighter dishes to balance the meal, or with spicy items that contrast with its creamy, mellow flavor. Beautiful serving dishes and rustic table settings can enhance the homey feel of this beloved Southern classic.

Enhancing Flavor with Aromatic Herbs

Incorporating fresh herbs into Southern Squash Casserole can significantly enhance its flavor profile. Herbs such as thyme, sage, and rosemary lend a savory depth that complements the natural sweetness of the squash. Adding these herbs during the sautéing process allows their flavors to meld seamlessly with the vegetables, enriching the overall taste. For a fresh, bright finish, sprinkle chopped parsley or cilantro over the casserole before serving. This not only adds color but also a burst of fresh flavor that lifts the dish.


Nutritional Benefits

Southern Squash Casserole offers various nutritional benefits, making it a worthwhile addition to a balanced diet. Squash is high in vitamins A and C, which are important for immune function and skin health, while also providing fiber and potassium. The inclusion of onions and garlic increases the dish’s antioxidant properties. To boost the health benefits further, consider using reduced-fat dairy products and increasing the proportion of vegetables like spinach or kale, which will add iron and additional vitamins without compromising the creamy texture and rich flavor.

Presentation Techniques

Presentation plays a significant role in enhancing the appeal of Southern Squash Casserole. Serve the dish in a beautiful, oven-to-table casserole dish to underscore its rustic charm. Garnishing with a sprinkle of fresh herbs or a light dusting of paprika can add visual interest and hint at the flavors within. If serving at a formal gathering, portion the casserole elegantly onto plates, accompanied by a garnish of herb sprigs or edible flowers to elevate the dining experience.

Pairings with Beverages

Choosing the right beverages to accompany Southern Squash Casserole can complement its rich and creamy nature. A crisp white wine, such as a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc, pairs well by cutting through the richness and balancing the dish’s heaviness. For non-alcoholic options, a sparkling apple cider or a mint-infused iced tea can provide a refreshing contrast to the creamy casserole, making the meal feel lighter and more balanced.

Cultural Significance

Southern Squash Casserole holds a place of affection in Southern cuisine, often featured during gatherings and festive occasions. This dish reflects the culinary traditions of the South, where casseroles are prized for their comfort food qualities and ease of preparation. The casserole’s ability to bring people together, serving as a hearty side during large family dinners or community events, underscores its cultural importance. It’s not just food; it’s a part of heritage and homecoming celebrations, emblematic of Southern hospitality and warmth.



Southern Squash Casserole is a quintessential dish that combines comfort with the rich flavors of the South. It’s not only delicious and versatile but also embodies the communal spirit of Southern cooking. With options to adjust based on dietary needs and personal taste, this casserole can easily become a staple in any kitchen. Whether it’s served at a casual family dinner or a festive holiday table, Southern Squash Casserole brings a touch of warmth and satisfaction, making it a beloved choice for both everyday meals and special occasions. Enjoy crafting this dish and share the comfort and joy it brings with every creamy, crunchy bite.

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