A recipe for the very best Southern squash casserole, featuring yellow squash, cheese, and Ritz crackers. Perfect for barbecues, family dinners, potlucks, and more!
I’m no rookie when it comes to Southern squash casserole, and this side dish and I have been dominating potluck barbecues since 2008. I love bringing it to summertime gatherings when the squash is in season and at it’s very sweetest, but I’m certainly not above pulling this beauty out in the dead of winter. I’ve made it a number of different ways, but without a doubt, this recipe out-shines the rest.
As much as I’d like to say this was a “first-try”, “one-and-done” type recipe…it was not. Cook the squash the wrong way? You’ll end up with a mushy interior. Cook the casserole at too high of a temperature? You’ll end up with a curdled interior…and burnt crackers.
As you can see here, there are no burnt crackers and there is certainly no curdling in these parts. This squash casserole is straight-up legit.
I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, here: Squash casserole is easy to make. You just need the right recipe. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place, and friend, I’m so glad you did. Take a seat, get comfy, and let’s have ourselves a sweet little chit-chat about how to make one of the greatest Southern side dish casseroles in the world.
HOW TO MAKE SQUASH CASSEROLE
Yellow squash casserole is simple to make. In fact, the most taxing part of the whole process is simply chopping up the squash, and that’s barely a task at all. If you need a little how-to when it comes to chopping up summer squash, check out the demo below:
Once the veggies are chopped, it’s time to cook them. And, we are going to cook them the right way.
DON’T BOIL THE SQUASH. INSTEAD, SAUTE.
Most methods for Southern squash casserole begin with a large pot of boiling water, in which yellow squash will be submerged and boiled. I never quite understood the glory of that cooking method for squash. For one, it sucks a good majority of the flavor right outta there; and two, there is a faster and more flavorful way to cook yellow squash. Rather than waiting on a large pot of water to boil, I prefer to get straight to business by sauteing.
REMOVE EXCESS MOISTURE.
Once the squash has softened and cooked through, it is absolutely necessary to transfer it to a colander and press out the excess moisture. Summer squash has a decently high water content, and to prevent the casserole from becoming soupy, this is a very necessary step. Beyond the main ingredient, the rest is pretty much a cake-walk.
CUSTARD. CHEESE. CRACKERS. BAKE.
Does the word “custard” in a savory casserole kind of wierd you out a bit? Let me ease any doubts you may have, here. Custard is just a simple mix of a dairy and eggs. Egg holds the casserole together, cream makes it….well, creamy. A creamy custard in combination with freshly grated cheese, crushed crackers, and sweet yellow squash is just about as heavenly as it gets.
An extra dose of cheese and crackers go on top, and it is baked at 325° until the cheese is bubbly and the crackers are golden, and you find yourself fighting the temptation to scald your mouth with an immediate taste. Please, enjoy.
SERVE SQUASH CASSEROLE WITH:
A recipe for the very best Southern squash casserole, featuring yellow squash, cheese, and Ritz crackers.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 ½ pounds yellow summer squash cut into quarters and diced into ½” pieces
- 1 ½ teaspoon Kosher salt, separated
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper, separated
- 1 ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley (optional)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- One sleeve of Ritz crackers (about 30 crackers), crushed
- 8 ounces Colby Jack cheese, freshly grated
Preheat oven to 325° and have ready a greased 9x13” baking dish.
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté 5 minutes, until translucent. Add squash and season with 1 tsp of salt and a ½ tsp of black pepper. Continue to sauté for another 10 minutes until softened.
Transfer squash mixture to a colander. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash the squash, pressing out as much moisture as possible.
Whisk together cream, egg, parsley, sugar, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp black pepper. Transfer squash mixture to a mixing bowl and stir in custard. Add half of the crushed crackers along with half of the cheese. Stir to combine.
Transfer ingredients to the greased baking dish. Top with remaining cheese followed by the leftover cracker crumbs. Bake 40 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the edges of the casserole are bubbly. Serve and enjoy.