Whenever we have family gatherings, I get assigned dishes. I’m fine with that since I enjoy cooking, and my family definitely has some favorites that I make that they enjoy me bringing over and over again like my orzo salad or apple cake or homemade bread. This year at my uncle’s house, they asked if I could bring corn casserole. Corn casserole? Why not?
Well, maybe because I don’t really like corn casserole. That primarily stems from my dislike of cornbread – nope, I’d never make a good southerner. I can’t do grits or sausage gravy either. And though I make an awesome French toast for my family even though I don’t like French toast myself, I decided that if I was going to make corn casserole, I was going to find a way to make one that I’d like.
After searching and searching for a recipe that didn’t include cornbread, I found a few, but nothing was really what I wanted. Corn and bacon go so beautifully together. And I didn’t want to use any sort of condensed soup; my corn casserole was going to be a from scratch type recipe because that’s the way I cook and the way I eat. Obviously, I was just going to have to come up with one on my own.
Anything but that, right?
I’m so glad I did. I made a cheesy corn casserole with just a little bit of a kick, and it was a hit. There was just a little bit left over, but that quickly disappeared after we brought it home. One of my picky relatives declared it the best corn casserole she’d ever eaten. And me? Well, considering that I don’t like corn casserole yet devoured two servings of this one, I suppose I’d have to agree.
Though it is completely from scratch, it isn’t that hard to make. It takes a little bit of time, but much of it is inactive cook time, so you aren’t slaving over the stove for hours. The time you do spend there? Totally worth it.
Corn Casserole Recipe
I started out by crisping up some thick, center cut bacon. I love a high quality bacon, not only because it has less fat and more yummy meat to it, but also because it has the perfect contrast of chewy and crispy when cut into matchsticks and then browned.
I drained most of the grease, leaving maybe 2-3 tablespoons and then added a diced red onion and let that caramelize in the bacon grease. It’s one of my favorite combinations ever, and a great complement to the casserole. Once the onions were caramelized, I added the flour and let it cook for a bit to get the raw flour taste out as I made a roux for the corn casserole’s cheese sauce.
I added the milk while stirring constantly to avoid any lumps, then added the cream cheese and stirred until it was smooth before adding the shredded cheddar cheese in small batches, stirring between each addition. I added the hot sauce for a little kick – add as much or as little as you choose to fit your tastebuds – and the green onion, and it was ready for the corn.
I used organic frozen corn because it’s the middle of winter, but this would be great with fresh corn. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the taste of canned corn, but you could use it. I simply prefer the crisp taste and texture of frozen.
Once I stirred in the corn, I added the whole mixture to a two quart casserole dish and pushed it down to ensure there were no air holes.
I could have left it just like this and baked it, but I wanted to have a crunchy, cheesy topping. I crushed some crackers and mixed that with some more shredded cheese that I laid atop the casserole before placing the lid onto the corn casserole and putting it in the oven. My casserole dish has an oven safe lid. If yours doesn’t you could easily cover it in tin foil instead.
After it had baked for about 45 minutes, I removed the lid and added the last of the toppings. I placed the green onions and bacon over the top and returned it to the oven to bake for another ten minutes. The cheese on top didn’t melt the way you might expect as it baked staying in the shreds rather than fully melting, but it was perfect for this topping.
After letting it cool and set for about ten minutes, the corn casserole was ready to eat. And boy did we!
- 4 slices thick, center cut bacon
- 1 c red onion, diced
- 3 T flour
- 3/4 c milk
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 4 c shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 1-2 t hot sauce
- 4 green onion, divided
- 8 c frozen corn
- 1 1/2 c crackers, crushed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut bacon into matchsticks and place into a cold pan. Heat and cook bacon until just barely cooked through. Remove from pan and drain all but 3 T of bacon grease.
- Add diced red onion and cook on medium low heat to caramelize. Stir only periodically and cook for 10-15 minutes until soft and sweet.
- Turn heat to medium and add flour Stir, cooking for 2-3 minutes.
- While stirring, add milk . Once incorporated, add cream cheese and stir until melted. Add 3 cups cheddar cheese in batches. Stir in each batch until it melts before adding the next handful. Reserve the last cup for topping.
- Slice green onions thinly on the bias. Reserve a handful for topping, and add hot sauce and most of your green onion to the sauce, then stir. Add frozen corn and stir again.
- If your pot is not large enough to hold the corn and the cheese sauce, place the corn into a bowl and pour cheese sauce over it before stirring.
- Add the mixture to a two quart casserole dish and push it down to remove any air holes.
- Crush crackers, then mix with remaining shredded cheese. Sprinkle atop the casserole before placing the lid onto the corn casserole and putting it in the 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, remove the lid and add the last of the toppings, reserved green onion and bacon pieces. Return corn casserole to the oven to bake for another ten minutes.
- Once finished baking, let it cool and set for about ten minutes, then serve immediately.
You can leave off the cracker and cheese topping if you choose, but it adds a great texture to the casserole and makes it a little prettier when presenting. If you choose you can broil the casserole for a couple minutes at the end of baking to add just a little more crunch.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 369 Total Fat: 20g Saturated Fat: 10g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 52mg Sodium: 423mg Carbohydrates: 36g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 6g Protein: 16g