John Wayne Casserole Recipe

John Wayne Casserole

The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
700 Calories
41g Fat
38g Carbs
43g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 700
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 41g 53%
Saturated Fat 17g 87%
Cholesterol 147mg 49%
Sodium 1232mg 54%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 43g
Vitamin C 65mg 326%
Calcium 333mg 26%
Iron 6mg 32%
Potassium 915mg 19%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

John Wayne Casserole is a delicious mix of ground beef, vegetables, pickled jalapeños, and cheese, all layered atop a biscuit crust. According to, this casserole gets its name because “Wayne directly contributed the recipe to a 1979 cookbook titled, “Cooking with Love from Cara and Her Friends”, compiled by Cara Connery. It is unknown where Wayne got the recipe from.” However, what is now known as John Wayne Casserole is quite different from the original recipe. It drops the eggs and adds a biscuit crust and ground beef but keeps the original southwestern inspiration by including the pickled jalapeños, tomatoes, and cheese.


  • Cooking spray

  • 1 (16-ounce) can large biscuits

  • 2 pounds ground beef, preferably 85% lean

  • 1 (1-ounce) packet taco seasoning

  • 1/3 cup water

  • Kosher salt, as needed

  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced

  • 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced

  • 1 medium green bell pepper, sliced

  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • 8 ounces shredded mild cheddar cheese, divided

  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced jalapeños

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray large baking dish with cooking spray.

  3. Place the biscuits in a single layer in the baking dish and press them together, creating one layer of joined dough.

  4. Bake for 12 minutes.

  5. While the biscuits are baking, brown the beef in a large heavy-duty skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

  6. Drain most of the excess fat, add the taco seasoning, 1/3 cup water, and a pinch of salt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is coated with the seasoning, the water evaporates, and the meat is no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

  7. Add the onions, peppers, and a pinch of salt to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until tender, about 10 minutes.

  8. Add diced tomatoes and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the tomatoes are warmed through, about 3 minutes.

  9. Combine the sour cream, half the cheddar, and the jalapeños in a small bowl.

  10. Layer the ingredients on top of the baked biscuit crust in this order; ground beef, onion-pepper mixture, sour cream-cheddar mixture, then top with the remaining cheese.

  11. For two layers, divide the mixtures in half, layer twice as directed above, leaving the cheese for the top layer only.

  12. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown slightly.

  13. Remove from the oven, let sit 5 minutes, and serve.

Make Ahead

This is a great make-ahead casserole and can be stored in a foil baking dish wrapped in plastic and placed in a gallon freezer bag in the freezer for up to three months. Just take out the fully baked and frozen casserole and reheat in a 350 F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until hot all the way through.