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John Wayne Casserole

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5 from 29 votes

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This John Wayne Casserole is made with a spicy taco meat filling topped with a generous sprinkling of cheese baked over a flaky biscuit base. An easy casserole recipe with a cowboy kick!

This mouthwatering casserole is made with layers of hearty filling baked over a flaky biscuit crust. It’s cheesy and perfect for family dinners and potlucks. Make it once and have leftovers for the week.

Why You’ll Love This John Wayne Casserole

  • Easy. Simple ingredients and basic techniques are all you’ll need to make this filling beef dinner.
  • Hearty. A slice of this John Wayne Casserole is a meal in and of itself! With the biscuit layer on the bottom, hearty taco meat filling, veggies and melty cheese, this recipe is the total package.
  • Packed with flavor! This Southwest-style ground beef-and-biscuit casserole is made with taco beef, chilies, tomatoes, sour cream, and plenty of cheese. Every bite is bursting with flavor.

Watch the Video

Want to see how to make a John Wayne casserole step-by-step? Check out this video!

What Is a John Wayne Casserole?

A John Wayne casserole is a beef casserole made with “cowboy” flavors. John Wayne was an American actor from Hollywood’s Golden Age famous for his roles in Western movies. According to legend, he helped create this recipe in 1979, adding Tex-Mex flavors to this classic hamburger casserole.

How to Make a John Wayne Casserole

Are you ready to make a cozy, bubbling cowboy casserole? Here’s a quick look at how to make it. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for more details.

  • Make the taco beef filling. Sauté diced onion and bell pepper in a skillet with a bit of oil, until softened. Next, add the ground beef to the skillet. Use a spatula to break apart any large clumps while frying the meat until browned and cooked through. Stir in the taco seasoning with a bit of water, then simmer to thicken.
  • Make the dough. Make a quick dough by combining Bisquick and water, then spread this into the bottom of a greased casserole dish.
  • Assemble the casserole. Add the ground beef to the casserole dish, and spread it over the dough. Top this with a layer of tomato slices and green chilies or jalapenos.
  • Top with cheese. Next, you’ll mix up a topping of sour cream, mayonnaise, and shredded mozzarella, then spread this over the tomato layer. Finally, sprinkle over additional shredded cheese.
  • Bake. Pop your John Wayne casserole into the oven at 325ºF for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the layers are hot throughout.
A baked John Wayne Casserole

Tips and Variation Ideas

The beauty of casseroles is in how effortless they are to make! Have your John Wayne casserole come out exactly to your liking every time with these helpful tips and tricks:

  • If you don’t have Bisquick, refrigerated or frozen canned biscuit dough will also work for the base layer.
  • Adapt the heat levels. Use mild chilies or leave them out altogether if you’d prefer a milder casserole.
  • Use different meat. You can make this casserole with any variation of ground meat: ground turkey, chicken, or pork.
  • Add more veggies. In addition to bell peppers and onions, add more veggies like diced carrots, zucchini, broccoli, or spinach. 
  • Use different cheese. Any melty cheese will work in this recipe! You can even sub in a Mexican cheese blend if you’d like.
Spatula lifting a slice of John Wayne Casserole

Serving Suggestions

This beef casserole checks all the boxes for a meal on its own! However, if you’d like to “cowboy up” a weeknight dinner with additional sides, a creamy, cheesy John Wayne casserole is a perfect pairing with cornbread or cornbread muffins:

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

  • Store in the fridge: Store any leftover casserole in the fridge airtight for up to 3-4 days.
  • Freeze it: The baked and cooled casserole can be wrapped tightly, and then frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw the casserole in the fridge overnight before reheating.
  • To reheat: Reheat portions in the microwave for a minute or two, or in the oven at 350ºF until warmed through. 

More Casserole Recipes to Try

John Wayne Casserole

5 from 29 votes
This John Wayne Casserole recipe is made with juicy taco beef, tender veggies, fiery chilies, sour cream, and a generous sprinkling of cheese layered over a flaky biscuit base. An easy weeknight meal, with a cowboy kick!
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Yield: 10 servings


For the beef

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 lbs ground beef, I prefer lean beef
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 oz taco seasoning

For the Biscuit Base

  • 2 cups Bisquick mix
  • 1 cup water

To Assemble

  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 can green chili peppers, 4 oz
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar


  • Prep your tools. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with oil. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • Saute the veggies. Heat the oil in a large skillet, add chopped onion and chopped bell pepper and saute for about 5 minutes to soften.
  • Add ground beef to the skillet. On medium-high heat cook the beef until the ground beef is fully cooked. Add 3/4 water and taco seasoning to the skillet, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until it thickens. This will take about 10 minutes.
  • Make the biscuit layer. Combine Bisquick mix with water and make the dough. Spread the dough over the baking dish and press to the bottom.
  • Spread the ground beef mixture over the dough layer. Add the layer of sliced tomatoes and green chili peppers.
  • Make the sour cream layer. In a separate bowl mix mayonnaise with sour cream and a half mozzarella cheese. Spread that mixture over the tomato/chili layer.
  • Top with cheese. Sprinkle with cheddar and remaining mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake. Bake the casserole for 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven.
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Calories: 536kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 818mg | Potassium: 363mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 638IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 213mg | Iron: 3mg
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as a courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.
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