John Wayne casserole is a Tex-Mex inspired casserole that layers taco-seasoned ground beef, veggies, cheese, and a creamy sauce over a biscuit dough base. It’s destined to become a family favorite!
There are some things that are always a hit: casseroles, cheese, tacos, creamy sauces, and biscuits. When you combine all of these things into one single recipe, you’re guaranteed a winner—and that’s exactly what you get with John Wayne casserole. Make it for dinner and your family will devour it!
(For more Tex-Mex flavor, try my Loaded Mexican Cauliflower Rice too!)
John Wayne Casserole Recipe
I think John Wayne casserole might win the award for the strangest recipe name on my blog! Believe it or not, the original recipe actually came from John Wayne—yes, the John Wayne.
He contributed the recipe to a 1979 cookbook called Cooking with Love from Cara and Her Friends, which was compiled by Cara Connery to raise money for the American Cancer Society. She wrote to 1,400 famous people asking for recipes and together with her mom, she assembled and self-published the cookbook—and she wasn’t even in high school yet!
Now, the original John Wayne casserole, as published in the cookbook, is pretty different from the version you’ll find below. Over the years, people have made tweaks and changes—some versions have potatoes or tater tots instead of biscuits, while others are more like the original, which is a super cheesy meatless egg bake (it calls for 2 pounds of cheese!). I like this version because it’s a complete meal in one dish and a little bit like a Burrito Casserole or Taco Casserole—and as much as I love cheese, 2 pounds of it is a little much!
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Ground beef – You can substitute ground turkey or a plant-based ground to make this vegetarian.
- Taco seasoning – Use store-bought or homemade taco seasoning.
- Bisquick mix – I also have a homemade version of Bisquick! Once you have it on hand, you can also use it to make Bisquick Cheeseburger Pie!
- Sour cream
- Sharp cheddar cheese
- Green pepper
- Roma tomatoes – Roma tomatoes are best, but you can use another variety.
- Green chiles – You can buy these mild or spicy; either will work, just pick the one your family will like best!
How to Make John Wayne Casserole
Preheat your oven to 325ºF. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Cook the Beef
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef until it’s no longer pink. Pour off the grease, then add the taco seasoning and water and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Make the Creamy Sauce
Combine the sour cream, mayo, half of the cheese, and half of the onion in a bowl.
4. Make the Biscuit Layer
In a second bowl, combine the biscuit mix and water and stir until a soft dough forms. Press the dough into the bottom and a half-inch up the sides of the prepared pan.
5. Cook the Veggies
Sauté the remaining onions and green bell peppers until they’re softened.
Layer the ground beef, diced tomatoes, green peppers and onions, chiles, cream sauce, and cheese over the biscuit layer.
Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned.
How to Store and Reheat John Wayne Casserole
Cover the baking dish or transfer leftovers to an airtight container. Leftover John Wayne casserole can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Reheat it in a 350ºF oven or in the microwave until it’s warmed through. You can also freeze John Wayne casserole for up to 3 months; let it thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
Why is it called a John Wayne casserole?
The original John Wayne casserole was a cheesy egg bake that the actor John Wayne contributed to a cookbook, but I’m not sure why all of the variations of it are still called John Wayne casserole! It is a fun name though, right?!
What do you serve with John Wayne casserole?
This is a one-dish meal, so you really don’t have to serve anything with it! If you do want to round things out with a side dish, I recommend a simple salad, roasted vegetables, or my Instant Pot corn-on-the-cob.
What is Mississippi-Style John Wayne casserole?
It’s a variation of John Wayne casserole that was published in Mississippi Magazine. It’s similar to my version, but it adds a cornbread topping.
More Crowd-Pleasing Casseroles
John Wayne Casserole
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 1 oz packet taco seasoning or my homemade taco seasoning
- ¾ cups water
- 2 ¼ cups Bisquick mix
- ⅔ cup water
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded and divided
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 green pepper diced
- 2 roma tomatoes diced
- 1 1 oz can green chiles
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Brown ground beef until no longer pink, drain grease. Then add taco seasoning and water and let simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- In a medium bowl mix sour cream, mayo, half of the cheese, and half of the onion together and set aside.
- In another bowl, mix together biscuit mix and water to make a soft dough. Press dough into the bottom and 1/2" up the sides of greased 9 x 13 inch pan.
- Saute remaining onions and green peppers until tender.
- On top of the biscuit, layer the remaining ingredients in this order: ground beef, diced tomatoes, green peppers and onions, green chilies, sour cream mixture, and remaining cheddar cheese.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.