How to Freeze a Casserole (and how to reheat it!)
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If you are looking to freeze meals ahead of time then you may be wondering where to even begin. There are many reasons to start freezing meals ahead. It’s a great way to save money and ensures that you will always have a meal on hand. When it comes to the best meals to freeze, it’s always casseroles. Casseroles are easily frozen and easily thawed and they also are meant to be a meal in one dish that can feed a crowd. Turning your favorite recipe (casserole or not) into a freezer meal is really quite simple! Read below for some great tips on how to freeze a casserole!
Step 1. Look through all of the ingredients and make sure everything can be frozen.
Here is a quick list of foods that should NOT be frozen (this is a general guideline, results will vary based on preparation):
- Fresh vegetables with high water content: lettuce, and cucumbers, for example.
- Soft cheeses with high water content: examples include cottage cheese &ricotta.
- Food emulsions: Like mayonnaise and cream.
Step 2. Decide whether it is best to pre-cook or put it into the freezer raw. (Generally speaking, meats used in a casserole should be cooked first.)
Step 3. Write a note on the frozen dish/bag/etc. including:
- recipe title
- instructions on how to cook the casserole on the “big day!’
- date frozen
Casseroles that Freeze Well:
A note about freezing casseroles:
You may not wish to freeze your casserole in a pan as the pan will be out of use (and stuck in the freezer) until the day you decide to eat it. In that case, you can flash freeze the casserole in the shape of the pan and then freeze it in plastic wrap and foil. Here’s how:
Line your casserole dish with aluminum foil and then add a layer of plastic wrap. Leave extra hanging at the edges so that you can pull it over the top later. Put the food in the dish and then put the dish in the freezer. Once the food is frozen, pull the lined food out of the dish and wrap it up with the remaining wrap then put the pan-shaped food back into the freezer.
How to cook a Frozen Casserole
Remove the casserole from the freezer and into the fridge 24-36 hours before cooking. Preheat oven and bake casserole loosely covered with foil as directed (I usually allow an extra 20 minutes depending on the density of the casserole). The final temperature of a casserole should reach 160 degrees F.
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Holly, when you say “emulsions” like mayo and cream, are you also speaking of sour cream?
The texture of sour cream can change when frozen and it can separate slightly. If it is mixed into a casserole, I’ve found it is fine to freeze.
I have a question. I prepared Ina Garten’s spinach gratin, refrigerated it for 20 hours and then
Froze it. I haven’t baked it yet.Was it in the frig too long before freezing.
I think that will be the same as if you froze it at the time you made it.
When freezing food in the past I have had trouble with the Saran Wrap sticking to the food and leaving pieces of plastic inside the still (partially) frozen food. How do you prevent this from happening? (Referencing how to freeze a casserole and how to reheat it.)
Make sure your casserole has completely cooled before adding plastic wrap, this should prevent it from sticking to your food!
This is absolutely brilliant! Thank you for freeing up my pans and saving me money not buying even the cheap dollar store foil pans. Plus extra room in my freezer!
You’re welcome Tammi! Works great!
Hi! I would like to make a chicken bruschetta casserole to freeze and was wondering if it is ok to not cook the chicken first. I’m afraid it might dry out. Thanks!
About freezing breakfast casseroles. I know its ideal to freeze raw bc it would taste and look brighter and fresher when cooked just before serving. However, would you get some of that effect by baking half the time before freezing and half the time after freezing? I will be carrying around the casseroles from my house to another house raw to freeze them. Then I will be taking frozen casseroles from second house to third house. All this is for a wedding party. So, I wanted to make casseroles like two weeks in advance and freeze for two weeks. How would you suggest doing this? I will be sure to not include potatoes bc you I know they get mealy when frozen. Any other suggestions for these logistics?
So schedule is: 1) construct and freeze casseroles at HOUSE A 2-3 weeks before event; 2) Carry casseroles in a cooler with ice from freezer of HOUSE A to freezer of HOUSE B 3-4 days before event (a one hour drive but they will be in a cooler with ice–is that okay? 3) Put frozen casseroles in refridgerator of HOUSE C two or three days before event. Is there a better way to do this?
This is difficult to say for sure without knowing exactly which recipes you’re going to use. Sounds like a really fun event, I hope it works out well for you!
Hello Holly, when rice is an ingredient in a casserole (Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole – Delish), would you cook the rice, and the chicken, then mix in the other ingredients, making the casserole as though it were to be cooked straight away, only into the freezer it will go? Or would you make the casserole, following instructions (raw chicken, uncooked rice) pop it on the oven, and freeze it once cooled? In general, how do you go about freezing a dish that contains rice?
For a dish that contains rice, I would cook the rice first (slightly undercooked) and freeze.
I LEAVE MINE IN THE PAN UNTIL COOLER THEN PUT INTO SEPARATE CONTAINERS SUCH AS PLASTIC TYPE AND THEN LEAVE TILL COOL IN A COOL ROOM FOR ABOUT ANOTHER HOUR OR SO THEN PUT INTO THE FREEZER IS THIS OK OR AM I CONTAMINATING IT BY LETTING IT COOL
Heartier pastas freeze much better than egg noodles. If you have several different sized casseroles it’s also helpful to put a description of the pan on the freezer label. It doesn’t say above but should be obvious to remove the packaging and place in the appropriate baking dish to thaw in the fridge.
I’m presuming when you defrost it and cook it, you put it back in its original pan?
Yes you can cook it in the original pan.
What great ideas! Hope you are having a great day and thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with Full Plate Thursday.
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Thank you so much for linking this up with Mouthwatering Mondays! It’s one of this week’s features!! Have a delicious week!
Thank you for the feature Rachel!