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Inspired by a dish that John Wayne himself submitted to a cookbook years ago, this casserole is the epitome of comfort food! It’s packed full of deliciously comforting layers of flavor. Quick and easy to put together, and perfect for meal prep or busy weeknights.

Overhead view of a large white rectangular casserole dish holding John Wayne casserole topped with melted cheese, tomatoes, jalapeño slices, and cilantro.

🐎 What Makes This Recipe So Good

  • I know, I know. It’s a big claim saying that the John Wayne himself loved this recipe. But it’s true! In 1979, John Wayne added this recipe to a cookbook, Cooking with love from Cara and her friends. It changed over the years, turning into this irresistibly comforting casserole. When you’re cooking this delicious casserole, you’re sure to make John Wayne himself proud!
  • John Wayne casserole is packed with layers of irresistible flavor. Cheesy biscuit mix, taco seasoned ground beef, diced tomatoes, red peppers and onions, green chiles, an irresistibly creamy sour cream mixture, then topped with tasty shredded cheese. All of the flavor melts together in the oven, creating the ultimate casserole that the whole family will love.
  • This casserole is super easy to make! Just sauté your veggies and ground beef, mix the sour cream mixture, then assemble your layers. Make this to serve a large crowd, or make it as meal prep for the week ahead.

👩🏼‍🍳 Chef’s Tips

  • When you’re assembling the layers, be sure not to press the layers together. Once baked, the flavors will blend together. However, you don’t want them all mashed up into one! Each separate layer is what adds delicious and irresistible depth to this comforting John Wayne casserole.
  • You can totally add your own twist to this casserole! Top it with a blend of cheeses if desired. Add some red pepper flakes for an extra level of flavor. Not a fan of ground beef? Ground turkey would work great as well.
Close-up of a spoon, holding a scoop of John Wayne casserole, resting in a casserole dish of John Wayne casserole.

🍴More Delicious Casseroles We Love

Recipe By: Sam Guarnieri

John Wayne Casserole

Prep 30 minutes
Cook 35 minutes
Total 1 hour 5 minutes
Easy comfort food, inspired by The Duke himself!
8 servings


  • 9×13 baking dish
  • neutral-tasting cooking spray
  • Large skillet
  • Large wooden spoon
  • medium mixing bowl
  • Silicone spatula
  • large mixing bowl
  • large mixing spoon
  • Medium skillet
  • Tongs


For the Taco Meat

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 1-ounce packet taco seasoning store-bought or make your own
  • ¾ cup water
  • salt optional, as needed

For the Sour Cream Layer

  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup thinly sliced white onion approximately half of 1 medium onion

For the Biscuit Layer

  • 2 cups Bisquick buttermilk biscuit mix
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup water

For the Sautéed Veggies

  • 1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil olive oil, avocado oil, etc.
  • 1 cup thinly sliced white onion approximately half of 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup red bell pepper slices approximately 1 medium bell pepper; slices cut in half

For the Remaining Layers

  • 2 medium tomatoes diced, approximately 6 ounces each
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chilies drained
  • 2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese


  • Preheat oven to 325° Fahrenheit. Light grease 9×13 baking dish with neutral-tasting cooking spray. Set dish aside.

For the Taco Meat

  • Heat large skillet on stovetop over medium-high heat. When pan is warm, add 2 pounds lean ground beef. Cook, stirring and breaking up ground beef into small pieces, until meat is no longer pink, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
  • When ground beef is browned, drain grease from skillet then return pan to heat. Add 1 1-ounce packet taco seasoning, ¾ cup water, and additional salt only if needed.
  • Stir to incorporate ingredients, making sure ground beef is well coated with seasoning, then let mixture simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until water has reduced. Once reduced, move skillet to cool burner and set aside.

For the Sautéed Veggies

  • Place medium skillet on stovetop over medium-high heat. When pan is warm, add 1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil and swirl or tilt pan as needed to distribute oil across pan surface. Continue heating pan until oil is hot and shimmery.
  • When oil is hot, add 1 cup thinly sliced white onion and 1 cup red bell pepper slices to skillet. Stir to coat onions and peppers in oil, then sauté peppers and onions approximately 10 minutes or until soft and browned. Stir peppers and onions every 2 minutes or so to prevent sticking.
  • Once onions and peppers are ready, remove skillet from heat and set aside.

For the Sour Cream Layer

  • Add ½ cup sour cream , ½ cup mayonnaise, 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, and 1 cup thinly sliced white onion to medium mixing bowl. Stir all ingredients together until well incorporated. Set bowl aside.

For the Biscuit Layer

  • Add 2 cups Bisquick buttermilk biscuit mix, 1 pinch salt, 2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, and 1 cup water to large mixing bowl. Mix together ingredients until fully combined into soft dough.
  • Transfer dough to prepared baking dish. Gently press dough out to cover entire bottom of dish in one even layer, pressing dough up each side of baking dish by ½ inch.

To Assemble and Bake the Casserole

  • Transfer taco meat to baking dish, spreading taco meat out into one even layer covering biscuit layer completely.
  • Arrange 2 medium tomatoes (diced) evenly across top of taco meat layer, then cover tomato layer with sautéed peppers and onions. Sprinkle 1 4-ounce can diced green chilies across peppers and onions layer.
  • Top dish with sour cream mixture and spread mixture out evenly across top of casserole, then sprinkle remaining 2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese across top of sour cream mixture.
  • Place baking dish in preheated oven. Bake casserole 30 minutes, or until slightly browned around edges.
  • When casserole is browned around edges, carefully remove baking dish from oven. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes, then divide casserole into preferred portion sizes and serve warm.
  • Ground Beef: Leaner ground beef will be less greasy, but can be dryer than higher-fat ratios. Be careful not to overcook the ground beef on the stovetop, or you risk it being very dry after the casserole bakes.
  • Make it Dairy Free: Use a dairy-free sour cream and a dairy-free cheddar cheese alternative.

Approximate Information for One Serving

Serving Size: 1servingCalories: 591calProtein: 33gFat: 39gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 942mgPotassium: 611mgTotal Carbs: 27gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gNet Carbs: 23gVitamin A: 1736IUVitamin C: 39mgCalcium: 284mgIron: 4mg
Nutrition Disclaimers
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.

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