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A simple, hearty, and flavorful vegetarian dinner comes together with one pan in about 30 minutes, thanks to this Southern bean casserole recipe! The easy dish includes sweet and savory beans, greens, veggies, and plenty of melty cheese for a cozy, family-friendly meal.

Close overhead image of a serving spoon in a pan of the best southern bean casserole recipe.
Table of Contents
  1. Why You’ll Love this Bean Casserole Recipe
  2. The Best Pan to Use for this Bean Casserole
  3. Ingredients
  4. How to Make Bean Casserole
  5. Serving Suggestions
  6. Preparation and Storage Tips
  7. Recipe Variations
  8. Tips for the Best Bean Casserole Recipe
  9. One-Pan Cheesy Southern Bean Casserole Recipe

If you’re looking for even more meatless dinner ideas, be sure to try our broccoli cheddar veggie pot pie, this easy dump-and-bake sundried tomato pasta, a pan of zesty vegetarian enchiladas, and a pot of broccoli cheese soup, too!

Why You’ll Love this Bean Casserole Recipe

  • Budget-friendly. If you need a satisfying and flavorful meal that won’t break the bank, then vegetarian cooking is the way to go! This dish is hearty enough for an entree, and it’s made with easy-to-find, affordable ingredients that offer tons of flavor and texture.
  • Quick and easy. Spend a few minutes softening the veggies on the stovetop, and then finish it off in the oven. The whole meal is ready from start to finish in about 30 minutes!
  • One Pan. If you have a cast iron skillet (or other oven-proof skillet), then this dinner goes straight from the stovetop to the oven with a single pan. That means fewer dishes to wash at the end, which is always a win!
  • Versatile. Sure, you can offer the baked bean casserole as a side dish at a cookout, picnic, or potluck; however, it’s really a delicious vegetarian main course — especially when paired with cornbreadcorn muffinsbiscuits, rice, or baked potatoes.
Horizontal side shot of a plate of the best bean casserole recipe.

The Best Pan to Use for this Bean Casserole

I love a 12-inch cast iron skillet or braiser for this recipe, which can go straight from the stovetop to the oven. If you don’t have a cast iron pan (or another oven-safe skillet), no problem — just transfer the bean mixture to a casserole dish before topping with cheese.

If you’re in the market for an oven-proof pan, be sure to check out this collection of the best cast iron skillets, which includes options at a variety of price points that I personally own and love. Here, I’ve shown the Smithey 12-inch round roaster — another beautiful heirloom piece that I use regularly!

Close up side shot of a pan of southern baked bean casserole.

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for our favorite beans casserole recipe. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Olive oil: to sauté the veggies.
  • Red onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes: loads of vegetables bulk up the dish and provide a variety of savory flavors and textures.
  • Brown sugar: for just a hint of sweetness that adds depth of flavor and nicely balances the savory ingredients.
  • Kosher salt: to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients.
  • Chili powder, dry mustard, smoked paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper: pantry spices that give the dish plenty of zesty, smoky flavor.
  • Canned baked beans: make sure to choose a can of vegetarian baked beans if you want a meatless meal.
  • Canned pinto beans: or sub with another variety of beans that you enjoy. Good options include black beans, butter beans, white beans, red beans, and kidney beans.
  • Greens: I use collard greens, but kale, turnip greens, and spinach all work as well.
  • Water: to thin the sauce slightly.
  • Apple cider vinegar: an acidic note that brightens up the dish.
  • Soy sauce, tamari, or Worcestershire sauce: make sure to use soy sauce or tamari if you’d like to keep it vegetarian. These ingredients give the dish a salty, umami flavor.
  • Colby Jack cheese: or pick another type of good melting cheese, such as sharp cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, Pepper Jack cheese, or Gruyere cheese.
Process shot showing how to make bean casserole.

How to Make Bean Casserole

It’s comfort food with a Southern twist! You’ll find the detailed directions for this bean casserole in the recipe card below, but here’s the quick version:

  • Saute the veggies.
  • Add the brown sugar, seasoning, and beans.
  • Bring to a simmer and stir in the greens and remaining liquid.
  • Cook until the greens are tender.
  • Sprinkle cheese on top.
  • Bake for 5-10 minutes, and then broil until the cheese is browned on top.
Square overhead shot of a pan of bean casserole on a wooden dinner table.

Serving Suggestions

Here are some easy sides to pair with the bean casserole:

Overhead shot of baked bean casserole in a blue and white bowl.

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • Make Ahead: assemble the casserole in advance, but do not bake. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, cover with foil and bake until the filling is hot and bubbly. Remove the cover and transfer the dish to the broiler as instructed.
  • Leftovers: store the leftover bean casserole in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat: warm the casserole in a skillet or saucepan on the stovetop over low heat, just until it reaches the desired temperature. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until warm.
Serving spoon in a skillet of baked bean casserole.

Recipe Variations

  • For a non-vegetarian meal, add ground beef, bacon, chicken, or ham to the casserole.
  • Just about any variety of beans will work, so feel free to swap out the pinto beans and use black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), white beans (navy beans), kidney beans, red beans, or butter beans.
  • Try different types of cheese. Instead of Colby Jack, use a Mexican cheese blend, sharp cheddar cheese, Pepper Jack cheese, or mozzarella.
  • Make it spicier by adding extra cayenne pepper, hot sauce, or crushed red pepper flakes to the bean mixture. Similarly, you can omit the cayenne entirely if you’d like a mild dish.
  • Add diced sweet bell pepper, sliced mushrooms, corn, fresh green beans or canned green beans for even more flavor in your dish.
Side shot of a bowl of bean casserole with a side of cornbread.

Tips for the Best Bean Casserole Recipe

  • If you don’t have a cast iron skillet or other oven-proof skillet, just transfer the bean mixture to an 11 x 7-inch or 9 x 13-inch baking dish before adding the cheese on top.
  • To keep the dish vegetarian, look for baked beans that are labeled “vegetarian” and use soy sauce or tamari instead of Worcestershire sauce.
  • Garnish the casserole with chopped fresh parsley or other herbs for a bright, flavorful finishing touch.
Overhead image of an easy bean casserole recipe in a skillet on a table with a side of cornbread.

More Bean Casserole Recipes to Try

Square overhead shot of a pan of bean casserole on a wooden dinner table.

One-Pan Cheesy Southern Bean Casserole

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 238 kcal
Easy Southern comfort food with a vegetarian twist — and it's ready in 30 minutes!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (not drained)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (omit for a mild dish, or increase for a spicier dish)
  • 1 (16 ounce) can vegetarian baked beans, not drained
  • 1 (16 ounce) can pinto beans (or other beans of choice), drained and rinsed
  • 5 ounces greens (such as collard greens, turnip greens, kale, or baby spinach), stems removed and chopped
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari (or I use Worcestershire sauce for a non-vegetarian option)
  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Colby Jack cheese (or sub with grated cheddar cheese)
  • Optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley or other herbs; sliced green onion

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large cast iron skillet (or other oven-proof skillet) over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the tomatoes (with their juices), brown sugar, kosher salt, chili powder, dry mustard, smoked paprika, cumin, and cayenne. Add the beans; bring to a simmer. Stir in the greens, water, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce; cook until the greens are tender, about 5-7 minutes for heartier greens like collards and kale, or almost instantly for baby spinach. Remove from the heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Sprinkle cheese on top.
    Process shot showing how to make bean casserole.
  • Transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for 5-10 more minutes, until the cheese melts and the filling is hot and bubbly. If you like the top more browned and crisp, place it under the broiler for 1-2 minutes (don’t walk away – keep an eye on it)!
    Close overhead image of a serving spoon in a pan of the best southern bean casserole recipe.

Notes

  • If you don’t have a cast iron skillet or other oven-proof skillet, just transfer the bean mixture to an 11 x 7-inch or 9 x 13-inch baking dish before adding the cheese on top.
  • To keep the dish vegetarian, look for baked beans that are labeled “vegetarian” and use soy sauce or tamari instead of Worcestershire sauce.
  • Garnish the casserole with chopped fresh parsley or other herbs for a bright, flavorful finishing touch.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the recipeCalories: 238kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 12gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 833mgPotassium: 328mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 2845IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 395mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: baked bean casserole, bean casserole, bean casserole recipe
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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