Your future self will thank you.
Advertisement

Chances are you've been gifted or have gifted a frozen casserole at some point in your life — whether it was to welcome a new baby (and give the parents a break), express sympathy, or simply to treat a loved one to a home-cooked meal. 

But as thoughtful as these make-ahead meals can be, they don't always work in actuality. I can remember receiving a make-ahead freezer lasagna from a well-meaning friend, but once it came out of the oven it was, well, a pile of mush. 

Here's the good news: there's an easy way to freeze and reheat casseroles for delicious future dinners. You'll be a meal-prep pro in no time. Here you'll learn how to freeze and reheat casseroles like a meal-prep pro. 

Can You Freeze Casseroles?

Yes, you can freeze casseroles, but some ingredients hold up better in the freezer than others. And while some casseroles are better frozen uncooked, others should be frozen after cooking, but more on that below.  

Should You Freeze a Casserole Before or After You Cook It? 

So, do you bake your casserole, let it cool, and then freeze it? Or do you freeze it before it goes in the oven? The answer depends on what's in it.

Casseroles with raw protein (meat, poultry, seafood) should be completely cooked before freezing. However dishes with pre-cooked meats or no meat are fine to go in the freezer uncooked. In fact, it's best to freeze meatless casseroles uncooked as the process of baking, freezing, and re-baking can alter the texture of some ingredients.

Types of Casseroles That Don't Freeze Well

Not all freezer casseroles are created equal. Certain ingredients absorb water when baked. Once frozen, this water crystallizes and evaporates as steam when re-warmed in the oven. The result? Mushy casseroles with a grainy texture.  

Avoid freezing casseroles made with dairy products (especially soft cheeses with a high-water content like ricotta or cottage), eggs, starchy vegetables, and watery vegetables like lettuce and cucumber.  

Looking for some delicious freezer-friendly casserole recipes? Check our our 15 Make-and-Freeze Casseroles for Time-Saving Dinners.

How to Freeze Casseroles 

Best Containers for Freezing Casseroles

A freezer-safe casserole dish is the most convenient option, as it can go from the oven to the freezer or vice versa. But this type of dish can be bulky and take up valuable freezer space. So, we recommend lining your dish with aluminum foil with an overhang and removing it from the dish once frozen. The layer of foil also prevents your baking dish from cracking, which is a potential risk when going straight from the freezer to the oven. Here's how: 

Instructions: 

  1. Line a freezer-safe baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Assemble your casserole. If you plan to pre-cook your casserole, do this now. 
  2. Use the extra flaps of foil to cover the cooked (or uncooked) casserole. Transfer the entire dish to the freezer and freeze for 24 to 36 hours. 
  3. Once the casserole is completely frozen, use the foil to lift it out of the baking dish. Wrap the casserole in plastic wrap, and label it with the date using a piece of masking tape. You can also include reheating instructions and the recipe name.. 
  4. Store in the freezer. 

How Long Can You Freeze Casserole for? 

Frozen casseroles will last for up to six months when stored using the above method, assuming your freezer is set to 0 degrees F or colder. While the casserole will be safe to eat for up to six months, the quality may begin to deteriorate at the three-month mark. 

How to Safely Thaw and Reheat Casseroles

Do not thaw your casserole before baking. As it thaws, liquid may begin to pool, resulting in a casserole with a soggy bottom. 

Instead, simply remove the casserole from the freezer, discard all wrapping, place it in a baking dish, and bake. 

A general rule of thumb for cooking a frozen casserole is to cook it for twice as long as the recipe calls for, but at the same temperature. Cover the casserole with foil to keep the top layer from burning, and remove the foil for the last 15 minutes or so of cooking. 

Use a digital thermometer to test the casserole for doneness — once the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, you're good to go! Add any delicate garnishes like herbs after cooking, and serve. 

Related: