What exactly is a casserole anyway?
Eggplant Lasagna image
Credit: Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Adam Hickman

Some things in life are abundantly clear. For instance, this is pasta

Pasta with Italian Sunday Sauce
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Caitlin Bensel

...and this is a casserole.

Creamy Broccoli-Cheddar Casserole
Credit: Jennifer Causey

Jennifer Causey

Everybody on the same page so far? Good. Now, what is this?

Classic Lasagna with Meat Sauce
Credit: Brian Woodcock; Styling: Claire Spollen

Lasagna certainly looks like a casserole, but it’s usually associated more with pasta dishes like spaghetti.

This conundrum begs the question: What exactly is a casserole?

What Is a Casserole?

WATCH: How to Make Italian Green Bean Casserole

The casserole has been a staple in American kitchens since the ‘50s, when one-pot and easy-to-prepare meals began to skyrocket in popularity. The ultimate comfort food, “casserole” refers to both a type of food and the dish that it is baked in.

Merriam-Webster lists two (food-related) definitions for the word:

  1. A dish in which food may be baked and served
  2. Food cooked and served in a casserole dish

We love you, MW, but that explanation leaves a lot to be desired. We took it upon ourselves to define “casserole” (the one you eat, not the dish) in a better, more specific way. Here’s what we landed on:

A casserole is a cohesive, one-dish meal that's baked.

Cohesive? Check. One-dish meal? Check. Baked? Check, check, check.

Furthermore, you can make a lasagna pizza. You can even make a lasagna dip. But would you ever make a lasagna casserole? No, because that would be redundant. Lasagna is, in fact, already a casserole.

*Drops mic*