Asparagus casserole is a traditional Southern side dish. Fresh asparagus is combined with cream of mushroom soup, Saltine crackers and sharp cheddar cheese, then baked until bubbly.
Asparagus casserole is a traditional Southern side dish that just might make an appearance at every major holiday from Easter to Christmas. Recipes vary from the addition of chopped hard-boiled eggs to French fried onion topping. This recipe belonged to my husband’s grandmother. After she passed away, my mother-in-law took over making it for holiday meals.
How to trim fresh asparagus
I stuck to my mother-in-law’s recipe with one exception. I’m not a huge fan of canned asparagus, so I opted to use fresh. I’m happy to report, there is no need to pre-cook the asparagus ahead of time. It’s perfectly tender by the time the casserole emerges from the oven.
The very end of a stalk of fresh asparagus tends to be woody and tough. You will need to remove it before cooking. The asparagus will tell you where it needs to be trimmed. Gently bend the stalk and it will naturally break where the woody part begins. Discard the ends.
How to Make Asparagus Casserole
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Empty the can of cream of mushroom soup into a small saucepan. Fill the empty can with water and add it to the saucepan. For more flavor, you could also substitute the water with an equal amount of chicken stock. Heat the soup over medium heat until it is bubbly.
Spray a 9 x 13 x 2-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Arrange two bundles of trimmed asparagus in a single layer along the bottom.
Next, top the asparagus with 1 ½ cups of crushed saltine crackers (about 24 crackers). Pour the heated soup over the top and gently stir the soup and crackers together so that the crackers are completely coated in the soup.
Sprinkle the top of the casserole with one cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the casserole is bubbling and the asparagus is tender.
Prep Work You Can do Ahead of Time
I don’t recommend assembling this casserole too far in advance. Doing so could cause the cracker crumbs to become too soft and mushy. However, there are a few tasks you could cross off the list the day before constraints are a concern, such as trimming the asparagus, crushing the saltines in crumbs and shredding the cheese if you are not using a pre-shredded variety.
To maintain freshness, wrap the trimmed asparagus in a damp paper towel and store in the vegetable bin in your fridge. Be sure to keep the cracker crumbs in a sealed container or bag to prevent them from going stale. Likewise, keep the shredded cheese in a sealed container in the fridge.
Leftover asparagus casserole should be cooled before transferring or storing in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Leftovers should be consumed within four days. Unfortunately, I don’t recommend freezing this casserole, either precooked or cooked. The cracker crumbs will become soggy and the asparagus could become watery and mushy.
What to Serve with Asparagus Casserole:
- Bourbon Glazed Baked Ham
- Wild Rice Stuffed Turkey Breast
- Oven Roasted Roast Beef Dinner
- Pesto Rice Stuffed Pork Loin Chops
- 2 bunches fresh asparagus trimmed
- 1 (10 ounce can) cream of mushroom soup
- 1 ½ cups crushed saltine crackers (about 24 whole crackers)
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a 9 x 13 x 2-inch casserole dish. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer on the bottom of the dish.
- Pour the cream of mushroom soup into a small saucepan. Fill the empty can with water or broth. Pour the water into the saucepan and heat the soup until it is bubbly.
- Sprinkle the crushed saltines over the asparagus spears.
- Pour the hot soup over the crackers. Carefully stir the crackers and soup until the crackers are coated.
- Sprinkle the sharp cheddar cheese over the top of the soup.
- Bake for 30 minutes until the casserole is bubbly and the asparagus is tender.
- Allow the casserole to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.