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I'll admit I was skeptical when I first tried this sweet and savory Pineapple Casserole, but it just works! The creamy, fruity filling and buttery, crumbly topping compliment each other so well, and it's a fantastic Southern side dish or dessert to serve with ham, turkey, ribs, or beef tenderloin for any holiday dinner!
Southern Pineapple Casserole
Every now and then I run across a recipe that I just HAVE to try. Like, immediately. This pineapple casserole was one of those recipes.
I actually discovered it on another blog called Soulfully Made. Nikki, who is the blogger behind the site, is from the South and her southern recipes speak to my soul! I may be a California girl, but there is nothing like comfort cooking and southern food to satisfy my tastebuds!
Now before you turn up your nose at this quirky-sounding, highly unusual recipe, you need to know that my entire family RAVED about it. And we shared it with friends who also loved it.
Cheese and pineapple and Ritz crackers might not sound like the likeliest combination, but the combination is totally dreamy. I can totally see serving this with a brown sugar glazed ham for Easter dinner, as a new Thanksgiving side, or with beef tenderloin at Christmas.
Where does pineapple casserole come from?
I have no idea what the origins of this recipe are in real life. But it's definitely a popular recipe in the South and has been around for a long time.
The first time I heard of it though was when I was assigned Nikki's blog as part of the Freaky Friday Blog Hop event that I participate in once a quarter with a bunch of blogging friends. It's run by Michaela from An Affair From The Heart, and we are each assigned somebody else's blog and tasked with choosing one of their recipes and then making and sharing it on our own site.
I love the friendships I have built through the blogging community and this is one of my favorite things I always look forward to! It's fun and exciting to be assigned someone else and really dig into their recipe collection, and in turn, see what someone else chose of mine to make.
Nikki has so many delicious looking recipes! Heck, she even has an entire category dedicated to southern favorites! I was really close to making her No Bake Peanut Butter Pie or her Instant Pot Black Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup. If it had been summer, I definitely would have chosen her Cheesy Yellow Squash Casserole because yellow squash is my favorite summer vegetable.
But as soon as I saw her pineapple casserole and read about how it was a combination of pineapple, cheese, and Ritz crackers, I knew I had to try it!
Does pineapple casserole taste cheesy?
Despite there being actual shredded cheddar cheese in the filling, it doesn't have a cheesy taste or texture to the casserole. The cheese sort of melts into the pineapple and creates a wonderful texture that is almost creamy, with a great depth of flavor that mellows out the more astringent pineapple.
If you have ever had a Vermont apple pie with cheese in it, I'm sure you'll get it. Or even just think of fruit and cheese boards and how well they pair together. I know it sounds weird, but it really is delicious!
Pineapple Casserole Ingredients
With just six pantry ingredients, you might already have everything on hand to try making this pineapple casserole TODAY!
- Pineapple: For this recipe, you will want to use TWO types of canned pineapple - 1 large can of crushed pineapple and 1 large can of pineapple chunks (or tidbits), but in pineapple juice, not syrup. Fresh pineapple won't give the same result as canned pineapple for this particular recipe.
- Sugar: A little bit of granulated sugar boosts the sweetness and balances out the savory and salty elements of this unique side dish.
- Ritz crackers: These buttery, salty crackers add a wonderful texture that goes so well with the juicy filling!
- Cheddar cheese: Use freshly grated medium or sharp cheddar cheese. It melts better and gives a wonderful creaminess and full-body flavor that won't be noticeably cheesy, but will be delicious!
- Flour: A little bit of flour helps thicken and stabilize the filling so the casserole doesn't turn out soupy.
- Butter: This gets tossed with the crushed ritz crackers to really amp up the buttery flavor on top of the crust.
How to Make Pineapple Casserole
This recipe is seriously so, so simple. It's one that would be great for kids to help with because mine always love jobs that involve crushing things like crackers!
- Combine the flour, sugar, and cheese: Whisk together the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add the cheese and stir.
- Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice: Add the drained pineapple to the flour/sugar/cheese mixture. Stir until everything is evenly combined, then dump the filling into a casserole dish. A 9x11-inch casserole dish works best.
- Make the topping: In a separate bowl, combine the crumbled Ritz crackers, 6 tablespoons of the reserved pineapple juice (you can just drink the rest!), and the melted butter. Toss so the cracker crumbs are evenly coated, then sprinkle evenly over the pineapple mixture.
- Bake: Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees F, until golden brown on top and hot all the way through. Serve warm.
Is it a side dish or a dessert?
This is a tricky question. I think most commonly this pineapple casserole recipe is served as a side dish. It has the savory elements of cheese and salty crackers. And it goes great with proteins.
But it could easily be considered a dessert. There is plenty of sweetness in it from the fruit and sugar. We tried it both ways and when you add a small scoop of vanilla ice cream it definitely has a cobbler/crumble vibe that is just delicious.
Tips for Pineapple Casserole
- Be sure to drain the pineapple well. The filling is already going to be very, very moist and won't ever "set" like some fruit pie fillings, but you don't want it to be soupy because you forgot to drain the juice.
- This can be served as a side dish or dessert. Either way, serve it hot while the cheese is still melted. If you made this ahead, pop it back in a 325 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes to warm it up.
- Canned pineapple is best for this recipe. Not only is it the traditional approach, but fresh pineapple isn't always as sweet as canned pineapple and has a slightly different texture. Plus, you will use the pineapple juice from the canned pineapple in the topping.
- If you don't have a 9x11-inch casserole dish, you could get away with a 9-inch square baking dish instead. You could also divide this out between individual ramekins for a more formal approach.
- Additional mix-ins could be some chopped walnuts or pecans for crunch, maraschino cherries (like in my smoked pineapple cherry dump cake), or coconut.
More Recipes Like This
- Lemon Pineapple Jello <--- a family favorite that we have made since I was a kid!
- Creamy Grape Salad
- Fluffy Cottage Cheese Jello Salad
- Fruit Salad with Marshmallows and Whipped Cream
- Strawberry Spinach Salad
- Corn Casserole
- Cranberry Jello
- 20 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
- 20 ounces pineapple tidbits or chunks drained with 6 tablespoons of juice reserved
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 8 Tablespoons salted butter melted
- 2 sleeves Ritz crackers crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray a medium-sized casserole dish (about 9x11) with cooking spray. Drain pineapple, reserving some of the juice for the topping.
- Whisk together the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add the cheese and stir.
- Add the drained pineapple, stirring until everything is evenly combined. Pour into the prepared casserole dish.
- In a separate bowl, combine the crumbled crackers, 6 tablespoons of the reserved pineapple juice, and the melted butter. Sprinkle evenly over the pineapple mixture.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown on top and hot all the way through. Serve warm.
- If you prefer a less crunchy topping, you can reduce the amount of Ritz crackers to 1 sleeve.
- Leftovers will keep in the fridge for about 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or covered with foil in a 350 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes.
- Mix-in ideas: Add ⅔ cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans. Add ⅔ cup sweetened coconut flakes. Add ½ cup halved maraschino cherries. Add ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg.
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