A potluck favorite, the squash casserole is one of those old-school recipes everyone needs to master. It goes well with almost any protein, and can be served as a meatless main that’s hearty and satisfying on its own. While most recipes for this casserole are fairly straight-forward, there are a few common problems that plague this dish, from a watery filling to a soggy cracker crust. But don’t give up! Let us explain what went wrong, so you can avoid the common mistakes and make squash casserole your new go-to recipe for the holidays, entertaining, or even just a weeknight meal.
Mistake #1: It’s watery
Squash contains a lot of water, so you need to do a little prep work to mitigate for that. After slicing the squash, salt the slices and place them on a paper-towel lined baking sheet. Let it sit for 30 minutes so that the salt can draw out some of its water. Use the paper towel to dab off any excess moisture before proceeding with the recipe.
Because some squash can be particularly juicy, you might also want to strain the sliced squash after sauteing. You want to remove as much of that extra liquid as you can before adding the squash to the rest of the casserole ingredients.
Mistake #2: You scrambled the eggs
If you cut into your squash casserole only to reveal lumpy bits of egg, you may have accidentally undermixed your casserole. If you don’t mix the eggs into the casserole well enough, you leave clumps of raw egg that once cooked become little curdles in the filling. One way to avoid this is to beat the eggs lightly before adding them to the other casserole ingredients. This breaks up the egg white and yolk ahead of time for easier blending. The other key to avoiding this mistake is to mix the beaten eggs really well with the other casserole mix-ins. While you can overmix the mixture once the squash is added, at this stage you can give the mixture a good mix without issue. There should be no visible streaks of egg after you’re finished mixing.
Mistake #3: It’s bland
As we have discussed, squash has a lot of water, and if we are being honest, not a ton of taste on its own, so seasoning your casserole properly is important. Season the squash while sauteing it initially and again after adding it to the casserole filling mixture. By seasoning in layers, you season every part of the casserole, start to finish.
Mistake #4: The top is burnt
The buttery and cheesy topping on squash casseroles is delicious, but also prone to burning thanks to all the melted butter and shredded cheese it contains. To avoid a burnt casserole, first make sure to bake it on the center rack, not in the top third of the oven where it will be too close to the heating element. Next, for the first half of the baking time, keep the casserole covered in aluminum foil. Remove the foil halfway through baking, so the top can brown.
Mistake #5: The top is soggy
This is the opposite of number four, but another common squash casserole problem. If you leave the foil on for the entire cooking time you won’t give the casserole a chance to brown. If your casserole base is too watery that can also affect the top, as the breadcrumbs can absorb the excess moisture becoming soggy and difficult to brown. Luckily, you can pop the casserole under the broiler for a few minutes (keep an eye on it, so it doesn’t burn) and that should help crisp it up.
Mistake #6: It’s mushy
Mushy squash casserole isn’t something anyone wants. If overcooked while sauteing, the squash will disintegrate while baking, which is why you want to cook the squash until just tender. When it comes to mixing the squash with the other casserole ingredients, make sure all the other ingredients are well combined before gently folding in the sliced squash. Overmixing the casserole at this stage will break down the squash, again creating a mushy filling.