{from scratch holidays} Cheesy Potato Casserole: Makeover Edition

The finished casserole remake.

For the holidays my grandmother would make a dish that was simply called Cheesy Potato Casserole. It’s pretty much exactly what you would find at a Midwestern church potluck. I absolutely adored it and my brother and I would beg for it whenever we had a family holiday meal together.

As my grandmother got older, my mom would make it. As I neared the end of high school, my mom taught me how to make it. It would be served every Thanksgiving and Christmas and I’d always put a huge helping of it on my plate. Living on my own, I’ve always carried on the tradition of making it.

This year I wanted to try something different. Thankfully I had two separate occasions to make this: the first gathering I made the original version and then for the second party I did a “makeover” using local and healthier ingredients.

This was an interesting project and I’m glad I tried it, but to be completely honest, I like it the way my Grandma used to make it. The new way wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t exactly how I expect it to be. Since my grandmother (and recently my grandfather as well) passed away, enjoying her version brings back a lot of great memories.

Plus (and I honestly wince for even having to mention this) the local/healthier version cost over 3 times as much. Granted, I could maybe find a way to reduce that a bit, but for the few times I eat it each year, I’ll stick with the original. I will say the yogurt and organic potatoes were easy substitutions and much healthier than their regular counterparts in this recipe, so I will probably continue to swap those out.

RECIPE: Cheesy Potato Casserole


1 large bag of frozen hash brown potatoes (the shreds, not the cubes)
2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (divided)
2 cups sour cream
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
1 large onion
3 celery stalks
1 can of french fried onions
salt and pepper


1) Dice celery and onion and put into a microwave safe bowl. Put in the stick of butter and some salt and pepper. Microwave for 5 minutes, until the butter is melted and the veg are tender.

2) In a large bowl mix the frozen potatoes, most of the cheese (leave a little for sprinkling on the top at the end), the sour cream, and the cooked butter/veg mixture.

3) When mixed well, spread into a 9×13 glass pan. Sprinkle on the fried onions and remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

My substitutions: Willow Marsh cheese (shredded), Alexia natural onion rings, Greek yogurt and some local/organic veg.


-Used local/organic potatoes that I shredded in the food processor.

-Used 2 types of cheese from Willow Marsh Farm: Chuck’s Cheddar and Dar’s Garlic and Dill Cheddar

-Used Chobani Greek yogurt (it’s produced in NY) instead of sour cream (if I had time, I would’ve liked to make my own beforehand)

-Used Alexia’s natural beer battered onion rings in place of the canned fried onions

-Used local onion and organic celery


Someday when I hope to have the means to grow/produce all of the ingredients for myself maybe I’ll try again and see how things turn out. Until then, I’m sticking with grandma’s!



13 Comments Add yours

  1. What a precious memory tied up with this recipe. I love that the original version is your favorite.. it seems like we are so pressured sometimes to always cook healthy these days. It seems most chefs go for it when they’re cooking, though, and add tons of butter etc to get the flavor. I think I would go for the original recipe as well:)

  2. Erika T. says:

    Thanks! Yeah it really is super tasty in its original version. I hope to make this for years to come.

  3. How were the onion rings, in particular, as a substitution? I have to say, I was fascinated by the photo, ’cause I’d never have thought to put onion rings on a casserole. I’m curious to know if they were delicious that way.

  4. Jennifer H says:

    I’m curious about the onion rings too. I have an aversion to those canned fried onions, so I’d love to substitute that part even I kept the sour cream. Also, if someone didn’t have the original version for comparison (taste and memories), would you say that the healthier version would be considered yummy?

  5. Erika T. says:

    Hi ladies. I really liked the onion rings. I prefer the super crunchiness of the fried onions in the can, but these were honestly a tasty substitute. Also, there may be other brands that crunch up more than the Alexia did.

    I definitely think the second version is tasty on its own. I will say that Willow Marsh makes very powerful tasting cheese, so if you want a milder flavor I’d probably go with a cheddar from Argyle Cheese Farm.

  6. Jennifer H says:

    Thanks, Erika! I’m definitely going to try this for our family holiday meal. I have two more questions: Did you brown the onion rings before adding them to the casserole? What is the quantity of shredded potatoes?

  7. neiadams says:

    Thank you for posting this! This was amazing and so delicious. I will definitely be making this more often. You have such an amazing page and I will continue to reference it to make delicious meals. 🙂

  8. Liz W. says:

    Your recipe and most of the others I’ve looked at are not from scratch. They start with frozen, hash browns. Therefore, they are not from scratch. You need to change this, so it’s honest.

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