Baked Pineapple Casserole

Easter, Meatless, Sides, Southern / Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Pineapple Casserole

Someone always wins the day on Facebook.

Today, it’s my mother-in-law, Elaine. She’s having cake and lemonade on the lawn at Welty House in Jackson, Miss.

Doesn’t that sound like exactly the way you should be spending a gorgeous spring day – having cake and lemonade on the lawn?

At Welty House, they’re celebrating the 102nd birthday of Eudora Welty, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who lived and died in Jackson. You might have read one of her short stories, like “Why I Live at the P.O.,” “A Worn Path” or “Petrified Man,” while you were in high school or her award-winning novel, “The Optimist’s Daughter” in a college lit class. (If you haven’t, it’s not too late.)

If I’d realized sooner that today was her birthday, I would have made Ms. Welty’s Vicksburg Potato Salad. But I didn’t. So, I made another Southern spring classic, a so-wrong-it’s-right Baked Pineapple Casserole.

It’s the sort of golden mystery dish you might find bubbling away on a Southern granny’s Easter table, since pineapple goes so well with ham.

To appreciate this casserole, you have to refrain from passing judgment on its ingredients: crushed pineapple, sugar, Ritz cracker crumbs, butter and cheddar cheese. You have to accept the logic that, if pineapple and cheese go together, and cheese and crackers go together, then pineapple, crackers and cheese are perfectly fine together.

Because they are.

The pineapple is extra sweet from being combined with the sugar, so it contrasts even more with the savoriness of the cheese. Then the cracker crumbs, which are layered throughout the casserole, absorb some of the pineapple juice and butter from the bottom and thicken the casserole, giving it some body. Under the surface, the texture is similar to a Ritz Mock Apple Pie, only with crushed pineapple instead of no fruit at all. However, those cracker crumbs stay nice and crunchy on top.

Some people serve this casserole for dessert, but it’s a great side dish for pork, especially something like a good Coca-Cola ham. With the last of the summer’s put-up green beans, creamed corn, Sister Schubert’s rolls and potato salad.

Followed by cake and lemonade on the lawn.

I mean, doesn’t that sound nice? Welty House knows how to party.

Baked Pineapple Casserole

Adapted from Louis and Billie Van Dyke’s “The Blue Willow Inn Bible of Southern Cooking”

Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) grated cheddar cheese (plus 1/4 cup for topping)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pour the crushed pineapple (juice and all) into a small saucepan, and warm it over low heat. Add sugar. Heat until the sugar is dissolved, and then remove from the heat.
  3. In a casserole or baking dish, layer the pineapple mixture, cracker crumbs, butter and cheese. Repeat until you have three to four layers. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese on top of the casserole.
  4. Bake uncovered for about 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown.

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30 thoughts on “Baked Pineapple Casserole

  1. I am so making this and pulling out my copy of TOD and sitting out on the deck Sunday afternoon, weather permitting, while we grill something southern to have with this and tomato sandwiches and lemonade…okay, it's not the Welty House or The Faulkner House down the road, but it's as close as I can get right now. I have always wanted to try this because I am, as it is, skeptical about all those flavors touching. Hope you are well.

  2. Oh wow. Never heard of this, but I love it already. It's got to be good I reckon seeing as how every type of food from the South is!

  3. I remember when I tried this for the first time in Winston-Salem, and yes, you need to dive right in without thinking. After that, it's cake – uh… casserole. It's so tasty! I've always wondered how it would work using fresh pineapple instead of canned.

  4. this looks delicious and never something I would've thought of. Who thinks about baking pineapple with cheese and crackers. No one. But the southeners.

  5. I love this casserole! My mother made it years ago from Aunt Bee's Mayberry Cookbook. Will have to make this very soon – comfort in a dish.

  6. This looks great! I've never heard of anything like this before! I can just imagine how great it tastes with ham!

  7. I've made this many times. I never put 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Just too sweet. I use about half of that amount.

  8. What an interesting idea. Looks delicious and warm, yet with tang from the pineapple. Must try! I might even adapt it for Passover – matzo would work instead of ritz crackers :)

  9. Great dish…such a traditional southern side! From the south and lived in TX for a while and none of my friends knew what it was until we took a trip to North Carolina! They weren't too keen on the idea, but I love love this dish!!

  10. Oh wow — pineapple, Ritz crackers and cheddar? Sounds too strange not to be delicious, to be honest! Salty, sweet and tangy… I might have to break my no-baking-treats rule and give this one a try.

  11. My cousin has been making this dish for years for every family event. Years! And it's so good. I hate to admit how good it is.

  12. I just made this for Easter dinner. First off, the smell as it was baking made the whole house go insane. It was heavenly. Second, after the first bite I think I can honestly say it is the most delicious thing I ever ate! This is going to be a holiday staple. Plus I know what I'm making for every pot luck from now on. YUM!

  13. Thanks for the Welty shout-out! I can't believe that I missed this post; I really do check your blog all the time. I must have consumed too much lemonade or ate too much cake or both!

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