A corn casserole is a traditional type of homemade casserole that often is considered comfort food. There are two distinct types of corn casserole; one is made with creamed corn and sour cream baked in a muffin batter, and the other is made with bacon, cream cheese and several other ingredients. One thing that both types of casseroles have in common is that they are easy to make, usually calling for premade mixes and canned corn, although fresh ingredients could easily be substituted. The resulting corn casserole generally is sweet and loose but has a bready texture because of the muffin mix that is used. The casserole can be served with sides of green vegetables, salad or alongside meat.
Both the simple and complex types of corn casserole use some kind of powdered muffin mix. This frequently can be readily purchased at a supermarket, but alternately can be quickly made with a combination of flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and, sometimes, a little cornmeal. The mix is important to the recipe because it absorbs the excess liquid the corn releases and acts as a binder for all the ingredients.
For traditional simple corn casserole, equal amounts of whole kernel yellow corn and creamed corn are combined in a bowl. Some sour cream is added to the corn, along with a stick of softened butter. The muffin or cornbread mix is then whisked into the mixture along with eggs and water or milk, if necessary. The entire batter then is poured into a greased baking pan and cooked in an oven until done.
The more complex corn casserole is made in a similar way but uses some different ingredients. Bacon, onion and diced peppers are added to the mixture for flavor. Only whole kernel corn is used, and cubes of cream cheese may be substituted for the sour cream. When combined with the muffin or cornbread mix, the completed corn casserole can sometimes have the consistency of a cake, as opposed to the less solid simple casserole.
In both instances, the corn casserole can be baked for a time and then taken out of the oven before it is completely finished so a layer of cheese can be sprinkled on top. Cheddar cheese is the most popular option for this, although a liquid cheese, Monterrey jack or mozzarella also are used in some recipes. If the cheese is allowed to bake on top of the casserole for the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time, then a browned cheese crust will form on top, adding flavor to the dish.