Beth Dreiling Hontzas

So good they'd make a fox hug a hound. 

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A good casserole is the little black dress of Southern comfort foods: It’s expected at funerals, welcomed at parties, and occasionally deemed appropriate for weddings. Casseroles win the day for a multitude of reasons: They’re easy to throw together in a pinch and downright delicious, plus they freeze beautifully. And while the creamy, decadent contents of a hearty casserole are good for the soul, it’s the host of sweet and savory ornaments you can pile on top that really make a casserole sing. Here, four all-star toppings that Southerners can’t make a casserole without.

Corn Flakes

We’ll stick to biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast and leave the cornflakes cereal for the casserole-accessorizing. A hefty sprinkling of the crushed flakes on top of a hash brown casserole (you know, that cheesy one you might also call “funeral potatoes”) delivers a just-right, so-light crunch that’s a welcome addition to the pillowy parade of potatoes, sour cream, cheese, and cream of chicken underneath.

Ritz Crackers

Served straight-up or spread thick with a glob of peanut butter, the classic buttery crackers are a quick-fix pick-me-up any time of day, but tossed together with Parmesan cheese and layered on top of an ultra-indulgent squash casserole, they’re practically a rags-to-riches story. Other favorite places to make it rain Ritz crackers include pineapple casserole (don’t knock it ‘til you try it), poppy seed chicken (forever a crowd pleaser), and oyster casserole (a holiday favorite).

Canned French Fried Onions

Crispy, crunchy, and the teeniest bit sweet, fried onions are the ideal mate for everything from summer salads to a burger hot off the grill, especially when they’re fuss-free and can be poured straight from a can (looking at you French’s). They’re also the heroes of every green bean casserole we’ve ever scarfed down on Thanksgiving. Are green beans even worth eating if they’re not stirred together with cream of mushroom soup and covered in fried onion bits? Asking for a friend.

Melted Butter

Do we even need to explain why this made this list? Sometimes, less is more. But when determining how many butter pats should be throw down on top of a casserole, well, this is just not one of those times. More is more, people.

*Please note that while the above four toppings are our can’t-live-without-‘ems, we’d like to extend honorable mentions to chopped pecans, cheddar cheese, and marshmallows for their notable work in launching everyday casseroles to new heights of deliciousness.

WATCH: Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

What's your go-to crowd-pleasing casserole? Tell us in the comments.