New-School Pineapple Casserole

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This old favorite just got an upgrade.

New-School Pineapple Casserole in casserole dish
Photo: Photo: James Ransom; Food Styling: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Styling: Christine Keely
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs
Servings:
10

The uniquely Southern combination of canned pineapple, Cheddar cheese, and Ritz crackers is one of those things you just have to taste to understand. When combined with plenty of butter and baked in a 13- x 9-inch dish, it becomes the iconic pineapple casserole you know and love.

We played around with the classic formula, making a few new-school adjustments, from using aged white Cheddar for a sharper bite, to a touch of fresh rosemary folded in. The cream cheese we include adds both tang and creaminess to the classic, while sliced almonds add crunch.

The biggest change we made, which is perhaps slightly controversial, is we swapped the canned pineapple for fresh. Using fresh pineapple is certainly more work, but the extra effort is rewarded with a bright, fresh flavor that the canned stuff just can't provide. Fresh pineapple is not as soft or sweet as canned, but that means added texture, and there's plenty of brown sugar in this recipe to balance its acidic bite.

This might not be the same casserole grandma used to make, but we think she would approve of our changes.

Ingredients

  • 2 fresh pineapples, peeled and cored

  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar

  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch

  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 ½ cups aged white Cheddar cheese, shredded, divided

  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, cut into small cubes

  • 26 buttery crackers (such as Ritz), coarsely crushed (about 1.5 cups)

  • 1 cup sliced almonds

  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves

  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Halve pineapples lengthwise, and then slice crosswise into ½-inch-thick half-moons. Place slices on several layers of paper towels, and gently pat dry. Shingle slices lengthwise in 2 rows, curved sides up, in a prepared baking dish.

  2. Whisk together brown sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice in a small bowl, and pour evenly over pineapple slices. Sprinkle evenly with ¾ cup of the Cheddar; scatter cream cheese cubes evenly over the surface.

  3. Combine crackers, almonds, and rosemary in a medium bowl; drizzle with butter, and toss to coat. Stir in remaining ¾ cup Cheddar, and sprinkle mixture evenly over the casserole.

  4. Bake in preheated oven until the topping is golden brown and pineapple slices are tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

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