Make Ahead Pineapple Cheese Casserole

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Pineapple cheese casserole has a juicy pineapple base topped with sharp cheddar cheese and golden brown buttery cracker crumbs. Serve this as an easy holiday side dish you could make ahead and reheat before serving.

A small white dish has a serving of pineapple cheese casserole with cracker crumb topping.

The longer I live in the South, the more delicious recipes I encounter.

This make ahead pineapple cheese casserole was a new-to-me dish I tested during the Christmas season and it was such a hit with my family I wanted to share it with you before we celebrate Easter.

If you love salty and sweet flavor pairings and can appreciate the way that juicy pineapple complements a crispy buttery cracker crumbs topping, you are going to love this recipe just as much as I do.

Why This is the Best Recipe

After more than a decade of living in the Carolinas, I've learned some of the best southern recipes belong on our holiday table. I think this is the best pineapple cheese casserole recipe because:

  1. Make Ahead Friendly: You can bake it the day before your holiday dinner and just reheat it in the oven before serving.
  2. Sweet and Savory: The juicy pineapple chunks pair shockingly well with that sharp cheddar cheese and buttery, crispy cracker crumb crust.
  3. Brunch or Dinner: You could easily serve this for a holiday brunch in the morning or save it as part of a festive part of your holiday dinner.

Ingredients

The canned pineapple and other ingredients are on the counter.

If you've never even heard of pineapple cheese casserole, you'll be happy to know this is all you need to make it:

  • Canned Pineapple: I used one can of pineapple chunks and one can of pineapple tidbits. I think this makes for the most interesting texture for the pineapple base. You could use all chunks or all tidbits if you prefer.
  • Pineapple Juice: Buy the canned pineapple that is packed in pineapple juice, not syrup. Then you'll have the pineapple juice you need already in the can!
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Cheddar Cheese: I strongly recommend buying a brick of cheddar cheese and grating it yourself. It melts so much better than pre-shredded cheese.
  • Butter
  • Butter Crackers: I used Ritz but you could use Town House or Club crackers or any other brand you love.

Crush the Crackers

Place the crackers in a sealed plastic food bag.

Gently crush them with a kitchen mallet or rolling pin.

The butter crackers are in a ziptop bag.

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Mix the Pineapple Base

Drain the canned pineapple into a measuring cup so you can reserve the pineapple juice you need.

Add the drained pineapple to a large mixing bowl.

A mixing bowl is filled with canned pineapple. The pineapple chunks are on the left, the pineapple tidbits are on the right.

Add the sugar, flour, and just 6 tablespoons of pineapple juice to the mixing bowl and stir to combine until smooth.

The mixing bowl has pineapple, sugar, and flour. A measuring cup of pineapple juice is in the back.

A Note on Cheese

Pre-shredded cheese comes coated in an anti-sticking agent so it doesn't all clump together in the bag at the store.

This means it doesn't melt quite as well as a hand-grated brick of cheese would.

I ran my brick of cheddar cheese through the food processor to grate it in less than a minute but I also keep a box grater in my pantry when I don't feel like cleaning the food processor.

Pre-shredded cheese will still be delicious and work fine if you don't have the time to spend, but for a very special holiday the brick of cheese is the way to go!

The food processor on the counter has just finished shredding cheddar cheese.

Assembly Instructions

Pour the pineapple mixture into an 8x8-inch baking dish and spread it out into an even layer.

Top the pineapple with the shredded cheddar cheese.

The step by step photos show how to assemble the pineapple cheese casserole.

In a small mixing bowl combine the crushed butter crackers with melted butter.

Sprinkle the cracker crumbs over the cheddar cheese in an even layer.

Place the baking dish on a large baking sheet to catch any juices that may bubble over the sides as it bakes.

Baking Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Bake the pineapple cheese casserole for 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

The finished casserole has a perfect golden brown topping.

Make Ahead Tips

We have a small family of 4 but I still try to make our holiday meals full of choices. I prepped this easy side dish for our Christmas Eve dinner and we had tons leftover.

I stored it in the fridge covered in aluminum foil overnight.

For Christmas Day, I let it warm up on the counter for 30 minutes and then just reheated it in the oven with the rest of our holiday diner until it was warmed through.

It was a huge hit with the extended family that joined us and no one realized I reheated leftovers.

You could easily bake this ahead completely up to two days in advance and then just reheat it in the oven.

I recommend keeping it loosely covered in aluminum foil so the crackers don't get too dark when they reheat.

Serving Suggestions

The baking pan of casserole sits next to a small bowl with one serving and a fork.

This delicious and easy side dish is right at home on your Easter or Christmas holiday table but is simple enough to be enjoyed for a special family dinner any time.

I think it tastes best when paired with a glazed spiral ham but I could see it served with a Thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas roast, too.

More Easy Make Ahead Side Dishes

Make ahead side dishes are essential for easy entertaining during the holiday seasons. Here are a few of my prep-ahead favorites for you to add to your menu:

📖 Recipe

A small white dish has a serving of pineapple cheese casserole with cracker crumb topping.

Pineapple Cheese Casserole

5 from 1 vote
This classic southern recipe is a staple side dish for holiday menus and potluck parties. Juicy canned pineapple is baked with sharp cheddar cheese and has a golden brown cracker crumb crust on top. Pair it with a holiday glazed ham or roast.
TOTAL TIME 40 minutes
PREP TIME 10 minutes
COOK TIME 30 minutes
YIELD 8 small side dish sized servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (20 oz) can pineapple chunks drained into a measuring cup so you can reserve 6 tablespoons of the pineapple juice
  • 1 (20 oz) can pineapple tidbits drained
  • 6 tablespoons pineapple juice reserved from the canned pineapple
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese freshly grated from a cheese brick
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 sleeve butter crackers (about 36 crackers) like Ritz, crushed

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Add the drained pineapple chunks, pineapple tidbits, sugar, flour, and reserved pineapple juice to a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  • Spoon the pineapple mixture into an 8x8-inch baking dish and smooth it out into an even layer.
  • Sprinkle the shredded cheddar evenly over the top.
  • Stir together the melted butter and crushed butter crackers with a fork until everything is well coated. Sprinkle the crumbs over the casserole evenly.
  • Bake the pineapple casserole for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

Recipe Notes

Make Ahead Tips

You can make the pineapple cheese casserole up to two days in advance and store it covered in aluminum foil in the fridge.
Simply reheat the casserole in the oven with your other menu items until warmed through. Keep it loosely covered in foil so it doesn't over brown on the top. 
COURSESide Dishes
CUISINEAmerican

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The photo collage shows a close-up photo of a serving of pineapple casserole with pineapple chunks and a cracker topping next to a photo of the baking dish filled with the casserole.

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