Pineapple Casserole is a classic and unique southern side dish. Pineapple, crackers and cheese (yes, cheese!) combine to make the tastiest side dish that is a must-make during the holidays!
A UNIQUE SOUTHERN SIDE DISH
Pineapple Casserole is a classic southern side dish at a lot of holiday meals. Pineapple, crackers and cheese combine to make the tastiest side to ham! If you’ve never eaten this particular dish of Southern Pineapple Casserole before, then chances are, you probably aren’t from the South but I promise it will convert you! It can be used as a side dish or even a dessert.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
If you’ve never heard of pineapple casserole before, you will probably think it is the weirdest combination of ingredients you ever heard of. It’s a traditional Southern dish made with pineapple, cheese, Ritz crackers and in my recipe, we use pineapple Jell-O!
Generally this is eaten as a side dish with ham. It is a sweet dish so you’d think it was dessert but it is served as a side dish. I find most people tend to eat it on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
You can actually prepare this and bake it before you need it then cover and refrigerate. Then just reheat (either in the oven or microwave.) I wouldn’t do it more than a day in advance.
Leftovers should be covered and refrigerated and will last up to 3 days. This can also be frozen. Cover well to protect against freezer burn and it can stay frozen up to 3 months.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)
- sugar – I’ve never tried this with a sugar substitute but I’m sure it could work.
- pineapple Jell-O – Jell-O brand actually calls it “island pineapple” Walmart has their own Great Value brand of pineapple gelatin. If you can’t find pineapple, you could always go with lemon but pineapple is going to obviously give you the most pineapple flavor.
- corn starch – this is going to help thicken the mixture.
- pineapple tidbits or chunks (in 100% juice) – it needs to be in juice not heavy syrup because you’ll need the juice for the topping.
- sharp cheddar cheese – this is the weird ingredient that throws people off. You do not actually taste the cheese as a separate ingredient. It just cuts the overall sweetness and adds a depth of flavor.
- Ritz crackers – It is traditionally made with Ritz crackers but I’m sure you could make it with club crackers if you prefer those.
- salted butter – if you only have unsalted butter, add about 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the melted butter. Again, we want a touch of saltiness to cut through the overall sweetness of the recipe (although it won’t be salty at all.)
- reserved pineapple juice – this is used in the topping which is why you have to purchase pineapple tidbits in juice not heavy syrup.
HOW TO MAKE PINEAPPLE CASSEROLE:
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray an 8×8-inch baking (2-quart) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium pot over medium heat, whisk together water, sugar, 3 Tablespoons of pineapple Jell-O, and 3 Tablespoons corn starch until thoroughly combined and you get all the lumps out.
Turn heat up to high and let mixture to come to a boil and thicken. Continue to whisk. Once thickened take off heat. Drain pineapple tidbits thoroughly, setting aside 1/2 cup of the juice. Add drained tidbits to the pot and stir.
While pineapple mixture is cooling, begin making topping. In a large Ziploc bag, finely crush Ritz crackers. Add crackers, melted butter and 1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice into a medium bowl and stir until combined. It will seem wet.
Add shredded cheese to cooled pineapple mixture and pour into baking dish. Drop and gently spread Ritz cracker topping over pineapple mixture.
Bake in oven for about 30-35 minutes (until topping is golden brown.)
Allow it to cool for several minutes before serving. It is meant to be served warm.
CRAVING MORE RECIPES?
Originally published: March 2013
Photos updated and republished: November 2023
Southern Pineapple Casserole (+Video)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons pineapple Jell-O
- 3 Tablespoons corn starch
- 20 ounce can pineapple tidbits or chunks (in 100% juice) (not in heavy syrup)
- 1 ½ sleeves (45) Ritz crackers (crushed)
- ½ stick salted butter (1/4 cup), melted
- ½ cup reserved pineapple juice
- 1 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray an 8×8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium pot over medium heat, whisk together 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 3 Tablespoons pineapple Jell-O and 3 Tablespoons corn starch until thoroughly combined and you get all the lumps out.
- Turn heat up to high and let mixture to come to a boil and thicken. Continue to whisk. Once thickened, take off heat.
- Drain 20 ounce can pineapple tidbits or chunks (in 100% juice) thoroughly, setting aside 1/2 cup of the juice. Add drained pineapple to pot and stir.
- In a large Ziploc bag, finely crush 1 1/2 sleeves (45) Ritz crackers.
- Add crushed crackers, 1/2 stick salted butter (1/4 cup), melted and 1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice into a medium bowl and stir until combined.
- Add 1 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese to cooled pineapple mixture in pan.
- Then pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
- Spread Ritz cracker topping over pineapple mixture.
- Bake in oven for about 30-35 minutes (until topping is golden brown.)
- Please refer to my FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
- It MUST be pineapple in 100% juice NOT heavy syrup.
“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.