Shipwreck Casserole

Shipwreck Casserole ain’t pretty, but it’s one of those casseroles where looks don’t matter in the slightest because it’s all about the comforting flavors. It’s a unique layered affair; some say it got its name when sailors grabbed whatever food they could from their wrecked ship and then prepared a baked dish from the assorted ingredients. (When I first saw it I thought it got its name because it just looked like a shipwreck.) This bake has been around (in one form or another) since the 1940s, so you just know it has to be good; it’s tried and true, the kind of dish that families have loved so much that they’ve passed it down for decades on end.

When you first see the list of ingredients, you might think, “How did these come to be together?” But I promise you, you just have to go with it, and after one bite you’ll see that it all makes sense.

You start by seasoning and browning some ground beef, that you combine with some kidney beans. (Like I said, just go with it.)

You set that aside while you layer sliced onions and potatoes in a baking dish and top them with a mixture of tomato paste, tomato sauce, and Italian seasoning.

Next up is a layer of sliced celery followed by a generous helping of white rice. (Potatoes and white rice? Yes. Double the carbs, double the fun.)

Finally those kidney beans and ground beef from the beginning make their way on top, followed by the remaining tomato sauce and a bit of grated cheese.

It bakes into a bubbly union of flavors that’s inexplicably tasty and incredibly comforting. It’s more of a smashing success than a shipwreck.

Shipwreck Casserole

1 hour to prepare serves 6


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (15 oz) cans kidney beans, drained
  • 2 white onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 large baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and set aside a 9x13-inch baking dish.
  2. In a medium skillet, brown the ground beef and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Drain, if needed, and stir in drained kidney beans. Set aside.
  3. Line baking dish with the sliced onions, followed by the sliced potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, tomato sauce, 1 can of warm water, and Italian seasoning. Pour half of the tomato mixture over potatoes and onions.
  5. Arrange celery evenly over the top and spread with rice. Season again with salt and pepper.
  6. Top rice with beef and kidney bean mixture, followed by remaining tomato sauce.
  7. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake until potatoes are tender, 45 minutes. Remove foil, top with grated cheese, and bake 15 minutes more. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from 5 Dollar Dinners.