This barbecue lentil casserole works any time of year. It’s a hearty meal that easily feeds a crowd. Bonus: the cheesy cornmeal biscuit topping makes the dish extra delicious!
This post was originally published April. 25, 2017. It was updated with more content on August 12, 2020 but it’s still the same great recipe!
Late April is a very fickle time in our part of West Virginia. It’s hot and sunny one day and cold and wet the next. So, on Saturday you might decide to have an impromptu cookout with friends and Sunday hibernate under the covers because you refuse to turn the heat back on!
This kind of flipsy-flopsy weather is exactly what I had in mind when I created this BBQ Lentil Casserole Bake recipe.
Lentils covered in barbecue sauce topped with a cheddar cornmeal biscuit… YUM! It’s like baked beans rolled into a corn dog “bun.” But so much better than either of those things.
Our recipe for barbecue lentil casserole is a dish for all seasons. It’s comfort food for the cold season but also an ideal vegetarian main for cookouts. If you love a good casserole, you might also want to try an Italian Vegetable Casserole or a Sweet Potato Casserole.
Vegetarian casserole recipe
This lentil casserole is sweet, savory, rich and won’t leave you hungry. I know that’s important for my vegetarian friends.
I’ve been to dinners where my vegetarian friends left hungry because almost every dish had meat in it. And the one that doesn’t? It’s usually lacking protein.
Well, I promise you that if this is the veggie casserole you serve at a cookout or a winter potluck, your vegetarian friends (and the meat eaters too) will leave satisfied. Our barbecue lentil bake has legumes for protein, veggies for nutrition and a cheddar cornmeal biscuit topping for a little carb indulgence.
Plus there’s barbecue sauce…because who doesn’t like a good barbecue sauce?
Notice I said good not tasty. It’s very easy to pick up any bottle of barbecue sauce off the store shelf and like the taste. The hard part is to find one that doesn’t have sugar (or high fructose corn syrup) as the first ingredient.
After reading dozens of labels I settled on Stubb’s Sweet Heat. It has 40 calories per 2 tablespoons while most of the products on the shelf were about 70 calories. All that sugar adds up fast!
I mean you want a little sweetness or it wouldn’t be barbecue sauce! But there’s natural sweetness in the casserole from the corn….so no need to add lots of processed sugar to the mix. And it’s not needed because this Stubb’s sauce is delicious!
The sauce makes these barbecued lentils just as yummy as baked beans, but the whole package is a little more gourmet.
A delightfully simple combination of flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and dairy takes this casserole to the next level. A pastry cutter and cold butter is key to help keep the topping flaky.
Like the lentils, the topping is an easy, one-bowl recipe that you can make by hand, which means this recipe is one you can take with you to that mountain cabin or beach house vacation!
Everyone will remember how great this casserole recipe tastes! The sweetness of the corn, the cheesy cornbread biscuit topping, the tangy barbecue covered green peppers and lentils. They’ll be asking for the recipe before they leave the table!
Cast iron casserole recipe
The other thing I love about this recipe is that it can go from stove to oven in one dish with cast iron.
I borrowed my neighbor’s 15-inch Lodge pan which easily holds as much as a large lasagna pan (about 16 cups). There are normally only two of us, so we don’t have many pans this large, but I’m super tempted to buy one now! It’s makes an impressive presentation on the family dinner table.
This casserole recipe makes up to 12 servings. That means it’s great for Sunday suppers or an impromptu get together when the weather is just right. It’s quick and easy to make, so it’s sure to become a favorite recipe!
Lentil Casserole Recipe with Cornbread Topping
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium red onion , diced
- 2 jalapenos , seeded and diced (you can leave the seeds if you want it spicier)
- 1 green pepper , diced
- 1 bunch cilantro , chopped
- 2 -15 oz cans lentils, drained and rinsed
- 1 -14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
- 16 ounces frozen corn
- 1 cup barbecue sauce (I used Stubb’s Sweet Heat)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 12 ounces cheddar cheese , very finely grated, divided
- 12 tablespoons butter , very cold and cut into pats
- 1½ cups whole milk
- In a skillet, heat oil over medium high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, sauté the onion, jalapeno and green pepper until the vegetables are tender but not completely cooked.
- Take off the heat and stir in the cilantro, lentils, tomatoes, corn and barbecue sauce.
- Season filling with salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and 8 ounces of the finely grated cheddar. (Chill this mixture if you have time, it will help the rise of the biscuit).
- Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until butter is pea sized.
- Make a well in the center of the bowl and add milk.
- Stir in milk by hand, folding with a spatula about 8 times. A little unincorporated flour is okay.
- Grease very large skillet or a large lasagna pan.
- Layer the filling in the bottom on the pan.
- Place half of the remaining cheese on top of the filling.
- Top with biscuit dough, being careful to not overwork (or warm up) the dough as you place it on the filling.
- Top biscuit with remaining cheese.
- Bake 35-45 minutes, until topping is very golden.
- We made this dish in a large cast iron skillet because it can go from stove to oven.
- If I’m cooking in a dutch oven or cast iron skillet, I usually am too lazy to grease the pan when I take it from stove to oven. It sticks a little, but it’s easier than washing another bowl.
- If freezing, make casserole as stated, then cover tightly and freeze. Reheat from frozen.
Need a delicious side dish? Check out our other crowd pleasing recipes!
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