13 Canned Ingredients That Will Seriously Upgrade Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped potatoes count among those dishes that nearly everyone eats, that has always been around, and yet no one knows from whence they originate. This might irritate the average food nerd who wants to dive as deeply into the history of the dish as his or her fork dives into the recipe. But to home gourmands, the question of the dish's history isn't nearly as important as what you can do to make this dish taste even more epic. The answer is simple. Adding canned ingredients to your scalloped potatoes takes them from a comfortable side dish to a superstar in 30 minutes or less.


This should appeal to food nerds because it requires some creativity to make this classic recipe brand new again. There is an additional benefit in all of this. Canned goods often sit in the cupboard too long because home cooks have grown bored of them. Instead of using them up, it's often less taxing just to take a trip to the grocery store to buy something more interesting for dinner because that can of chili or potato soup on its own has lost its appeal. It's an easy way to blow a grocery budget. Adding your canned goods to a simple box of scalloped potatoes has a way of bringing that food budget back in line by making what's in your cupboard interesting again. If you've ever faced this conundrum, these scalloped potato ideas solve your dinner dilemma once and for all.


1. Canned tomatoes and cheese provide a taste of Italy

Of all the flavors that people associate with Italian cooking, tomatoes and cheese rank right up at the top. These ingredients bring with them the savory comfort that comes from eating foods like pizza or lasagna. And those staple ingredients don't just taste great on bread or noodles. They give your favorite scalloped potato recipe an Italian flare that adds life to any meal.


To make this dish, layer scalloped potatoes, canned tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese in a baking dish. If you're after a lasagne-like flavor, add in other ingredients, like ricotta cheese, fresh spinach, and olives. Flavoring the mix is a cinch if you start with canned tomatoes that already come with Italian seasoning.

Bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes, give or take. Finally, to take the Italian vibe to the next level, be generous with additional sprinkles of seasonings like basil, garlic, oregano, and a dash of white pepper.

2. Give them a Mexican flare with nacho cheese soup

Homemade scalloped potato recipes are already known for their ooey-gooey cheesiness. While you would be hard-pressed to call this tried-and-true combo a yawn, it could be argued that it's possible to take this classic for granted. To prevent this horror from happening, spice it up a bit like the party in your mouth that it deserves to be. For that, take a flavor hint from South of the border and whip up some Mexican scalloped potatoes.


Get started by pulling out a can of nacho cheese soup from the pantry along with your slow cooker. Slice your potatoes – Yukon golden works well here – and add in the nacho cheese soup. Allow them to bubble and simmer in the cheese sauce in the Crock-Pot for four or five hours. When it comes time to serve them, freshly grated pepper Jack cheese adds even more spice to the dish. If you're afraid that'll cause a tongue-searing you won't soon forget, add a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt to cool down the fire a bit.

3. Add ham and peas for a tasty casserole

Canned ham and peas turn a classic scalloped potatoes recipe into a full dinner casserole. The juices from the ham add a smoky flavor to the abundant cheeses that dominate scalloped potatoes, while the peas add extra flavor and around 34 milligrams of calcium and magnesium. 


It's worth mentioning that some casseroles get soggy if not prepped in the right way. You have a couple of options for preventing sogginess. If you start this recipe with boxed scalloped potatoes, adjust the amount of liquid that the instructions suggest if you plan on adding the canned peas without draining them. Be aware also that substituting frozen peas for canned peas also brings with it the same risk of sogginess because as the ice crystals on the peas melt during the cooking process, they release water. Making adjustments here, too, helps.

On a related note, canned ham has plenty of brine and jelly. Rinsing the ham before putting it into the casserole prevents this dish from getting too salty. Some canned ham brands have as much as 620 milligrams per serving.This may present a particular problem if you also begin with boxed scalloped potatoes because they also contain a good deal of salt — about 470 milligrams — in some cases  Draining and washing the ham mitigates the saltiness a bit.


4. Mushroom soup brings smoky richness to scalloped potatoes

Mushroom soup, plus a generous helping of canned mushrooms, takes scalloped potatoes to new heights by adding not only a smoky flavor and creaminess but also a bit of substance. While this dish would be a delish side for any main course, it offers some particular benefit to those who have chosen to go meatless and who look to mushrooms to provide a substitute for plant-based meat. For example, baby bella, also known as portobello or cremini, replicate the texture of chicken, which, in this case, basically gives you vegetarian mushroom-infused scalloped potatoes with a chicken sort of vibe.  On the other hand, chanterelles bring the consistency of crab to scalloped potatoes for a sea-inspired dish. 


Meanwhile, the canned mushroom soup itself enhances the overall creaminess of scalloped potatoes. This side dish becomes particularly creamy when mixed with a scalloped potatoes recipe that calls for cream cheese instead of or in addition to cheddar and other types of cheeses. The creaminess factor gets cranked up a notch higher still when you make scalloped potatoes with russet or Yukon Gold potatoes. The potato starch makes the milk base in the mushroom soup all the thicker, which translates into creamier potatoes. 

5. Shake up tuna casserole

Not everyone likes nor can eat noodles, which makes scalloped potatoes with tuna a welcome substitute for the standard tuna casserole. In its simplest form, it adds canned tuna to the scalloped potatoes recipe, plus a can of cream of celery soup, to enhance the creaminess and augment the flavor of the tuna, thanks to the natural salts found in the celery. 


Turn to bits of onion, a dash of garlic, and a little white pepper to give it a more savory kick. Fresh herbs like rosemary and sage come with more subtle hints of flavor and offer a salt substitute. Frozen peas and carrots or broccoli stretch the recipe, taking it from side dish to main dish. Finally, if you've turned to a tuna potato casserole due to gluten sensitivity and you plan on using boxed scalloped potatoes instead of fresh-from-scratch potatoes, look for brands like Hungry Jack, Betty Crocker, or Simply Potatoes, which carry the gluten-free label.

6. Scalloped potatoes and canned burger do Hamburger Helper one better

Countless home cooks have turned to mascot Lefty and his beloved Hamburger Helper to make basic ingredients, like noodles, hamburger, and an assortment of veggies, stretch farther than any of these individual ingredients would go on their own. And while most people think of noodles and ground beef when they think of this concoction, boxed scalloped potatoes, plus canned ground beef, works as well or better than its noodled counterpart. First of all, the combination of ground beef and potatoes has been tested countless times in other recipes, like shepherd's pie. If your taste buds already like this combo, scalloped potatoes and hamburger will likely be a hit with them, too.


Second, warmed potatoes drink in the liquids they're bubbling in. In this case, you'll end up with potatoes infused with the essence of the canned ground beef's flavor and juices, as well as any herbs and spices you've added to the dish. Third, one of the reasons why people like Hamburger Helper is because it's filling, but boiled potatoes are the most filling of all foods at 323 points on the Australian Satiety Index, according to the Chicago Tribune. If you want to ensure that you'll leave the table good and full, substituting scalloped potatoes for pasta in your homemade Hamburger Helper dish fits the bill nicely. Just add canned ground beef and go.

7. Give green bean casserole a potato-y twist

While turkey is the star of Thanksgiving dinner, a few side dishes have movie-star status in their own right. Green bean casserole counts as one of them. This creamy and savory dish combines canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and tasty French onions. Naturally, some sort of spud rounds out Thanksgiving dinner, too, like scalloped potatoes. Adventurous foodies make a mash-up — no pun intended — of these two holiday staples, turning scalloped potatoes into a casserole where the combination of the canned green beans, onions, potatoes, and mushroom soup weave into a newer, hardier holiday taste tapestry.


Usually, green bean casserole counts among the creamiest dishes on the spread, but a few culinary tricks will make it even creamier. Ingredients such as mayonnaise, sour cream, or heavy cream thicken up the mushroom soup in this recipe. Finally, grated cheeses, like cheddar or Parmesan, sprinkled on top of the casserole and mixed throughout before you add the French onions push this already delish recipe into the category of new favorite holiday comfort food.

8. Thicken potato soup to make it more filling

On a cold winter night, canned potato soup warms the tummy quickly and easily with very little preparation required. And while most canned potato soup pleases the palate just fine, food nerds know how to crank up the flavor factor with a simple hack: boxed scalloped potatoes. Most of the time, boxed scalloped potatoes take about 25 minutes to cook, so adding the scalloped potatoes doesn't add that much time to the overall cooking time. 


To make this combo work, cook the scalloped potatoes according to the package directions. While you wait for the potatoes to cook, prep any additional ingredients, like diced ham, green onions, and grated cheese. (If you're looking for an additional hack, opt for canned ham. It's already cooked and ready to chop up.)

Once the scalloped potatoes are done, take them from the oven and transfer them to a large pot on the stove. Add the potato soup. Because the scalloped potatoes and the additional ingredients add volume to the potato soup, go with a larger pot than you normally would to accommodate the extra ingredients. Allow everything to simmer for a bit. The starch from the scalloped potatoes increases the creaminess and volume of the soup. It also infuses the potato soup with cheese flavoring. Garnish with grated cheese, green onions, and diced ham or bacon bits.


9. Germanize the potatoes with sauerkraut

Germans have eaten sauerkraut since at least the 1600s, and it was the German immigrants who eventually brought the recipe to American shores in the 1700s. And although it's common for sauerkraut to be a side dish, complementing German potatoes, it becomes a staple meal if you combine the potatoes and sauerkraut into one dish. In this case, adding canned sauerkraut to scalloped potatoes "Germanizes" the recipe, adding a tangy sourness to the cheesy recipe to create the kind of flavor contrasts that is common in German cooking.


You can make the recipe from scratch, but if time is short, cheat a little by combining the sauerkraut with boxed scalloped potatoes. To avoid making the dish watery, drain the sauerkraut and squeeze it dry. One simple way to do this is to put a cheesecloth in a strainer and then dump the sauerkraut into the cheesecloth. Fold the cheesecloth over the sauerkraut and squeeze the liquid out of the sauerkraut over the sink. 

Once you're ready to cook the dish, layer the ingredients. Potatoes go on the bottom, topped with the canned sauerkraut and cheese. Repeat the process until the ingredients are gone. Top with some extra grated cheese for more flavor. Cover with foil and bake.

10. Create a cheesy chili potato bake

Anyone who has ever had the good fortune of partaking in a baked potato bar knows how delish a spud with a generous ladle of chili topped with grated cheese and garnished with green onions is. It's a combination of nearly every kind of comfort food we grew up eating: potatoes, chili, and cheese. How could you lose? The good news is replicating the chili cheese potato bar experience doesn't require a whole potato bar if you have some boxed scalloped potatoes, a can of chili, and some grated cheese. While you won't get a baker to dig into, you will get a thick and filling casserole that replicates the taste and invites second helpings.


To make the casserole hardy enough, consider doing a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 ratio of potatoes to canned chili. Just as the potato on the potato bar provides most of the bulk in the recipe, so too is it here. Additionally, most boxed scalloped potatoes come with plenty of cheese sauce. However, sprinkling grated cheddar and romano or Parmesan cheese on top takes the cheesiness to the next level. It's also worth mentioning that the addition of chili and cheese to the scalloped potatoes may alter the liquid ratios in the dish. Consider altering the amount of liquid that the directions on the boxed scalloped potatoes call for if you opt for two boxes of potatoes instead of three.

11. White beans add fiber to your potatoes

Canned white beans and/or butter beans, although not completely flavorless, are very adaptable from a taste standpoint, an important thing to consider if you like adding them to different recipes, like scalloped potatoes, to give these recipes more fiber and protein. The addition of canned white or butter beans brings some of the benefits of the famous Blue Zone Diet to this potato favorite. For those who are unfamiliar with the Blue Zones, they are the places on the planet where people live the longest — up to 100 years old or older.


Beans play a critical role in these mostly plant-based food cultures, though except for the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California (the only U.S.-based Blue Zone), all the other Blue Zone cultures eat some meat. But all, without exception, eat an abundance of beans — at least a cup a day.

Scalloped potato recipes benefit hugely from such an upgrade because the canned beans take on the flavors of the potatoes while also sneaking more plant-based food into the diet. Savory vegetables like onions and mushrooms and seasonings like garlic not only give the dish more flavor but, like the beans they're combined with, more plant-based power. While some Blue Zoners eat cheese, many don't. If you'd like to go the dairyless route with your scalloped potatoes with white or butter beans, consider making it with a vegan cheese sauce instead.


12. A can of corned beef brings the luck of the Irish to dinner

Corned beef accidentally became a thing when Irish immigrants couldn't afford the bacon they would have boiled and eaten with their cabbage on St. Patty's Day.  Enter the substitute beef brisket, an idea for which the Irish got from their Jewish neighbors once they moved to the U.S. Eventually, the boiling of the meat also went away in place of salt-cured meat. And corned beef wasn't limited to just corned beef and cabbage but all sorts of dishes, including corned beef hash, that beloved breakfast staple, which was the result of not only a lack of ingredients but the mixing of cultures as well.


This section starts with a small history lesson to acknowledge the fact that adding corned beef to scalloped potatoes changes the recipe – corned beef hash – yet again, but as corned beef's history already highlights, the recipe is ever-evolving. If you look at it that way, what could be more perfect than adding canned corned beef to a Crock-Pot scalloped potatoes recipe? To make it, rinse the canned corned beef before cooking it to get rid of the extra salt that may make the dish too briny. The advantage to making it in the slow cooker is that you can set it to cook before bed and eat it for breakfast or cook it all day and have dinner waiting for you when you get home.

13. Use cream corn for extra flavorful and creamy potatoes

If you've ever topped your mashed potatoes with canned cream corn instead of gravy, you know how tasty this combo is. The mashed potatoes are savory to the corn's sweet, and the creamy character of the corn replicates the consistency of gravy nicely, adding even more creaminess to an already creamy dish. The only way this dish could be improved upon, really, is if you combined canned creamed corn with scalloped potatoes instead, giving you a dish that's sweet and savory and very, very cheesy.


It works with both a from-scratch version of scalloped potatoes or from the box. The recipe usually calls for milk or water, which ups the cream factor. The liquid from the canned cream corn and milk is enough to reconstitute the dried potatoes in the packaged scalloped potatoes, though you may want to experiment with reducing some of the liquid if you find that the mix gets too soupy for your taste. Bits of diced ham or bacon take this dish to next-level yum.