Was ‘John Wayne Casserole’ Actually Invented by the Duke?

by Madison Miller
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If you Google, “What’s John Wayne’s favorite food?” you’ll be met with some cheesy, meaty hunks of some sort of casserole.

While John Wayne wasn’t off being an actor and filmmaker, he was like everyone else in the fact that he liked to eat.

John Wayne’s Favorite Foods

One of the dishes that are most connected to “The Duke” is what is known as the “John Wayne Casserole.” It is filled with beef, a biscuit topping, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and a number of other ingredients.

Put it all together and it has become synonymous with John Wayne.

According to Cook’s Info, Wayne’s casserole can be traced back to a 1979 cookbook called, “Cooking with Love from Cara and Her Friends.” The original casserole was actually a vegetarian and crustless dish made with cheese and egg.

This recipe book held a collection of recipes that famous people had concocted or shared. It was also a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Some recipes were from people like Alan Alda, Ed Asner, President Jimmy Carter, and Walter Cronkite.

This is the first connection Wayne has to the casserole. However, the most recent version of the casserole that appears in searches is quite different than what Wayne would have eaten. You can find recipes like that, here.

The official “John Wayne Casserole” really isn’t a trademark of “The Duke” at all. This version came from the University of Mississippi Medical Center Cafeteria in Jackson, Mississippi.

“It was not unusual to see lines out the cafeteria door, and it has always been a top seller. We’ve tried putting other menu items up against it, but it still proves to be the one that people want,” Resa Williams, food production manager at UMC said, according to Cook’s Info.

What Else Did The Duke Eat?

John Wayne passed away in 1979 and was 72. If he was able to live that long, he likely didn’t survive on just cheesy casseroles his entire life.

Even outside of his roles in films like “The Sons of Katie Elder,” “El Dorado,” “True Grit,” and “The Shootist,” Wayne lived a very cowboy-western life through his food choices.

According to Taste of Home, Wayne loved to grill. He had his own indoor grill and would whip up some steak (his favorite) as well as chicken, pork, and different types of seafood. Wayne loved cheesy grits, carnitas, chiles rellenos, cornbread, chili, coleslaw, and scalloped potatoes. He had a very Tex-Mex inspired meal plan.

There’s a number of cookbooks inspired by food “The Duke” would have loved. There’s the “John Wayne Cast Iron Official Cookbook” or even “The Official John Wayne Way to Grill” book.

Surely, all that flavor and spice he would have needed something to wash it down with. He especially loved whiskey. In fact, after he died his son, Ethan, found cases of his whiskey. He worked with different groups and now Duke Spirits helps brings Wayne’s taste in alcohol to countless whiskey drinkers. The distillers used the old barrels of whiskey and unmarked bottles to eventually get to a very similar taste.

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