7-Layer Dinner

Monday 22 March 2021

7-Layer Dinner. This easy comfort food casserole is an old, old recipe which dates way back  to the early quarter of the 1900's. You might call it a Depression Era recipe.  Simple hearty food, without any bells and whistles.

The kind of heart comfort food that would have easily kept a family fed and sustained on not much more than a shoe string.  It was one of my favourite things to cook when I had a growing family. With three boys in the mix who had hollow legs, easy and economical meals like this were often the order of the day!


Basically it is a delicious casserole dish in which ingredients are layered together, topped with a liquid and then slow baked until everything is meltingly tender and the flavours have melded together.

I think the first time I saw this being done was when I saw my friend Leona doing it. I was probably in my mid to late 20's and Leona was somewhat of a mother figure that I had made friends with when I was living far away from my own mother in the wilds of Ontario. 

I learned a lot about cooking from Leona. My own mother was not someone who really welcomed anyone in her kitchen, and she didn't have a lot of patience for showing people how to do things.  We were allowed to watch from a distance.

Most of my cooking was learned from either watching mom, or cooking along with some of these dear older ladies who were more than happy to show me the ropes!  I give them a lot of credit!

One reason why this was such a popular meal was because it was very economical.  It uses very simple ingredients and store cupboard ingredients. Things which most families will have close to hand.

Potatoes, carrots, rice, peas, onions, condensed tomato soup and sausages.  I have also seen it done with ground beef, but I much prefer it with the sausages.

At one time the peas might have come from a tin of peas, drained, or not (you could simply exclude the water in the recipe).  I prefer to use frozen peas because I absolutely detest tinned peas. Just the thought of eating tinned peas makes me shudder.  Maybe I have just never had good ones.

It just seems to me that tins of peas can be mealy and old tasting.  Frozen peas have a much fresher taste.  Or maybe that is just the type of peas my mom used to buy. I have hated them since childhood. I had frozen peas at a Girl Guide Banquet once and fell in love. I never eat any other kind.

There is no pre-cooking involved in this tasty easy meal, and very little work involved other than peeling and preparing the vegetables.  I peel the carrots, onions and potatoes of course, although it is not really necessary to peel the potatoes if they are young and thin skinned.

I cut them into fairly thin slices as well.  Once they are all prepared it is as simple as layering everything in a casserole dish or small covered roaster.  There is a certain order that goes along with it. You want to begin with the potatoes and end with the sausages, placing them on top of everything else.

You do need to season the layers lightly with salt and pepper as you go along. You can of course vary the vegetables used, or even add a few others that are not mentioned here.  
Its all about what pleases you and your family, and about what you have in the larder, as well as what vegetables will cook properly in the allotted time. I can tell you that cabbage is very nice in this.

Once everything is layered in and seasoned, you whisk a tin of condensed tomato soup together with some water and pour this mixture over the top of everything else.  Cover tightly and bake.  Long and slow.  I add a few herbs to the tomato soup/water mixture, but originally all the dish was flavoured with was salt and pepper.

Simple. Simple. Simple. You could use a mushroom soup if you wanted to, or a golden mushoom soup.  Both would work well, but we have always enjoyed it with plain old tomato soup. If it ain't broke why fix it!

7-Layer Dinner

There are some days and some occasions when we all want the comfort of a dump and go casserole just like this. Something hearty and comforting that doesn't require a lot of time or a lot of thought to put together. 

Simple ingredients done well. Like always. It really doesn't get much easier or tastier than this complete meal in one!  This delicious, homey, wholesome, comfort casserole practically shouts "Home Sweet Home!"  

It may not be the prettiest crayon in the box but it certainly is one of the tastiest!!

Seven Layer Dinner

7-Layer Dinner

Yield: 4
Author: Marie Rayner
prep time: 10 Mincook time: 2 Hourtotal time: 2 H & 10 M
An old, old recipe that is easy and quick to throw together. It basically cooks itself.


  • 3 medium potatoes, thinly sliced (peel or not as you wish)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into rings
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (105g) uncooked rice (or a rice,spelt and barley mix Nom Nom!)
  • 2 cups (290g) of frozen peas
  • 1 pound of good quality thick pork sausages
  • 1 (10 3/4 0z/284ml) tin of condensed tomato soup
  • 1 cup (240ml) of boiling water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp summer savoury (can use 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp dried marjoram)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a deep casserole dish.
  2. Layer the ingredients into the dish in the order given, beginning with potatoes and ending with sausages, and seasoning each layer lightly as you go.
  3. Whisk together the tomato soup, water and summer savoury and additional seasoning if desired. Pour this mixture over top of all.
  4. Cover and place into the oven. Bake for 2 hours, until all the vegetables are tender. If you like you can remove the lid for the last 15 minutes of cooking time to lightly brown the sausage.
  5. Spoon out onto hot dinner plates to serve.
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Seven Layer Dinner

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  1. This recipe has been in my family for likev30 40 years at least and we peal the carrots and bring to a boil then add the carrots water with the an of soup and wedo a1/4 cup of rice but the sausages are breakfast aka mini sizzles

  2. I gave this recipe a spin tonight and loved it! Absolutely perfect for a subzero night in Minnesota. The grocery didn’t have plain old pork sausages so I ended up with brats made with India pale ale, and can report that they work very well. So glad I came across this site!

    1. So pleased you enjoyed! You are right, it's a perfect meal for a subzero night! Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  3. My Grandma always made the ground beef version you mentioned. It’s labeled as “Moving Casserole” in her cookbook-it was something she would make for anyone moving. It would hold in the oven for a long day of moving house and you could feed all your helpers something hearty for their work! Always with home canned applesauce and bread and butter on the side!

    1. Oh, that des sound a lovely meal! Grandmas were just the best cooks eh! xo

  4. Can I use minute rice


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