Posted by: Erica Retrochef | December 29, 2014

Winter Carnival Casserole

It’s just past the winter solstice, and winter is really getting ramped up. Short, cold days — the perfect time for rich, warm casseroles.

Like this Karo Winter Carnival Casserole “You’ll love its hearty goodness and piquant taste. What gives that extra special flavor? Karo Syrup! For Karo adds delicious new flavor and appetizing new texture to foods.”

Heat 2 tbsp. corn oil in skillet. Add 1/4 cup each finely chopped onion and green pepper; cook until tender. Add 1 lb. ground beef; brown, stirring often. Pour out and save 1/4 cup liquid from 1 lb. 12 oz. can of tomatoes. Add remainder of tomatoes, 1/2 cup of Karo All-Purpose Syrup, 1/2 tsp. each salt and chili powder, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1 bay leaf to meat mixture. Bring to boil, cover, simmer 15 minutes. Blend 2 tbsp. corn starch with the 1/4 cup of tomato liquid; stir into meat mixture. Bring to boil, stirring. Add 3 cups cooked macaroni or rice; pour into 2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with 1 cup shreded Cheddar cheese. Bake in 350° oven about 30 minutes. Makes 6 delicious servings!

Wait — we’re putting corn syrup in a casserole?


This is literally went through my head while photographing: “Hey, this looks surprisingly normal. I thought there was something weirder–”


“Oh yeah, corn syrup. Now it looks right.”


But then I get to do something normal, like brown some ground beef.


The corn syrup is actually really good at hiding. You can barely see it — there, that shiny dark brown slick? That’s corn syrup.

I just poured corn syrup all over perfectly good ground beef.


Just focus on making this sauce come together. Tomatoes, cornstarch — nice, normal sauce things.



Macaroni is normal.


And cheese — yes, delicious cheesy goodness melted all over the top. This looks terrific! What was I so worried about before? Oh, who cares, cheese!


Look at that bright cheerful color and that delicious cheesy goodness. It makes me feel warmer and less winter-gloomy already! But when we were tasting this, we kept wondering what was so strange about it. “It’s like macaroni beef casserole, but … sweet?”

“Oh yeah, I put corn syrup in this.”

“Man, this is really bad.”

Sweet flavors don’t work with savory casseroles. This is very, very wrong.

Despite this being very untasty, I got the ad from Tasty Nostalgia.


  1. I picture a conclave of corn syrup makers, decades ago, mulling over how to sell more corn syrup. Hmm. Pies. Sweet rolls. Pancakes. “What else, what else can we suggest using corn syrup on……………………………………………………………………………………………………….
    Oh, the heck with it. Let’s just advise them to dump it in any old thing. Cheesy Casserole, sure, just add a slug of sweet corn syrup! They might go for it, once, anyway!”

    The casserole sans corn syrup sounds really good, though.

    • Completely agree. This is definitely a Karo marketing department idea. (And a bad one at that!)

  2. “Extra special flavor?” I didn’t think Karo syrup had a flavor.

    • Dark Karo syrup has a very slight taste of brown sugar, but even so it’s largely just overwhelming “sweet”!

  3. Corn syrup, corn oil (a not-that-healthful by-product), and corn starch: this recipe is downright cornographic. Nowadays Americans are supposedly more used to corn syrup in prepared foods, yet this is nasty anyway; I wonder how many people hated this when it was published. Another brave effort.

  4. Gotta say, the title made this sound like it’d be good. Then I saw the Karo bottle hovering over the casserole recipe and cringed a little.

  5. What were they thinking? Surely that could not have tasted good even back in the day? xx

  6. I love this and my mom always made it when we were kids in the 70’s. She used to shorten the name of it on her grocery lists to, “Winter Car. Cass.” So we now call it Winter Carcass…. My kids have never known it by any other name. 😀

    • It is so funny, I can’t believe all of the responses about it being bad. I LOVE this casserole. It puts just enough sweetness to make it good with the cheese. My mom started making it in the 70’s also. When I was getting married she wrote all of the instructions down and gave it to me for my wedding. We always called it Karo Casserole. I was just thinking of making it today…..Yummy!

  7. My mom made this for us growing up and I make it for my family still today! It is so good and filling. It’s now my daughter’s birthday dinner request. IGive it a try everyone. Different strokes right?

    • We call it Mama’s Casserole in our family! My dad always knew he was in my mom’s good graces if she made this… but we made it with small pasta shells. It’s easier to grab a bite of beef in the shells.

  8. Poor whites in the olden days in the south used to pour molasses or corn syrup all over their food, no matter what it was. Other than the corn syrup, this is a good recipe, I made it when I first saw this a couple years ago. Without corn syrup, of course.

  9. you need to actually try the recipe. its really good. my mom made this for us growing up. my kids request it today. probably shouldn’t eat it every week but a few times a year feels like a visit from my mom.

    • I did try it and personally didn’t like it. But I think it’s awesome that it feels like home to you — that’s part of what this blog experience is all about, and I love it when people are reminded of their own family favorites. Just because it wasn’t good for me doesn’t mean it isn’t great for you 🙂

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