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Cowboy Casserole

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close up overhead shot of a baking dish of Cowboy Casserole garnished with chives
Easy and cheesy, this cowboy casserole recipe is the perfect family-friendly dinner idea!
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Table of Contents
  1. Cowboy Casserole Ingredients
  2. How To Make This Cowboy Casserole Recipe
  3. How To Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

This easy and cheesy cowboy casserole recipe is the perfect delicious dinner for busy nights. A simple, hearty casserole made with layers of ground beef, veggies, spices, a creamy mushroom sauce, crispy tater tots, and lots of cheese.

close up overhead shot of a baking dish of Cowboy Casserole garnished with chives

Cowboy Casserole Ingredients

Cowboy Casserole raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need:

  • 1 (32-ounce) bag frozen tater tots
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 (10-ounce) can Rotel tomatoes, not drained
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 (10.5-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1 (15.25-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1½ cups Monterey Jack and Colby cheese, shredded, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

One of the best parts of this recipe is that you can customize it to fit your family’s tastes. Love cheese? Add a few more handfuls. Not a fan of tomatoes? Leave out the can of Rotel.

This is an easy recipe to experiment with and create your own version. Here are some popular changes: 

BEANS: Black beans or pinto beans give this casserole a southwestern flair. Stir them in at the same time as when you add your Rotel tomatoes. 

VEGGIES: Add mixed peas and carrots to make the base layer of your casserole more similar to that of chicken pot pie.

This is a tasty twist that goes well with the creaminess and crispy tots in the recipe. You could also mix in chopped bell peppers.

HOT SAUCE: If you like your meals with a bit of a spicy kick, add a dash or two of hot sauce to your beef mixture.

MEAT: Any ground meat would work fine in this recipe. Try ground pork, ground turkey, or ground chicken for great options.

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How To Make This Cowboy Casserole Recipe

STEP ONE: Lightly spray the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place the tater tots in the dish and pre-bake at 375°F for 8 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven and transfer the tater tots to a bowl. Turn the oven up to 425°F.

STEP TWO: In a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef and onions until the beef is no longer pink and the onions are tender.

Cowboy Casserole process shot of ground beef and onions being cooked in a skillet

STEP THREE: Add the Rotel tomatoes, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper into the skillet. Cook until the liquid has reduced, about 8 minutes.

Cowboy Casserole process shot of ingredients added to the skillet

STEP FOUR: Remove the skillet from the heat and add sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, drained corn, and ½ cup cheese to the beef mixture. Stir until the cheese is melted.

Cowboy Casserole process shot of ingredients added to the skillet

STEP FIVE: Pour the mixture into the bottom of the baking dish and spread it in an even layer.

Cowboy Casserole process shot of mixture poured into a baking dish

STEP SIX: Sprinkle ½ cup of cheese over the top of the mixture.

Cowboy Casserole process shot of the mixture topped with shredded cheese

STEP SEVEN: Layer the tater tots on top, pressing them down into the mixture. Layer your tater tots side by side to fit the most into your dish.

PRO TIP:

By creating an even layer of tater tots you’ll get a nice, even amount of tater tots in each slice of your casserole (plus, it looks pretty)!

Cowboy Casserole process shot of tater tops placed on top of the shredded cheese

STEP EIGHT: Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of cheese over the top of the tater tots.

Cowboy Casserole process shot of shredded cheese sprinkled on top of the tater tots

STEP NINE: Sprinkle the chopped chives over the cheese.

Cowboy Casserole process shot of chives sprinkled over the cheese

STEP TEN: Cover and bake at 425°F for 20 minutes.

Cowboy Casserole process shot after casserole is baked

STEP ELEVEN: Uncover and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve.

How To Serve

Since this easy casserole recipe is such a great all-in-one dinner, I usually keep the sides simple too. The recipe has potatoes and corn already so I usually make a nice side salad to go along with our cowboy casserole.

Try this Caesar salad recipe, it’s a favorite! If you want an easy dessert idea, pair this meal with our blueberry cobbler.

For more casserole recipes your family will love, check out our awesome lasagna casserole and our tuna casserole.

Storage

IN THE FRIDGE: Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

IN THE FREEZER: Once it’s completely cool, you can store it inside the freezer for up to three months in a freezer-safe dish. You’ll want to thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating in the oven.

PRO TIP:

This is a fantastic make-ahead dish. You can prepare it up to the end of Step Six and store it in the fridge or freezer before baking it later.

close up shot of a plate of Cowboy Casserole garnished with chives

For a fun way to turn tater tots into an all-in-one meal, this cowboy casserole is a favorite of little cowboys and cowgirls everywhere! It’s a family favorite and the ideal comfort food that makes dinnertime easy. A creamy sauce and crispy potato topping will be a hit with the whole family.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I freeze this casserole?

This easy meal freezes well and can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Can I use hash browns instead of tater tots?

As with our other recipes that feature tater tots, you can substitute them with hash browns.

Can I cook this recipe in the slow cooker?

This recipe is also easy to make in your crockpot. Use the same instructions, but create all of the layers in your slow cooker (instead of a baking dish). Cook the casserole, covered, on low for 5 hours.

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close up overhead shot of a baking dish of Cowboy Casserole garnished with chives

Cowboy Casserole

5 from 6 votes
Easy and cheesy, this cowboy casserole recipe is the perfect family-friendly dinner idea!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 32 ounces tater tots
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 10 ounces Rotel tomatoes, not drained
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 10.5 ounces condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 15.25 ounces whole kernel corn, drained
  • cups Colby and Monterey Jack cheese shredded, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Lightly spray the bottom of a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Place the tater tots in the dish and pre-bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a bowl.
  • Turn the oven up to 425°F.
  • In a large skillet cook your onions and ground beef until beef is no longer pink and onions are tender.
  • Pour in the Rotel tomatoes, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Cook until the liquid has reduced, about 8 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and add sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, drained corn, ½ cup of cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted.
  • Pour the mixture into the bottom of the baking dish and spread evenly.
  • Sprinkle ½ cup of cheese over the top of the casserole.
  • Layer the tater tots on top,pressing them down into the mixture.
  • Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of cheese over the top of the tater tots.
  • Sprinkle the chopped chives over the cheese.
  • Cover and bake at 425°F for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and serve.

Video

Notes

Note: This is a fantastic make-ahead dish. You can prepare it up to the end of Step Six and store it in the fridge or freezer before baking it later.
 
Note: By creating an even layer of tater tots you’ll get a nice, even amount of tater tots in each slice of your casserole (plus, it looks pretty)!
 

Nutrition

Sodium: 1402mg | Calcium: 323mg | Vitamin C: 18mg | Vitamin A: 651IU | Sugar: 3g | Fiber: 4g | Potassium: 956mg | Cholesterol: 107mg | Calories: 761kcal | Trans Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Fat: 48g | Protein: 29g | Carbohydrates: 55g | Iron: 4mg
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  1. Tin says

    5 stars
    me too, no matter how busy I am – I will cook for my kids, and this recipe is really a great help! and yummy 🙂

  2. Treena says

    5 stars
    I would live off these tater tots in my university days so imagine my excitement when I saw this recipe. OMG, it is so good!

  3. Jenaia says

    Am I missing something? I don’t see the recipe telling you when to add the spices? I got it all together and then realized they were never added.

  4. Melissa says

    5 stars
    My whole family loved this!! We love corn so when you sprinkle the first cheese layer I add a can of corn sprinkled..also unless I missed it you didn’t specify size of bag of tots so I just guessed. Bought a 5lb bag and split it in half. It worked out great! Yes I know a lot of extras but I have 2 teenage boys, it’s never enough! 😉 oh and also easy to make

  5. Kelsey says

    Can this meal be frozen after it is made? There are just 2 of us so it’s always nice to have a backup in the freezer when you don’t feel like cooking. What is the best way to freeze this dish?

    • Layne Kangas says

      After it cools, use a freezer-safe dish to store in the freezer for up to three months. You can thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating. Enjoy 🙂

  6. Janet Bradley says

    Sooooo want to make this but was wondering if I could I use crushed tomatoes instead of the diced? Not a fan of diced tomatoes.

    Thanks, Janet

  7. Jennifer says

    5 stars
    This recipe is so easy to make and especially on a busy weeknight. My kiddos were begging me to make it again. It’s for sure in our recipes to save and keep making. Thanks for sharing this recipes!

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