Y'all. Get ready to swoon! This is one of our favorite casserole recipes.
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Table of Contents
🗝️ Key takeaways
- Kid-friendly, hearty casserole is done in 25 minutes.
- I love it for back-to-school and busy weeknights.
- It freezes well so it's a good recipe for freezer meal prep. Check out the "How to store" section for details.
This cowboy casserole recipe (also called tater tot casserole) is one of those weeknight meals that you'll serve over and over again.
It's a tried-and-true family favorite (perfect for picky kids) that makes you feel like you've got this "adulting" thing down pat.
Need side dish ideas? These side dishes for hashbrown casserole go equally well with this dish!
This is an overview of the ingredients. You'll find the full measurements and instructions in the green recipe card (printable) at the bottom of the page.
- Switch up the protein by using ground turkey, ground sausage, or shredded or ground chicken.
- No tater tots? Use mashed potatoes, au gratin potatoes, or cornbread batter over the top instead.
- Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, Colby, or a Mexican blend of cheese all work as well in place of the cheddar in this recipe.
- Make this easy meal even more budget-friendly by stretching it with a can of Ranch-style, pinto, or black beans. Just add them in with the corn. Be sure to drain the black or pinto beans, but leave the sauce on the Ranch-style beans.
- If you don't want any hint of heat, use plain diced tomatoes instead of Rotel tomatoes.
- Cream of chicken or cream of celery soup works just as well in place of cream of mushroom.
This is an overview of the instructions. Full instructions are in the green recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Bake the tater tots.
- Cook the ground beef, onions, and o0pepper. Then, add the Rotel.
- Stir in the sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, corn, and cheese.
- Spoon the ground beef mixture into a baking dish.
- Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- Place the tater tots over the top and sprinkle with a layer of cheese.
- Bake and enjoy.
Serve this hearty meal with a quick dessert like this microwave chocolate cobbler and you'll be enjoying that Mom of the Year award in no time.
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This easy casserole recipe is a great way to make one meal that lasts all week. It's also fabulous to make ahead as a freezer meal for busy nights.
Refrigerator Storage: Uncooked cowboy casserole stores well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Once cooked and cooled, you can move the leftovers to an airtight container or use a casserole dish with a lid to store it for up to 5 days.
Freezer Storage: After adding the tater tots and cheese on top, wrap the unbaked casserole with plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.
When ready to bake you'll just thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and bake as directed.
After cooking, you can freeze leftover cowboy casserole in an airtight container or freezer bag for the same amount of time.
To reheat: To reheat, cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 375°F until warmed through.
💭 Things to know
Expert Tip: You can make cowboy casserole in your slow cooker. Just spray the inside with non-stick spray, layer the ingredients like you would for the casserole, and cover. Cook it on low for 6 hours.
- I like to buy packages of frozen fajita mixed vegetables that contain onions and different colored peppers. This saves me a ton of prep time! Sometimes I add them into my meat lover's tater tot casserole, too!
- If you prefer to use fresh peppers and onions you'll want about ½ cup of each, diced.
- This chicken spaghetti with Rotel will use up any extra ingredients you have lying around!
Cowboy casserole gets its name because of the Tex-Mex-style ingredients. We love a little spice here in the South! However, in many places, it's called tater tot casserole because of the easy spud topping.
Put this hearty casserole together up to three days ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to bake and serve. It can also be frozen for up to three months. See the storage heading for more info.
Sure thing! Make the casserole in small foil tart pans or mini-loaf pans and bake or freeze for individual-sized servings. It's perfect for those nights when everyone in the entire family is going in different directions for dinner.
📚 Related recipes
- Slow Cooker Chicken Casserole is a deliciously easy meal with very little prep and cleanup thanks to the handy Crock Pot.
- Hamburger Noodle Casserole comes together in 30 minutes for a comfort meal that you'll enjoy even more the next day!
- Hamburger Potato Casserole—who wouldn't enjoy a hearty and delicious dish made with multiple layers of cheesy goodness, scrumptious potatoes, and succulent beef in a creamy sauce?
🍽️ Serve with...
You don't need much with this hearty meal! I like to add a bowl of Candied Jalapenos to the table for those who like to spice things up.
This Italian Green Bean Salad a crunchy side dish that can be made ahead of time. The flavors work well with the cheesy Cowboy casserole.
If you've still got room for dessert give these Chewy Cinnamon Cookies a try!
🥄 Restless Chipotle recommends
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📞 The last word
It's the perfect weeknight dinner - prep it the night before and you'll have dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less.
This cowboy casserole recipe is one of those weeknight meals that you'll serve over and over again just because it makes you feel like you've got this adulting thing down.
Kinda like one of our other go to recipes, Crescent Roll Taco Bake.
It's nothing to put together and your grocery budget will send you fancy thank-you notes.
If you click on the number of servings in the recipe card you can adjust the measurements up or down for the exact number of servings you need. Don't forget that you can click on "add to collection" to save it to your own, private recipe box!
If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cowboy Casserole with Tater TotsPrint Pin Recipe Save Recipe
- 32 ounces Tater Tots
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 cup onions and peppers mix, from the frozen section
- 10 ounces Ro*Tel tomatoes
- 2 cups corn kernels
- 10.5 ounces cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
- 2 cups Cheddar, shredded
- 1 cup sour cream
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- Place Tater Tots in a greased pan and put them in a 425F oven for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Add the ground beef and onions & peppers mix to a skillet. Cook until the meat is no longer pink.
- Add the Ro*Tel and simmer for 5 minutes to let the extra liquid evaporate.
- Remove from heat and stir in sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, corn, and ½ cup of cheese.
- Stir until blended.
- Spoon into the bottom of a greased 13x9 inch baking dish.
- Sprinkle with ¾ cup of the remaining cheese.
- Top with the Tater Tots, arranging them in a single layer.
- Cover with the remaining cheese.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil.
- You can stop at this point and put the casserole in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Bake at 425F for 20 minutes. Remove aluminum foil.
- Bake 10 more minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
- Serve hot.
- You can make cowboy casserole in your slow cooker. Just spray the inside with non-stick spray, layer the ingredients like you would for the casserole dish, cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
- Put this together this up to 3 days ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to bake and serve.
- You can also freeze the baked casserole, tightly covered, for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in your refrigerator and bake as directed.
- Make this even more budget friendly by stretching it with a can of Ranch style, pinto or black beans. Just add with the corn. Drain the black or pinto beans but leave the sauce on the Ranch style if you're using those.
- No Tater Tots? Use mashed potatoes, au gratin potatoes, or cornbread batter over the top!
- Make this is small, foil tart pans or mini-loaf pans and freeze for individual sized servings. Perfect for those times when everyone in the entire family is going in different directions.
- I love to serve these candied jalapenos with this casserole.
Nutrition information is estimated as a courtesy. If using for medical purposes, please verify information using your own nutritional calculator. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
A note from Marye
For the longest time I fought making my life easier.
Honestly, it was like there was something inside me that made me feel like if I worked harder I would be worth more to someone, somewhere.
So I only used fresh vegetables, I made ALL our bread, I even ground wheat berries to make flour. I didn't use cream of anything soup... not ever.
Then one day I got a slap in the face that told me, in no uncertain terms, that no one really cared. The people that valued me would value me regardless and the ones that didn't ... well they didn't deserve me anyhow.
And that's when I discovered frozen chopped onions, cream of mushrooms soup, and dinners that didn't leave me frazzled exhausted from trying to do 👏🏻 it 👏🏻 all👏🏻.
You're valuable just the way you are. Cream of mushroom soup or not.
And you may just want to try this easy 30 minute casserole if you're out of cream of mushroom soup.
First published August 3, 2020. Last updated August 4, 2023 for editorial improvements and more helpful content.