This Cowboy Casserole Recipe is the ultimate family friendly dish.

It starts with a layer of tater tots covered with ground beef and veggies in a creamy mushroom sauce, all baked under a bubbly cheese layer.

It’s perfect for a weeknight dinner or anytime you’re craving some cozy homestyle cooking.

plated Cowboy Casserole

What Is a Cowboy Casserole?

  • Cowboy casserole is easy to prepare, with simple, common ingredients, and perfect to sneak in some nutritious veggies or use up leftovers!
  • Big appetites will appreciate this hearty and wholesome casserole that can be reheated all week long!
  • Endlessly versatile for switching up the ingredients, cowboy casserole can be a new recipe every week!
  • This crowd fave is a perfect make-and-take meal!
adding sauce to beef and vegetables to make Cowboy Casserole

Ingredients and Variations

Ground Beef – Ground beef can be replaced with ground turkey, Italian sausage, or if time is short, use shredded rotisserie chicken or mini meatballs!

Vegetables – Peppers and corn are just a start! Feel free to use any assortment of mixed veggies on hand! Frozen veggies don’t even need to be thawed!

Tater Tots – Tater tots or other frozen potatoes like wedges and slices need to be thawed before use. Pop them in the microwave for fast thawing. A layer of leftover mashed potatoes can be used on the top or bottom with equally perfect results!

Cheese – Cheddar’s flavor complements the other ingredients best, but a shredded Mexican blend or Monterey Jack works.

A Cheesy Idea!

Grate the cheese from a block if time permits because pre-shredded cheese has anti-caking properties that keep it from melting quite as well.

Variations – Go all vegetarian and switch out the meat for canned (drained and rinsed) black beans and kidney beans. Make a breakfast cowboy casserole using hash browns, sausage links, and whisked eggs with lots of cheese. Add a fried egg to the top of each serving.

filling in a dish for Cowboy Casserole

How to Make Cowboy Casserole

A quick and easy cheesy casserole loaded with tots, beef, veggies, and loads of flavor!

  1. Prepare baking dish and thaw tater tots, as directed in the recipe below.
  2. Sauté onion, brown the beef with the pepper. Drain fat.
  3. Whisk soup, milk, Rotel, and sour cream into hamburger mixture. Add corn and half of the cheese.
  4. Layer half tater tots, beef mixture, remaining tater tops and cheese.
  5. Bake until browned and bubbly.

Tips and Tricks!

  • Assemble the casserole up to a day in advance, cover, and chill until ready to bake!
  • Make dinner complete with cornbread and a side salad!
  • Cowboy casserole makes for deliciously hearty, hand-held burritos! Perfect for school or workday lunches!
  • For parties or potlucks, keep this casserole warm in a slow cooker and let guests help themselves!
  • Keep an assortment of toppings available, such as sour cream, guacamole, cheese sauce, or a few dashes of hot sauce!
adding cheese and tater tots to Cowboy Casserole dish

Leftover Cowboy Casserole

Store leftover cowboy casserole covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and reheat portions in the microwave, stovetop, or the entire casserole in the crock pot.

Freeze portions in freezer-safe containers for up to one month and thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Other Tasty Tater Casseroles!

Have you tried this Cowboy Casserole Recipe? Leave a comment and rating below!

plated Cowboy Casserole
4.99 from 56 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Cowboy Casserole Recipe

Make this easy cowboy casserole recipe for a cheesy and delicious dinner that the whole family will love!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Holly


  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • ½ green pepper chopped
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes undrained
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 can whole kernel corn (15.25 ounces) drained
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 bag frozen tater tots (30 ounces)


  • Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and preheat oven to 375˚F.
  • Defrost tater tots on the counter for about an hour.
  • Saute onion in a large skillet on medium heat until soft. Add beef and green pepper, cook until beef is browned. Drain any fat.
  • Whisk together soup, milk, Rotel, and sour cream in a small bowl. Stir into hamburger mixture. Add ½ of the cheddar cheese and the corn. Mix gently.
  • On the bottom of the baking dish, place a ½ bag of tater tots. Cover with the creamy hamburger mixture, then add the other ½ of the tater tots. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese.
  • Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crunchy.


  • Assemble the casserole ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate up to a day, then bake as directed.
  • Keep cowboy casserole warm in a slow cooker for parties or potlucks.
4.99 from 56 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 707kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 1454mg | Potassium: 1139mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 579IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 361mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American

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A serving of cowboy casserole on a plate with a title
top image - a serving of cowboy casserole on a plate. Bottom image - cowboy casserole being assembled with a title


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    1. Hi Pamela, this recipe is intended for the oven. WE bake it at 375°F for 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crunchy. Enjoy!

  1. This recipe is soooo good! The only changes I made was to add some Montreal steak seasoning when cooking the ground beef and adding green chiles instead of bell pepper (as suggested, also I’m lazy). This morning I reheated it and added a fried egg on top! Yummy for breakfast too!

  2. Our family has made this for years just a slightly different version. Always a hit with the kids. Maybe I’ll have to change things up.

    1. Hi Marcia, I think this recipe would work well in the crockpot. I would cook the ground beef before adding it to the crockpot and then cook it on high for 2-3 hrs or until golden brown and crunchy.

  3. Trying this tonight. Wish I would have read the comments first for more suggestions but am making it like the original recipe. Looks so good.

  4. 5 stars
    After reading that this “was missing something”,
    I added 4 strips of diced bacon, that I fried to almost crisp. I then added the onion to the cooking bacon, and cooked till translucent. I added the ground beef to that. Instead of the bell pepper, I added 1 C of roasted chopped Hatch green chile. If this is a Cowboy casserole, it needs Chile’s, cause I have 3 cowboys to feed! I also added 1t garlic powder, and 1/2 t salt.
    Now my guys all agreed this is a keeper dinner, but they still added a few more shakes of their own hot sauces.

  5. My friend absolutely hates sour cream, can u believe that? Then I was out of regular corn, but had cream corn. Put a few roasted green chilies in it and yummy. I’m sure it’s better with sour cream though!! Thanks!

  6. what the purpose of thawing the tater tots? just thinking about making it a quicker concept for a night after work. made it once and followed the instructions exactly and i will say it was mighty delicious!

  7. 4 stars
    It’s missing SOMETHING.. but I can’t put my finger on it don’t get me wrong it’s delicious! But maybe a packet of dry ranch or taco seasoning in the mix? Or extra sour cream next time… hmm. I’m going to play around with it a little but this is definitely a keeper! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. I haven’t tried freezing this but think it would work Alexis. Let us know how it works for you!

  8. 5 stars
    My boyfriend doesn’t like cheese (hes crazy) can this recipe be made without the cheese?

    1. I’ve only made the recipe as written. I’m sure it could be made without cheese, but it will change the taste and texture. Perhpas you want to mix cheese into half of the dish (or split into two dishes). 🙂

  9. This looks great! Just one question: is the whole dish 679 calories or each serving that many calories?

    1. Hi Jane, it is per serving, but they are large servings (1/6 of a 9×13 casserole dish).

  10. Made this tonight.  I think it would be with cream of bacon soup in place of the cream of mushroom 🙂

    1. We have not tried it with frozen french fries but you could definitely try! Let us know how it turns out Sabrina.

  11. This was really good. Followed the recipe exactly.  The family loved it. Will definitely make again.