Cowboy Casserole

8 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Cowboy Casserole is an easy weeknight family dinner with ground beef, corn, cheddar cheese and sour cream topped with crispy tater tots.

This recipe is a step of from the classic Tater Tot Casserole we have on the site. We love classic comfort food dishes like Easy Chicken Casserole that please even your pickiest of eaters. Check out all of our Dinner Recipes to find your next family favorite.

Cowboy Casserole

COWBOY CASSEROLE

Casserole dishes are an easy go-to option for any potluck or busy weeknight. They’re super easy recipes to follow with ingredients that are flexible to what you might have on hand in your kitchen. This Cowboy Casserole definitely falls into the totally customizable category. I’ve added a few variations for you to try at the bottom but there are so many more ways to adjust it.

This recipe calls for condensed cream of mushroom soup but if you’re not keen on using the canned version, try my easy Cream of Mushroom Soup to make your own. It only requires a handful of ingredients to make and it’s freezable too. You can also substitute with cream of mushroom soup or whatever condensed soup you have in the pantry.

White Baking Dish of Cowboy Casserole

Want to skip the tots?

Tater tots are the base of the layers in this cheesy casserole but you could use thinly sliced baby potatoes or small red potatoes instead. Tater tots are just an easy choice because all you need to do it pull them from the freezer and you’re all set. Plus, your kids will eat their dinner without any hesitation.

Feel free to add in anything else to layers that your family enjoys. Diced tomatoes, kidney beans, pinto beans, different cheeses. Have fun experimenting and creating a new yummy favorite your whole family will enjoy.

Can you make Cowboy Casserole ahead of time?

This Cowboy Casserole recipe is perfect to prep ahead of time. All you need to do it assemble it, cover and store in the refrigerator up to 24 hours before baking. 

MORE DELICIOUS CASSEROLE RECIPES

Can you make Cowboy Casserole in a slow cooker?

There’s nothing better than walking through the door at the end of a day with dinner already waiting for you. This recipe is easily adaptable for a slow cooker. You’ll follow the same recipe instructions and layer in a crockpot instead of a baking dish and cook on low for 5 hours without opening the lid during the cooking time. 

HOW TO MAKE COWBOY CASSEROLE

  • Preheat Oven: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cook the Beef: In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink. Stir in the corn, soup, ¼ cup cheese, milk, sour cream, onion powder, pepper and crumbled cooked bacon.
  • Prepare the Casserole: Add beef mixture and remaining Tater Tots; sprinkle with remaining cheese. 
  • Cook the Casserole: Bake, uncovered, until bubbly and golden brown, 40-45 minutes.

Tray of Cowboy Casserole

VARIATIONS ON COWBOY CASSEROLE

  • Veggies: You can add frozen veggies (carrots, peas, broccoli) and layer them on top of the beef but below the cheese. Make sure to add an additional 10 minutes of cooking time to allow the frozen vegetables to cook through. 
  • Meats: The casserole works with just about any type of ground meat. Try using ground turkey, chicken, Italian pork sausage or even crumbled extra firm tofu. 
  • Taco Cowboy Casserole: Flavor the ground beef with a teaspoon of chili powder or a packet of Taco Seasoning. Add beans and canned chilies or jalapeños to the layers and top with salsa or a can of rotel and add an additional 10 minutes to the cooking time.

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HOW TO SERVE AND STORE

  • Serve: This casserole shouldn’t be left out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
  • Store: Make sure to store leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freeze: Once your casserole has completely cooled, wrap tightly in foil or place in a freezer safe storage container or bag and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before placing it in the oven to reheat.

Square of Beefy Cowboy Casserole on white plate with ketchup on top

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Cowboy Casserole

Cowboy Casserole is an easy weeknight family dinner with ground beef, corn, cheddar cheese and sour cream topped with crispy tater tots.
Yield 8 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 1/2 pound ground beef , (85/15)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2/3 cup Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese , shredded and divided
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup bacon , cooked and crumbled
  • 32 ounces tater tots

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until browned.
  • Add the corn, cream of mushroom soup, ½ cup cheese, milk, sour cream, onion powder, black pepper, and bacon to the skillet and mix well.
  • In a 9x13 pan layer the beef, then the cheese and finally line up the tater tots before baking for 40-45 minutes uncovered.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake another 5 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 148kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 355mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 109IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 1mg

Cowboy Tater Tot Casserole collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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Comments

  1. Question, can you trade out the canned corns with canned green beans?

    Also, are the tots supposed to be frozen?

    1. Interesting idea switching green beans for corn. Yes you could do that. The sweet and savory element of the recipe would be affected. And yes, the tots are frozen. How did the recipe turn out?

  2. It’s cooking in the oven and it’s making my whole house smell like yumminess.

    Update:
    It was DELICIOUS. My husband and I are a bit picky and have high standards to meet, and this recipe passed our expectations! Yummy!

    1. Great question Hannah. I haven’t tested this recipe with non-dairy products. If you decide to give it a go my guess would be to use the most similar tasting substitute to milk (i.e. rice over almond or cashew?) and greek yogurt for sour cream? There are Dairy free creamed soups on the market as well. Let us know what you decided to do and if you enjoyed the recipe. I’m super curious!

  3. I make this often, no complaints from anyone who has ate it. ?

    What have you drizzled over yours?

    1. Drizzle your favorite hot sauce if you enjoy extra spicy Cowboy Casserole!

  4. After living alone for 4 years I learned to make meals last for days. I grew up in a family of 6, and I just don’t know how to cook for just myself. I moved in with my best friend and he has his 2 girls stay every weekend with us. I love the girls, but dang can they eat!! They are 12 and 6. Who knew the 6 year old could eat so much and still be so tiny!! I try not to make this dish every weekend because I don’t want them getting bored of it. This is a great meal to make when you can’t think of anything else to make, and the kids will enjoy!! Thank you soooooo much for this recipe!!!

  5. Made this tonight, mostly because I have been desperate to do something new for dinner. Something that my picky children and my husband will eat. Followed the recipe exactly….. may have added a bit more shredded cheese. It was so easy and there were no left overs. Everyone loved it. I expected my kids to, but to my surprise my husband loved it the most? I’m excited to try more of your recipes!

  6. Any modifications necessary to turn this into a “freezer casserole” to make later? Like maybe thaw before baking, ect.? TIA!

    1. Freeze: Once your casserole has completely cooled, wrap tightly in foil or place in a freezer safe storage container or bag and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before placing it in the oven to reheat.

  7. This immediately became a favorite in our house the very first time I made it. It’s always my husband’s first choice when I ask him for dinner suggestions!

  8. I’ve made this recipe 4 times! Twice for us, and twice for two other families. Everyone I serve this to loves it! It’s a favorite among the kiddos especially because of the yummy tater tots. You could totally make this your own by adding different things! I’ve even used cream of chicken instead of mushroom and it’s still tasty.

    1. Yes you can make ahead and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw after freezing and bake at 350 degrees covered until tested in middle of casserole to ensure the casserole is hot and ready to be served. I would remove the foil for 5 or so minutes to crisp up the top a bit. Let us know how this works for you!

  9. Super easy and freaking delicious. Put in like an extra cup of bacon to make up for the lack of beef and it added such a nice flavor. Super easy dinner night 🙂

    1. Oh man, you’re speaking my language. If you type in “bacon” in our Recipe Index you will see just how much I love bacon! lol.
      Thanks so much for comments and for your 5 star review Evan 🙂

    1. Maybe if they were the pre-formed hashbrowns, not the shredded potatoes? Let me know what you decide to experiment with!

    1. I haven’t tested this recipe with yogurt; however, I know that yogurt is probably your best substitute for sour cream. Whether you’re baking or making a dip or sauce, yogurt is a 1:1 sub. Full-fat Greek or natural yogurts will work best in my opinion, but low-fat or even nonfat can be used, too.

  10. such a good easy meal!! i don’t like mushrooms and didn’t have bacon so i didn’t add the soup and just added burger seasoning for same smoky effect bacon would give, and did like a cup of heavy cream and extra sour cream, so delicious.

    1. You’re so intuitive in the kitchen Allie! Love your feedback and thanks so much for the 5 star rating!

    1. A little extra heat is always good in my opinion! Thank you Toni, appreciate the 5 star review.

    1. Taco Cowboy Casserole: Flavor the ground beef with a teaspoon of chili powder or a packet of Taco Seasoning. Add beans and canned chilies or jalapeños to the layers and top with salsa or a can of rotel and add an additional 10 minutes to the cooking time.

      All the other ingredients are used as listed in the recipe card!
      Thanks for asking!

  11. There are so many substitutions you can use to make this less fatty. Light sour cream fat free cream of mushroom ground turkey or chicken. Doesn’t have to be as fatty. Making it tonight for euchre night with friends. Can’t wait to try it!

    1. Is he allergic to celery? You could try cream of celery soup? Let us know what you decided to do and how the recipe turned out!

    2. My boyfriend hates mushrooms so I used cream of chicken and it’s always everyone’s favorite! I never have leftovers. I also use 1.5 to 2 pounds of ground beef so I add more of the ingredients but always use the same amount of hash browns. I cook for 6 guys at work and they all love this recipe the most!

  12. If you couldn’t tell from the ingredients, this is basically a giant fat bomb. Negative nutritional value. Delicious, but make sure you have your life insurance policy paid up first.

  13. Is there anything I could use to sub the can of soup? I don’t have any and that’s the only thing I’m missing ?

    1. Here’s a couple suggestions; however, I have not tested any of these in my kitchen yet so I don’t know the exact measurements to share with you. No liquid is added to the cream of mushroom soup so go light on the broth.

      * Sour Cream + Broth + Mushrooms
      * Mushroom Roux

  14. What did you garnish it with? Chives? Parsley? and what kind of sauce did you drizzle on it? I have it in the oven now- Momma Mel sent me!

    1. You can garnish with either chives or parsley and the sauce we used to drizzle? I am guessing it may have been Tapatio? It’s been awhile since this was tested in the kitchen!

  15. this is a stupid question but when you add the corn do I drain it first or just mix the juice with the mixture.

  16. This casserole was amazing! I needed a one dish meal and had seen many recipes for this and have to say I am so glad I chose yours to try for the first time because it was so good!! Its a keeper. I’m not much on leftovers but could not resist it the next day, just as good.

        1. I’ve been making this for years, my daughter absolutely HATES mushrooms. Tried making it with cream of celery, then cream of chicken… Everyone that tried it said it can’t touch the taste with cream of mushroom. She doesn’t know but the last 10yrs I’ve used the cream of mushroom and she requests it regularly, I just don’t tell her ?