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Tater Tot Cowboy Casserole

This comforting Cowboy Casserole is a budget friendly one-dish meal that is great for the whole family. With ground beef, black beans, pinto beans, and corn, with a creamy tomato sauce, lots of cheese, and topped with crispy tater tots, it’s the ultimate comfort food but is also nutritious.

Cowboy casserole on a blue plate, with a forkful being lifted in mid-air.

What is Cowboy Casserole?

The basic components of Cowboy Casserole dishes are ground beef and corn in a creamy sauce, with a single layer of tater tots and cheese on top. This recipe is more healthy and filling with lower fat from lean minced beef, added protein in the mixed beans and antioxidants from cooked tomatoes.

You can add more chopped vegetables to the dish or serve it with vegetable side dishes like green beans or broccoli grape salad for a fuller meal, or if you want it to serve more people.

This tater tot casserole is great for busy weeknights as it only takes 10 minutes of prep and 30 minutes of cooking time in the oven. You can even make this dish up to 24 hours ahead of time and keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to bake it!

We love no-fuss, hearty meals, that are also budget friendly like this one because they’re so handy when you need a quick but tasty meal for the whole family!

Our Chicken Casserole takes just 40 minutes and freezes really well so is great for meal prepping too. This filling Goulash is ready in less than 30 minutes and tastes great with classic Cornbread. Also, try my Cowboy Soup for similar hearty Tex-Mex flavors!

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A marble worktop with small white bowls filled with ground beef, black beans, pinto beans, corn, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, taco seasoning, garlic, onions, chives, and taco seasoning.

Ingredients Needed

Ground Beef – Use lean ground beef. You can also use turkey or ground pork.

Vegetables – Onion, garlic, black beans, pinto beans, corn, and fire roasted tomatoes.

Spices – Taco seasoning. I like this homemade taco seasoning recipe.

Tater Tots – Don’t you just love frozen tater tots for this reason?

Sour Cream – Use full fat, reduced fat, or fat free. You can also use thick plain Greek yogurt.

Garnishes – Cheddar cheese, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, and parsley.

Looking for more comfort food? Follow LTB on Pinterest!

How to make Cowboy Casserole with Tater Tots

ONE: Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray a 9×13 pan with non stick spray. Set aside.

TWO: In a large skillet, cook the ground beef until no longer pink. Drain fat if desired. To the same pan, add the onions, garlic, and jalapeños. Cook for 3 minutes.

THREE: To the skillet, add taco seasoning, black beans, pinto beans, corn, and tomatoes. Cook until hot and bubbly. Turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream and 1 1/2 cups of cheese.

FOUR: Pour or spoon the beef mixture into the prepared 9×13 pan. Top with the tater tots and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

FOUR: Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes until hot and bubbly and the tater tots are golden brown. Remove from the oven and top with your favorite garnishes.

For the full recipe and detailed baking instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.

Can I make it ahead of time?

Yes, you can! Cowboy Casserole is great because you can prep it up to a day ahead of time. Just assemble it, cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and it will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Then just take it from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap and bake as per the recipe instructions. Perfect for potlucks or Sunday prep for an easy Monday meal!

Corner of a white dish filled with tater tot casserole with cheese on top.

How to serve and store Cowboy Casserole

Cowboy casserole is best served immediately after baking, and this recipe makes a heartier version with added beans. However, if you want a fuller meal, or want to make this casserole recipe stretch to serve more people, serve with some green vegetables like green beans or a salad.

  • Countertop: You can have the casserole at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
  • Refrigerator: Put leftovers in an airtight container, or cover in plastic wrap, and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Can I freeze it?

A baked cowboy casserole will store well in the freezer wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil, or in an airtight container, for up to 3 months. To cook it from frozen, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake as per this recipe.

You may want to put some foil on top of your dish for the first half of baking, especially if it was particularly brown on top when baked the first time to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Can I make it in a slow cooker?

To make Cowboy Casserole in the slow cooker simply follow the directions as they are, place everything in the slow cooker instead of a baking dish, and then cook on low for 5 hours.

For best results, don’t lift the lid until the time is finished.

A blue and white dish filled with cowboy casserole with tater tots and cheese on top, with a wooden spoon lifting out a portion in mid-air.

Tips for No Leftovers

  • You can make this dish in a slow cooker.
  • Adding frozen mixed vegetables is a great way to get more veggies.
  • Thaw, rinse, and drain frozen corn before adding to the casserole.
  • Substitute the diced tomatoes with cream of mushroom soup for an even creamier casserole.
  • Want it even smokier? Add in some chili powder!

What to serve with Cowboy Casserole?

Vegetables are always a great way to add extra nutrients to a meal, and to make a meal go further if you are serving more people or want to have some later in the week. Here are a few recipes that would go great with this Cowboy Casserole Recipe that you can try out.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

scoop of casserole with tater tots on top

This Cowboy Tater Tot Casserole is hearty, comforting, and ready in less than an hour! Packed with nutrients from healthy vegetables and lean mince that’s balanced out with creamy tomato sauce and a cheesy tater tot topping. Try this recipe on busy weeknights, we’re sure it’ll become a new family favorite!

overhead picture of casserole with tater tots

Cowboy Tater Tot Casserole

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This Cowboy Tater Tot Casserole is perfect for any family dinner. Made with ground beef, veggies, cheese and tater tots, it is sure to be a family favorite.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion 
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic 
  • 2 jalapeños (seeded and diced)
  • 1 ounce package taco seasoning 
  • 15 ounce can black beans (drained)
  • 15 ounce can pinto beans (drained)
  • 15 ounce can corn (drained)
  • 14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes 
  • 1 cup sour cream 
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese (shredded and divided)
  • 32 ounces tater tots (frozen)
  • chopped chives or parsley (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray a 9x13 pan with non stick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef until no longer pink. Drain fat if desired.
  3. To the same pan, add the onions, garlic, and jalapeños. Cook for 3 minutes.
  4. To the skillet, add taco seasoning, black beans, pinto beans, corn, and tomatoes. Cook until hot and bubbly.
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream and 1 1/2 cups of cheese.
  6. Pour or spoon the mixture into the prepared 9x13 pan. Top with the tater tots and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
  7. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes until hot and bubbly and the tater tots are golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and top with your favorite garnishes.

Notes

  • You can make this dish in a slow cooker.
  • Adding frozen mixed vegetables is a great way to get more veggies.
  • Thaw, rinse, and drain frozen corn before adding to the casserole.
  • You can have the casserole at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
  • Put leftovers in an airtight container, or cover in plastic wrap, and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 700Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 1554mgCarbohydrates: 64gFiber: 11gSugar: 7gProtein: 34g

This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and we can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

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