Cowboy Casserole

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Cowboy Casserole is a family favorite made with seasoned ground beef in a creamy sauce, corn, cheese, and topped with crispy tater tots. It’s irresistible!

If you love easy casserole recipes, also try this Tuna Rice Casserole and this Chicken Divan Casserole.

A wooden spoon taking a scoop of cowboy casserole out of a baking dish.

Tater Tot Casserole

This is a tried and true family favorite. When you need a quick and easy recipe that everyone will love, this is the answer. From the creamy ground beef sauce all the way up to the crispy tater tots, this recipe is as deliciously cozy as it gets. It takes less than 15 minutes to assemble, so you always have time to make a homemade meal for your family. Trust me, they’ll love this one!

What is a Cowboy Casserole?

Cowboy casserole is a true crowd-pleasing recipe. It’s made by layering a creamy ground beef sauce, sweet corn, and cheddar cheese into a casserole dish. Then it’s topped with tater tots and baked until the casserole is bubbly and the tots are nice and crispy. It’s pretty hard to resist.

Crispy tater tots lined up on top of a cowboy casserole.

What do you Need To Make Easy Cowboy Casserole?

  • Ground beef: lean is best.
  • Onion and garlic: flavor!
  • Diced tomatoes: we use canned as the juices help create the sauce.
  • Sour cream: makes the sauce so creamy. You can sub plain yogurt if you’d like.
  • Corn: we use frozen corn but canned corn works, too.
  • Cheddar cheese: Use aged for the best flavor. Or try a mix of white and orange cheddar.
  • Tater tots: the crispy topping that is the best part about a cowboy casserole.

Time to Make a Casserole!

This really is such an easy recipe!

  1. First: Start by cooking the ground beef until it’s only a little bit pink. Then add some onions and garlic and let them cook until the beef is fully cooked.
  2. Next:  Mix in a can of diced tomatoes and some sour cream then season that creamy, beefy sauce with salt and pepper.
  3. Last: Once the beef is ready, you’ll put it into a casserole dish and top it with corn, cheese, and tater tots

Variations to Try

  • Protein: Swap the ground beef with ground chicken.
  • Beans: Add some black beans.
  • Topping: Use curly fries instead of the tater tots.
  • Seasoning: Add some taco seasoning for a Tex-Mex version!

4 pictures showing how to make cowboy casserole.

Can this Casserole Be Made Ahead Of Time?

Yes! This casserole can be prepared and assembled 24 hours in advance. Cover and store it in your fridge until you’re ready to bake it. You’ll want to add a few minutes to the cooking time.

Tips for Making the Best Cowboy Casserole

You might notice that the oven temperature in this recipe is quite a bit higher than some other cowboy casserole recipes. There’s a good reason for that!

We bake our casserole at the temperature that’s recommended for cooking tater tots. This ensures that the tots get nice and crispy because nobody wants soggy tater tots.

So if you want the best cowboy casserole, crank up the heat!

A white bowl filled with cowboy casserole

More Casserole Recipes to Try

Crispy tater tots lined up on top of a cowboy casserole.

Cowboy Casserole

5 from 4 votes
Cowboy casserole is a family favorite made with seasoned ground beef in a creamy sauce, corn, cheese, and topped with crispy tater tots. It's irresistible!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Author Kristen Stevens
Servings: 6 servings


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion minced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup sour cream can be light
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups frozen corn thawed
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 26 ounces tater tots


  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  • Cook the lean ground beef in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until only a little pink remains. Add the onion and garlic and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Mix the tomatoes and sour cream into the beef then season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the creamy beef into a 9x11 inch casserole dish. Top with the corn, then the cheese, then arrange the tater tots in a single layer on the top.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tater tots are crispy and brown.


Serves: 6

Calories611kcal (31%)Carbohydrates48g (16%)Protein31g (62%)Fat35g (54%)Saturated Fat16g (80%)Cholesterol106mg (35%)Sodium1232mg (51%)Potassium873mg (25%)Fiber4g (16%)Sugar2g (2%)Vitamin A616IU (12%)Vitamin C15mg (18%)Calcium346mg (35%)Iron3mg (17%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword cowboy casserole, tater tot casserole
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic


Leave a reply
  1. 5 stars
    Love this recipe, it’s easy to put together, family loves it, and I like the fact that it uses a can of tomatoes and light sour cream rather than a can of cream soup. I will be making this again.

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