Cowboy Casserole Recipe

If you’re looking for a hearty and satisfying meal that’s easy to make, Cowboy Casserole might just be the perfect dish for you. This classic casserole typically consists of ground beef, corn, cheese, and tater tots, making it a favorite among meat-and-potatoes lovers. With a creamy filling and a crispy topping, this dish is sure to please even the pickiest eaters.

There are many variations of Cowboy Casserole, each with its own unique twist. Some recipes call for bacon, onions, and bell peppers, while others use cream of mushroom soup or sour cream to add extra creaminess. You can even make a vegetarian version by swapping out the ground beef for black beans or lentils. No matter how you choose to make it, Cowboy Casserole is a versatile and delicious dish that’s perfect for any occasion.


  • 2 lbs. Ground beef
  • 1 Large bag frozen tater tots
  • 1 C. Onion chopped
  • 2 tsp. Minced garlic
  • ½ C. Milk
  • 1 Can Cream of onion soup
  • 1 Can of corn drained
  • ¼ C. Sour cream
  • 2 C. Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add ½ of the tater tots in a single layer on the bottom of a well-greased 9×13 baking dish.
  • Place the meat and onion into a skillet over medium-high heat on the stove and cook until the meat is completely browned and the onions have softened.
  • Drain any excess grease.
  • Stir in the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds.
  • Mix in the soup, milk corn, sour cream, 1 cup of the cheese, and salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine with the meat mixture.
  • Spread the meat mixture over the layer of tater tots.
  • Place another layer of tater tots on top, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake 30-40 minutes until the tater tots are crispy and the cheese has melted 

Storage and Reheating Tips

Cowboy casserole is a great dish for meal prep, as it can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to eat. Here are some tips for storing and reheating cowboy casserole:

Storage Tips

  • Store leftover cowboy casserole in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • If you plan to freeze the casserole, allow it to cool completely before transferring it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Label the container with the date and contents, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To prevent freezer burn, wrap the casserole tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing it in the freezer.

Reheating Tips

  • To reheat cowboy casserole from the refrigerator, preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the casserole in an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through.
  • To reheat cowboy casserole from the freezer, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. Then, follow the instructions above for reheating from the refrigerator.
  • Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions of cowboy casserole in the microwave. Place a serving in a microwave-safe dish and heat it on high for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through.
  • For best results, avoid reheating cowboy casserole in the microwave for too long, as it can become dry and rubbery.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the essential ingredients for a classic Cowboy Casserole?

A classic Cowboy Casserole usually includes ground beef, canned corn, tomato soup, barbecue sauce, onion, and cheese. Some recipes also call for tater tots or potatoes. However, you can add or substitute ingredients based on your preferences.

How can I make a Cowboy Casserole in a crockpot?

To make a Cowboy Casserole in a crockpot, brown the ground beef and onion in a skillet, and then transfer it to the crockpot. Add the canned corn, tomato soup, barbecue sauce, and any other desired ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Add the cheese and tater tots or potatoes during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

What variations can I add to a Cowboy Casserole to enhance its flavor?

You can add various ingredients to enhance the flavor of a Cowboy Casserole. For example, you can add diced tomatoes, green chilies, black beans, or jalapenos for a spicier flavor. You can also add different types of cheese, such as cheddar, pepper jack, or mozzarella, to give it a unique taste.

Is there a connection between John Wayne and Cowboy Casserole?

There is no direct connection between John Wayne and Cowboy Casserole. However, the dish is often associated with the Wild West and cowboy culture, which John Wayne popularized in his movies.

Can you provide a step-by-step guide for making a Cowboy Casserole with cornbread?

Yes, to make a Cowboy Casserole with cornbread, you will need cornbread mix, ground beef, onion, canned corn, tomato soup, barbecue sauce, and cheese. First, brown the ground beef and onion in a skillet. Then, mix the cornbread batter according to the package instructions. In a separate bowl, mix the canned corn, tomato soup, and barbecue sauce. Spread the ground beef mixture in a baking dish, and then pour the corn mixture over it. Pour the cornbread batter over the top, and then sprinkle cheese on top. Bake in the oven at 375°F for 25-30 minutes or until the cornbread is golden brown.

What are the historical origins of the casserole dish?

The casserole dish has been around for centuries and has roots in various cultures. The word “casserole” comes from the French word “casse,” which means a large spoon or ladle. Casseroles were traditionally made with leftovers and were a way to make use of all the available ingredients. The modern casserole dish became popular in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s, and it continues to be a popular dish today.