Cowboy Casserole – Spaceships and Laser Beams

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Easy and cheesy, this cowboy casserole recipe is the perfect family-friendly dinner idea!

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This easy and cheesy cowboy casserole recipe is the perfect delicious dinner for busy nights. A simple, hearty casserole made with layers of ground beef, veggies, spices, a creamy mushroom sauce, crispy tater tots and lots of cheese.

For more casserole recipes your family will love, check out our awesome lasagna casserole, tuna casserole, and our vegetable casserole.

A plate of food, with Casserole and Tater tots

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COWBOY CASSEROLE INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • half of a medium yellow onion, diced
  • 10-ounce can Rotel tomatoes, not drained
  • 15.25-ounce  can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 10.5-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1½ cups Monterey Jack and Colby cheese, shredded, divided
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
  • 32-ounce bag frozen tater tots

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

One of the best parts of this recipe is that you can customize it to fit your family’s tastes. Love cheese? Add a few more handfuls. Not a fan of tomatoes? Leave out the can of Rotel. This is an easy recipe to experiment with and create your own version. Here are some popular changes: 

BEANS: Black beans or pinto beans give this casserole a southwestern flair. Stir them in at the same time as when you add your Rotel tomatoes. 

VEGGIES: Add mixed peas and carrots to make the base layer of your casserole more similar to that of chicken pot pie. This is a tasty twist that goes well with the creaminess and crispy tots in the recipe. You could also mix in chopped bell peppers.

HOT SAUCE: If you like your meals with a bit of a spicy kick, add a dash or two of hot sauce to your beef mixture.

MEAT: Any ground meat would work fine in this recipe. Try ground pork, ground turkey or ground chicken for great options.

HOW TO MAKE THIS COWBOY CASSEROLE RECIPE

A bunch of food on a plate, with Casserole and Tater tots

PRO TIP: This is a fantastic make-ahead dish. You can prepare it up to the end of Step Six and store it in the fridge or freezer before baking it later.

STEP ONE: Lightly spray the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place the tater tots in the dish and pre-bake at 375°F for 8 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and transfer the tater tots to a bowl. Turn the oven up to 425°F.

PRO TIP: The higher cooking temperature is the temperature that tater tots are baked at. This ensures your tater tots are nice and crispy and not soggy.

STEP TWO: In a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef and onions until the beef is no longer pink and the onions are tender. Add the Rotel tomatoes, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper into the skillet. Cook until the liquid has reduced, about 8 minutes.

STEP THREE: Remove the skillet from the heat and add sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, drained corn, and ½ cup cheese to the beef mixture. Stir until the cheese is melted.

A close up of food, with Casserole and Cowboy

STEP FOUR: Pour the mixture into the bottom of the baking dish and spread it in an even layer.

STEP FIVE: Sprinkle ½ cup of cheese over the top of the mixture.

STEP SIX: Layer the tater tots on top, pressing them down into the mixture. Layer your tater tots side by side to fit the most into your dish.

PRO TIP: By creating an even layer of tater tots you’ll get a nice, even amount of tater tots in each slice of your casserole (plus, it looks pretty)!

STEP SEVEN: Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of cheese over the top of the tater tots.Sprinkle the chopped chives over the cheese. Cover and bake at 425°F for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve.

HOW TO SERVE

Since this easy casserole recipe is such a great all-in-one dinner, I usually keep the sides simple too. The recipe has potatoes and corn already so I usually make a nice side salad to go along with our cowboy casserole. Try this Caesar salad recipe, it’s a favorite! If you want an easy dessert idea, pair this meal with our blueberry cobbler.

STORAGE

IN THE FRIDGE: Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

IN THE FREEZER: Once it’s completely cool, you can store it inside the freezer for up to three months in a freezer-safe dish. You’ll want to thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating in the oven.

A plate of food, with Casserole and Tater tots

For a fun way to turn tater tots into an all-in-one meal, this cowboy casserole is a favorite of little cowboys and cowgirls everywhere! It’s a family favorite and the ideal comfort food that makes dinnertime easy. A creamy sauce and crispy potato topping will be a hit with the whole family.

FAQ

Can I freeze this casserole?

This easy meal freezes well and can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Can I use hash browns instead of tater tots?

As with our other recipes that feature tater tots, you can substitute them with hash browns.

Can I cook this recipe in the slow cooker?

This recipe is also easy to make in your crockpot. Use the same instructions, but create all of the layers in your slow cooker (instead of a baking dish). Cook the casserole, covered, on low for 5 hours.

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Cowboy Casserole

Easy and cheesy, this cowboy casserole recipe is the perfect family-friendly dinner idea!

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Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Servings: 6

Calories: 359kcal

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Half of a medium yellow onion diced
  • One 10 ounce can Rotel tomatoes not drained
  • One 15.25 ounce can whole kernel corn drained
  • One 10.5 ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup undiluted
  • 1 ½ cups Colby and Monterey Jack cheese shredded, divided
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chives chopped
  • One 32 ounce bag tater tots

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.

  • Lightly spray the bottom of a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Place the tater tots in the dish and pre-bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a bowl.

  • Turn the oven up to 425°F.

  • In a large skillet cook your onions and ground beef until beef is no longer pink and onions are tender.

  • Pour in the Rotel tomatoes, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper. Cook until the liquid has reduced, about 8 minutes.

  • Remove from the heat and add sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, drained corn, ½ cup of cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted.

  • Pour the mixture into the bottom of the baking dish and spread evenly.

  • Sprinkle ½ cup of cheese over the top of the casserole.

  • Layer the tater tots on top pressing them down into the mixture.

  • Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of cheese over the top of the tater tots.

  • Sprinkle the chopped chives over the cheese.

  • Cover and bake at 425°F for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.

  • Remove from oven and serve.

Notes

TIP: This is a fantastic make-ahead dish. You can prepare it up to the end of Step Six and store it in the fridge or freezer before baking it later.
TIP: By creating an even layer of tater tots you’ll get a nice, even amount of tater tots in each slice of your casserole (plus, it looks pretty)!
TIP: The higher cooking temperature is the temperature that tater tots are baked at. This ensures your tater tots are nice and crispy and not soggy.

Nutrition

Calories: 359kcal





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