Cowboy Casserole Is the Tater Tot-Topped Recipe You've Been Waiting For

It's a one-pan meal the entire family will love.

Cowboy casserole serving

Rachel Marek

Prep Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 15 mins
12 cups

This riff on a classic Tater Tot casserole is loaded with cheese, bacon, and ground beef. It's a filling one-dish meal that's rich and comforting. Here's how to make cowboy casserole, plus tips for customizing the dish with your favorite veggies and seasonings.

What Is Called Cowboy Casserole?

A twist on classic Tater Tot casserole, this recipe is made in a skillet with bacon, veggies, ground beef, cream of mushroom soup, shredded cheese, and potato tots. It's a hearty comfort food recipe that's a complete meal in one pan. There are many variations of the dish out there but this is the cowboy casserole recipe our recipe testers loved best.

Cowboy Casserole Ingredients

Here's a quick look at what you'll need to make homemade cowboy casserole.

  • Bacon: Rendering the fat from two slices of chopped bacon provides the flavorful base for sautéing the veggies. Save the crispy bacon for topping the casserole.
  • Veggies: Onion, bell pepper, garlic, and corn add flavor and texture to the finished dish.
  • Beef: Choose a pound of lean ground beef for this recipe.
  • Sausage: Our Test Kitchen preferred the flavor combination of both ground beef and pork sausage.
  • Cream of mushroom soup, milk, and sour cream: These ingredients add a creamy, saucy element to the finished dish.
  • Shredded cheese: You'll need 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese. Some will go into the filling and the rest will be used on top.
  • Tater Tots: Our recipe tasters loved the crispy potato puff topping. You'll need an entire bag of Tater Tots for topping the casserole.
  • Seasonings: A sprinkle of salt and pepper are all you'll need to flavor the dish. Top the finished skillet with fresh parsley.

How to Make Cowboy Casserole

Making this recipe for cowboy casserole is as easy as tossing ingredients in to a skillet.

  1. Cook the bacon until crisp and remove from the pan. In the drippings, cook the veggies. Then add the meat and cook through.
  2. Add the cream of mushroom soup, milk, sour cream, cheese, and seasonings.
  3. Top with cheese, cooked bacon, and Tater Tots. Bake until golden-brown and bubbly.
  4. Serve warm from the oven with a sprinkle of parsley.


  • 2 slices thick cut bacon, chopped

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (1 cup)

  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)

  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 8 ounces bulk pork sausage

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 (10.5-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1/4 cup sour cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen whole kernel corn

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

  • 1 (28 to 32-ounce) package frozen fried potato nuggets (such as Tater Tots®)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh italian parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

  2. In a 12-inch cast-iron or oven-going skillet cook bacon over medium heat, until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate with slotted spoon, reserving 1 Tbsp. of drippings in the skillet. Set bacon aside.

  3. Add onion and bell pepper to drippings in skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add ground beef and sausage. Cook, stirring, until meat is crumbly, browned, and no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Drain fat, if desired. Return meat mixture to skillet. Stir in soup, milk, sour cream, and black pepper. Stir in corn and 1/2 cup of the cheese.

  4. Cowboy casserole

    Rachel Marek

    Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1 cup cheese. Arrange potato nuggets in concentric circles over cheese layer. Sprinkle potato nuggets with remaining with reserved bacon.

  5. Bake in preheated oven until top is golden brown and beef mixture is bubbly, 35 to 40 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot.

Cowboy Casserole Variations

This dish is easy to customize with your favorite ingredients. Try adding veggies like spinach, tomatoes, or mushrooms along with the onions and bell peppers. We've also seen variations using taco seasoning or ranch dressing powder. If you like a little heat, try adding a dash of hot sauce.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

662 Calories
38g Fat
49g Carbs
34g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 662.2
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 37.8g 48%
Saturated Fat 13.3g 66%
Cholesterol 107.4mg 36%
Sodium 1288mg 56%
Total Carbohydrate 49.3g 18%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 7.2g
Protein 33.8g 68%
Vitamin D 1.3mcg 6%
Vitamin C 38.9mg 43%
Calcium 269.6mg 21%
Iron 3.3mg 18%
Potassium 986.2mg 21%
Fatty acids, total trans 0.5g
Vitamin D 53.5IU
Alanine 1.9g
Arginine 1.9g
Ash 6.2g
Aspartic acid 3.1g
Caffeine 0mg
Carotene, alpha 9.6mcg
Choline, total 121.9mg
Copper, Cu 0.2mg
Cystine 0.3g
Energy 2768.6kJ
Fluoride, F 15.1mcg
Folate, total 61mcg
Glutamic acid 5.7g
Glycine 1.8g
Histidine 1g
Isoleucine 1.5g
Leucine 2.7g
Lysine 2.4g
Methionine 0.8g
Magnesium, Mg 69.3mg
Manganese, Mn 0.3mg
Niacin 8.4mg
Phosphorus, P 495mg
Pantothenic acid 1.6mg
Phenylalanine 1.4g
Phytosterols 6.8mg
Proline 2.2g
Retinol 120.6mcg
Selenium, Se 29.5mcg
Serine 1.4g
Starch 25.7g
Theobromine 0mg
Threonine 1.3g
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 1.3mg
Tryptophan 0.3g
Tyrosine 1.2g
Valine 1.8g
Vitamin A, IU 1097.3IU
Vitamin A, RAE 153.4mcg
Vitamin B-12 2.4mcg
Vitamin B-6 0.6mg
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 29.9mcg
Water 274.7g
Zinc, Zn 6.4mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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