Cowboy Casserole is a hearty, flavor-packed easy main dish full of ground beef, vegetables, bold spices with a tater tot and cheese crust.
Course Main Course
Keyword cowboy casserole
Prep Time 15minutes
Cook Time 55minutes
Resting Time 15minutes
Total Time 1hour25minutes
Author Toni Dash
2tablespoonsgarlic paste or finely minced garlic
1teaspoon chili powder
½teaspoonground black pepper
3cupsfreshly shredded mild cheddar cheese
114.5-oz can sweet corndrained
110.5-oz cancream of mushroom soupregular or gluten-free
110-oz canRotel diced tomatoes & green chiliesmild or spicy
132-ounce bagfrozen tater tots
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Preferred method: Use a 12-inch oven proof skillet for the entire recipe (cast iron skillets are great). Alternative method: Use a large skillet for the cooking of the ingredients and transfer into a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan or casserole dish to cook in the oven.
Making the Cowboy Casserole
Cook the bacon over medium high heat until cooked but not crispy. Place on paper towel to drain. Leave the bacon fat in the skillet.
Cook the onions in the bacon fat until soft.
Add the garlic and cook for about a minute or until it becomes fragrant.
Add the ground beef to the skillet. Sprinkle the cumin powder, chili powder, salt and pepper over the ground beef. Cook, breaking the beef up with a spatula, until it is fully browned with no pink color remaining.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add half of the cheese (1 1/2 cups), corn, mushroom soup (straight from the can), Rotel, bacon, sour cream and milk and stir to combine.
Cook for an additional 5 minutes. The cheese should melt and the condensed soup thin out.
If you are not using an oven safe skillet, pour the casserole filling into the casserole dish.
Add the tater tots to the top of the casserole in a design or simply in a single layer.
Place in the oven for 30 minutes until the tater tots are light golden in color. Spinkle on the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese. Place back in the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese has fully melted.
Remove from the oven and let the casserole cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve with a bit of sour cream and fresh cilantro.
Cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to three days in the fridge.Alternative Casserole Cooking methodIn the cooking method above the tater tots are not fully crisp as they are when they are cooked by themselves. However the tops will have a nice crispness.If you prefer softer tater tots, try this alternative method:
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes then remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the tater tots.
Bake again, uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and caramelize around the edges.
OR push the tater tots lightly into the casserole mixture before cooking. They will not form a crust but will bake into the casserole itself.