Who doesn’t love a good hotdish? Cheesy oven baked tater tot casserole is loaded with ground beef, green beans, and just a few pantry staples for a hearty meal the whole family will love. Also known as cowboy tater tot casserole, this easy recipe takes less than an hour to prepare and is perfect to make ahead and freeze!
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WHAT’S COVERED IN THIS POST
- Kitchen Tools Needed
- How to Make the Best Tater Tot Casserole with Green Beans
- What to Serve with Cheesy Cowboy Casserole
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Here’s the full Cheesy Cowboy Casserole Recipe
- Here are More easy Casserole Recipes!
What is Tater Tot casserole?
Growing up most of our meals were made in the slow cooker or quick skillet meals mostly from scratch. I recall filling meals like pan-seared chicken with boiled potatoes and a green salad. Or, a crock pot pot roast or beef stew.
So, when I saw first saw tater tot casseroles or hotdish recipes as they’re called in the upper Midwest, I knew it was something my husband would love. Not only is he from Michigan, but he loves a good cheesy potato dish!
This deliciously easy casserole recipe, also known as cowboy tater tot casserole, is made with simple ingredients that many families consider staples. It includes ground beef, milk, cheddar cheese, green beans, onion, cream of mushroom soup, and tater tots. So it’s truly a complete dinner baked in just one pan!
Tip: Turn this tater tot casserole into a one skillet meal using an oven-safe skillet, like a cast iron skillet.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Ground beef – Lean is best, I recommend 85% lean ground beef. Make a leaner hot dish by using ground turkey or ground chicken in place of ground beef.
- Green beans – frozen, fresh, or canned
- Aromatics – We used onion and garlic for this recipe.
- Cream of mushroom soup – You can also use cream condensed soup. If you want an even cheesier cheesy tater tot casserole, use condensed cheddar cheese soup instead of cream of mushroom.
If you’re not a mushroom fan, you can also try cream of celery soup or cream of asparagus soup.
- Cheddar cheese – freshly shredded or grated is ideal for this recipe. For a spicy recipe to really put a kick in your spurs, use shredded pepper jack in place of cheddar cheese.
Or do a half and half blend. You can even add a dash of Frank’s Red Hot to your plate if you are a spicy lover.
- Tater tots – Frozen tater tots are the perfect topping for this dish.
Kitchen Tools Needed
How to Make the Best Tater Tot Casserole with Green Beans
Like nearly every great comfort casseroles, this hotdish is prepped in only a matter of minutes, and is on the table in under an hour.
Follow these easy 5 steps to prepare a satisfyingly cheesy cowboy casserole with tater tots:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cook the ground beef in a large skillet, stirring frequently until browned throughout. Add the green beans, onion, and garlic. Continue to saute and stir until the onion becomes translucent.
- Next, stir the canned soup into the beef and veggie mixture. Transfer to a large casserole dish. Or, if you are making as a complete one skillet meal, simply keep everything in the pan and move on to step #4.
- Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the mixture. Then add a single layer of frozen tater tots to the top.
- Bake the casserole uncovered for 30 minutes. The tots should be golden brown and the cheese bubbly. Let the cowboy tater tot casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving hot.
How to Make Ahead and Freeze
This casserole recipe is perfect to prepare either as a full make ahead meal, or you can even prep two pans at the same time. That way you can enjoy one casserole hot for dinner that night, and freeze the second to have ready for meal trains, holidays, family gatherings, potlucks, or anytime you need a dish to share.
Tip: If you are making ahead to freeze, I recommend that you prepare in a foil pan. So the casserole can go straight from the freezer to the oven!
Simply put together the tater tot hotdish per the recipe but do not bake. Cover with a layer of aluminum foil (double wrap with foil if freezing). Then either keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before baking and serving, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Tips for Reheating Frozen Tater Tot Casserole
There’s no need to defrost the dish before baking! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and place the uncovered foil pan in the oven.
You want to add 15 minutes to the regular cook time, so the casserole will need to bake for about 45 minutes. But keep an eye on it after 30 minutes to ensure it doesn’t get too browned.
What to Serve with Cheesy Cowboy Casserole
Garnish this hot dish casserole with sour cream, sliced green onions or parsley. And cooked chopped bacon for an even heartier and more savory dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Baked casserole leftovers will keep well for up to 3 days. Let it cool completely before transferring to a container with a lid, and keep stored in the fridge. Reheat briefly in the oven (best) or microwave.
It certainly can be. Many brands now offer GF-friendly options, so just be sure to purchase tater tots and canned soup clearly marked as gluten-free.
Yes! You will get 6 generous servings when the recipe is prepared as-is, but simply halve the ingredients and bake in an 8×8 casserole dish for 3-4 servings. If you double the recipe, you’ll want to use two large 9×13 baking pans.
Here’s the full Cheesy Cowboy Casserole Recipe
Easy Tater Tot Casserole with Green Beans
- 10-12" oven-safe skillet (like a cast-iron skillet)
- OR a non-stick skillet and casserole dish
- 1 pound ground beef (I recommend lean ground beef, 85/15)
- 2 cups frozen or fresh green beans, cut in 1" pieces (or use a 12-14 oz. can of green beans, drained)
- 1 cup onion, chopped (1 small onion)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 can (10 oz.) cream of mushroom soup (see notes for soup variations)
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated or shredded
- 16 ounces (1/2 bag) frozen tater tots
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Brown ground beef in a 10-12" skillet over medium heat. Add green beans, chopped onion, and garlic to skillet and saute until onions turn translucent. Drain fat from pan.
- Stir in canned soup and mix into ground beef and vegetable mixture. If your skillet is oven-safe, continue on to the next step. Otherwise, add the mixture to a round or oblong casserole dish.
- Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly across the top. Then top the casserole with a layer of tater tots.
- Bake at 375º uncovered for 30 minutes, until the tater tots are golden brown and the edges of the casserole are bubbly. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with sour cream, sliced green onion, or parsley.