This Tasty Spin on Tater Tot Casserole Was Our Most Popular Recipe Last Week

Sausage, cheese, and crispy potatoes… What’s not to love?

overhead view of a cowboy casserole in a skillet, with a serving on a plate to the side
Photo: Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

When you need a quick and easy meal everyone will love, one recipe will always be a winner: Tater Tot Casserole. It's simple, hearty, and an absolute crowd-pleaser. So, it's no surprise that when we dropped this kicked-up version of a classic potato nugget casserole last week, it was an absolute hit.

Meet the Cowboy Casserole: a comforting, flavorful dish with a crispy tater tot crust and a creamy, spicy center. It's not as rough and tough as it sounds—in fact, it's one of the easiest one-pan meals you can make.

All About Cowboy Casserole

Made with simple and inexpensive ingredients like canned soup, ground beef, and frozen tater tots, this recipe can stretch a dollar into a spectacular meal. Frozen tater tots are one of our favorite budget items, and there are dozens of ways to use them from breakfast to brunch to dinner. But here, they're the crown jewel of a creamy and rich casserole, adding bits of crispy texture and fluffy potato goodness to every bite.

A mix of bacon, ground sirloin, and hot pork country sausage ensures there's no lack of savory, meaty flavor in this dish. Sharp cheddar cheese and cream of mushroom soup work together to make the filling melty, creamy, and ultra-rich, but feel free to substitute cream of onion or celery soup if you'd like.

Because most of the ingredients are canned or frozen, you can keep almost everything on hand to whip up this easy meal in a pinch. Whether you need a cozy dinner in or a quick dish to take to the potluck, this comfort food is a no-brainer.

The whole thing comes together in a cast iron skillet, so the grease from the cooked bacon adds an irresistibly savory flavor to the whole meal. Just soften the veggies, brown the beef, and bake it off until the tots are golden and sizzling. It's done before you know it. Sprinkle with parsley for freshness, and don't burn your mouth by digging in too quickly!

Pro tip: You can pre-cook the tots in the air fryer to give them a slight crisp before baking.

This meat-and-veggie medley is extremely versatile, so toss in some chopped jalapeños for more heat or black beans to amp up the protein. You can even stir in a little taco seasoning to brighten the flavor. No matter how you fix it, this cowboy dinner will turn out delicious every time.

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