Micah A. Leal
Active Time
25 Mins
Total Time
1 Hour 15 Mins

Cowboy Casserole makes the most of everyday ingredients by transforming a can of this and a pound of that into a hearty casserole. Make the base by cooking down a chopped yellow onion in a skillet. Toss in slices of fresh garlic with the onion and as they cook together, the flavors will meld to create a savory base for the rest of the dish. Brown a pound of ground beef to the skillet and season with a packet of taco seasoning. Adding the packet to the warm meat and onion mixture let the spices bloom in the naturally rendered fat from the beef, intensifying their flavor.

Dump cans of black beans, pinto beans, diced fire-roasted tomatoes, and diced green chiles into the skillet to add heartiness to the casserole. Stir in a little sour cream and cheese to lend a touch of creaminess, and add hot sauce and frozen corn kernels for some spice and sweetness. Lastly, once the mix has been transferred to a baking dish, line the surface with a single layer of tater tots that crisp in the oven while the bottoms bake into the casserole. It’s this layer of crispy potato on top that makes Cowboy Casserole famous—once you try it, you’ll know why.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add beef and break apart with a spoon; cook until brown. Add taco seasoning and stir to incorporate.

Step 2

Add black beans, pinto beans, tomatoes, green chiles, sour cream, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, and hot sauce, stir into meat mixture and allow to cook until the liquid thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in frozen corn and transfer mixture to a greased 9- x- 13-inch baking dish.

Step 3

Line surface of casserole with a single layer of frozen tater tots. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove aluminum foil, sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese over tater tots, and return to oven for 20 more minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.