5 from 2 votes

BBQ Tater Tot Casserole

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Dive into the world of comfort food with this BBQ Tater Tot Casserole Recipe, a hearty dish perfect for those seeking the ultimate cowboy casserole experience.

Originating from the creative kitchens of TikTok’s food scene, this BBQ beef casserole combines the classic appeal of tater-tot hotdish with a modern twist, making it a must-try for anyone exploring hotdish ideas or looking for the best cowboy casserole recipe with tater-tots.

bowl of cowboy casserole with tater tots.

Why This BBQ Tater Tot Casserole Stands Out:

Tater tot hotdish, or Cowboy Casserole, is an incredibly filling viral dinner recipe full of intense flavors and sure to become a family favorite recipe in no time!

  • Filling: Designed to satisfy, this hearty casserole with Rotel and BBQ flavors is a complete meal, cutting down on the need for additional sides.
  • Versatile: With its roots in the old-fashioned tater tot casserole, this dish allows for creativity, letting you tweak it with extra veggies or spices to suit your taste.

Origin Story:

The spotlight shines on this cowboy casserole, thanks to its viral recipe fame on TikTok, courtesy of @bestfriendsforfrosting. This BBQ ground beef casserole brings a unique BBQ twist to the table, setting it apart from traditional hotdish recipes.

Our thoughts on this viral recipe: This was good. It was different, but I liked the BBQ flavoring, and it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner meal.

Changes we made: The original recipe called for a cornstarch slurry. I didn’t use one, and I didn’t think it needed it.

Cowboy Casserole Tater Tots Recipe

List of ingredients:

  • Ground beef
  • Seasonings: cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper
  • Fresh: green pepper, small onion
  • Canned: diced tomatoes, beef broth
  • Frozen: corn kernels, tater tots
  • BBQ sauce, sour cream, and shredded cheese

How to Craft This Cowboy Casserole with Tater Tots:

Prep Your Skillet:

Start by browning 1 lb. of ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once it’s cooked, drain any excess grease.

Season the beef:

Add 1 tbsp of cumin1 tbsp of chili powder½ tbsp of garlic powder1 tsp of salt, and ¼ tsp of black pepper to the beef. Stir everything together until the meat is well coated with the seasonings.

cooked ground beef in skillet being stirred by a wooden spoon.
seasonings in a bowl.

Cook Veggies:

In the same skillet as the meat mixture, sauté one chopped green pepper and one diced small onion until soft and tender.

Combine the Mix:

Bring the seasoned beef back into the skillet with the veggies. Then, mix in 14.5 oz of diced tomatoes1 cup of corn kernels½ cup of beef broth, and ½ cup of BBQ sauce. Stir everything together well.

frying up green onions in a skillet.
adding bbq sauce to skillet.

Add creaminess and cheese.

Lower the heat and stir in ¼ cup of sour cream and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese until they’re well-integrated and the cheese starts to melt.

Layer It Up:

In a greased 9×13-inch baking dish, lay down a layer using half of the 32-ounce frozen tater tots. Pour the beef and veggie mixture over this layer, then top with the remaining tater tots. Sprinkle the rest of the ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese over the top.

spreading tater tots in baking dish and adding meat mixture.

Bake to Perfection:

Bake your casserole dish in an oven preheated to 375°F for 30–35 minutes. You’re looking for the cheese to be bubbly and the tots to turn a lovely golden brown.

full casserole dish with already made and cooked casserole.

Serving Suggestions:

This cowboy crack casserole is a standalone marvel, but pair it with a simple salad for larger gatherings to extend the meal.

Expert Cooking Tips:

  • Freshness First, assemble just before baking to maintain the texture of the tater tots and frozen corn.
  • Spice It Up: Add green chilies and jalapeños, or serve with hot sauce for an extra kick.
  • Crispy Finish: A brief broil can add that desired golden crispiness for crunchier tots—watch closely to avoid burning.
  • Variations: People often ask about adding beans because this is a cowboy-inspired meal. You can add any number of beans (black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, maybe not baked beans). However, if you choose to add beans, make sure they are rinsed before adding them, or you will turn the mixture dark brown. 

Explore More:

Tater Tot Casserole Recipe Ideas 

Perfect for busy weeknights or cozy family gatherings, it’s a testament to the enduring appeal of tater tot casseroles and the endless creativity of home cooks everywhere. See all of our viral recipes here.

5 from 2 votes

BBQ Tater Tot Casserole (TikTok Hotdish)

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Elevate your weeknight dinners with this simple yet delicious Cowboy Casserole with Tater Tots. Layered with flavorful ground beef, mixed vegetables, and a crispy tater tot topping, this dish is a cozy, comforting meal that's perfect for any night of the week.


  • baking dish
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • Skillet


Main Ingredient

  • 1 lb ground beef


  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper


  • 1 green pepper seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 14.5 oz. canned diced tomatoes


  • ½ cup beef broth
  • ½ cup BBQ sauce
  • ¼ cup sour cream


  • cup shredded cheddar cheese 1 cup + ½ cup separately

Frozen Items

  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 32 oz. frozen tator tots keep frozen


  • Brown the Beef: Start by adding 1 lb of ground beef to a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir the beef frequently until it's completely browned. If there's any excess grease, make sure to drain it off.
  • Season the Beef: To the browned beef, add 1 tbsp of cumin, 1 tbsp of chili powder, ½ tbsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp of salt, and ¼ tsp of black pepper. Mix everything well to ensure the beef is evenly seasoned.
  • Cook the Veggies: Remove the beef from the skillet temporarily. In the same skillet, add the chopped green pepper and diced small onion. Cook these until the onion is tender, which should take about 5-6 minutes.
    cooking beef and green peppers.
  • Combine Beef and Veggies: Return the seasoned beef to the skillet with the tender onions and green peppers. Add 14.5 oz of canned diced tomatoes, 1 cup of frozen corn kernels, ½ cup of beef broth, and ½ cup of BBQ sauce. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
    adding veggies and BBQ sauce to meat.
  • Add Creaminess and Cheese: Mix in ¼ cup of sour cream and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese into the beef and veggie mixture.
  • Assemble the Casserole: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Spread half of the 32 oz of frozen tater tots at the bottom of the dish. Then, layer all of the beef mixture on top of the tater tots. Finish by placing the remaining tater tots on top and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese over everything.
    layering tater tots and cowboy casserole mixture.
  • Bake the Casserole: Place the assembled casserole in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until it's bubbly and hot throughout.



Can this dinner be prepped ahead?
I do not recommend prepping cowboy casserole ahead. The corn and tater tots are best kept frozen and not thawed, making this an impossible dish to completely prep and leave for a significant amount of time.
Spice it up – With freshly chopped green chilies or a drained can of jalapenos. 
Crispy Tater Tot Layer – If you want a slightly crispier tater tot, throw it under the broiler for a few minutes. Just remember that broilers work FAST in hot ovens and it’s very easy to burn. Check minute by minute until the desired color is reached. 


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 327kcal

Nutritional Disclaimer: The nutritional data provided here is auto-calculated and intended for your convenience only. As it’s generated via automation, its accuracy may be compromised. For precise nutritional insight, please compute the values utilizing the actual ingredients in your recipe through your chosen nutrition calculator or application.

Sharing of this recipe is encouraged and appreciated. Copying of full recipe to any social media is prohibited.

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5 from 2 votes

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