Cowboy casserole is a comforting casserole popular at potlucks. This is a modified version made with real food ingredients and no cream soups or tater tots.
Especially if you are from the midwest or south, you are quite familiar with that famous cheesy beefy tater tot casserole, sometimes referred to as Cowboy Casserole. It typically uses cream of mushroom soup, corn, ground beef, sour cream, cheese, and frozen tater tots. While quite delicious, it's not something I make in my home anymore since cutting out overly processed foods.
Years ago on my original diary-style family blog I shared a modified version of this cowboy casserole that I made without cream of mushroom soup and tater tots. This cleaned up version uses fresh mushrooms instead of mushroom soup, shredded potatoes instead of tater tots, and green beans instead of corn for more nutritional value. When I re-branded to my new website, the recipe got lost in the shuffle. Since then, I have had several readers requesting that I repost the real food cowboy casserole recipe because it had become a family favorite for them.
After making it again to photograph and bring back to live another day on the blog, I agree that it is indeed a tasty dish. Cheesy, beefy, comfort food.
Cowboy Casserole Step by Step Instructions
Brown ground beef, diced onions, and mushrooms in a skillet until beef is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Drain excess fat. Stir in flour to the beef mixture and cook for a minute or two.
Whisk in broth, milk, salt, pepper, and green beans. Stir while mixture thickens.
Once mixture is thickened, stir in sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.
Squeeze out the liquid from shredded potatoes and evenly place on top on casserole. Top with remaining cheese and bake.
- For a gluten-free version, use an all purpose gluten free flour.
- For a grain-free version, mix 2 tablespoons of arrowroot with the milk/broth to make a slurry. Then add it to the ground beef, mushrooms, and onions to thicken.
- For a dairy-free version, use a milk-alternative like almond milk, oat milk, unsweetened coconut milk, or your favorite milk substitute. You could try a dairy-free cheese and sour cream or you could simply omit the cheese altogether. Another option would be to add a few shakes of nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy flavor, while omitting the cheese from the top.
Ground beef casserole dish with a cheesy mushroom sauce and topped with shredded potatoes
- 2 cups mushrooms diced
- 1 cup onion diced
- 1 lb ground beef
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup flour of choice
- ¾ cup broth beef or chicken
- 1 cup milk dairy or dairy-free alternative
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 cups green beans frozen or canned
- 2 tbsp sour cream or plain yogurt
- 1 ½ cup cheddar cheese shredded
- 2 cups potatoes shredded
In a large oven safe skillet, brown ground beef, onions, and mushrooms until beef is cooked through and vegetables are tender.
Drain excess fat. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
Stir in flour and cook for another minute.
Whisk in broth, milk, salt, and pepper.
Add green beans and cook mixture until thickened.
Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup cheese and sour cream.
Shred potatoes with a grater or food processor and squeeze out excess liquid.
Top casserole with shredded potatoes and remaining ½ cup cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. I like to broil the casserole for another couple of minutes at the end to crisp the top.