There are some recipes I just know my husband will love, and Crock Pot Cowboy Casserole falls solidly in that category. The name of the dish screams meat and potatoes, and the ingredients back that up nicely. When the tomatoes, spices, and kidney beans are added it turns into a love child of roasted potatoes and chili, and then you really have no choice but to top it with cheese.
I made this dish when my in-laws were visiting, and we all really liked it. Since my mother-in-law is a founding member of Crock Pot Thursday, and prides herself on never skipping a weekly recipe, she plans on making this in her own kitchen soon. We agreed that chili beans would be delicious if substituted for the red kidney beans, so if you’re looking for a little more zing to your recipe, try that modification.
I used mozzarella cheese because that’s what I had on hand, but cheddar, Monterrey jack, or Colby jack cheese would be excellent on top of this casserole.
My 3.5 Quart Crock-Pot Casserole Slow Cooker was perfect for this recipe, but any sort of slow cooker would work well.
UPDATE: Based on reader feedback (thank you to everyone who commented!) I’ve updated the directions to highlight the importance of generously salting and peppering the potatoes when they go in the slow cooker. Potatoes are bland without seasoning, and without this step, the dish will be a bummer. If you’re looking for more of a taco-type flavor, add some taco seasoning, chili powder, or cumin to the beef as it’s browning.
Crock Pot Cowboy Casserole
- 1½ pounds ground beef, browned and drained
- 6 medium potatoes, cut into 1½ inch cubes
- salt and pepper
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- ¼ cup water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- While the ground beef is browning, place potatoes in bottom of slow cooker.
- Salt and pepper generously.
- Add onions and minced garlic.
- Layer ground beef on onions and garlic, and top with kidney beans, diced tomatoes, and water.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours.
- When there is about 15 minutes of cook time left, sprinkle cheese on top of dish and cover again until cheese is melted.
I made it with the chili beans, and it was delicious–especially with the sour cream we dolloped on! I also think some corn or carrots or peas would be delicious. Maybe that would take the place of the sour cream–for a bit more low-fat meal.
I like the idea of chili beans, and of sour cream. Like most casseroles, this one is adaptable based on tastes and ingredients on hand.
Recipe modified from Amanda’s Cookin’.
71 thoughts on “Crock Pot Cowboy Casserole”
Mmmm…what if, a few minutes before serving, you sprinkled crushed up Doritos on top?
Please excuse me, I must go grocery shopping.
Can I use chicken or beef broth instead of the tomatoes I can’t eat them for the sauce or gravy ?
I think you could use beef broth.
I can find its here its very nice, Cowboy-Casserole
Made this Monday night; leftovers tonight. Did not change a thing. Next time I will use more onions.
Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for coming back to comment, Katie! I’m glad it was a hit!
Amy do you stir during the 7-8 hours?
This was really, really bland. If I made it again (and I doubt I would), I would have to add cayenne and cumin. Sounded good, but no one in my household would eat it.
Oh no, just saw your comment right as i finished putting everything in the crock pot! LOL. Hoping mine doesn’t turn out bland… just wondering, did you season your meat at all, or sub chili beans for kidney? I think I may add some cayenne & cumin, sounds great.
I saw another recipe just like this one only it called for canned tomatoes and Chiles
This looks good but I can see how it could be bland too. I bet taco seasoning might be helpful. Or salsa on it once it’s served is another option.
I agree. Bland…..I just made this tonight with hopes it would be a hit. Not. I did substitute with chili beans, but 4 cloves garlic too much. Perhaps a little bit of taco seasoning would be nice. I’m presently eating a bowl, just can’t get passed the garlic…and I’m a garlic lover. Waiting on husband’s critique when I serve to him.
Tried the Slow Cooker Cowboy Potato Casserole exactly as listed. It was tasteless, very bland even after we added salt, pepper and some butter. Disappointing. One more recipe for the garbage.
Thanks for your feedback, Lo. I’m sorry you didn’t like this dish. I’ve updated the post to address your concerns, and I hope you’ll give some of my other recipes a try!
so disappointment I didn’t read the comments before wasting my time. So bland my family isnt going to like this at all! Its a big tasteless chili
I’m so sorry you didn’t like it! I’ve updated the recipe to address your concerns, and I hope you’ll give some of my other recipes a try. Thanks for commenting.
I just put it in crockpot well let everyone one….
I made this and While it was very good I think it would have been better (for us) if I used chili beans. But overall it was a great meal/recipe!!
Chili beans are a great idea! Thanks for your feedback, Shannon!
Made this a couple of months ago, family loved it! Thanks for a great recipe!!
Ok, I seasoned the meat with cumin, S&P. I seasoned the potatoes with S&P. I used chili beans. And, I used a can of Rotel instead of just tomatoes. In the crock pot now… we will see tonight how it all comes together.
How was the Rotel? I’ve made this once and we were not impressed but hubby gave me approval to play around with it by adding chili beans and Rotel (he doesn’t go for spicy but we thought that would be the only way to really liven this one up).
Did not care for and my husband did not go back for seconds. All good ingredients think would be better in oven as too much liquid in crock pot. I make new recipes all the time and live by new recipes.
I’m sorry it wasn’t a winner at your house, Marsha. I appreciate your feedback!
I think I am going to try this but I will use chili beans and a can of diced chiles. Also I think I will cook my ground beef in either onion soup mix or taco seasoning. But it sounds really good and hearty.
I made this today, with a jar of salsa instead of the tomatoes+onion+garlic+sp. Also didn’t add water because I used a crockpot that seals well. I wanted it for lunch, so I did it on high for 3 hours until the potatoes cooked, and then low for a couple hours more, until it was time for lunch. Added some avocado to serve. We’re going to try to remember to make it again, as it was really good. The salsa definitely solved the problem some commenters had of it not being seasoned enough, and it was an excellent use of salsa that was a little too hot for us to like for just chips and salsa.
Wondering if anyone used frozen cubed potatoes?
I haven’t tried frozen potatoes, and would worry about them adding too much liquid to the finished product. If you used frozen potatoes, I’d love to hear how it turned out!
Might add frozen half way through cooking. Could turn them mushy.
I’ve done this about 4/5 times now & always add paprika cumin & little turmeric also added a knor paprica stock pot cube in1/4 cup of water really flavoursome – Thanks Amy!!
Hi Gray! Thank you for your feedback and for sharing your modifications! I really appreciate it.
Do you stir it during 7-8 hours?
4 cloves of garlic? Is that too much ?
We loved it! I did add the package of taco seasoning like you suggested. And I left out the water (because I forgot it). My daughter already want to know when I will make it again.
Ok I just got my cowboy casarole going I used a combo of ground sausage, Turkey, and hamburger, and did rotel and added fire roasted corn and fire roasted salsa style diced tomatoes in puree and I had chili beans here so that went into the pot I’ll let you know how this combo works with my family
After reading comments, I tweaked the recipe in that I added 1T taco seasoning, more salt and pepper, halved the amount of garlic, substituted can of Rotel for the tomatoes and used undrained chili beans. In a bit of a hurry, I boiled the potatoes a few minutes before starting the meal. Additionally, I sprinkled qtr cup of Mexican style cheese directly on potatoes before cooking. 1.5 hours on high and I had supper made! We like mex-tex and hubby is a meat & potato man. Good combination for us. Thanks for the idea.
I used rotel instead of tomatoes, beef broth instead of water, ranch style beans instead of kidney beans and a pack of taco seasoning on top of the salt& pepper and this recipe is bursting with flavor.
I made this recipe with beefy onion soup mix and ranch dressing mix instead of salt and pepper and a few dashes of worchestershire sauce, Ranch style beans instead of kidney beans, beef broth in place of water, added fire roasted corn and 2 cans of Rotel instead of plain tomatoes and extra onions. It was extremely flavorful. However, I used russet potatoes and they disintegrated and sadly turned to mush, but still tasted amazing. I will definitely make this again. Next time I will use a more sturdy potato such as red skin potatoes and monitor the cooking process more closely.
After reading the comments regarding the dish being to bland I used rotel instead of tomatoes, beef broth instead of water, ranch style beans instead of kidney beans and a tsp of taco seasoning on top of the salt & pepper and this recipe is bursting with flavor.
I tried this recipe before since it sounded good.. doing it again for the second time. My husband and I both loved it! All the ingredients seem to work the way they are for the both us..I usually like to use ground turkey in everything I cook instead of ground beef, however. The only other changes I made was adding Cajun seasoning to the meat, using pinto beans this time (since it’s what I had on hand), and adding vodka pasta sauce since I didn’t have enough tomatoes. Stirring everything together with sour cream added seems to work after the food is dished out in separate bowls or plates. Thank you for posting!
After reading all comments, I am going to make this and tweak it with cream cheese and fiesta ranch seasoning.
I used half Italian sausage and half ground beef mix, a can of fire roasted tomatoes, and a can of bush’s grilling beans in steakhouse flavor and it was delicious! I also did a whole large onion.
Sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing your modifications!
Wife out of town for two weeks, this looked like a winner for my teenage boys. However, Kind of bland even after adding in chili beans and cumin. Had lots of leftovers so I’m going to add in a chili packet and maybe a little beef broth to spice it up. As is, I would rate it a 6 out of 10. It was fun to make!
Can I cook on high for 4 hours will it work?
I have 2 Diabetics in my house. Everything I make reguires serving size and carbohydrates. Would you know that information?
Thank you for this recipe Amy x
I also forgot to add water – and out of habit I sploshed some Worcestershire Sauce in with the ground beef…. which I browned with chilli oil because that’s all I had! Paprika went in too…. Don’t know if you get ‘Mexicana’ cheese over there – it’s got jalapeños in it – I added that. Wow. Lovely Cowboy Casserole served with a dollop of sour cream! Can’t wait to share with my friends x
My wife and I have made this several times. The first time was very bland. However, every time after that we seasoned the meat really well with chopped onion (still add bigger chunks to the whole), salt, pepper, paprika, cumin and some crushed garlic. We also add celery and carrots and black beans. Instead of water we use beef stock and either a package of seasoning for a pot roast or an onion/mushroom gravy.
My family loves this recipe. My kids and I do not like spicy food and hubby usually adds some hot sauce to liven it up. I use chili beans instead of kidney beans and I also add a can of black beans. I cooked the onion and garlic with the meat (I used ground turkey), which gives it a nice flavor. It is really a hit in my house of picky eaters!
I used a Ranch Style beans instead of kidney beans. It was flavorful but too much water. How do I eliminate that? Would leaving off the 1/4 cup make it too dry?
My kids don’t care for white potatoes. Do you think sweet would be a good substitute? I was considering adding them later in the cooking process or roasting them separately. Thanks for the help.
I just made this last night and it was amazingly flavorful! I’m glad I saw the note to salt and pepper the potatoes, they definitely need it. The chili powder added to flavor of the meat, though next time I’d add it to the potatoes as well. Black beans were subbed for kidney based on preference. Will definitely make again!
I made this in my crockpot. Added taco seasoning pack and some fresh diced carrots. Cooked regular and venison burger together with seasoning. Added season salt, with pepper, cumin, and garlic powder since my garlic was bad. Ill let you know how it turns out with family this evening.
Do you stir this at some point during the 7-8 hours?
Please answer JB question do you stir.thank you.
Added one envelope of onion soup mix, 1 can of sweet corn, 1 chopped green pepper, paprika, & chili powder.
I just found this recipe and it looks delicious. I am going to try it with some ground venison I have in the freezer. It’s too late to put in the crockpot at this point. To convert this recipe to the oven, what temp and how long would you recommend? Thanks! Lisa