This easy Crockpot cowboy casserole with cheese, potatoes, beans, ground beef and tomatoes is a fantastic one pot dinner recipe that you can prepare in a matter of minutes.
If you love "mix it all in a pot and see what happens" meals, this recipe is for you! The crock pot cowboy casserole recipe might not look like much, but it's essentially a mild chili with potatoes and cheese, which makes it a filling, tasty and easy meal that you can vary endlessly.
Cowboy casserole is basically a ground beef and corn casserole with cheese and potatoes. Other ingredients like seasoning, beans and peppers or other vegetables are also common additions.
This is a great basic casserole recipe, and since it freezes really well, it's perfect for meal prep or as a freezer meal. You can also add any leftover meat or vegetables that you have on hand to reduce food waste.
Why you'll love it
- Easy one pot dinner recipe
- Perfect slow cooked stew with beans, beef and potatoes
- Customize the recipe however you like
- Vegetarian option available
- Full of flavor
- Use up your leftover vegetables and pantry staples
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Red kidney beans: I use drained canned kidney beans, but you can also use any other beans like black beans, chili beans or cannellini beans. Don't use dry beans, as they won't cook in time.
Canned diced tomatoes: (UK: tinned chopped tomatoes)This is the base of the sauce. You can also use tomato sauce if you prefer.
Ground beef: I like to use lean ground beef. Alternatively, use ground turkey, pork or a vegetarian alternative. Frozen ground beef should be thawed before use.
Onion: Use any onion you like. Red or yellow onions work best.
Garlic: Use garlic cloves, or garlic paste or garlic powder as an easy alternative.
Potatoes: Any type of potato will work well in this recipe.
Bell pepper: I like to add a bell pepper for texture, but this is completely optional. Use any color you want; a red bell pepper or green bell pepper will both work well.
Corn: Use frozen corn kernels, or drained canned corn.
Beef stock: We need to add extra liquid to allow the potatoes to cook. Beef stock is a flavorful option. You can also use a beef bouillon cube and water. Alternatively, use chicken stock or vegetable stock.
Cheese: Use shredded cheddar cheese, or any other cheese that melts easily.
Seasoning: A combination of salt, pepper, paprika, mixed dried herbs or Italian seasoning and chili powder adds flavor to the dish.
You can find full instructions + ingredient measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of this page
One: Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced onions and grated garlic, and sauté these until they are soft and translucent.
Two: Add the cooked beef to a slow cooker or Crockpot, along with diced bell peppers, sliced potatoes, frozen corn, beef stock, canned diced tomatoes and seasoning. Stir to combine everything, and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours, or on LOW for 6-8 hours.
Three: Add kidney beans, and stir. Top the casserole with shredded cheese, and allow the casserole to slow cook on LOW for a further 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
- Make sure that the potatoes are cooked through before you add the cheese to finish the casserole. They should be soft enough to easily pierce with a fork.
- If you cut the potatoes into very thick slices, you might have to cook the cowboy casserole for a little extra.
- Always leave the lid on the Crockpot while it cooks, as this will prevent any heat from escaping.
- Feel free to customize the dish by adding any seasoning or vegetables that you like.
- Brown the ground beef thoroughly before you add it to the slow cooker. This will give the dish more flavor, and ensure that the meat is cooked.
This easy Crockpot cowboy casserole is a great entree for lunch or dinner. You can serve it as a one pot dinner, or pair it with your side dishes if you prefer.
You can also serve it with fried or air fried boiled eggs, which makes the dish even more filling and adds more protein.
Change the seasoning: You can substitute the seasoning with any spices or herbs that you like. For a Tex Mex version, try adding taco seasoning, fajita seasoning, cumin or oregano. You can also add red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, coriander, or a casserole spice mix.
Add vegetables: You can add any vegetables you like to the dish. For example, you can add diced tomatoes, green beans, sliced mushrooms, kale, diced carrots, sweet potatoes, extra peppers, chili peppers, or zucchini.
Vegetarian: Instead of ground meat, try using a vegetarian alternative, or add extra drained canned beans. Use vegetable stock instead of beef broth.
Dairy free: Omit the cheese, or use a dairy free alternative.
Healthier swaps: Omit the cheese, or use a smaller amount. Use lean ground beef, or replace the ground beef with extra beans.
To make this recipe, you will need a 3 quart Crockpot or any other slow cooker. You can also use a larger size, like a 6 quart pot. If you use a larger slow cooker, you could double the recipe to make a larger batch.
Additionally, you will need a frying pan or skillet to brown the ground beef. A sharp knife and cutting board is also required to dice the vegetables.
Store any leftover slow cooker cowboy casserole in sealed containers in a refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can reheat it in a slow cooker, on the stove top or in a microwave for a few minutes, and serve the leftover stew warm.
Alternatively, you can also freeze the leftovers for up to 6 months in freezer safe containers. Thaw and defrost the frozen casserole in a refrigerator overnight, and reheat as described above.
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Frequently asked questions
Yes! Feel free to omit the potatoes if you want. If you remove the potatoes, you should also omit the beef broth, as it will be unnecessary.
If the casserole is too watery, you can thicken it by adding some cornstarch slurry, instant mashed potato powder, gravy granulates, mashed potatoes or beans, or any other thickening agent. You can also mash some of the potatoes and beans in the casserole, as these will thicken the liquid.
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Crockpot Cowboy Casserole
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3-4 medium potatoes
- 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans (drained)
- 2 (15 oz) can canned diced tomatoes
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- ½ cup beef stock
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Peel and dice the onion. Grate or finely dice the garlic. Slice the potatoes into ¼ inch thick slices. Dice the bell pepper.
- Heat up the olive oil in a skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef, and cook for a few minutes until it's browned.
- Add diced onion and garlic to the skillet, and sauté for another minute or two, until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Transfer the beef and onions to the slow cooker, along with all seasoning, sliced potatoes, canned diced tomatoes, diced bell pepper and beef stock. Stir to combine everything evenly.
- Cover the crockpot with a lid, and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours, or on LOW for 6-8 hours. Make sure that the potatoes are soft enough to easily pierce with a fork before you continue.
- Add a drained canned of kidney beans to the slow cooker, and stir to combine.
- Then, top the casserole with shredded cheese. Cover with a lid, and cook on LOW for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
- Serve the casserole immediately while it's warm.
- Refrigerate leftover cowboy casserole for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months. Reheat in a microwave, slow cooker or on the stove, and serve warm.
- Feel free to adjust the seasoning, or add any vegetables that you like. This recipe is incredibly easy to customize!
- If you slice the potatoes thicker than suggested, you might have to increase the cooking time.
Food safety tips
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove