Take the classic ground beef Sloppy Joe to the next level by turning it into a cheesy casserole! Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole combines two of your childhood favorites into one amazing and delicious meal.
I can remember when sloppy joe sandwiches made with canned Manwhich sauce and hamburger buns were a dinnertime delight! At some point, my palate matured, but I do still enjoy the slightly sweet, tomato-y flavor of sloppy joes from time to time.
I just make sloppy joes from scratch now, instead of using a can! The sauce for sloppy joe casserole is a simple one, made with peppers and onions, ketchup, mustard, canned tomatoes, and seasonings.
This is not my only casserole recipe that uses saucy ground meat as the base. You can also try the cheesy pasta version of sloppy joe casserole, or my classic ground beef tater tot casserole with mixed veggies.
Why You’ll Love This Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole Recipe
You are going to love that this casserole combines sloppy joes, tater tots, and corn into a filling and satisfying dish. It’s a flavor throwback for sure, and will remind you of dinners you enjoyed as a kid!
The scratch-made sloppy joe sauce in my recipe is not hard to make, and is tastier and healthier than the canned stuff. You can feel good about serving this meal to your family.
And that’s a good thing because your family is going to love this meal! They’ll ask for seconds, and they’ll ask you to make it again, week after week.
Key Ingredients in Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole
Here’s what you need to make this tasty hotdish:
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Tater Tots: You can’t make tater tot casserole without them! Keep the tots frozen until you’re ready to bake the casserole or they will fall apart.
- Ground Beef: I like to use lean ground beef so that there’s more meat and less grease in the final dish.
- Aromatics: Onion, garlic, and green pepper are sauteed with the beef to create a rich flavor base.
- Corn: Use either frozen or canned corn in this recipe. Sweet corn pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of the ketchup and brown sugar in the sauce.
- Diced Tomatoes: Canned tomatoes add moisture and flavor. Use regular or low-sodium tomatoes – either will work perfectly.
- Sloppy Joe Sauce Add-Ins: Without these, you’re just making tomato sauce! Mix in ketchup, yellow mustard, light brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce to make your homemade sloppy joes taste just like you remember.
- Cheese: The top layer of this easy casserole is shredded cheddar and Colby Jack cheese. This combo has the perfect blend of sharp and smooth flavors, but you can also use just one or the other if you prefer.
How To Make Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and grease a 9×13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray while you prepare and assemble this easy meal.
- Cook the Beef: Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the beef with diced onion, diced bell pepper, and garlic. Crumble the beef as you cook it, and brown until the meat is fully cooked and no longer pink. Drain away the fat.
- Make the Sauce: Add diced tomatoes, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and corn to the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your preference.
- Fill the Pan: Transfer the meat mixture to the prepared baking dish, then sprinkle half of the colby jack and cheddar cheese over it. Save the rest of the cheese for later!
- Add Tater Tots: Arrange frozen tater tots over the casserole in a single layer.
- Bake: Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the tater tots are crispy. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tots, and place the casserole under the broiler for a few minutes, just to melt the cheese. Cool for 15 minutes before serving, garnished with fresh chopped parsley.
Feel free to add in other veggies if you like! Frozen peas and carrots work well, or you can saute mushrooms to mix in with the meat.
- Dice the veggies the same size: It makes for a more pleasing bite when everything is evenly sized, and the veggies will cook at the same rate.
- Lean ground beef (80-90%) is ideal, but you can also use a fattier cut. Just be sure to drain away any fat that renders out of the meat.
- If you can, grate your own cheese instead of using pre-shredded packaged cheese. Freshly grated cheese from a block of cheese will melt better than pre-shredded which is covered with an anti-caking agent.
- Do not thaw your tater tots. You want to keep them frozen otherwise they may become mushy.
- Be sure to add the corn after you’ve cooked the meat and raw veggies. Whether you’re using frozen corn or canned corn, it only needs a few minutes to warm through in the sauce.
- Reduce the amount of refined sugar in the sauce by replacing the brown sugar with maple syrup instead.
For Leftovers: Keep leftover tater tot casserole in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days.
To reheat, put portions of the casserole in a microwave-safe dish and heat until warmed through. This is the quickest way, but the tots won’t be crispy.
If you want to crisp up the tater tots again, place the leftovers in an oven-proof dish and bake at 350°F/180°C oven for 30 minutes.
You can also freeze leftover tater tot casserole. Cover it with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil to avoid freezer burn. Make sure to wrap it tightly. Store it in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
To Make Tater Tot Casserole Ahead
You have a few different options for making this recipe ahead of time. Choose the one that makes the most sense for you!
Freeze Before Baking: I suggest that you freeze just the sloppy joe meat filling mixture. Thaw overnight, then assemble with frozen tater tots and cheese and bake as directed, adding 5-10 minutes to the bake time to account for the filling being cold.
Another option is to assemble the casserole fully before freezing. Bake it directly from the freezer at 350°F/180°C for 45 minutes to an hour. Put it under the broiler to finish crisping up the tater tot topping.
Freeze After Baking: You may also bake this sloppy joe tater tot casserole, let it cool, then wrap it well and freeze it for up to 2 months. To reheat a fully baked tater tot casserole that you’ve frozen, thaw overnight and bake at 350°F/180°C for 35-45 minutes.
Make One Day Ahead: Make the sloppy joe meat mixture and add it to the pan. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Before baking according to the recipe instructions, add cheese and frozen tater tots.
What To Serve With Sloppy Joe Casserole
I love this recipe because it really doesn’t even need any side dishes! It’s super filling and has meat, potatoes, and veggies already inside.
If you want to have something else to serve with sloppy joe casserole, try a simple steamed veggie, or a salad with Italian dressing.
No, you should not. Keep them frozen. They will thaw and cook in the oven. If you thaw tater tots, they fall apart and become mushy.
Yes! Make the sloppy joe meat mixture and add it to the pan. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Before baking, add frozen tater tots and then the cheese later.
Yes, any type of ground meat, including beef, or turkey can be used. Ground turkey or chicken has much less fat in it, so you will want to add a bit of oil to the pan when browning the meat.
Sloppy Joe Casserole with cheesy tater tots is so tasty, and your whole family will love it. Pin this recipe to your easy weeknight dinners list now so that you’re ready to make it ASAP!
- 1 pound (450 grams) ground beef lean
- 1 small yellow onion diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 14.5-ounce can (1 400-gram can) diced tomatoes
- 1 cup (235 grams) ketchup
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1½ cups corn frozen or drained from a can
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 32 ounce bag (900 grams) frozen tater tots
- 1 cup (120 grams) shredded Colby Jack cheese
- 1 cup (120 grams) shredded cheddar cheese
- chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and grease a 9×13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Heat a skillet over medium high heat, and cook the beef with onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Crumble the beef as you cook it, and cook until cooked through (6-7 minutes). Drain fat.
- Add diced tomatoes, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and corn. Cook together for 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, taste the sauce and adjust seasonings to your preference.
- Transfer the sloppy joe mixture to the prepared 9×13 baking dish, then sprinkle with half of the cheddar and colby cheese. Arrange the frozen tater tots in a single layer on top.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the tater tots are crispy. Sprinkle the remaining colby and cheddar cheese on top, and place under the broiler for a few minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving, garnished with chopped parsley.
- When choosing ground beef, I look for anywhere from 80-90% lean. There are recipes that require a bit more flavor from the beef itself, but I find lean works. Extra-lean is a bit too much.
- It’s important to dice all your veggies to an even size. Not only will they cook evenly, but it also makes for a more pleasing bite when not one thing is overpowering another.
- For a sauce with a bit less refined sugar, use maple syrup instead of brown sugar.
- If you like a little added heat to your Sloppy Joes, feel free to sprinkle in a bit of chipotle or chili powder, or a splash of hot sauce.
- I love the combination of Colby Jack and Cheddar, but feel free to switch it up to your favorites. You can also just use more of one or the other or omit one completely.
- To Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave, or in the oven if you’d like the tater tots to get crispy again.
- To Make Ahead: Cook the sloppy joe meat mixture and add it to the pan. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When you’re almost ready to eat, add frozen tater tots and bake as directed. Add an additional 5-10 minutes to the baking time if needed.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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